A Turf Moor day behind the lens

Last updated : 22 April 2005 By Mark Davidson

The challenge was also to find a location to test the equipment. I found myself at Turf Moor, watching the game between Burnley and Brighton. I also happen to be a Clarets supporter of over 30 years.

They day started when I arrived at 1:15 at the James Hargreaves Stand. Having signed in, I picked up my pass and a rather fetching blue bib with the letters 'Photographer' printed on the back.

I was then directed to the Press room at the end of the concourse. I walked in and saw many of the reporters tucking in to the delicacy, known as pie and peas. If I’d known, I would have abstained from lunch, and sampled the delights of Burnley FC's finest meal for myself.

I expected plenty of gossip amongst the fellow reporters. However, the majority were transfixed on the television situated in the corner, watching the F.A. Cup semi final between Arsenal and our friends down the road. I always thought journalists had an air of impartiality about them, reporting a match from both points of view, yet there was a distinct cheer as Arsenal progressed at the expense of Blackburn Rovers.

I looked around, and saw many people, faces I recognised from seeing their photos when reading match reports in the local press. One unmistakable face was that of Jeff Brown. If you were to cut him, he would surely bleed Claret and Blue.

After the festivities of seeing Rovers depart from the Cup, the team sheets were read out and everyone jumped into action, with a cacophony of voices calling their respective news desks with the team line-ups. True to his word, Steve Cotterill rotated the goalkeepers. That aside, there seemed little to report with no unexpected news.

The time had now come for me to stagger out with my large pack, with all the camera equipment I thought I would need and more, and head for the door that would lead to pitch side. I looked at my watch and the time was 2:25pm.

I was wearing my blue bib felt like a badge of honour. As I walked around, a steward accosted me from the Rock Steady Crew and politely asked me to display my pitchside pass. With a bit of help, I managed to stick it on my jacket. I then proceeded to head towards the area I’d chosen to take photographs, in front of the police control box, located in between the Bob Lord and Jimmy McIlroy Stand.

Upon arriving at the designated area I started to set up my equipment, quickly realising that I would have to be pro-active if I was to use all the gadgets I’d brought with me. As I later found during the match, this was to become an impossibility due to the game moving so quickly.

As kick off approached I unpacked my small stool, and settled down on my chosen spot to watch the game unfold through the camera lens.

As the game began, I chatted with a guy next to me who was the official photographer for the 'Seagulls' Programme. He told me that he aimed to get about eight images per game for use in the official magazine. I thought for a game with as little excitement as this one, he might be struggling to get any good pictures.

As the half wore on, I thought my worst nightmare would come to fruition as raindrops began to fall on my camera. It was at this point I had to rush for one of the many plastic bags I'd brought in the case of a downpour. Yet my fears came to nothing as the rain abated.

As it was my first attempt at sports photography, I had difficulty trying to keep track of the movement of the ball. I now realised it was far harder than anything I had done as a travel journalist.

As Burnley opened the scoring, it was strange for me not to let out a cheer. Trying to remain professional, I looked through the lens trying to capture the moment in the best way I could. With the game wearing on, I started to use other the pieces of equipment, seeing how easy they were to use in this type of setting. However, I ended up staying with the same camera and lens throughout the remainder of the match, although the action seemed to take place at the other end of the pitch.

When Brighton scored, the crowd, as expected started to get restless. Concentrating on the action, I was able to block out the abuse of the crowd.

When the referee finally ended proceedings, I watched as both teams departed the field. Standing for a few moments, as the crowd slowly dispersed, I reflected not only on the game, but the day itself. The result didn’t seem to matter as the whole experience will stay with me for a long time.

Up the Clarets

Mark D