Sitting in the writing room after the Brentford Vs Barnsley game, sports and club photographer Mark Fuller approached me straight faced came out with a statement that left me quite honestly flabbergasted. “You shouldn’t be here!” With this statement I was speechless. I was about to ask what, just what have I done wrong?? And apologise for something I didn’t know what for. Mark quickly continued by saying “Well we lost again…. “…. and that’s when the penny dropped!
I did a little digging through my hard drive and found all the games I had been too photographing Brentford Football club. With the games listed a quick google search showed my record watching Brentford stands at P12 W0 D2 L10 F11 A28. Which is relegation form if these stats were applied to a football team. I knew my time watching Brentford play wasn’t great but reading these stats any Brentford fan knowing my attendance to their next game would surely have them signing a petition for me to stay away! With possible court injunction for me not to come within a mile of the ground. I wouldn’t mind but games I’ve attended have been close games, with Brentford putting in a good shift and team performance, however at the end of 90 minutes the result seem to reflect otherwise and more likely another defeat?
Once my attendance to this game had been arranged I started my pre match homework by Google searching the Barnsley squad and possible line up against Brentford with key and danger men to look out for. I am a keen football fan but my brain is not that much of a sponge in this area to know every player at every team in every league but if said at which venue and what camera settings did I use, I bet I could tell you that! However I was hopeful after two recent away games up at Newcastle and then slightly closer to home Derby County, Brentford would feel more comfortable returning to Griffin park and familiar surroundings playing in their 4000th league game. This I thought would bring a party atmosphere and a much needed win for the team and for my sake break my club jinx.
Arriving at the ground far earlier than the scheduled kick off, I passed a public house which already was full with vocal fans and collected my entry ticket from the turnstiles and headed to the media room. Sky TV was showing the live premier league match between Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur which didn’t look exciting one bit with the score late in the game.. a riveting 0-0! A few other photographers were already setting up their computers waiting like me for the team sheet to speed up captioning and togging of players. Once I got what I needed I took myself down pitch side, claiming my area and unpacking my gear out in front of the away end, firing off a few test shots getting to know what setting I needed to use for when the game started. Sitting in front of the Brook Road Stand the thousand or so Barnsley fans were making themselves heard. I assumed it was the amount of beer I had seen them consume beforehand? The thing is although noisy singing their witty football songs and maybe because I have always been a football fan since my playing days were over long ago. I actually found myself thriving on this energy and wasn’t distracted or intimidated with screaming fans a few feet behind me whatsoever. Remember football fans use language and also “colourful” language with most of their football chants. With my skills learnt with me being the only male in my house I have had years of practice blocking out screams, shouting, tantrums and general badly timed and sometimes very loud chitter chatter. So noisy Barnsley fans or not I could still concentrate on this job at hand. Obtaining a good photograph in this instance.
In this game Barnsley had this game controlled and although it wasn’t one way traffic Brentford’s time in front of goal and in particular in front of my camera lens was limited. From my Brentford stats above needless to say the goals in this game came one in each half and typically [again] at the opposite end of the pitch to where I was sitting. At these time you realise lady luck is not sitting with me as although I have a lens that can reach the far end it wont be an amazing photograph, compared to a player who has just scored just a few feet in front of me filling my whole camera frame.
Barnsley saw this game out for their victory, adding another numerical digit to the ‘lost’ column of my own personal Brentford stats. With no flash points or match changing dramatic moments all that was left was to pack my gear away and return my media bib to the club. With reporters already waiting to interview managers Dean Smith and Paul Heckingbottom, the writing room well, was surprisingly quiet, sheer concentration with the low noise levels only broken by constant keyboard tapping and the odd cup of tea being drunk or placed back on the table.
Mark Fuller was in the zone preparing his pictures for the clubs website and with my work done for the day I gingerly approached him to say goodbye. I wasn’t sure if he would say goodbye and don’t ever come back!! Or goodbye and see you again soon? Mark being the gentleman he is it was the latter, so lucky for me eh? My luck at Brentford has to change for the club at some point? So why not my next game?