Wembley 18th May 2014, Cambridge won 2-1
After all the build up and the hype the big day had finally arrived. When I say ‘big day’ I mean that for a few reasons. Gateshead FC had never been to Wembley, old or new, in its entire existence also this was a chance to get back into the football league which the club had been unfairly kicked out of 54 years ago. It was also a big day Cambridge as it had been 9 years since they had been relegated from the league, not as long for them as it was for Gateshead though.
At first I didn’t know if I would be going to Wembley but the club did make arrangements for me which I am extremely grateful for. With having the knowledge that I was going I next set myself the task of trying to look up information about Wembley that would help me set up for different photos. I knew that I would have to get onto Wembley way but I needed to see if there was any other locations. As it happened I just decided on the way and within the ground.
I had to wait for my accreditation go come in via the club, I also have to thank Steven White for once again helping me out with loads of advice on Wembley, he has been there a few times now. Through out my time doing sports photography Steven has always been very helpful and polite with advice that he has freely given to me and I appreciate that very much.
When I arrived at the International Stadium on Sunday morning I thought that I was early as it was around 6.20am, how wrong I was! The queue was already quite big, I made my way inside as I was wanting to get some photos straight away to show just how many people were there. I got to the front of the queue and straight away I got a couple of photos in and then after a few minutes I headed outside and the queue was even bigger in fact not only did it go down to Stadium Way but it also went a good distance down the road, check out my photos to see just what I mean. I did hear a few people complain about the organising on the day but as the Supporters Club have never had to do the travel on such a large scale then I say they did a sterling job and to those that complained , how about next time you do the organising? The buses were supposed to be there for a specific time so that they could be given there packs but most of them didn’t turn up on time hence a delay. This can not be blamed on the organisers as they had told the coach companies what time to be there for and also which street to head down so that they would be facing the correct way.
For those wondering which bus I was on well it was number 17 which for some reason had been labelled as the ‘posh’ bus, I don’t know why as my immediate neighbours were out but posh but they were a great laugh. I have to admit that I have never been to an away match so I was interested as to what the bus ride would be like. I have to say that it was one of the best laughs that I have had for a long time and for that I have to thank Dave, Lynda, Ken, Layla, Keith, Therese and Sophie for that. I did learn that if you fell asleep on the bus then your photo will end up on Facebook.
When we got to the Green Man pub I then had the task of walking down to the stadium, normally this would be an easy task however, I did have my Peli case, laptop bag and also a back pack, which in all was a bit of a weight. Luckily on the way down to the stadium I bumped into Lauren Teague and Lee Calder, I ended up walking to the stadium with Lauren I certainly appreciated her company and also I must thank her for waiting for me after the game to walk back up the hill to the bus. Also she deserves a lot of credit for all of the posters that she has designed for the club, quite a few of them using my photos. I think that a lot of people don’t realise that she does this in her own time for no financial reward just like the rest of us.
When I got to the stadium I had to go through a security door for photographers, up North we would call this the tradesman’s entrance. I picked up my blue bib and security pass and then was shown to the photographers lounge. I met up with Charlie Waugh and we had a quick chat then we headed out to Wembley way, part of Wembley way was quiet but in the distance you could see a mass of people heading to the stadium, there was a good mix of yellow and white shirts. After we had taken a few photos, Charlie got a great one of the James Curtis army (it was actually James’s brother and friends) we headed back to the lounge to pick up the rest of our gear and then we headed out to pitch side.
Just going out there I was in total awe of the stadium also I always feel honoured to be at pitch side for any match but this one was being played out at the national stadium. I never had the chance to go to old Wembley but at least I can say that I have been to new Wembley and I got to take match photos of Gateshead biggest historic match in 54 years, that was an honour!
Unlike at a normal Gateshead match I had to try and pick a spot that hadn’t already been claimed as I was not used to seeing that many photographers at a match. I did get a few pre-match photos taken doing this helped to try and work out what settings to use on the camera. The unfortunate thing was the sun, yes that thing in the sky that everyone was celebrating seeing was a nightmare for us photographers. Every time I thought I had the settings sorted, especially the ISO, I had to change it again as some times I was shooting into the shade and then the next moment it was into the bright sunshine. Having said that when I did finally get to edit the photos yesterday I was very happy with the results especially as I shoot in RAW format which you can do more with when editing.
The Cambridge fans were certainly making some noise in the first half but there were quite a lot of times that I was able to fully hear the Heed Army singing their hearts out. This brings me onto one of the best sights that I have ever seen and felt. The whole of the Heed Army singing and jumping up and down, I really hope that this was caught by the BT Sport cameras as it was very impressive.
I was glad when the second half came around as I was then able to get some close up photos of the Heed Army. I think my first close up photo was of Anthony Scurfield who is well known for being part of the clothesline group. Then after that I made sure that I got enough photos of all the fans which took a while as there was so many of them.
The second half itself was tough to watch especially when Cambridge were winning 2-0 but the Gateshead lads showed just how much heart they had as they certainly tried to get back in the game. They did pull a goal back which was scored by Jack Lester and I was especially impressed with how much heart JJ O’Donnell showed, considering that he is on loan from Luton town he has really taken the club to heart and his passion was on display as he did everything that he could to help get the result that Gateshead deserved.
I also felt sorry for the other players especially those that I have come to know well such as Jamie Chandler, James Marwood, Carl Magnay (who by the way scored the goal of the season as far as I am concerned) & Phil Turnbull. The club have got some great young players such as Rob Ramshaw who I can see as cracking player in the future and also Marcus Maddison who I think still has a lot to learn, he was very lucky not to have been sent off in the first half.
Now, I feel is the right time for me to tell all of the players and the fans a little truth that I did try to hide but i think I did post something about it on Facebook a while ago.
If Gateshead had won and been promoted, which believe me with all my heart I was wanting them to, it would have meant the end of me being able to attend next seasons matches. This is due to the requirements that I would need to meet in order to gain a photographic license for the Football League. The first requirement is to have specific public liability insurance, easy to achieve, the second one is that I would have to have sold 15 photographs to the press/media and have proof of that via receipts of payments. I had only sold 2 photos so it was going to be a big mountain to climb to complete this requirement. Don’t get me wrong I would have done everything I could to achieve this in order to gain the license later after the season had started. I had contacted those responsible to issuing the licenses to see if it was possible to work something out as I took photos for the club. They told me that I could do it under the club’s remit but I would loose all copyright, as this would be owned by the club, I would therefore not be able to sell any of the photos or display them on my own website. This I would not mind if I was in full time employment with the club but as I provide a free service I could not run the risk of not getting any financial reward for any of my photos.
However, even though I was very sad on Sunday for everyone involved with the club I am also pleased that I know I will be able to continue working with Gateshead FC by providing match and presentation photos for them, along with any other photos they may ask me to do.
It will also be my pleasure to photograph them going up to League 2 as the 2014/15 Conference Premier Champions!
Equipment used: Nikon D7000, Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens, velbon monopod, Peli 1510