I bought my first serious camera in May 2008, and began taking photographs at matches in Wales, mainly of the teams I watched regularly, that is my village side of Y Felinheli, Bangor City in the Welsh Premier League, and Wales international fixtures. This is a personal collection of some of my favourite images that I’ve taken in that time. They are presented in no particular order.
I’d be really grateful if you respected the copyright on these photos. I don’t get paid to take them and I’d prefer to act on trust rather than plaster them with ugly copyright watermarks.
No.1 Neville Powell celebrates at Park Avenue
I had gone to Aberystwyth on a mission. I had just started out in photography and I was looking to develop a relationship with the local papers. I knew that I would be the only local photographer that could be bothered to make the 2 1/2 hour trip to Aberystwyth on a Tuesday night in January, but I was looking for a break.
Bangor hadn’t had a good season, and went to Aber with no expectation of a win. It turned out to be a great game, and I was able to capture Bangor manager Neville Powell’s ecstatic reaction at the final whistle. This image was the first that I had published in the Bangor Chronicle, and it also featured on the cover of the club’s match programme for the 2010/11 season.
Aberystwyth 2-4 Bangor-City League Cup Semi Final 14/01/2009
No.2 Jay Bothroyd celebrates his goal at Turf Moor
Just a month after I bought my first camera, I naiively telephoned the media centre at Turf Moor, hoping for a photographer’s pass for the forthcoming game with Cardiff City. They couldn’t have been more welcoming and showed unexpected respect for my Welsh language media credentials. This was the first and last time I would be given access to an English League game, as the accreditation system soon tightened. The highlight of the evening was when I shared a urinal with Burnley manager Owen Coyle in the fabulously atmospheric changing area underneath the stand at this fantastic old stadium.
Burnley v Cardiff City, FL Championship, 09/12/2008
No.3 Ricky Broadley squares up to an opponent
Ricky “Mancs” was a talented young player with Caernarfon Borough when they faced the newly formed Caernarfon Wanderers in a local derby. But Ricky had big disciplinary problems and would become famous as the man who received four red cards in a single game.
I like this picture because it says a lot about parks football. The field in question is a rare green space at the top of Peblig Estate in one of Wales’s most deprived areas. It is under threat from developers, who are rapidly destroying public fields in the area. One of Caernarfon Wanderers’ missions is to preserve Cae Top for the community. The weather on this day was appropriately gloomy.
The attitude of the two players says a lot about the game. On one hand you have Ricky Mancs, full of aggression and threatening intent. But on the other hand you have his opponent who seems well used to such machismo. They probably know each other well, and he simply can’t be arsed with Broadley’s posturing. He just wants a game of football and pays little attention to the chest-out stag. Ricky Broadley was the best player on the pitch, but sadly he is now banned for a long time.
Caernarfon Wanderers v Caernarfon Borough, 10/01/2009
No.4 Robert Enke saves from Earnshaw
Sometimes when you view the photographs that you took at a game the results are desperately frustrating. When I saw this one from the Wales v Germany game in 2009, I was gutted. If only Earnie’s face was visible just to the left of Enke’s body. If only he had scored for God’s sake.
I paid little attention to Enke, until I read the news that he had killed himself less than six months after this game. I went back to my photographs, and suddenly Earnshaw was irrelevent. This is Enke’s moment and it seems inconceivable that he has gone.
Wales v Germany, Millennium Stadium, 01/04/2009
No.5 Graeme Sharp at Farrar Road
Graeme Sharp scored 159 goals for Everton in 426 games. In the mid eighties, he won an FA Cup, 2 League Championships and the European Cup Winners Cup. In this simple image, we see Sharp as a Father, watching his son Chris play for Bangor City on the crumbling terraces at Farrar Road.
I like the spartan isolation of this photo. It reminds me that football is not always a pleasure. In fact it rarely is. Most of our time is spent like this. Cold, bored , uncomfortable, but living in hope that the next few minutes will be special.
You can read the full blog article here.
Bangor City v Newtown, WPL, 07/12/2009
No.6 European Football at Rhyl
The floodlights at Belle Vue were the first in Wales when they were erected in 1954 and even though the ground is now one of the few in Wales capable of hosting European football, their output is not strong enough to meet UEFA’s requirements for dark evening games. This image was taken during the visit of Partizan Belgrade to Rhyl in 2009, and we can see the deep blue colour of the darkening sky, while on the pitch, the Partizan defence makes it clear that there would be few opportunities that evening for the home team to find space in their opponents’ penalty area.
Rhyl v Partizan Belgrade, 14/07/2009
No.7 Bangor players celebrate a win in the cup
The penalty shootout offers a multitude of opportunities for the sports photographer. There are static set-pieces, easy to capture – you can focus on the goalkeeper and hope he makes a save – or you can turn round and watch the agony of the fans as the game is decided with a single kick of the ball.
On this occasion, Bangor had battled against the odds to take hot favourites and local rivals Rhyl to penalties in a Welsh Cup tie. When Paul Smith made the winning save, my camera was turned to the oncoming rush of his ecstatic, celebrating team-mates, led by the team’s local hero, Sion Edwards.
Bangor City v Rhyl, Welsh Cup, 31/01/2009
No.8 Sergei Semak denies Wales
This photograph sums up Wales qualifying campaign for South Africa 2010. When you;re not a great team, you need every break to go your way, and nothing ran for Wales. In this crucial incident during the home game with Russia Sergei Semak performs an unlikely overhead kick to clear his lines when Dave Edwards looks like he has scored for his country. Wales lost and were out of the running.
Wales v Russia, Millennium Stadium, World Cup Qualifier, 09/09/2009
No.9 The Oldest International Football Stadium in the World
I felt I had to include this image, as Wrexham’s future is currently under threat. A dejected Chris Roberts leaves the field after Bangor’s Europa League defeat against maritimo in 2010. Bangor had been playing at Wrexham as their own ground failed to meet UEFA licensing requirements. One day, I hope I can go back and take another photograph here on a happier occasion, and with Wrexham as the home team.
Bangor City v Maritimo, Europa League, Racecourse, 05/08/2010
No.10 Sunset at Caernarfon
Football isn’t always played on cold winter nights, and this game between Felinheli and Caernarfon Borough was played at one of my favourite venues, Ffordd yr Aber near Carrnarfon Castle. The sun was setting low over Anglesey as Marc Jones collected his drink at the end of the game.
No.11 Bangor City, WPL Champions, 2010/11
I know I said ten, but I couldn’t leave this one out. I’ve always wanted to experience the champagne-drenched atmosphere of a winning changing room after a big game, and I recently got my chance when I took this picture of the Bangor City team celebrating their League title victory. You can’t beat a bit of Homo-erotica.