After a soaking in Walsall the previous night, I was up and off to Manchester Airport early on Wednesday morning to catch a flight to Sweden, to photograph Sweden playing Argentina in a friendly in Solna, a town just north of Stockholm.
Despite my reservations over flying with airline SS, with whom I’d never travelled before, there wasn’t an ounce of hassle at check-in as far as my baggage was concerned…this soon put my mind at ease and I enjoyed a full English breakfast before embarking on the 2 hr flight to Scandinavia.
We landed in a blizzard, the ground covered in snow as far as the eye could see. If this had been the UK, the airport would’ve been shut for a start, trains cancelled, roads at a standstill, and the Daily Mail website would be near to breaking point thanks to the deluge of pictures sent in by readers of their fences, hedges and cars all under the most shallow of dustings. Fortunately, the Swedes know how to deal with things, and just get on with it.
I was expecting to be the only foreign photographer at this match, so it was a pleasant surprise to bump into a colleague who works for Getty Images, Jamie McDonald, in the arrivals lounge…it was even more of a relief to hear he was staying at the same hotel for the night too. We hopped in the free shuttle bus that was waiting for us and made our way to the Park Inn by Radisson, just a 10 minute drive from the terminal. We arranged with reception for a taxi to pick us up at 5.30pm, half an hour before the doors to the media entrance were due to open…as it happens, the journey ended up taking about an hour, thanks to the heavier-than-expected volume of traffic coming off the motorway on the primary route to the stadium. Nevertheless, we’d arrived…the Friends Arena, a newly-built stadium with a capacity of more than 50,000…and what a relief to see the roof in place…off with the waterproofs!!
As with the U21 match the previous night, the main purpose of this visit was to shoot stock – pictures of individual players running with or with0ut the ball. It sounds seemingly straightforward, but when you factor in backgrounds as well, the chances you have to get nice, clean images are fairly limited. I’ve put together a small selection of shots from the night, most of which are slightly more interesting than the average stock picture…
I came away from the match feeling like I’d got a good deal of pictures from it…I uploaded a final edit of 82 images, with a bit of everything in amongst them, so I was pleased with that. However, that feeling turned to annoyance on our way back to the hotel, when the taxi that had picked us up proceeded to charge us almost double – *DOUBLE* – what we’d paid to go there earlier that evening. Now, we knew to expect things to cost more than we’re used to back home, and so when we had to pay almost £90 to get there, we were shocked, but accepted it. The meter on the return leg read SEK1500 – more than £160…for a 33km journey!!
Considering we’d come for literally less than a day, neither of us had expected to need any more than that, so we gave him all the cash we had (a total of £120), and assumed he’d accept he’d ripped us off and would get on his way.
We spent the next hour pleading for some form of justification for such a ridiculous fare, but there was no budging. When the police were mentioned, we began to accept our argument had run it’s course. My alarm was set for 5.30am, and it was past 2am by now, so we settled up and sent him on his way.