The Light Returneth

Finally, after what seems to have been the longest winter in years, this past weekend the sun returned to the football pitches of the north west. The lack of sunlight isn’t much of a concern in terms of pictures, and actually, quite often it makes things more awkward. No…more so in terms of how cold it can get sitting still for near enough 90 minutes, as an arctic breeze blows across your face whilst you make a vain attempt to protect the exposed parts of your body from the elements. All the while you’re trying to keep one eye on the action in front of you (if you’re lucky enough to photograph a game that contains ‘action’) and the other eye on the laptop next to you, making sure your numb fingers are pushing the right keys and that the rain, sleet or snow isn’t colliding with the computer so much so as to render it entirely inoperable…an unresponsive trackpad and occasional flickering of the screen tend to be acceptable.
Having had a few days down in Suffolk visiting family and friends, I drove back up to Manchester on Saturday morning, and straight to the Etihad Stadium for City’s match against Newcastle United. Once again on French-watch, I was left twiddling my thumbs most of the 2nd half as the home side ran the visitors ragged, emerging with a 4-0 victory…

 

Newcastle players line up wearing an assortment of colourful boots
Newcastle players line up wearing an assortment of colourful boots

 

A plane leaves vapour trails across the blue sky over the stadium
A plane leaves vapour trails across the blue sky over the stadium

 

David Silva of Man City battles with Gabriel Obertan of Newcastle
David Silva of Man City battles with Gabriel Obertan of Newcastle

 

Javi Garcia of Man City nuzzles up to Moussa Sissoko of Newcastle
Javi Garcia of Man City nuzzles up to Moussa Sissoko of Newcastle

 

The following day I found myself back on the M6, heading down to Villa Park for the early kick-off between Aston Villa and Liverpool. I was to be joined by fellow Offside photographer, Marc Atkins. This meant we could cover an end each, relieving a certain amount of pressure, particularly in terms of being at the right or wrong end for the action.

This couldn’t have been more beneficial…the score finished 1-2 to Liverpool, with all three goals and celebrations happening at the opposite end to where I was sitting, fortunately where Marc was able to do the business. My one consolation was a header off the goal line from Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard at my end, which secured the win for them. Otherwise, it was a day to forget…

 

Yacouba Sylla of Villa battles with Jordan Henderson of Liverpool
Yacouba Sylla of Villa battles with Jordan Henderson of Liverpool

 

Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan celebrates their opening goal
Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan celebrates their opening goal

 

Steven Gerrard of Liverpool clears the ball off the line with a header to secure victory
Steven Gerrard of Liverpool clears the ball off the line with a header to secure victory

 

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