A lot of the work I’ve been doing lately has involved a particular emphasis on the goings-on outside a football stadium prior to the match itself. As an outsider, it’s all too easy to arrive at a ground, get sucked into the 90-minute bubble and then head home, but for the supporters of that club, that 90 minutes is just part of their day. You could say the action that you see on the pitch plays the leading role in a football fan’s matchday play, but it’s the supporting cast that are so often forgotten. The walk to the game, the pre-match beers…pulling on the bobble hat, tightening the scarf around your neck, rolling up the programme to get it your back pocket, the steam rising from the cup of tea bought from a local van parked up on the corner outside.
As with any country or culture, the English do things their way, the way they know how, the way they’ve been brought up, the way they saw it done when they were younger. European fans are the same, and will no doubt have their own matchday rituals and routines. An interesting project of mine recently asked me to show what the English do, and how they do it…and to relay the results to a French audience.
I spent a week with L’Equipe Magazine journalist Erik Bielderman documenting football in the north west of England, trying to discover the secret of the region’s success…a region which has won more than 50 league titles, in comparison to the 19 won by their London counterparts.
We needed to show football in terms of it’s history and position within each club’s town or city…it allowed me the chance to step back from the touchlines and 400mm lens, and to explore what goes on off the pitch, even on days when something’s happening on it too…