When the draws for each UEFA Champions League knockout stage are made, everyone is often looking to see which matches can be covered, and how easily they can be covered. When I say easily, I mean – more often than not – cheaply. The moment the draw is done and the dates confirmed, hotels and airlines will inevitably hike their prices up to maximise their revenue. They know there will be enough demand to fill their planes and hotels. Unfortunately, it’s not always logistically possible for us as photographers to hop on the first available flight, or book into the nearest hotel to the stadium. Usually something will put a spanner in the works.
A potential European trip became immediately obvious when Manchester United were drawn against the holders, Bayern Munich, and were drawn to play each other in Germany the day after Real Madrid were due to play Borussia Dortmund just a few hours down the road.
The double-header was on.
After discussions with some colleagues, it was decided that we would go and cover both matches – and we’d be driving there.
UK – DORTMUND : 540 miles : 10 hours
DORTMUND – MUNICH : 380 miles : 6 hours
MUNICH – UK : 880 miles : 12 hours
It was a road trip of epic proportions, but there was nothing that could deter Matt Ashton from taking on the entire drive himself. He refused to let any of us behind the wheel of the black Mercedes, instead preferring to drive a total of roughly 1,800 miles all by himself.
Along with the ever-humorous Chris Brunskill, Cumbria’s finest, Phil Oldham, and a boot full of Think Tanks, Peli cases, rucksacks, and monopods, we journeyed halfway across the continent to photograph the cream of European football. We departed Nantwich at 05:45 on the Tuesday morning, and arrived back at 23:45 on the Thursday. Here’s what I have to show for it…I’ll let you decide if it looks like it was worth it!…