The Year Of The Monkey

We’re a month into 2016 already…yet, in reality, it feels like a lot longer. Traditionally, January is a cold, wet, miserable time for sports photographers in the UK, and this year has been no different. Every journey is a long one…the view of the road a kaleidoscope of break lights as the relentless barrage of raindrops pummels the windscreen. You sit there trying to think about the job ahead, trying to weigh up where you want to sit, how to get there, how and why you might get blocked for a picture, and how to get the important pictures you need, and yet it’s impossible not to dream of being anywhere but outside on such a wretched evening. Rainy nights at Anfield, spent under their horrendous floodlights, epitomise the abject disdain with which these matches can sometimes be attended.

So why do we do it? Somehow, when the whistle goes and the crowd comes to life, you forget about all that and once again become part of the spectacle. You want to capture the moments that define the game, and the people and personalities that are there to witness it. The mood of the drive home is so often gauged by the success of the previous 90 minutes.

As far as football photography is concerned, I’ve had a mixed month. I’ve been at the wrong end for many results, and have occasionally missed important pictures at the right end too…something I like to think I’m not alone in doing! Here, at least, is a selection of my faves since the start of the year…

 

Man Utd fans walk past an upturned shopping trolley on their way to their first game of 2016, against Swansea City
Man Utd fans walk past an upturned shopping trolley on their way to their first game of 2016, against Swansea City

 

Ramiro Funes Mori of Everton battles with Harry Kane of Spurs
Ramiro Funes Mori of Everton battles with Harry Kane of Spurs

 

Liverpool fans celebrate their side's opening goal against Stoke in the first leg of their League Cup Semi-Final tie
Liverpool fans celebrate their side’s opening goal against Stoke in the first leg of their League Cup Semi-Final tie

 

Marko Arnautovic of Stoke shows his dejection as his side lose 0-1 to Liverpool
Marko Arnautovic of Stoke shows his dejection as his side lose 0-1 to Liverpool

 

Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles celebrates their winning goal in the first leg of their League Cup Semi-Final against man City
Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles celebrates their winning goal in the first leg of their League Cup Semi-Final against man City

 

Liverpool players, including Roberto Firmino (L) celebrate their late equaliser against Arsenal
Liverpool players, including Roberto Firmino (L) celebrate their late equaliser against Arsenal

 

David Silva of Man City battles with Crystal Palace's Yohan Cabaye (L), Jordon Mutch (C) and Joe Ledley
David Silva of Man City battles with Crystal Palace’s Yohan Cabaye (L), Jordon Mutch (C) and Joe Ledley

 

A woman enjoys a hot dog before Liverpool's Barclays Premier League game against Man Utd
A woman enjoys a hot dog before Liverpool’s Barclays Premier League game against Man Utd

 

Ashley Young of Man Utd battles with Jordan Henderson of Liverpool
Ashley Young of Man Utd battles with Jordan Henderson of Liverpool

 

Kaid Mohamed of Eastleigh celebrates after scoring their 2nd goal against Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay
Kaid Mohamed of Eastleigh celebrates after scoring their 2nd goal against Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup 3rd Round Replay

 

Darren Pratley of Bolton lies across Josh Payne of Eastleigh
Darren Pratley of Bolton lies across Josh Payne of Eastleigh

 

The moon shines brightly over the building site as work continues on the redevelopment of the Main Stand at Anfield
The moon shines brightly over the building site as work continues on the redevelopment of the Main Stand at Anfield

 

The Emirates FA Cup matchball sits in the goal net
The Emirates FA Cup matchball sits in the goal net

 

Will Hoskins of Exeter comes together with Sheyi Ojo of Liverpool
Will Hoskins of Exeter comes together with Sheyi Ojo of Liverpool

 

Dusan Tadic of Southampton battles with Matteo Darmian of Man Utd
Dusan Tadic of Southampton battles with Matteo Darmian of Man Utd

 

A general view of Everton's Goodison Park stadium, as it rises above the local houses
A general view of Everton’s Goodison Park stadium, as it rises above the local houses

 

Liverpool fans, the 'Famous Kopites'
Liverpool fans, the ‘Famous Kopites’

 

Romelu Lukaku of Everton celebrates after teammate Ross Barkley scored their 1st goal against Man City in the League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg
Romelu Lukaku of Everton celebrates after teammate Ross Barkley scored their 1st goal against Man City in the League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg

 

Romelu Lukaku of Everton gets a header in on goal ahead of Man City's Fernandinho (L) and Nicolas Otamendi (R)
Romelu Lukaku of Everton gets a header in on goal ahead of Man City’s Fernandinho (L) and Nicolas Otamendi (R)

 

Sergio Aguero of Man City celebrates after scoring their 3rd goal
Sergio Aguero of Man City celebrates after scoring their 3rd goal

 

Leeds fans direct their abuse towards the Bolton supporters during their FA Cup 4th Round clash
Leeds fans direct their abuse towards the Bolton supporters during their FA Cup 4th Round clash

 

Everton fans' shoes stand out as they climb onto the gates to get a better view of the action during their side's FA Cup 4th Round tie away at Carlisle
Everton fans’ shoes stand out as they climb onto the gates to get a better view of the action during their side’s FA Cup 4th Round tie away at Carlisle

 

Everton fan 'Speedo Mick' wears his swimming trunks, swimming hat and goggles with his scarf on a cold day in Cumbria
Everton fan ‘Speedo Mick’ wears his swimming trunks, swimming hat and goggles with his scarf on a cold day in Cumbria
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3 Comments Add yours

  1. Alan Martin says:

    Nice piece, Simon. You speak for us all!
    Mind you, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the phrase ‘abject disdain’ being bounced around Rose’s tearoom too often (or much philosophical debate at all for that matter). You are our Albert Camus of the touchline.

    1. Thanks Alan…I appreciate the amount of high brow conversation in Rose’s room is often limited, I guess you just have to go with the flow when under her gaze!

      1. Alan Martin says:

        I’ll keep my brain cells under wraps any time those sausage rolls and scones are on offer. Food, on a wet and miserable day like yesterday, makes everything better. Having said that, I was nearly tipped over the edge yesterday when my laptop display decided to invert itself early in the second half, something that I never seen in 25 years of PC usage.

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