Working as a photojournalist I’ve covered many football-inspired photo stories over the years. I can still remember photographing fans outside Wembley Stadium the last time the European Championships came to London back in 1996. It always makes for a special occasion when the Tartan Army arrives in town. I volunteered to cover this event for The Daily Telegraph.
Approaching massive crowds of Scottish fans felt like entering the ‘lion’s den’
Although the fans had been congregating across London during the day, the nighttime was always going to make the best photos. Once arriving at Leicester Square late afternoon, seeing and hearing the large numbers of Scottish fans drinking heavily and singing together. You could feel the atmosphere right away. It felt like entering the ‘lion’s den’ – but once you were close it was obvious it wasn’t toxic. All the Scottish fans being very friendly and the majority were only out for a good time. I came across very little trouble only once when a small group of English fans stupidly tried to aggravate a group of blue-shirted Scots.
The only drawback was that it was nearly impossible to keep a social distance. I was jostled in a friendly Scottish way by many fans wanting their photo taken and inquisitive of which news organisation I worked for. One of my favourite photo’s I took was of a group of lads with a supporter on their shoulders holding a flair. This made a colourful shot. Although the supporter held the flair for a moment too long and in a number of my following frames he is grimacing due to the heat burning his hand. I’m sure a cold beer fixed that.
Various photographs I took that evening have been published. One also featured in The Guardian newspapers picture essay :’90 Minutes to Glory: England’s road to the final in pictures’.