Offside’s Mark Leech is feeling like Dick Winters in Band of Brothers, typing up a report for HQ amid flashbacks of the days gone by when he was actually involved in the action on the ground at a World Cup…
Having been at the 2010 tournament in South Africa for Offside, as well as covering the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, Simon Stacpoole was the obvious choice to cover the entire World Cup tournament this summer.
Finding that Mark Pain was already booked to cover the England matches—but was no longer employed by the Mail on Sunday—we had a patriotic rush of blood and commissioned him to also shoot the three group matches scheduled for Roy’s boys, something which feels like a previous tournament now.
With Marc Atkins flying out later to cover the business end of the competition—from the quarter finals onwards—my chances of a late wild card entry into the action were rapidly diminishing as the stages piled up.
Instead, I had to settle for catching the action second-hand on a screen.
World Cup on TV. In London pub. This is someone else’s life.
Do I want to receive photos that trash my own back catalogue, without the opportunity to reply in kind from pitch side? It’s OK I guess, they’re just continuing on from where you left off. It’s OK.
Sports Illustrated photographer Simon Bruty announces: “The office have called time out. Can I syndicate work though Offside?”
“Are you nuts?” I thought. Why would anybody turn down this guy’s work, which so often brings out the best sights taken away from the action, giving a dramatic view from the beach that television rarely shows.
OK. So that’s four guys out there now, stop looking at flights, accept this is for the younger guys, you’ve had your turn.
Simon gets a double page spread in FourFourTwo and the front page of L’Equipe.
The plan to double up on the Brazil-Germany semi-final is rewarded after Simon goes for Brazil’s attack first half while Marc captures the first five goals from an elevated position. Never mind Jogi Low and his fancy tactics. Offside are through to the final with their own winning formation.
The three remaining photographers all get great shots from the final but these only sit to the periphery of THE shot—the winning goal pic from Marc Atkins, also captured by Simon from above.
This is the moment when a European team finally win a World Cup in the Americas for the first time. All the singing and dancing is captured by every photographer but that wide shot with the goalkeeper is the one.
The one. The one that let me know I needn’t have been there.
Yet this is no farewell tale.
Forty summers ago I took this frame of Brian Kidd celebrating in front of the North Bank, and I’ll be rested and raring to go for the 2014-15 season.
Underestimate me at your peril kids!
Offside is the UK’s leading independent sports photography agency, home to an extensive collection of classic World Cup pictures and images from across the world of sport. Explore Offside’s unique library at www.welloffside.com.
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