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Sunday, 13 May 2012

Fulham v Reading 25.11.06

The short trip up the M4 into London, at the end of November, was going to be only my second away match of the season. I had never been to Craven Cottage before, although my dad had played for the Fulham boy’s team just after the Second World War.

The trip up was very straight forward, up the M4, then A4, turn right at Hammersmith and you’re there. As with most other away games, I travelled with the Reading FC press boys in their car, enjoying the football banter and gossip on the way. At most grounds, the press boys were given a parking permit, so usually we didn’t have very far to walk. On this occasion, however, parking was at a local school, but not that loca. Of course, to most the distance wasn’t that great, but when your pulling as much kit as is necessary to photograph a game, any sort of distance can seem a very long way.

I remember approaching the ground down a typical London street, a long row of terraced housing, packed with parked cars. As we neared the ground, the volume of spectators in the street grew, only adding to the atmosphere of a match day.

Turning the corner of this long street, the ground came into view for the first time. Small and quaint are two words that spring to mind, but then again this was an “old” football ground. We walked passed the statue of Michael Jackson, an odd place to find one, but then so is the Fulham boss Al Fayed.

Parting from the press boys, who always had a different entrance from us photographers, we made our way to the “tradesman’s” entrance, and squeezed our way through the ridiculously narrow opening. Another sign that this was an old ground, certainly not designed to accommodate toady’s modern photographer and all the kit he carried, or rather drag on wheels behind him.

Once inside the Stadium we soon found the “photographers room”, just off one of the internal corridors of the stand opposite the dugouts. Once we had picked up team sheets, passes, and had a cup of tea, we made our way to the pitch. Showing our passes to the relevant steward, who gave them a cursory glance, we were allowed to go pitchside.

Like most grounds, but not all, Craven Cottage limited photographers to where they could sit. Today, we could only sit along one touchline, the side of the dugouts. The opposing touchline was unavailable due to advertising boards, either end was unsuitable due to the angle of the pitch side and proximity of the crowd. Having found a spot, I settled down and waited for the game to start.

The game itself was fairly lively and enjoyable from what I can remember. Kevin Doyle scored the only goal of the game, a 17th minute penalty to give Reading a third consecutive league win in a row.
Other than that, from a personal point of view the game gave me one of my favourite images that I had captured at my time with the Reading. Here it is:

Luis Boa Morte holds off Reading's Seol Ki-Hyeon
It's not associated with a goal or celebration, just an in play shot with no particular relevance, but I just love it. The colour, clarity and lighting all combine with just the right amount of movement, both players eyes fixed on the ball, one determined to hold the other off, one determined to get to the ball. What do you think?

Anyway here are the rest of the best from Reading's 1-0 away win at Fulham.

"Look no strings", Graeme Murty's pre-match warm up
Des Lynam gets ready to take his seat 
George Best's ex-wife Angie poses for a picture
Ivar Ingimarsson waits in the pre-match line up
Ivar Ingimarsson challenges for the ball
Fulham Manager Chris Coleman
Ibrahima Sonko looks puzzled
Ivar Ingimarsson heads to clear the danger
Seol Ki-Hyeon still determined to get that ball
Jonh Oster closed down
Seol Ki-Hyeon controlling the ball

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