I spend the end of the week in Dublin to cover the World Cup qualification match between the Republic of Ireland and Sweden. It was my first time heading out of country to cover a sporting event and I am extremely grateful that Pic-Agency gave the opportunity to take this trip.
I left for Dublin early Thursday morning. In the preparation for the trip my biggest concern was getting all my equipment with me on the plane. Would they try and weight my carry-on bags? Or try to complain that I was actually bringing two carry-on bags with me? All of that went super smoothly with anyone even looking twice.
Once in Dublin I made my way to my hotel checked in and then made my way to the stadium. I got to the stadium in time to cover Sweden’s press conference with coach Erik Hamrén and Sebastian Larsson. I then stuck around and photographed a portion of their training session.
The following day I made my way to the venue at around 16:45, the match didn’t start until 19:45 so it gave me plenty of time to set things up and prepare. My biggest concern all day long was if the weather was going to hold out. While the day had been rather gorgeous it was predicted that it would rain in the evening. I envisioned myself sitting pitch side in down pour of finest and coldest Irish rain and was dreading it. Luckily the weather held out and it only rained in short spells.
The venue, Aviva Stadium, was nice. I really liked the look of the facade which is made up completely of glass panes. I loved its shape, the way the away section is much smaller and dwarfed by the opposing section. While there was a lot to like the venue also had a lot of things that worked against it. The arena around the venue was made up of too many closed off passages. If you wanted to get from the media entrance to the entrance for the visiting fans you had to exit the venue go down a street. Make a right turn and go down that street. Then make another right turn follow that road, go through an underpass, and make one final right turn arriving at the away section entrance. That wasn’t the only hike that Aviva offered visitors, the press room was also quite a hike from the pitch. Slightly disappointing for such a new structure. Even with that, there were more aspects that I loved. The pitch tapered off into the arenas the photographers were placed. The result is that you have a vantage point that is closer to the ground and makes for better pictures. We have two new venues in Stockholm and neither of them considered this, disappointing.
For the game I placed myself on the sideline close to the corner flag. I normally go for the goal line but they were crowded and all the Swedish press had placed themselves there. So I opted for sitting on the side with the confidence I would at least have an opposing view of any situation. The biggest hurdle of the night was the steady cam team that was also in place along the sidelines. They completely obscured a ton of interesting situations. I would have had a great angle on Roby Keane’s opening goal but they blocked it. When I thought I finally escaped them in the second half they followed me to the other end of the pitch and continued doing their best to obscure the view of all photographers on the sideline.
Even with the constant threat of the steady cam team walking into my frame I did well that evening. I had great coverage of Johan Elmander’s equalizing goal and the following celebration. Then I had great coverage in the second half of Anders Svensson’s game winning goal and it’s celebration. Great coverage of the pitch invader. As well as the coaches giving instructions and encouraging the players. When I left the stadium that evening I was fairly confident that I had submitted good coverage on the evening.
The following afternoon when I made the trip back home I was very happy to board the plane and find fresh copies of Aftonbladet. I knew I had some images used in the paper but didn’t expect to get to see them until I arrived back in Stockholm. I grabbed a copy, as did everyone else who boarded the plane, and made my way to my seat. I saw that I had an image used in a photo montage on the cover of the sports section and then a two-page picture later on in the sports section. As we prepared to take off I looked around and literally the entire plane was going through the sport section. Man, it felt good to have contributed to that. I’ve never gotten to experience it that way. Seeing some many people consume the paper at once and knowing I had a small hand in that. I was in the clouds the whole way home.
These images and more available via Pic-Agency.