It was one of the most enjoyable times of my life. Working within a community, making connections, then gradually gaining trust and respect is a rewarding process.
The job had fantastic variety. One day’s work might involve photographing royalty, attending a village fete and/or standing on a miner’s picket line. It was also in the days when the local evening newspaper was the trusted (and often only) source of national and local information for the community.
I was fortunate enough during my time at the Mercury to be given the privilege of being the Royal Rota photographer for two visits of The Queen and one by Princess Diana. I also watched at first hand the sad destruction of the mining industry in Leicester as the Miner’s strike petered out. There were many early mornings spent by the warming brassiers of Miners and Policemen outside collieries.
There was also a great “menu” of local sport. I spent many Saturdays photographing the Leicester City team (including in those days Alan Smith and Gary Lineker) – as well as travelling to London to photograph the England rugby team which was dominated in those amateur days by Leicester Tigers players such as Peter Wheeler, Dusty Hare, Clive Woodward, Rory Underwood, Nick Youngs and Les Cusworth.
Leicestershire also had a rich seam of tradition – and the assignment list included photographing fox hunting and traditional English village “escapades” such as the Hallaton Bottle Kicking (inter-village punch up) and Atherstone Shrove Tuesday Football (anything goes football – with a punch up).
We had Nigel Lawson, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, as a local Member of Parliament. He was always very helpful to the Mercury – and when I suggested a pre-budget shot with his son, Tom, at the local fish and chip shop, he readily posed. As you can see from the picture – in those days you could get a chip butty for only 17p. Ah, those were the days!
At the end of the 1990s, sports rights holders were increasingly restricting the access of photography agencies and individual sports photographers into events. The story was not a new one – up until 1972, only one photographic agency was allowed in to a cricket ground to photograph test matches. Things were looking like turning full […]
In the late 1990s, there was pressure within the sports photo industry from sports rights holders (the likes of the FA Premier League, the IOC and individual football clubs). These rights holders could not see the value of photography agencies and individual photographers being given free and unrestricted access to sports events. Rights holders got […]
I lived in a council house on the ring road in Liverpool (Queens Drive) – and had very supportive parents (although I might not have thought so at the time). I went to a Catholic Boys’ Grammar School, St Francis Xavier’s – I and was very religious (up until the moment I was 18 – […]
In 1981, I started my first job after school as a Trainee Press Photographer at Mercury Press Agency in Liverpool. I’d not bargained for my first week in employment to involve the coverage of some of the worst rioting on mainland Britain. I’ll always remember the phone ringing late at night after the family had […]
One of the best trips of my life was to to photograph the return to international sport of South Africa, after the end of apartheid and the release of Nelson Mandela. I accompanied the team to India – and the experience was unforgettable. We arrived late at night in Calcutta. We had a long time […]