Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Wembley to Soweto @ St James' Park.

I woke up on the 26th of March expecting just another ordinary day in the life of Joel Faddy, jumped out of bed, got a shower, brushed my teeth, got ready and caught the bus to college... much to my surprise, the moment I entered the photography department that very day I was informed that someone had been in touch with the college and I was asked if I’d be interested in taking photos at Newcastle’s upcoming home fixture against Liverpool. Obviously I was shocked and somewhat overwhelmed by the invitation, and although at that initial stage I didn’t know too much about what it was for or who it was for, I snatched at the opportunity and told my college teacher, Jennine, to count me in!

As the week went on I was waiting for confirmation of whether it was 100% that I’d be at St James’ with my camera on the Sunday. I think it got to Thursday when I got a phone call off a woman who goes by the name of Susan Morton and she confirmed that I, Joel Faddy, and another lad from college, Adam Summers, were invited to be a part of a fantastic project called ‘Wembley to Soweto’ which was produced by world renowned photographer John Cole and the well known actor David Westhead.

The project started 2 year ago when John and David decided to head to Johannesburg to teach 8 teenagers the importance of photography and how to use SLR cameras on a 4 week intensive course. Once the course was complete the students took their new skills into the World Cup and documented the event, which has now led to their photographs being exhibited all over England, Newcastle being one of those places. I was informed that there would be an exhibition of the ‘Wembley to Soweto’ project being shown at both St James’ Park and The Sage. Which is where me and Adam come in, we were invited to be a part of the project whereby we document the exhibition being shown at the stadium as well as getting to sit pitch side on the day and take photos of the match itself.

If I didn't quite explain the project well enough then have a look at this link...

I had the privilege of meeting everyone a day before the match, John, David, Susan and many more who were part of the project, to find out a little bit more about it, get to know everyone and get a proper briefing as to what was expected of me and Adam come match day. Not only did we meet the producers of the project, we also got the chance to meet and get to know Thapelo Motsumi, who was one of the 8 students who took part in John and David’s photography course and flew all the way from South Africa on the Friday night to come over and represent the project. We all had a tour of the stadium and got to visit the home changing rooms, where I took the opportunity to get a picture stood next to Danny Guthrie’s shirt (yes, it had to be done). After getting to bond with everyone from the team I went home that night feeling part of something, and even more excited to be documenting the event at St James’ the next day.

Match day came and we were reminded that this wasn't just all about taking photographs of the match itself, we were asked to focus on the full day as a whole, capture anything that was related to the 'Wembley to Soweto' project, get the emotions of the crowd during the match etc. Once Graham (course leader of photography at Newcastle College) had given me and Adam the best possible cameras the college had to hire out, it was time to start shooting!

Myself and Adam started the day off with a few interviews about what the day and this opportunity ment to the both of us. I personally spoke about how hard I find it to be noticed as a photographer and how this opportunity could be a spring board to me making a successful career in the photography industry and hopefully one day, John, David and Susan can maybe say that I was a success story of this project. I also commented on how people should be given a chance, no matter what background they're from, which is ultimately what the 'Wembley to Soweto' project is all about.

We then got shown around the press office and the directors lounge before heading out to pitch side where we lingered around the dugouts for quite some time, which gave us the perfect opportunity to meet with some of the players, coaching staff, backroom staff and managers... 

...where Thapelo received a 'friendly headlock' (if there ever was one) from the Newcaslte United manager, Alan Pardew.

Thapelo took every opportunity he could to meet the players. Demba Ba, Shola Ameobi and Cheik Tiote, who have all publicly came out and supported the 'Wembley to Soweto' project, took the time to get a group photo.

A few hours before kick off a giant flag with of one of Thapelo's images, taken from the 2010 World Cup was showcased in the center circle of the pitch, which was a hugely overwhelming moment for everyone who made it all possible. Susan couldn't refrain from taking a few snaps on her iPhone.

Susan and Westy surprising Thapelo with a brand new MacBook Pro for him to take back to South Africa to continue his photographic studies.

Thapelo enjoying all the attention in front of the cameras.

If anyone watched the match on Sky... this would have been where you saw me at the beginning of the match when the players entered the pitch. I couldn't have went home happy if I didn't get a photo of Guthrie, so I made sure that he was the first person I got a shot of when the players came out the tunnel! 

Once the match was about to begin everything became a little bit more serious, we had to be focused on getting good shots, which was very daunting at first. We had to make sure we were 'in the zone' so-to-speak, which this pictures of Thapelo shows perfectly.

Sitting pitch side with Thapelo clicking away during the first half. Before the match kicked off we had all met up with the official Newcastle United photographers, Ian Horrocks and Serena, who made it their job to make sure we were allowed to sit pitch side during the game, so a huge thank you to them for making this dream a reality.

A sea of Geordie heads.

John Cole's main advice to us was to anticipate something which was about to happen, which is why I'm more than pleased with this shot where I captured the moment Dirk Kuyt quickly turned round and gave the Newcastle supporters the 'thumbs up'.

Fans making their thoughts quite clear to Andy Carroll when he decided to drive in order to fool the referee into giving Liverpool a penalty, unluckily for him, his plan failed and was booked for doing so, whilst also receiving a bundle of abuse from the home fans.

Then unluckily for me, my memory card was full the second we (Newcastle) scored the opening goal, so I had to quickly change memory cards and start shooting again, however, luckily for me, I was able to get this shot of a supporter who had put a £5 bet on Papiss Cisse to score the first goal!

The only problem was the fact that Adam and I only had one zoom lens to use between the two of us, so we had to take turns using it during the match, which is why I didn't really get any 'usable' photos in the first half, but once I got to use the zoom lens in the second half I got some half decent shots.

Obviously they're nothing in comparison to the professional football photographers images as they have the privilege of using zoom lens' which can cost up to £10,000! We clearly didn't have that sort of equipment but had to make the most of what we had, which I think, I have done.  

Thankfully my memory card wasn't full when Papiss Cisse scored his second goal of the game to finish Liverpool off.

Geordie joy.

The moment the handbags came out and Reina ended up getting himself sent off.

These two shots (above and below) are probably my favorite shots from the whole day, simply because of the timing and the framing of both images, you'd think I was a pro eh..? 

It was only fitting that after Liverpool had already substituted two former Newcastle players in Andy Carroll and Craig Bellamy, that our old left back, Jose Enrique ended up having to go in goal on his return to St James' Park. 

Walk of shame.

That's not Reina?

Newcastle supporters more than happy with what they have just witnessed.

Shola came and joined us after the game with a post match piece of pizza to celebrate the victory!

David Westhead showing Shola some of work from the World Cup.

Ended the day with a nice little interview with the man himself.

So there you have it, I narrowed 400+ photos from the day down to about 35-40 which show near enough every aspect of our day at St James'. I've met some great people the past few days and it honestly has been an honor to have been invited to take part in this wonderful project. I truly feel like I have bonded with everyone involved, many Susan, David, John and Thapelo, so I hope we keep in touch. Now that it's been a few days since I was taking the photos at the stadium, it feels like I'm back on the ground and back into reality, but like I said earlier, hopefully I can use this as a spring board to have a successful career in photography. Can't thank everyone who made this possible enough!

The 'Wembley to Soweto' exhibition is at The Sage, Gateshead until the 17th of April so be sure to pop down and have a look at the fantastic work produced.

I would personally like to thank John Cole, David Westhead and Susan Morton for giving me this fantastic opportunity!

John Cole

David Westhead

Susan Morton
...and when she stops focusing so much on making others successful and gets round to finishing off her own website for 'Morton PR' I'll post that link on here!

Thapelo Motsumi

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  1. Hi Joel,

    I really thought the photos you captured were really great! Being half-way round the world, this is the closest I've ever been to seeing the great magpies in action.

    I especially love the shot of the fans when Carroll was substituted.

    Well done!

    1. Thanks a lot mate!

      You'll need to get yourself over for a match one day, it's wild when the fans get going!

    2. It's surely in the pipeline to visit Newcastle one day. Ideally that would be next year at a home game during their Europa league conquest!

    3. now, now, don't jinx us! haa

  2. Im very proud!!!!...get that application sorted.

    1. thanks Catherine... I'll have to think about that one! ;)

  3. Hi Joel, my niece put me onto this article, I'm glad she did the photo's are excellent. You jokingly say youd think you were a pro, keep this up and you may well be! good luck

    1. yeah she told me she passed it on, thank you so much for your comment, means a lot! :)

  4. cool photos bro, keep at it!

    1. very much appreciated, thanks!