World Cup diary - part five: On tour with Norwich City, via a soaking in Moscow
PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 July 2018
Our Norwich City photographer, Paul Chesterton, has had little time to rest - no sooner had the final whistle sounded on the World Cup final than he was on his way to Germany to cover the Canaries tour. Paul takes up the story...
I appear to have got lost on my way home from Russia. I seem to have got on the wrong flight and have now pitched up in Germany. I think it’s Germany. I might be wrong.
It’s been some summer. Even Gareth Southgate and the England boys will now have a few weeks off. I enjoyed my 24 hours close-season break between 2017/18 and 2018/19, although it was spent on a plane.
I missed the first Norwich tour game because there was the small matter of a World Cup final to finish our trip. I think you left us in the last blog heading to St Petersburg to cover the Three Lions’ third place play-off against Belgium. Otherwise known as the most pointless game of the tournament.
We were still on a downer from the Croatia result. But that was compounded by my son, Dan, being turned down for accreditation for the final. Basically, as you can imagine, it was heavily over-subscribed for photographers. What that meant was we had to hot-foot it back even quicker to Moscow after yet another disappointing result for England in what was still for me a fantastic tournament for the boys. The reason being, Dan needed to get himself on the waiting list as early as possible to give him the best chance try and pick up a spot around the pitch.
We got to the stadium at 7.45am on the day of the final thanks to the overnight train and the metro – for those who know my Carrow Road routine that is even earlier by my standards. We got access to the stadium at 10am and Dan was sixth on the waiting list. But all that meant was he didn’t know his fate until 4.30pm, or 90 minutes from kick-off.
To give you an idea, there were more than 130 on that waiting list. It was a horrible wait for the both of us. There was me about to shoot the final but my son might not be there with me. I was dreading it. So 4.30pm comes, then 5pm, and no decision. But I had to get pitchside to take fan pictures. Every time I took a picture I was checking my phone for a message from Dan. By this time, Dan’s mum was also texting me from home to see if he had got in. At 5.15pm we got the verdict. He was in! Somehow Fifa had managed to shoehorn in all those on the waiting list.
Dan ended up in the tribune, which is basically with the print and other digital journalists actually up in a stand. It wasn’t perfect, but he was in. Now I could start enjoying the final.
Dan got to his seat at 5.25pm, or 35 minutes before kick-off – that is cutting it close for Championship game, never mind the World Cup final.
The game itself was enjoyable but as most of the goal celebrations were around the benches away from me it was fairly uneventful. Until the end, that is. I’m sure you’ve all seen what happened. There was a 40-minute delay from the final whistle to the start of the presentations. Then just as Vladimir Putin took to the pitch, the heavens opened. Suffice to say I just about managed to shoot the trophy lift for the French team before one camera packed up due to water damage. Then I had to run back to my seat, which was the other side of the pitch, to drop off the dead camera. My camera bag was actually in a bin liner kindly provided by Norwich City when we turn up at Carrow Road. I knew it would come in handy. Lo and behold, as I am then trying to find the trophy through all the gold leaf, fireworks and smoke another camera died. So at this point I am down to one camera. I grab a few frames of French players with the trophy and decide enough is enough as I know I need at least one working camera to cover the Canaries in Germany.
After a thorough soaking we got back to the hotel and tried to get all the waterlogged kit hung up and decided to polish off the few beers and half a bottle of vodka left which wasn’t coming back with us. We had definitely earned it! Nine hours later I am boarding a plane to Dusseldorf to meet Paddy with two broken cameras, a pair of boots that took two days to dry out and a pair of jeans that I had to throw in the bin.
To go from the World Cup final to SV Lunen’s non league ground on Tuesday afternoon to cover City’s U23s thumping 6-0 win over Borussia Dortmund’s U23s was some contrast. But I had four goals down my end in a superb first half and Anthony Spyrou celebrated down my lens. So I had more goals and celebrations down my end in 45 minutes that in the World Cup final. Normal service resumed.
What a summer, which for me started with a Europa League final in Lyon via Kiev for the Champions League, Russia, and now back on the Canaries’ beat. I feel privileged and honoured.
Let me tell you, it has been six weeks of hard graft – but I wouldn’t have changed it for anything.