Updated: Jan 13, 2022
Where do I even start? The month of August has been amazing, following Fleetwood Town - a Sky Bet League One team - around the country as I embarked on my first experience being a club photographer.
As July 2021 came to a close, I wasn't sure what my situation was, but thanks to my agency - Prime Media Images - they managed to get the t's crossed and the I's dotted as after the club's final pre-season friendly, it was announced that I would take over as their club photographer.
The English Football League (EFL) season began on Friday 6 August 2021, but Fleetwood Town's opening game wasn't until Saturday, which saw play-off hopefuls and 2008 FA Cup Winners, Portsmouth visit the Fylde Coast to play Simon Grayson's side at Highbury Stadium.
I was nervous come kick-off, the hard work and graft I put in last season was going to be tested but I knew deep down I was ready for the occasion. David Horn - co-owner of Prime Media Images - has been amazing with me and I owe him a lot for given me the opportunity to shadow the last club photographer - Stephen Buckley - during the 2020/21 season and after nag after nag and advice after advice, now was my time to shine and show off my skills.
It was a day that saw wind, rain and sunshine, but after Fleetwood Town had their moments in the opening 45 minutes of their game, it was the visitors who took away the three points on the day. Lee Brown's goal on the hour mark sealed all three points for Danny Cowley's side, backing up their play-off / promotion hopes a big boost on day one.
Seeing supporters back inside the stadium was great. As a photographer, it was only my second experience of having them right behind me throughout a match and it gives you a different perspective. The atmosphere from the first whistle to the last was amazing and I am sure that will continue through until May 2022, as all football fans have missed out on their Saturday afternoon and Tuesday night fix.
Championship side Stoke City were the Cod Army's next opponents, this time in the first round of the Carabao Cup at the famous bet365 Stadium - or more commonly known as the Britannia Stadium.
What an experience to shoot at a former Premier League stadium. The pre-game shots were amazing, capturing the atmosphere before players, staff and fans were inside the ground got me more up for the match. Fleetwood again lost out by one goal, with the Potters progressing to the second round after a 2-1 victory on home soil.
It was great to see Australian international and former Fleetwood Town defender Harry Souttar whilst on my travels. I got to know the big man whilst he was on-loan at Fleetwood and it's no wonder he's thriving now after what I am sure he will say was a very successful loan spell for him. He's played in World Cup Qualifiers for his country, and most recently represented his country in the Tokyo Olympics in the Men's Football competition. I'd like to wish Soutts all the best this season and for what's to come!
Games in August come thick and fast, and it was the second of three away trips for myself and Fleetwood as they were up against last season's play-off finalists - Lincoln City - who lost out to Blackpool FC 2-1 at Wembley back in May 2021. Fleetwood scored their first goal of the campaign in that match an Sincil Bank, with Danny Andrew scoring a beauty of a free-kick. Unfortunately for me, a player ran across the frame just as the free-kick was taken, but I didn't get beat up about it, I knew the next best thing was to capture the raw celebrations as Andrew and his teammates ran to celebrate with the travelling supporters.
It wasn't to be for Grayson and his men as they conceded two second half goals, which meant Michael Appleton and the Imps claimed the points.
It was back on the road on Tuesday 17 August, with Sheffield Wednesday the hosts in the Sky Bet League One clash. Could Fleetwood pick up their first win of the season at one of the favourites for promotion? Could. they win at the famous Hillsborough stadium for the very first time? Unfortunately they couldn't. Lee Gregory's first half strike was the difference in the midweek fixture, but Town held their own and would take those positives forward into their next match, their second home game of the season against newly-promoted Cheltenham Town.
Fleetwood did win their first match of the 2021/22 season against newly-promoted Cheltenham Town. It was a thriller and finished 3-2 to the Cod Army after the visitors made it 2-2 with only minutes left on the referee's clock. Huge relief for sure, but it was so nice to capture all goal celebrations (and their efforts at goal even if people ran across the frame haha). Below is the celebration of the first goal which saw Tom Clarke head home from close range.
And finally to wrap off the month, it was a trip to Plymouth Argyle. After 9 hours on the road - yes it was a fixture on a Bank Holiday Weekend - it was a early night in before the match on the Saturday. I have only been doing football and sports photography since October 2020, but this picture (below) is the best goal I have captured on my camera. The timing of the ball hitting the boots on the volley and everything about it, it was a massive moment for me. I hope you like it!
Well that's the first month of the season out of the way. It's been memorable for me thus far and I am so grateful for being allowed this opportunity. I will keep learning and now I have a break from covering Fleetwood Town until September 11th, as it's the international break and a number of players are with their countries playing across Europe. Here's hoping September is another month of highs, goals and the celebrations.
All images were taken by myself, but all images belong to PRiME Media Images.
Sam Fielding / SLF-Studios