Behind Closed Doors

On assignment today for Getty Sport I was up in Newcastle to cover what was happening outside of St James’ Park as Newcastle played their first ‘behind closed doors’ game against Sheffield United.

Getty sport has their sports guys inside the ground covering the action on the field but under the current lockdown restrictions having thousands of fans inside the stadium clearly was a no-go. So I was sent along to document anything that might be happening around the ground during the match.

Arriving in Newcastle a little over two hours before the 2pm kick off I parked up and headed to the ground. Match day in any town or city is a busy affair as fans from both sides make their way to the ground but today was not typical.

Aside from an increased police presence around the ground and the hi-viz jackets of the stewards and stadium security you would never know there was a premier league game going ahead.

Admittedly as I was driving up to Newcastle I wasn’t feeling particularly excited about the prospect of what I might be able to shoot. Clearly there was never going to be hundreds of toon fans stood at the stadium. Nor are there any pubs open who might otherwise be screening the match, so other than generic GV’s of the stadium and stewards I was uncertain of what else there might be.

On arrival at the stadium I was indeed greeted by the site of two stewards sitting on a wall near the main entrance. But beyond them were the Sheffield United team buses…beyond them were four police horses passing the stadium….and beyond them was a bloke with a towel draped over his shoulders stood chanting football songs on a wall he had climbed up next to the Alan Shearer statue!

Ok…I thought, so there are things there I can work with! After shooting some pictures around those I began the first of what to become six full circuits of the stadium.

Walking around and through Leazes Park which backs onto the stadium perimeter on one side. Fortunately it was a nice day and there were plenty of people – socially distanced of course – in the park enjoying the open space and a bit of sunshine.

During my circuits of the ground in Leazes Park I was able to photo a guy having a kick around with a friend, a couple of lads watching the game on their phones and I was able to get a picture as they celebrated when Newcastle scored their second goal. There were a couple of police officers on horse back and a young girl riding a bike. All of these were with the stadium structure towering over the trees behind them and made ok pictures.

Around the ground there were various shots of stewards and a couple of fans who were there. All of these were gradually adding to the set from the day but I decided to have walk into the city centre and see what I could find there. I had a thought that TV or electrical shops or maybe fast food places or a taxi office might have had the match on as it was made available for free so I hoped I might see people gathered on the street watching it.

Alas this came to nothing and I wasn’t able to find anything decent that worked but after shooting a guy on a bench watching it on his laptop I headed back for another circuit around the stadium.

By the end of the match, Newcastle won 3-0, I’d filed 2 lots of pictures to the desk and covered a few miles around town so it was time to call it a day and head home.

Here’s a few pictures from the day:

 Image (c) Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

See more of my work in my galleries & blog at Room 2850

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