Football photographers get used to many things, variable lighting across a pitch, non league floodlights and inclement weather. It is just what we do. Add to that sloping pitches, players warming up in front of you, and the fun really starts. But it is a challenge. My Canon EOS 5D MK3 copes reasonably well with all this, and a small amount of playing afterwards reduces some of the grain, albeit at the expense sometimes of sharpness. I really enjoy these challenges.
These photos come from a non league cup game, Velocity trophy, and was actually a great game to watch for the neutral. Here are some of the photos both of the game and the fans which capture the magic of non league.
Not many sides in the history of football in any division anywhere worldwide have achieved what Carshalton have done since December 2017. From 33 points they have gained 31 and are unbeaten on this phenomenal run that saw them get promoted to the Bostik Premier league. Not that Carshalton made it easy on themselves. The scoreline will show a 4-3 victory in front of a seasons best crowd of just under 600.
Before the game whatever happened in games elsewhere all Carshalton had to do was to win the game. A simple equation. Starting the game however was the first obstacle as the referee was delayed on a flight back from Albania, that gave Carshalton the advantage of knowing their opponents results essentially at half time. In reality Whyteleafe gave them a tough game and were physical, maybe overly so , opponents that never actually lost the game until the 95th minute. On a hot afternoon physical fitness was going to be important and Carshalton certainly had the superiority on Whyteleafe on that.
The game however took a circuitous route with Whyteleafe taking the lead and Carshalton missing a penalty, then after making it 1-1, allowed Whyteleafe to score twice in minutes, making it 1-3 before staging a comeback to win the game 4-3 with the last meaningful kick of the game.
There are plenty of other detailed reports but from my perspective Carshalton played great football with measured passing, sometimes of a far higher standard. Finishing was superb, and with a little more luck could have won this game 7-3.
The end product was promotion and to the 600 crowd thats all that mattered.
An entertaining game played mostly in chilly bright sunshine which did not always make photography easy. Carshalton were the better side but the result was in doubt until the end.
A lot impressed me about this match. The referee let the game flow and tried not to become the focus but for some inexplicable reason did not award a penalty. The Thamesmead keeper brought down the Carshalton striker when the ball was heading away from danger. From my vantage point only yards away it was a clear penalty, and the linesman on this side had the same view albeit a few more yards away.
Then for a similar strange reason the referee did award a very soft penalty later in the first half. Crowds are increasing at Colston avenue for very good reasons. The football is good, played in the right manner and a good clubhouse means that folks can watch with their beer ( from inside or outside).
Carshalton were always the more threatening side however Thamesmead equalised early in the second half fortuitously before Carshalton scored the winning goal midway through the second half.
The star of the game was Christie Pattison recently signed from Phoenix Sports and before that Welling United and Brentford. On the evidence of this game he will go far and Brentford may have released him too early. He constantly troubled the Thamesmead defence.
Following the debacle that surrounded Brentford in the final day or hours even of the transfer window that saw the club sell 3 of the team that played the previous week to Birmingham ( making a total of 14 new signings for Harry Redknapp), followed by the Rooney drunk driving story, and completed by the frankly dire Malta v England game ( how exactly is Southgate the best English manager? Who decided this and were they residing in an asylum at the time? Nice guy but zero motivational skills, as demonstrated by his team last friday). Some sanity was needed. And where else to go than non league football and per chance it was FA cup day, the Preliminary round.
The FA cup is as important financially to the smaller non league clubs as it is to the footballing giants with prize money for winners in this round £1925 for the 160 winners. Many clubs at this level have crowds that might be as low as 50-100, so this is serious money.
Carshalton are a great small club playing in the Bostik League South and I usually capture 4-6 games a season. Pagham Town play in a lower league , Southern Combination Premier so were the underdogs. Entrance was 10£ and a programme was 10p. Thats right. Carshalton are experimenting with e-programmes to one’s phone and the cost of the text is 10p. Some are in favour of this and some not. Frankly I like the idea as clubs should not be subsidising programmes, as they do, in the paper format. In theory also the programme should be 100% uptodate. Curiously the only thing missing from the programme were the teams! Just blank pages. Teething issues I guess.
Free parking at the ground, decent burgers and a clubhouse, newly renovated , make a visit to Carshalton a pleasant experience. The football also is good. They play good football under their player/manager Peter Adeniyi. The ground also boasts one of the best non league terraces in UK.
The game itself clearly mattered a lot to Pagham Town who by half time were 2-0 up and with a high work rate thoroughly deserved their lead. Something might have been said at half time in the Carshalton dressing room as within a few minutes the score was 2-2. In the end the fitness and the skill of Carshalton showed as they won the game 5-3.
This was good honest football. No unpleasant chanting. Cheap burgers. Football in the sun. High work rate from both teams and some of the finishing at this level was sublime. There were a few young Carshalton players to keep an eye on here.
A really good day out and with no nonsense either.
Live football is a great game and can be easily distinguished from the reality TV nonsense that so often represents the fare delivered from the Premiership. Skill levels may be greater in the Premiership but nothing beats seeing and smelling the action from close up. Things that would seem an anathema to stewards in league football happen weekly in the non-league arena. To put it simply, the rules are sensible. Fans can stand and drink beer on the terraces, fans can often bring well behaved dogs on a lead, fans can purchase good quality food at reasonable prices .
This is football played ny normal people and watched by those who genuinely love the game. To anyone with a camera there are many photo opportunities to observe all manner of real life at football.
Although I often go to non-league football games to watch and photograph the actions and the players, there are also some great images to be had from the fans and officials alike. Here are a few shots taken from the Ryman South game 2nd January 2017 Chipstead v Carshalton Athletic.
One of the features of non league football is that it is real football played by real people and relies heavily on officials taking charge of matches. Sometimes the officials can be a photogenic part of the afternoon. This random shot of a linesman yawning was shot by chance.
A cold afternoon that ended up little over freezing at the end saw an interesting and entertaining game which either side could have won. Carshalton missed a few good chances and also contrived to miss two penalties rather badly. Good value as always for £9.It is always easy being a football critic of course but the difference between the two sides and maybe the chance of Carshalton reaching the play offs, is taking your chances and taking them at the right time. Carshalton played the better football but the scoreline mandates that Chipstead played the more effective football and certainly looked better than a team that was 20 points below Carshalton.
Godalming were doomed from the first 5 minutes when they were 3-0 down and it was always how many goals were Carshalton going to score. In truth the teams were classes apart. Not many teams could have lived with the free flowing football and the movement displayed last night. The finishing was sublime. There will be far better match reports than this but this was a game to really enjoy and wonder how far this team can go.
Clearly 10-0 victory says it all really. No sendings off, no goalkeeper injuries, just ten good goals. to their credit Godalming kept going till the end and a few minutes before the end looked certain to score but even then the Carshalton defence were battling away to keep a clean sheet and cleared the ball off the line.
The fans enjoyed this game however the Godalming manager looked downcast all game and resigned this morning.