“You’re cutting it a bit fine to get to Lord’s aren’t you ?” were the words that woke me from my brief sleep on the office sofa by my boss on the morning after the 1975 European Cup Final.No niceties about how this eighteen-year-old kid on his first ever time abroad had fared amongst the flying missiles in the rioting that had occurred fourteen hours earlier in Paris.
Leeds United were on the receiving end of some shocking refereeing decisions in their 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich resulting in violent scenes in which a TV cameraman lost an eye.
I’d returned in the middle of the night on a Comet from Beauvais with the Leeds United travel club. My dad drove me from Luton Airport to the Holborn office where I processed my films, made prints and then delivered them on foot around Fleet Street, before crashing out around 8am.
My work hadn’t been top drawer but I’d got amongst the disturbances with the basic camera kit I had and despite being ordered by the French officials and police to move to safety, stayed behind the goal guarded by Bayern goalkeeper Sepp Maier.
A blatant penalty committed by Beckenbauer was waved away, quickly followed by a Lorimer shot that bulged the net of Maier, only to be belatedly chalked off for a harsh offside decision. The Parc des Princes scoreboard had already recorded the goal for Leeds.
The Leeds fans kicked off, hurling bottles and broken seats towards the pitch.
One reason I felt compelled to stay put was because a freelance English photographer named Gerry Cranham was sitting directly behind the net and that left me short of excuses if I tried to explain that nobody was allowed to stay in that part of the ground.
As I moved closer to the net I returned for the remainder of my belongings to find a seat that had sliced into the turf on that very spot.
Anyway next morning, I picked up the tripod and the long lens used for cricket and headed up to the windy and deserted Q Stand at the home of cricket for Middlesex v Essex, where about a hundred or so hardy soles had paid to watch this 3 day match.
Nothing was happening in the cricket to clear my mind of the events of the previous night. After an hour or so the unmistakeable cries of the Evening Standard salesman wafted upstairs announcing that the City Prices edition had arrived at the ground. Running back upstairs carrying the News and Standard I ran to show the only other photographer at the match my five images splashed over the news and sports pages.
He gave me an encouraging ‘well done son’ and at lunch I eagerly telephoned the office to tell my boss. I’d felt proud of my coverage at such a big match and had actually written my name on the back of the prints underneath the company rubber stamp. The Standard had actually put my name on the credit and my boss was furious that the company name wasn’t on the byline.
It certainly was a strange form of encouragement for a young photographer learning his trade but that was life I guess, back in the seventies.
As a kid I can remember all the coverage Manchester United got for winning the European Cup in 1968, while I was still at junior school. Strange to think that a mere seven years later I would be working as a photographer covering only the second time an English team had reached the final of Europe’s top club competition.
That agency still own my images but in a strange twist of fate, I now own the archive of Gerry Cranham. Here are some of his shots and one of mine by courtesy of the copyright holder.