I had been commissioned to photograph the grand opening of Glenelg’s new football pitch. It had been part financed by a grant from the credit card company Capital One’s Grounds for Improvement scheme and they wanted publicity photographs. Their PR company sent a timetable for the days events, it was very detailed. I dutifully printed it off and on the day left it at home. This is the Highlands after all, time is an abstract concept around here. There was only one thing that had to be on time and that was me arriving at the slipway before the last ferry. If I missed it there was a twisty, windy and long drive home.
The ferry between Skye and Glenelg is a must do trip for all visitors to our neck of the woods. The tide and currents cause the sea to race through the narrow gap between Glenelg and Skye making for an exhilarating journey on what is essentially a giant lazy susan bolted onto a small boat.
As I left the boat I checked when the last ferry was. It was about 7:30 but they would hang around a wee while for me. I love living here.
Glenelg is off the beaten track. For all that it’s had quite a few flirtations with fame. Gavin Maxwell’s Ring of Bright Water is set in and around Glenelg. There are two well preserved Pictish brochs nearby and the village is twinned with a little bit of Mars (I know all about this because I photographed a big celebration about it and met an astronaut).
According to the timetable I was there right on and on my own. This wasn’t a surprise and eventually people started to turn up. The new football pitch was a great achievement for the community and it wanted to celebrate. There were also a couple of billion midges. the curse of the west highlands. I, of course, was without my Smidge the current midge repellent of choice. Being a professional I had to pretend that I was fine and not at all bothered. It was Hell.
Time marched on and the crowd chatted. The midges feasted, mainly on me, most everybody else was either lathered in repellent or wearing midge hoods. One person was wearing ski goggles and a scarf. I couldn’t mock. I was wearing 4000 midges.
Eventually the two teams appeared. The young side would take on the old side. Before that there was the presentation. A board had been created to commemorate the event and it was unveiled by the lady who had donated the land for the pitch.
The match was entertaining. Speed versus guile. The young team ran with the ball at maximum revs while the old team let the ball do the work and passed a lot. There wasn’t much goal mouth action but that wasn’t the point. This was a community get together and the football was just the McGuffin, the excuse for beer, wine and merriment – mainly at the expense of the players. I like to think this was what Capital One had in mind. If so they succeeded. I loved watching and photographing community enjoying itself, celebrating it’s uniqueness and enjoying it’s own company.
Photographing a football match isn’t as much fun as playing or watching one. The urge to shout useful things like “man on!” and “square ball!” or “shoot” is great.
The crowd. Having fun despite the midges.