Story Behind The Shot: Capturing the fans

Thursday 29 December 2022 14:57

After focusing on Erik ten Hag and goals, our ‘Story Behind The Shot’ series continues with the most important theme yet – you, the Manchester United fans.

In case you didn’t know, club photographer Ash Donelon has been highlighting his favourite images within the pages of United Review all season and telling the tales that go alongside them. 

Here, the lifelong Red shares two of his standout images of supporters this season, both at home and abroad. Take a look below and delve a little deeper…

Image taken:
During the Chelsea match on 22 October 
Ash says: “At most football stadiums, you’ll see photographers sat behind the pitchside advertising boards at each goal end. Stamford Bridge is unusual because the fans are sat right behind the goals, meaning there’s no space for photographers, and so I have to sit along the long edges instead. 

“Although I’ve covered a few matches there, I’ve always been on the ‘wrong’ side, meaning I’m on the opposite side as the managers and away fans. This was my first game working on the right side, near our fans, so I knew I needed to make the most of the opportunity. 
IMAGE ONE: Ash captured Licha embracing a United fan in the away end at Stamford Bridge.
“When Chelsea won a penalty in the 87th minute I was doubly disappointed, not only as a fan but also because I was now at the wrong end for the action. However, even when the home side scored, our fans were still singing louder than ever, so it still felt like there was more to come from the match. A few moments later, Casemiro scored a superb header and sent the away end into raptures! 

“With the TV cameras and stewards now in my way, I had to leave my position and race towards the crowd to try and get a shot. Amongst the chaos I managed to snap this scene of Lisandro celebrating with a fan, and I hope it captures the joy of an away goal right at the death.”
Image taken:
After the Sheriff Tiraspol match on 15 September 
Ash says: “Whenever I’m working at a stadium I’ve never visited before, the first question on my mind is ‘Where will the United fans be?’ Professional football is nothing without fans, and the way United supporters transform every away end into a slice of Old Trafford never fails to impress me. 
IMAGE TWO: The United players applaud our magnificent supporters who travelled to Moldova.

“I’ll always try and position myself in front of the away end for one half of the match, and for the other half I’ll go directly opposite, so I can get the travelling United fans and the team in the same shot. Chisinau wasn’t a particularly easy place for UK-based fans to get to, and I heard stories of multiple flights and convoluted long haul train journeys, so I was really happy that the ones who made it there got to see United score twice and return to winning ways in Europe.”

Read more of 'Story Behind The Shot' from this season's editions of United Review, our official matchday programmes that are all available to order online