Dressing rooms at SGP
The marketing and visuals for the World Cup were so vibrant and in the warm up matches and training, the team from Wembley worked hard to create asquad identity and inspirational environment wherever we went. Nothing was left to chance so that the players felt good, had what they needed off the pitch to be able to play freely at at their peak. This picture shows the players making final preparations in the home dressing room before their final training session at St. George's Park before heading to France.
This was taken on the media and commercial day at St. George's Park where over 100 journalists and photographers gathered content for the World Cup. The players were signing some strips and I was just chatting with them, and then I saw Steph and Jill with Bobby Moore behind them and thought how it was possible that this team could be the next World Cup winners.
Passports at the ready
This was on our way to France. We’d just hopped on the bus to take us to our plane. As you can see, the players are excited. It’s always fun to travel together and spend some time with the players in a relaxed way. Toni also always had a pair of sunglasses close to hand!
Georgia’s recovery session
We arrived in Nice first. The team would do some of their recovery in the pool we had on the roof top. One day, this took the form of water aerobics in the rooftop pool. Georgia Stanway took the session and had everyone laughing and nearly in sync to her session.
The corridor to the media room was flooded with light and I just thought the contrast of the vibrant red on the back of the strips would make a cool pic. I waited around for a bit and Steph was pretty much the last to leave the room. As she did, I followed her and the first picture is what I thought I would get but she then heard me clicking so turned around, laughed and did a little skip and walked on - one of the first pictures I took in France but a real favourite as it’s so natural.
Living their vest life
The vests came out when it started to get hotter. Some players hated them, while others loved them. G and Lucy clearly were fans. I remember it being very hot in this gym as the team did some strength and conditioning. I was snapping away and they were doing box jumps. I caught them as they waited to move onto the next circuit. I love how mischievous they look!
In England, the players have their own bus and it's the same at the World Cup, with England-branded transport provided. The bus is an interesting place, where the players usually sit in the same seats and the competition for being DJ is fierce. But if they don’t get the right vibe, the rest of the team soon tell the DJ to move on. This day, Keira and Lucy were in charge and I’m pretty sure Shania Twain was on the speakers on the return from training!
The Fab Four
Deauville is a beautiful seaside town in the north of France and was our base twice. The beach was on the other side of the street and often mobility sessions would take place on the sand. The goalkeepers like a picture and with there being four of them, I thought it would be quite nice to set up a Beatles' Abbey Road- type picture which they agreed to. But we only had about 30 seconds as the bus was leaving so our security held up the traffic and they quickly posed! They're walking in the opposite direction to the Beatles but that’s because it was our Fab Four!
Lyon. It was almost 40 degrees at this point! We’d gone into the city centre during an afternoon off and spotted these bus stops named after players. I don’t think Steph had even realised so I yelled and pointed it out to her. They all ran in and posed for the photo.
World Cup year involves a lot of time away from home and the players miss their family, friends and pets! The hotel in Lyon had a cat that became a mascot. Keira named it Marble. We also had a bunch of the teddy bears delivered to the squad from our commercial team, which the players loved. We spent a lot of time in that garden area in the lead up to the semi-final, so I have some great memories from this time.
Leah and Little G, two of the youngsters of the team and roomies. They happily posed for pictures leaving the hotel, but what they didn’t realise was that Millie and Rachel were also roomies and were jumping up and down behind them. This, just for me, shows the happiness and freedom to enjoy the journey that the boss instilled in the team. Special people and an amazing step in the journey of the Lionesses.
The magical bench
The bench pictures…the origins of these pictures is that I wanted to make sure that I had at least one picture of each player in each match. The World Cup is the pinnacle and to make it there is special and, even if the players didn’t get on the pitch, I knew it was important not maybe in the moment but on reflection to have a picture memory of the match. With this in mind at the Scotland match, I took a few of the players on the bench and the group got bigger as they all wanted a picture with their team-mates and they gave me a little wave or a pose. This started a tradition that we kept throughout the tournament. The players then started having a chat about what they could do in the bench picture. Leah and Little G were ring leaders! The poses became more varied and everyone wanted in the pre-match pic. The staff then recreated what the players had done and it caused quite a few laughs. This picture is the bench from Sweden match. The wizard had said she was retiring before the match and usually Kaz’s pose pre-match was serious, mean and moody but in this one the rest of the players picked her up and you can see them making the sign of 20 - Kaz’s number. A fitting tribute to an amazing player.
The players are an amazing bunch to work with but sometimes they do think I have some crazy ideas. This picture of Ellen and Jill was after the USA match and Jill was sporting a black eye. Ellen is well known for her big gun arms so I just asked her to pretend she had hit Jill, who tries so hard to get big muscles. They were laughing and joking and then Jill, ever the joker, pulled this face which was just perfect for the moment.
Time for home
I thought this was good to include alongside number to show them arrived and now, returning. Although they look very happy here, it was a strange mix of emotions when we returned home. It was heartbreaking that our time together was over. We were together for almost eight weeks. There are so many highs and lows in a tournament like the World Cup. I’m so thankful that we had as many amazing moments as we did. It was exhausting but I’d happily do it all over again and again…and again! I’ve done many, many tournaments, but this is one I’ll treasure forever.