Given the weight of online opinion created every second of every day, it’s a wonder that any of it gets remembered. But I’ve had more than one football conversation with more than one Liverpool fan who laughs at the Steven Gerrard gag which states that Gerrard probably made a ‘brum, brum’ car noise as he belted around the pitch. It’s funny, particularly to the English because we recognise the qualities within the joke which we value in a footballer. Passion, energy, a disdain for tactics, the occasional spectacular pass/goal/tackle over maintaining position and possession.
It’s hard not to warm to this kind of play, coming from England. We like fast, physical action, mixed with no small amount of skill. It was how I was raised and coached, if coached is the right word. Coming off the field, your red badge of courage would be a muddy shirt, with the option of having it untucked for those who admired the more whimsical talents which were sprinkled throughout the professional teams my friends and I aspired to.
But we change and grow, and come to appreciate different qualities. Playing in the same era as Steven Gerrard were the Fulham midfield pair, Danny Murphy and Jimmy Bullard. These two were neat and unflashy. They weren’t caught out of position. They didn’t give the ball away in pursuit of the spectacular. What they did instead was receive the ball, look up, pass the ball, move into space, and repeat. In short, Bullard and Murphy did their work in a skilful and productive manner. Not especially spectacular, but very effective.
I’d like to think I work in the same way when live theatre work comes up, as it did this week just gone. I used to set up flashes off camera. I used to have three lenses to hand. I used to be zipping up and down my camera controls. But now I just generally observe, and take up a position. Then observe through the camera and click at the moment when the action seems to have reached an emotional peak. And that’s about all I do, these days. Observe, click. Pass, move.