I have recently been scanning some of my degree work from the mid 1980’s. It is quite hard to believe it now, but during the 1980’s football was not the omnipotent force it is today and there really was a possibility that other sports could challenge its popularity. American Football became quite a phenomenon at this time mainly due to Channel 4’s nifty coverage, craftily scheduled on Sunday afternoons. Suddenly every town in the U.K seemed to have a team and Newton Abbot was no different; The Newton Great Westerners played their home matches at Coach Road, which was handily placed just down the street. I took photographs at a number of their matches and at the time I had pretensions of being a documentary photographer although I think I had August Sander in mind when I took the photograph above. It was also an important project for me because I realized I needed to get a little closer to my subject so I started asking people if I could take their portraits, and it drew me in, and enabled me to make much better pictures.
It was a new world of cheerleaders and razzamatazz. I was particularly interested in the rapid embracing of this new cultural landscape which was quite at odds with the actual physical landscape that remained steadfastly British. I remember being quite keen to include the rolling hills and rugby posts in the background as a counterpoint to the newly arrived flamboyance.
I am not quite sure what happened to The Newton Great Westerners, but in the days before digital photography and the camera phone people just didn’t document their lives so much and these might be some of the very few photographs that prove of their existence at all.