Apocalyptic football stadiums | Alex Mather

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Photographer and Nottingham Forest fan Alex Mather discovers the cold, harsh reality of football stadiums without the fans for his apocalyptic photo series, which is now available as a 40 page photo book.

Arsenal Football Club. Emirates Stadium. Capacity: 60,260.

Arsenal, Emirates Stadium
Copyright: Alex Mather
Arsenal, Emirates Stadium
Copyright: Alex Mather

Nottingham Forest. The City Ground. Capacity: 30,445.

Nottingham Forest, The City Ground
Copyright: Alex Mather
Nottingham Forest, The City Ground
Copyright: Alex Mather
Nottingham Forest, The City Ground
Copyright: Alex Mather
Nottingham Forest, The City Ground
Copyright: Alex Mather
Nottingham Forest, The City Ground
Copyright: Alex Mather
Nottingham Forest, The City Ground
Copyright: Alex Mather

“I’m a Nottingham Forest fan through thick and thin and we’ve finally had a season to remember after years of misery. The first game I went to was an 8-1 hammering by Man United, a start of things to come for the next 23 years.”

Alex Mather

Newcastle United Football Club. St James’ Park: Capacity: 52,405.

Newcastle United Football Club. St James' Park: Capacity: 52,405. Copyright: Alex Mather
Copyright: Alex Mather
Newcastle United Football Club. St James' Park: Capacity: 52,405. Copyright: Alex Mather
Copyright: Alex Mather

After experiencing an eerie emptiness when he visited Forest’s City Ground during Covid restrictions, Alex Mather widened his horizons to take in as many clubs as possible, but not necessarily on match days.

“My current photography project was inspired during lockdown,” he said.

“I created a photo book of life in Nottingham which showcased emptiness in a normally bustling city. This was going to include photos of my team, Nottingham Forest’s stadium.

“I loved the almost apocalyptic aesthetic of these photos.”

Newcastle United Football Club. St James' Park: Capacity: 52,405. Copyright: Alex Mather
Copyright: Alex Mather

Carlton Town Football Club. Bill Stokeld Stadium. Capacity: 1,968.

Carlton Town, Bill Stokeld Stadium
Copyright: Alex Mather
Carlton Town, Bill Stokeld Stadium
Copyright: Alex Mather
Carlton Town, Bill Stokeld Stadium
Copyright: Alex Mather

Notts County Football Club. Meadow Lane. Capacity: 19,841.

Notts County, Meadow Lane
Copyright: Alex Mather
Notts County, Meadow Lane
Copyright: Alex Mather

“I loved the almost apocalyptic aesthetic of these photos.”

Alex Mather
Notts County, Meadow Lane
Copyright: Alex Mather
Notts County, Meadow Lane
Copyright: Alex Mather

Rather than include them in his general gallery of lockdown life in Nottingham, Mather decided to repeat the exercise in towns and cities across the country, wherever his work as a mobile caterer took him.

“In the past when I’d visited The City Ground it was a hive of activity and atmosphere so the contrast of it suddenly being completely silent and empty had an eerie feel to it. 

Stockport County Football Club. Edgeley Park. Capacity: 10,852.

Stockport. Edgeley Park.
Copyright: Alex Mather
Stockport. Edgeley Park.
Copyright: Alex Mather

Sheffield Wednesday Football Club. Hillsborough Stadium. Capacity: 39,732.

Sheffield Wednesday, Hillsborough
Copyright: Alex Mather
Sheffield Wednesday, Hillsborough
Copyright: Alex Mather

“I continued this project throughout lockdown visiting other grounds around the Midlands and as lockdowns began to ease I tied it in with my job, visiting local grounds in whichever areas I was working. 

“Once fans were allowed to return and things became more normal I carried on capturing the same sort of eerie aesthetic to my photos and kept up the apocalyptic, behind the scenes, sense. 

Aston Villa Football Club. Villa Park. Capacity. 42,785.

Aston Villa, Villa Park
Copyright: Alex Mather
Aston Villa, Villa Park
Copyright: Alex Mather

“Most photos people see of stadiums are from within the grounds on match days or stadium tours, but this project is from a slightly different perspective, one you wouldn’t usually expect from a football stadium – emptiness and stillness.”

A lifelong Forest fan, his devotion was severely tested in the first game he went to… an 8-1 defeat by Manchester United in the 1998–99 season, the largest away win in the history of the Premier League until Leicester City’s 9–0 victory at Southampton 20 years later. Now the good times are back and he was at Wembley for the play off final that saw Forest clinch promotion back into the Premier League.

Aston Villa, Villa Park
Copyright: Alex Mather
Aston Villa, Villa Park
Copyright: Alex Mather

Torquay United Football Club. Plainmoor. Capacity: 6,500.

Torquay. Plainmoor
Copyright: Alex Mather

“I first got into photography about seven years ago,” he said. “I invested a lot of money into equipment and lenses but I got tired of having to lag a bag full of heavy equipment all the time so I simplified things and started shooting film on one of my grandad’s old Ricoh cameras. 

“I really enjoyed it. Shooting on this for a couple of months made me realise I could simplify my equipment and still enjoy it and take just as good (if not better) photos.

Sheffield United Football Club. Bramall Lane. Capacity: 32,050.

Sheffield United, Bramhall Lane
Copyright: Alex Mather
Sheffield United, Bramhall Lane
Copyright: Alex Mather

“I settled on a Fujifilm x100v which has been an absolute work horse for me and I’ve well and truly fallen in love with it.”

This latest project has lead him to see football grounds in a different light.

“Football fans see their home stadiums in a certain way and often overlook certain aspects to them” he said.

“I try to capture not just the glamorous side that you expect to see on TV or social media but the council estates the stadiums dwarf and the scrapyards attached to the back of them.”

Arnold Town Football Club. Eagle Valley Complex. Capacity: 3000.

Arnold Town, Eagle Valley Complex
Copyright: Alex Mather
Arnold Town Football Club. Eagle Valley Complex. Capacity: 3000. Copyright: Alex Mather
Copyright: Alex Mather
Arnold Town, Eagle Valley Complex
Copyright: Alex Mather
Arnold Town, Eagle Valley Complex
Copyright: Alex Mather

Mansfield Town Football Club. Field Mill. Capacity: 9,186.

Mansfield Town Football Club. Field Mill. Capacity: 9,186. Copyright: Alex Mather
Copyright: Alex Mather
Mansfield Town Football Club. Field Mill. Capacity: 9,186. Copyright: Alex Mather
Capacity: 9,186. Copyright: Alex Mather
Mansfield Town Football Club. Field Mill. Capacity: 9,186. Copyright: Alex Mather
Copyright: Alex Mather
Mansfield Town, Field Mill
Copyright: Alex Mather

Mather has been developing his photographic art as he has been going along.

“The best advice I can give is to enjoy the process of taking photos,” he says.

“Learn how to shoot manually even if you don’t use manual all the time but it will give you a better understanding of your camera and what works with it and just be confident with it. 

Portsmouth Football Club. Fratton Park. Capacity: 21,100.

Portsmouth Football Club. Fratton Park. Capacity: 21,100. Copyright: Alex Mather
Copyright: Alex Mather
Portsmouth, Fratton Park
Copyright: Alex Mather

“I try to capture not just the glamorous side that you expect to see on TV or social media but the council estates the stadiums dwarf and the scrapyards attached to the back of them.”

Alex Mather

Forest Green Rovers Football Club. The New Lawn Stadium. Capacity: 5,147.

Forest Green Rovers Football Club. The New Lawn Stadium. Capacity: 5,147. Copyright: Alex Mather
Copyright: Alex Mather
Forest Green Rovers. The New Lawn Stadium.
Copyright: Alex Mather
Forest Green Rovers. The New Lawn Stadium.
Copyright: Alex Mather

“Try not to overcomplicate things and overspend on equipment, and also have an idea of the type of shots you’re aiming to get and don’t just wing it and shoot anything and everything. 

“Once you get the opportunity to get the shot you want just take it straight away, whether that means ducking or jumping or climbing on something (all safely of course) then just do it. 

Crewe Alexandra Football Club. Gresty Road. Capacity: 10,153.

Crewe, Gresty Road
Copyright: Alex Mather
Crewe, Gresty Road
Copyright: Alex Mather

Leicester City Football Club. King Power Stadium. Capacity: 32,312.

Leicester City Football Club. King Power Stadium. Capacity: 32,312. Copyright: Alex Mather
Copyright: Alex Mather

Chesterfield Football Club. Technique Stadium. Capacity: 10,600.

Chesterfield, Technique Stadium
Copyright: Alex Mather
Chesterfield, Technique Stadium
Copyright: Alex Mather

Chesterfield, Technique Stadium
Copyright: Alex Mather

Barnsley Football Club. Oakwell Stadium. Capacity: 23,287.

Barnsley, Oakwell Stadium
Copyright: Alex Mather

“It’s important to enjoy hard copies of your own work and get some printed off and displayed at home, don’t just keep them all digitally.”

Alex Mather

Bristol Rovers Football Club. The Memorial Ground. Capacity: 12,300.

Bristol Rovers, Memorial Ground
Copyright: Alex Mather
Bristol Rovers, Memorial Ground
Copyright: Alex Mather
Bristol Rovers, Memorial Ground
Copyright: Alex Mather
Bristol Rovers, Memorial Ground
Copyright: Alex Mather
Bristol Rovers, Memorial Ground
Copyright: Alex Mather

Northampton Town Football Club. Sixfields Stadium. Capacity: 7,798.

Northampton, Sixfields
Copyright: Alex Mather

Yeovil Town Football Club. Huish Park. Capacity: 9,565.

Yeovil Town Football Club. Huish Park.
Copyright: Alex Mather
Yeovil Town Football Club. Huish Park.
Copyright: Alex Mather

Derby County Football Club. Pride Park. Capacity: 33,597.

Derby County. Pride park
Copyright: Alex Mather

Bristol City Football Club. Ashton Gate. Capacity: 27,000.

Bristol City Football Club. Ashton Gate. Capacity: 27,000. Copyright: Alex Mather
Copyright: Alex Mather
Bristol City, Ashton Gate
Copyright: Alex Mather
Copyright: Alex Mather

Oxford United Football Club. The Kassam Stadium. Capacity: 12,500.

Oxford United Football Club. The Kassam Stadium. Capacity: 12,500. Copyright: Alex Mather
Oxford United Football Club. The Kassam Stadium. Capacity: 12,500. Copyright: Alex Mather

“Most photos people see of stadiums are from within the grounds on match days or stadium tours, but this project is from a slightly different perspective, one you wouldn’t usually expect from a football stadium – emptiness and stillness.”

Alex Mather
Oxford United Football Club. The Kassam Stadium.
Copyright: Alex Mather
Oxford United Football Club. The Kassam Stadium.
Copyright: Alex Mather

Lincoln City Football Club. Sincil Bank Stadium. Capacity: 10,120.

Lincoln City, Sincil Bank
Lincoln City Football Club. Sincil Bank Stadium. Capacity: 10,120. Copyright: Alex Mather

“You’ll never regret it once you have the photo to look at afterwards. I think as well it’s important to enjoy hard copies of your own work and get some printed off and displayed at home, don’t just keep them all digitally.”

Prints of Alex’s photography are available to buy online here and you can keep up to date with his photo series on Instagram.

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