Associated with fashion photography for 25 years, Taff Manton found the perfect escape in following West Ham United and with it the culture of their fans.
Long Live The Boleyn | Taff Manton
A photo documentary by Taff Manton on West Ham United fans during the clubs move away from The Boleyn Ground to The London Stadium.
A limited edition A5 zine containing 30 black and white photographs across 24 pages.
“After regimented fashion work it was a release to walk about with no rules or restrictions,” he says. “If it looks good and its wonky or out of focus it doesn’t matter. A good shot is a good shot”.
A West Ham fan himself, he lists the stylish England and West Ham star Trevor Brooking among his icons. For his culture, he says.
Legendary Billy Bonds, who epitomised the Irons’ fighting spirit in over 27 years as player and manager, is up there too. For his anti-culture, says Manton.
His photographs form part of an ongoing project which begun in 2005. But having started following West Ham as a young 11 year old in the 1970s, he has become disillusioned with changing trends.
Reflects Manton: “Football, youth culture and music went hand in hand from way back. Going to a gig where everyone was rooting for the band was the same feeling as standing on a terrace in Grimsby with 300 like minded Hammers.
“Maybe I’m old but there doesn’t seem to be that same connection between music and football anymore.”
He has seen fashions change throughout the decades, while at the same time the grounds have grown producing stadiums too big to generate an atmosphere week in week out.
The costs of getting onto the terraces have rocketed too. “It used to be pocket money and travelling up with your 14 year old mates, ” he recalled. “Now it’s booking three weeks in advance and taking out a bank loan, with the smell of onions swapped for popcorn.
“Stadiums are too big for an atmosphere, made for special occasions but played in every game.
“Maybe lower leagues is closer to the old days,” he said. “Football has changed”.
Manton’s pictures capture the gritty reality of match day life in and around the ground, and he has this advice for any would be photographers out there: “shoot lots, edit more.”
No words should be necessary, he says.
“The pictures should speak for themselves.”
If you enjoyed that, you may also like Chelsea FC – And Now You Are Going To Believe Us, where photographer and supporter John Ingledew provides a 25 year photographic record of Chelsea and their fans as they took their place at the pinnacle of English and European football.