We all enjoy looking at cracking images of the Reds, but who is behind the camera?
Tonight we caught up with official club photographer at Barnsley FC, Keith Turner.
We asked 'Stretch' as he's more commonly known - owing to his lanky frame - to give us the lowdown on his time snapping the Reds.
Having been at work for over a thousand Reds games now, it's safe to say he's experienced and captured some of the highest highs and lowest lows at Oakwell, and as well as sharing his thoughts on his career so far, he picked out some of his best work to take a look back at too.
Way back in 1998 was when I bought my first ever camera, off my mate, Martin Roberts, so this is all his fault as I got hooked on it immediately!
It was a film camera, remember those? A Nikon F601 with a 28-85mm lens - a beauty.
So off I trotted to Barnsley College and sat myself down for a couple of hours each week and learnt the ropes. Chris Sedgewick was my tutor, a great bloke. I was first in the dark room and last one out - it became addictive.
Stockport College was up next, every Tuesday night for my City & Guilds in photography, and that took me into 1999 when I contacted Wes Hobson at the Barnsley Chronicle. Now this is when it really became interesting. Wes was brilliant, still is. I managed to shadow him for quite a few home matches, picking up valuable tips and lessons. The club were also great, I didn't earn anything from it back then, but I gained loads of experience which is priceless.
Moving on a couple of years and with the club changing hands and now under the Cryne family, a new matchday programme was launched and the club website was unfolding so I was in the right place at the right time to service the club's need for more photographs on and off the pitch. I gained an FA and Football League photography license which back then was hard work, that’s different nowadays. So off I went, home and away on the fans coach, hundreds of matches with Chronicle sports editor and my old mate, Andrew Lodge - what a character.
My first ever published picture was in the Chronicle of Reds legend Craig Hignett being fouled by Sheffield United keeper Simon Tracey, and if memory serves me right we won 2-1, back in 1999.
With the club taking me on board and the 'Chron' paying for my pictures I gradually built up my camera kit - Nikon F90pro camera + 80-200mm lens, then in 2002 came digital, the Nikon D1 - wow, things really did change fast. Over the years I’ve swapped and upgraded - D2H, D3, D3S, D4S and now a pair of D5’S.
The years rolled on - new players, new managers, new media staff, more pictures published, local, regional, national...
My experience grew as I took on other photography work. Such as Golf, Rugby and Cricket amongst the more popular sports. Hockey and Lacrosse probably more less known but it gave me diversity into finding different camera angles for different shots and to expand my knowledge of what makes a ‘great shot’. I still keep these tricks of the trade to myself as its the finer details which can allow me to get ‘THE’ shot I want.
I’ve never really been a fan of getting close to footballers/managers as it became clear to me early on in my career that it’s just a job to them, they don’t share my love for my club but there are a few exceptions who stood out, not because of what they did but for what they said and the time they took to chat. Ex manager Andy Ritchie and his right-hand man Rick Holden were a great partnership, good banter. Adam Hammill, Stephen Foster, Anthony Kay, Bobby Hassell and Martin Devaney - good players and sound lads.
The legend that is Danny Wilson was fantastic - on and off the field, a genuinely lovely man. When I got the call he was manager again it brought back the Premier League memories, a time when I was in the Ponty End - Stella charged before and after the games!
More recently with the surge in social media platforms my workload has become massive. Many of the players want pictures soon after the full-time whistle - it’s just part of the job.
One of the many high points of the job was our win over Oxford United in the JPT final four years ago now. Myself, Mark Stokes and Matt Goodwin (the media team at the time) were editing the match reports and captioning images with beers in our hands in the winning Wembley changing room soon after the trophy had been lifted. That was special. Shortly after, we battered Millwall in the play-off final - same again, editing in the winning changing room with more beers before one hell of a party back at the club hotel. I know many Reds fans have tainted memories of Sam Winnall after he left for S6 but both he and Conor Hourihane were class blokes, their goals and celebrations were among the best I’ve photographed, and without those two we wouldn’t have been promoted.
There have been low points along the way. Obviously, the relegations, the derby defeats to local rivals, but my lowest point came last summer when burglars stole a lot of my camera gear from my home, not sure if I'll ever get over that.
Another testing time came last season when my mate Stephen Croft collapsed seconds before kick-off. We didn’t know who the paramedics were saving, rumours were it was a photographer (as it was just in front of where some sit), I had several messages and calls but until Stephen was in the helicopter I didn’t know it was him. I remember trying to organise the mascots and sponsors after the teams walked out when the referee tapped me on the shoulder and told me to hang on as he was concerned over what was happening. As we all know, Stephen’s made a full recovery and is happily back at Oakwell.
So what will unfold this season? Will it even finish? Hopefully we won’t return to League One, but I know it sounds daft, but I enjoyed it last year, visiting new grounds (I’ve only got seven left to visit), think the fans did as well, it was definitely cheaper!
One thing is for sure, whatever league we are in, I will be there.
I still have the same passion and excitement for the job as I did over 20 years ago.
We’ve a solid team of media lads at Oakwell. The trips away from home in the media car are legendary. But the workload has doubled and trebled over the years, it's a tough gig but I’d like to think we are as good and as ‘in touch’ with our fans as we’ve ever been.