In today’s big-money football industry, the focus is typically on star players and managers. Photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili saw the FA Cup, the game’s oldest cup competition, as an opportunity to reverse the camera and capture fan culture from the top teams down to the grassroots, taking you on a footballing right of passage from the perspective of the fans.
Unusually the oldest footballing competition in the world is open to all clubs from the top 10 tiers of the English football league system. Uniting every fan across the country during each round you can hear a chant reverberating around the terraces ‘Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, the future's not ours to see.’
Que Sera Sera tracks the 2016-17 FA Cup campaign beginning in mid August during the extra preliminary rounds, a few miles down the road from Wembley stadium. Semi-professional side London Tigers FC play amateur team Sun Sports, with a crowd of half dozen people watching on in a ground alongside the A40 motorway.
Following each winner into the next round, the two photographers travelled a combined total of more than 3,000 miles over 10 months, taking in 13 rounds and 15 games (including two replays). Each tie feels likes a cup final with teams playing at high intensity, whilst fans watch on in the hope that if their team can create a winning streak, they have the possibility of going to a Wembley final. The tension is high right from the beginning as rewards for progressing further into the competition provide many of the financially insecure clubs a lifeline to keep them from administration.
The draw took Gili & Fox from north-west London to the north of England, with games in Barrow, Rochdale and Middlesbrough, not to mention Carlisle. The photographers travelled along with die-hard away supporters on long motorway journeys across the country. These pilgrimages reveal both the quiet intimate moments between fans and adrenaline fueled excitement.
Documenting a year long FA Cup campaign with full access to the stadiums throughout the competition, provided a looking glass in which to view modern football beyond the glitz and glamour.
The images focus on what plays out around the game: wide landscape scenes of rusted corrugated stadium roofs shielding fans from the rain, portraits of the mother and daughter who run the in-stadium golden gamble competition, and the subtle details from the traditional pre-game rituals to the fashion trends on the terraces.
The structure of the competition provided the photographers a visual narrative. With each round the stakes, the scale of the stadiums and crowds swell. This is particularly apparent during the 1st round where clubs from the third and fourth tiers of English football enter, and again in the 3rd Round when the 44 clubs from the Premier League and Championship join the fray. For some fans seeing their team play in such grand arenas is a dream come true - a chance to taste the big time.
Que Sera Sera provides a unique anthropological look into football obsession, from grass routes to glory, in the country that brought football to the world. The series questions whether England’s preeminent domestic cup competition still retains it’s magic in the light of competition from top flight football and the European cup competitions.
In addition to a book of beautifully printed photographs, audio recordings were made during each stage of the cup. The sounds will be edited into an atmospheric downloadable audio track loosely mirroring the sequencing of the images, providing both a multi-sensory experience and context to the images. Each book will also be included with an elegantly designed pull out map, with stats from each round giving a geographical and financial context to the photographs.
This is Joseph Fox's and Orlando Gili’s first book and the limited edition publication could well become a collector's item. The printed photo-book will be 21 x 25 cm and will run to an expected 100pp and distributed during November 2018.
Four signed 10’ x 8’ C-type prints will be available for limited period as part of this Kickstarter campaign.
Risks and challenges
There are no risks. The photography for the book is complete and Bluecoat Press is a well-established publisher with a great reputation for producing top quality photobooks.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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