Evening Mail photographer escapes fists of fan

Birmingham Evening Mail photographer Trevor Roberts believed he would get a beating when he came face to face with an angry rioting football fan.

But he was saved from harm when the would-be attacker realised Roberts had taken his family’s picture for an unrelated story a few weeks earlier.

Some 3,000 people gathered in Centenary Square to watch England’s unsuccessful Euro 2004 match against France. After the game, hundreds were involved in a pitched battle with police, which resulted in 12 arrests, and fans also turned their anger on press photographers present.

Roberts said: “It was a bit scary, a lot of the photographers were getting abuse. Another photographer from one of the agencies had been attacked and had his camera taken from him.

“This guy came up to me and said ‘what are you doing, you bastards’ and was getting really nasty. Then he suddenly said he knew me because I took a picture of him with his wife and baby a few weeks before.

“I thought ‘I’m going to get beaten up here’. But as soon as he knew I’d taken a picture of him, he completely changed and he was my best mate.”

The Mail had sent out a team of reporters to cover what was expected to be the colourful spectacle of thousands watching the England game. In minutes the paper had to change its coverage to a full-scale riot report, which made the next day’s front page.

By Dominic Ponsford

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