Bob is 69 years old. He studied at Bristol University in the 1960s before spending a decade “gigging as a roadie with musical bands.” Needing a new challenge, and to ‘reinvent’ himself, Bob moved to Bath in 1980 and set up as a freelance photographer. Here is his sporting story.
“I loved football as a kid, but I also loved to run. I’ll tell you about that later. I supported Blackpool because I liked Stanley Matthews. I saw him in the flesh in 1958, when Blackpool played Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. I think Blackpool won the game, four goals to one. I remember Chelsea’s new player, Jimmy Greaves. Not bad, I thought.
“I played football in the park every night after school and when I got to my secondary grammar school I was in the first team. I was put on the wing because I was quick, and quite skilful. But I suppose I was a bit of an all-rounder, really: I also liked tennis, during the summer, and badminton. Cross-country running was my first sense of freedom in sport. I would run through fields, allotments, etcetera, and feel great! I had a speech impediment at school, you see, and phobias. Being good at running and sports generally gave me confidence, and kudos.
“Sports-wise, I let things go in the 1970s. Those were the Rock ‘n’ Roll years, man! But in 1976, after six years of unhealthy living, I woke up one morning and remembered that I loved to run, and that it made me feel more confident and happier. I’ve been running ever since, three to four times per week, to relieve stress. In fact, I have run along the same five kilometre route for the last 30 years: I never get tired of the scenery and the countryside. Run times don’t interest me, I just love being out. Running gave me the confidence to climb the Matterhorn at my first attempt, aged 61, without a guide.
“When I’m not doing odd jobs, on photo shoots or running, I regularly take myself off, map and compass in hand, on long walks. The freedom is everything…”
Bob Whitfield is official photographer for The National Vintage Games 2018