Lions fans in focus for book
The contribution fans are making to the British and Irish Lions’ tour is the inspiration for a new book.
British photojournalist Ken Skehan and his wife, Val, have spent several weeks travelling around New Zealand compiling the stories of rugby fans, entitled Focus on the Fans: Lions Rugby Tour 2017.
‘‘I thought the time was right to resurrect the idea of a celebration of fans and what they bring to elite sport,’’ Ken Skehan said.
He became transfixed on documenting sport from the fans’ perspective after he penned a similar book detailing supporters’ experiences at the FIFA World Cup in Germany in 2006.
‘‘In those days, no one took pictures themselves. Camera phones were rubbish, selfies hadn’t event been thought of.
‘‘I had the idea of doing a book ... because there were 32 nations involved, lots of photographic opportunities, but also because Germany said, if you don’t have a ticket, come along anyway - we’ll make it the world’s biggest party.’’
Intent on capturing the essence of the fans’ experience, Skehan has called on Lions’ tourists and All Blacks supporters to tell their stories and share their experiences.
‘‘What we’re really looking to do is gather the fans’ thoughts, opinions, stories about mishaps or something funny happening, kindness that Kiwi hospitality has brought up,’’ Skehan said.
‘‘I’m trying to put together a collective perspective of the whole tour together. Those that were here might look at [the book] as a memento and those who weren’t might look at it to see what it’s like and maybe come along next time.’’
Having devoted so much time to observing Lions supporters in recent weeks, Skehan has a fairly good handle on what a typical Lions fan is - and no, it’s not a group of middleaged men.
‘‘I don’t think there’s a simple description of a Lions fan, because we’ve met everyone from the tiniest tot right up to people who have retired and on their umpteenth Lions tour and all points between.
‘‘It’s the experience of coming to the Southern Hemisphere. It’s a big, big trip for many. The trip of a lifetime. And they’re able to combine that trip of a lifetime where they can see New Zealand in between matches with the passion that they have for rugby.’’
Those interested in contributing to the project can visit www.focusonthefans.com for more information.
Richie Jermyn got a lion’s mane of hair extensions for the Lions tour.