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A decade of football commemorated through images

It was an emotional moment for photographer Neil Wilson as he received the trophy for the Photograph of the Decade commemorating ten years of UEFA Membership for the Gibraltar Football Association.
His photograph, depicting the late John Shephard, sports reporter for the Gibraltar Chronicle for many decades before Gibraltar’s entry into UEFA, receiving a commemorative trophy in his name aptly captured a moment in which decades long of football transitioned into a new era under UEFA membership, and brought to the forefront one of the stalwarts of sports journalism in Gibraltar. The image stirring many a memory for many of those present who had also lived through the transition and for those following in the footsteps of the many who had come before them.

Speaking after receiving his trophy from Minister for Sport Steven Linares, Mr Wilson, with his voice clearly quivering emotionally was to say that the image was one which had “important merit” to him, although it had come as a surprise to him that he had been chosen as the winner.
“This man (John Shephard) worked for twenty or thirty years for the better of Gibraltar sports and I was lucky enough to be close. This particular moment he knew he was ill and the Gibraltar vets did a very special thing for him, they did a commemorative trophy for him and this was the only year it was the John Shephard trophy only rather than the John Shephard memorial and it was a special moment in time. Not everybody would understand why it was so special, and probably hearing my voice you will understand why it was so very special to me. All I can say from the bottom of my heart thank you so very much.”
The image, chosen as the Photograph of the Decade, was one among many hundreds submitted by photographers depicting Gibraltar football’s transition during the past decade.
On the 23rd of May, 2013, the Gibraltar Football Association was admitted as UEFA’s 54th Member Association. This was a day that would change Gibraltarian football into the future.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of UEFA Membership, the Gibraltar FA commissioned an independent exhibition telling the story of the last 10 years of Gibraltarian football as captured by Gibraltar’s football photographers.
Gibraltar FA Vice President Paul Lyon, as he welcomed guests to the opening of the exhibition recalled moments such as the goal at Hampden Park when Gibraltar scored that first goal and how those around could not understand why Gibraltar fans celebrated.
Commenting on the exhibition he was to describe it as “very professional” whilst at same time not holding back from defending the Gibraltar FA from its critics, “its the way the GFA is doing things now despite what people may say or think, it is a very special outfit in every sense.”
He explained that “when deciding what to put on to celebrate ten years in UEFA, we wanted to tell the story from a completely different perspective. From the eyes and the ears of those outside the association. What better way to do it than through the lenses of all the talented photographers that we have in Gibraltar.”
The photographs, he said, “would adorn the walls of the new stadium” as he expressed the hope that they would not be consigned to history but instead become a “living history” of football in Gibraltar.
The exhibition, which officially opened on Monday at the Gustavo Bacarisas Gallery in Casemates, is titled "The Art of the Game – Captured by Gibraltar’s Football Photographers" and has been curated by Jon Segui.
Local football photographers were invited to contribute and submit images. A panel of 3 judges, comprising Jon Segui (the exhibition's curator), Leslie Linares (the Chairman of the Gibraltar Photographic Society), and Artist Karl Ullger, selected the ten best images for each season and tasked with selecting a photo of the season for each of the 10 seasons and, ultimately, a "Photo of the Decade," which was unveiled at the exhibition’s official opening.
The exhibition runs for 3 weeks.

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