Fan Portraits Project With Photographer Jack Margerison

FC Not Alone have teamed up with talented photographer Jack Margerison to document the positive effects of football on fan’s mental health using portrait photography.

This campaign will run until the end of the 19/20 season as we seek to photograph a fan from every football club in the football league. We got started toward the end of the 18/19 season where Jack attended a match at the home of his beloved Burnley FC; Turf Moor.

On that day, Jack spoke with Burnley FC Fan Bryan Wilson about his battle with Mental Health and how he found help through Burnley’s Walking Football. Jack also spoke with Burnley FC’s employee Ellis Lee about his battle with Cancer and how the footballing community has helped him.

Photo by Jack Margerison (jackmargerison.co.uk)

“I knew things weren’t right, but you just carry on, don’t you? You don’t realise how bad things are getting. I just thought I need to call into the doctors, I just need to speak to somebody. And I got to the reception desk and asked if I could see a doctor, and they said, “No, not today because we have no appointments left.” And I just burst into tears at that point, just lost it. And she said, “Oh well we’ll see what we can do. We will try and get you an appointment, I can see how badly affected you are. We’ll try to get you to see somebody.”
I managed to get an appointment, and as I was coming out, there was a desk right beside, and I just happened to see Burnley FC and the community leaflet. So, I picked one up and thought, oh, it says mental health awareness, I’ll have a look at that. I rang Abbey up off the back of that and asked about doing a fitness course. She talked me out of that because it was a little bit too much to go straight into. And she said recommended Burnley community walking football.
With walking football, I totally forgot about all the pressure I was under, and everything that was getting me down. The hour I spent there it just, gave me a buzz straight away. And that buzz stayed with me for a few days. I remember going home and telling my wife, “That was the best thing I’ve ever done.” Without @burnleyofficial, and the community; if they hadn’t have helped, I don’t know where I’d be today. You think sometimes, it was just a spur of the moment, picking up a leaflet, which made the difference.” Bryan Wilson

Photo by Jack Margerison (jackmargerison.co.uk)​

Bryan continues “One of the things I noticed with the @burnleyfc_com sessions were that we could open up and talk. One of the club team, came down, and they opened the session up about mental health. I was one of the ones who spoke up about it, and gave my insights of things that helped me. And one or two of team, who I was working with, well not working with, but, enjoying the game with, came up and spoke to me afterwards and said, ” I think that was really brave to talk about that. I’m experiencing similar things.” So it enabled them to open up as well.”

Photo by Jack Margerison (jackmargerison.co.uk)​

”Yeah I think definitely mentally preparing; it’s not just physical balance, it’s up in your mind as well and I think fifty percent of the battle comes from up in your mind. But to be fair, I think I’m winning that so far and you’ve just got to keep positive. I’m a strong believer in everything you believe in life can come if you think positive things.
Similar to getting this job, I always wanted to do it, I never went to university. I worked hard. I worked from behind the scenes, I worked from school, doing a lot of work experience just to get my name out there and thankfully got a job at @burnleyofficial. From day one, they’ve been amazing. They’ve been by my side from the day I had to tell them the devastating news that I had Cancer just before Christmas. They give me the time off that I needed and, to this day, they still say when I can work, come in but otherwise I don’t have to try to come in some days when I’m not feeling the best. From the players to the catering staff to the training ground, everyone in the club is really good. It’s a good place to be.
The other day Tom Heaton came over to me at the training ground and we had a bit of a chat and he asked how things were going. He’s heard of my results through someone else and he was congratulating me on that. The players have been spot on. They went the other week for a bit of money for the charity, raising money for it as well, and that for over a thousand pounds. They are spot on. They’re a really good group to be around.“ Burnley FC employee Ellis Lee