IT BEGAN with a simple request to use a picture in an Oxford United programme, but four decades on Steve Daniels’s hobby is still going strong.

Mick Brown, another U’s stalwart, was aware of an enthusiastic photographer who took pictures, both at games and on the supporters’ coaches.

It meant when George Reszeter went to the Oxford Mail in 1983, Daniels was asked if he would like to cover matches in a more official capacity.

“It was a fantastic time to start, as Jim Smith guided United up the leagues,” he said.

“I used to go to games Bob Hannick, who was a retired teacher and he used to take pictures at games.

Also read: Jon Lewis looks back at his favourite U's photos

“I started doing the same, first on a Kodak Instamatic and then I started to get better after buying an SLR in 1980.

“The football has just been something I do as a hobby and because I enjoy it.”

During that time the technology has changed radically, along with the demands of the role.

Whereas once he would only take two rolls of film, for 70 pictures, to a game, the switch to digital means it is not unusual to snap 1,000 images for a single fixture now.

Daniels tends to sit on the opposite side of the goal to the other photographers who cover United.

It ensures he gets something different – which can pay off in style, as happened with Josh Ruffels’s celebration against Wycombe Wanderers last season.

Also read: David Fleming's top shots

One memorable occasion the ploy did not come off was against Stevenage in 2016, when Danny Hylton pinched the camera.

“I shouted at him to take some pictures, but he said he couldn’t find the button,” Daniels said.

Many of his pictures are focused on the crowd, where supporters ask to be snapped, and at times it can be difficult to switch off being a fan.

Daniels said: “Sometimes you find yourself singing along in your head.

“The main thing is concentrating on the pictures and when something happens, you’re just praying it’s in focus.”

Given how much is now involved in the role, you might imagine on wet, cold nights in the middle of winter it would be tempting to just watch as a fan again.

“No, I enjoy what I do,” he said.

“You’re making a contribution and feel part of the team.

“I’ve always worked in a team environment, so especially since I’ve retired three years ago this has been my release.”

FIVE TOP SHOTS

Banbury Cake:

May 1980: That’s Oxford City’s White House Ground, from Jack Woodley’s testimonial, taken on a Kodak Instamatic.

The dressing rooms were underneath that stand in the corner. 

I went there quite a bit and it was like the Manor – there’s a lot of nostalgia for those grounds, but I suppose the clubs had to change. 

I think United won the game 4-0.

Banbury Cake:

April 20, 1986: Jeremy Charles scores the third goal in the Milk Cup final at Wembley.

We went in as the underdogs and all through the game you kept thinking ‘when are QPR going to start?’ It was incredible. 

That was the last time I went to the old Wembley. The noise from the fans was just something else.

Banbury Cake:

March 19, 1996: Joey Beauchamp scores in a 3-0 win against Swindon Town, having rejoined from them earlier in the season.

It came in front of the away fans at the Manor as well – I do that wherever I go and always wear something to do with Oxford. 

It’s black and white because that’s what the club wanted for the programme. The technology wasn’t there to scan colour in those days.

Banbury Cake:

August 13, 2019: This is the celebration after Cameron Brannagan’s goal to knock Peterborough United out of the Carabao Cup this season.

I love the expressions and a lot of them are youngsters. I think it shows the spirit of the club.

Banbury Cake:

March 30, 2019: This is my favourite one, after Josh Ruffels scored a late winner against Wycombe Wanderers last season.

I just happened to be sat in the right place – he ran straight towards me, the shirt came off and it’s in mid-air in the background.

You have Ahmed Kashi’s expression as well, plus it’s a local player come good, which is very important.