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Monte Fresco Sports Photographer dies aged 77 – ‘a Daily Mirror legend’

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↑ Mirror photographer Monte Fresco in the Azteca Stadium – 1970 World Cup tournament in Mexico. May 1970. Self portrait © Mirrorpix Click the image for detail

Photographer Monte Fresco who worked for the Daily Mirror newspaper for 30 years has died.
The Daily Mirror reports: ‘The award-winning photographer worked for the Mirror for more than 30 years and covered seven football World Cups including the 1966 Final at Wembley.’ …The Mirror’s Editor in Chief Lloyd Embley said: “Monte was a Daily Mirror legend. “Monte covered sport for this paper for more than 30 years and provided our readers with some of the great iconic photos of the 20th century. “He was one of the finest photographers of his generation.”….

Read the full tribute with photo gallery here: DailyMirror.co.uk

His friends remember Monte:
This in from Mark Leech sports photographer and MD at Offside Sports photo agency:
“It is very difficult to explain what it was that set Monte apart from all other photographers but when he was around it always felt like you were at the back of the bus with the naughty boys.

“He would torment every one of us in turn and always look for signs of somebody getting above themselves but if you needed a lift back or a roll of film, he would sort it.

“As a photographer it would be selling Monte short to only remember the goofy set up pictures that adorned the Daily Mirror most Saturday mornings. It was almost as if he would push himself a bit further every Friday morning at various training grounds to come up with something more surreal for international superstars to slavishly perform.

“His action photography was excellent despite him often saying “I never knew that I was getting them muzzy, until I got one sharp”. All part of the schtick, which was never better than playing up to Jewish stereotype. My abiding memory would be a freezing cold night at Wembley, Monte ambling up to a group of freezing snappers with a packet of Extra Strongs: “Anyone like to buy a mint ?”

Mark kindly sent these shots of Monte in action from his library
soccer - 1991 FA Cup semi -final
14/04/1991 Paul Gascoigne celebrates after the match , surrounded by photographers, including Monte Fresco (centre). FA Cup semi-final – Arsenal v Tottenham Hotspur © Mark Leech

Monte Fresco And Sir Alf Ramsey 1991
18/5/1991 Photographer Monte Fresco and Sir Alf Ramsey. F.A. Cup Final Nottingham Forest v Tottenham Hotspur © Mark Leech

This in from Lawrence Lustig
As a schoolboy my family always had the Daily Mirror delivered to our house each day.Like many other boys I was sports mad and always read the paper from back to front and my eyes were always drawn to the photos always with the bye-line, photo; Monte Fresco.
Monte, like me grew up in Chingford, and although he had married and moved away, his family still lived there and his nephew Robert was a close school friend of mine. I did not yet know Monte but it was at this time I realised that I wanted to do what Monte did, I wanted to be a sports photographer.
They say never meet your heroes in case they disappoint but Monte was clearly an exception to that rule. As a 17 year old wet behind the ears trainee news agency photographer just out of the darkroom, I was travelling by train to cover a game at Ipswich,when Monte came walking through the carriage I’d done my time as a messenger, and had sat on the touchline a few times and although we had never met formally, Monte recognised me, perhaps only by my camera box.He could have easily just ignored this curly haired youth and passed by without a glance, but that was not Monte. “You going to the game at Ipswich? Good, come and have a cup of tea” and so began a friendship that was to last for over 40 years.
Monte became my closest friend, confidant and mentor, and if I have achieved anything in this industry, it is down to him. He guided me, not just as a photographer, but more importantly, how you deal with people and people skills were probably his greatest asset. Monte would greet and treat a youngster just starting out or a head of state, like Nelson Mandella with the same kindness,respect and humour.
Monte was perhaps the most famous British Sports Photographer of his generation but he was never a selfish man and was always ready to speak up for his colleagues in order to improve our working conditions. When you go to a match this weekend and go into the photographers room, you get given your team sheet, programme and a half-time cup of tea, raise that cup to Monte as chances are without his efforts years ago you might not be enjoying these facilities today. I was fortunate to travel throughout the country and around the world with Monte, we had a lot of fun, a lot of laughs together and never ever a crossed word.
The world and our industry is a sadder place today without him and I will forever miss his advice,his smiling face,his jokes and above all his friendship, Sleep well, R.I.P
With love,
Lawrence Lustig

↓ Phil O’Brien, Founder of sports photo agency Empics reacted to the News of Monte’s death via twitter
PhilMonteOnPAN
“RIP Monte Fresco & Nelson Mandela. 3 hours ago I heard Monte had passed and posted pic with Mandela. Spooky.”