Monte Fresco

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Monte Fresco (photographer)
Born (1936-02-14)14 February 1936
East End, London UK
Died 5 December 2013(2013-12-05) (aged 77)
Nationality British
Known for Photography,
Notable work MBE (1995), British Sports Journalists Association Lifetime Achievement Award (1995), Sports Photographer of the Year,

Monte Fresco MBE (14 February 1936 – 5 December 2013) was an English photographer noted for humorous photographs of sporting events. He covered seven World Cups, many European Championships and more than 40 FA Cup Finals, and Wimbledon Championships.[1]

He said in an interview:

“What makes a great football picture? Being in the right place with the right lens and… luck! After a working lifetime in sport for a national newspaper, with 80% of my time spent concentrating on football, I know that I have been very, very lucky. For me it was always about ‘Incidents’. I was always looking for an incident that had gone unnoticed, something off the ball, something to make the reader stop and take a second look and think ‘I didn’t see that!’”


He followed his uncle Monty Fresco, an award-winning cameraman with the Daily Mail, into sports photography. His nephew, Michael Fresco, has carried on the family tradition as a Fleet Street sports photographer.

Monte Fresco was a member of the Sports Journalist Association and one of the SJA’s most renowned members. His career spanned 50 years as a top sports photographer, including three decades at the Daily Mirror. The Sports Journalists’ Association also made the annual presentation of the Doug Gardner Award for services to sports journalism to veteran photographer Monte Fresco.3

Monte Fresco was brought up in London's East End the son of a tailor. He was evacuated at an early age and poorly educated leaving school at 14 years of age. He joined Topical Press in the 1950s as a runner boy, then went on to become a dark room photographic printer in Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, while covering bigger sporting events evenings and weekends (obtaining entrance to venues was so much easier in those days).

On his 18th birthday Topical made him a “Junior Photographer”. When Topical Press closed he moved onto International News Photos, part of the American Hearst Corporation covering all assignments. When INP merged with Planet News he was offered a photographer’s position. Ted Taylor, boss of INP, had recommended him to the Daily Mirror, where they made him a salaried freelance photographer for almost a year.

Taken on the staff of the Mirror in 1958, going on to become Chief Sports Photographer for 30 years. His work included the iconic image of Vinnie Jones getting to grips with Paul Gascoigne in midfield. He moved on in 1988 (during the Maxwell era) joining Bob Thomas Sports Photography as Director/Photographer, still covering major sporting events worldwide. Later this was merged with He was invested with an MBE in October 1995 for “Services To Sports Photography”. He retired in 2004.

Photographs of note[edit]

His famous photographs include:

  1. Vinny Jones tackling Paul Gascoigne off the ball. The photograph can be found on t-shirts and coffee cups and has been used in several advertising campaigns, most recently by BT.
  2. Dave Mackay when he broke the same leg twice. He first broke the leg against Manchester United at Old Trafford in a European cup-tie and the second time at home to Shrewsbury Town reserves. The photograph is still a best seller to Spurs fans.
  3. Dave Mackay grabbing Leeds United's Billy Bremner by his shirt at White Hart Lane in 1966 after he had been heavily tackled in his comeback match after breaking his leg a second time. It remains the most popular of all Tottenham action photographs.

Monte is known on Fleet Street to this day for his sense of humour and for turning Sports Photography into a distinct discipline separate to news photography within the print media. He coined the terms, “Smudger” (a photographer) and “Blunt Nib” (writer).2


External links[edit]