When most footballers pick up an injury, they often have little option but to put on their club suit and take the game in from the luxury of the main stand.

That certainly isn't the case for Notts County defender Liam Chilvers, who takes the saying, 'a spell on the sidelines', quite literally - by picking up a camera.

"When I'm injured, I get a pass from the club and sit on the side of the pitch with the rest of the photographers," Liam explained.

"I've taken photographs at a couple of Notts County matches this season and have really enjoyed. No-one likes being injured but it has provided me with the opportunity to get involved in another area of the game.

"When you're playing you get an idea of when things are going to happen to take a picture but when you're on the sidelines you miss things because you're looking through the camera. It's hard to read the game and see what could be coming up through the lens.

"You can have a ball coming into the box and, as a footballer, I think somebody is going to score and I concentrate on one particular player but the ball ends up going out of shot and I end of missing it. It can be quite difficult; you start to appreciate what the photographers do when they get the good shots.

"When you're on the side you hope for the sort of shots you see in the papers to happen. For someone to strike a ball or celebrating just after they have scored but it tends to be a split second and you miss it and end up getting the back of someone's head."

With County currently sitting eighth and vying for a place in the npower League 1 Play-Offs, Liam has no time to focus on his photography and, with the games coming thick and fast towards the business end of the season, he has had to put his camera to one side for the time being.

"I looked into one course and I was planning to start doing it but playing football makes it quite difficult.

"You tend to train and then come home and rest - and I don't think the manager would be too pleased, either, if he was to find out I'm spending hours getting pictures done."

The 30-year-old defender is a graduate of the Arsenal Academy and won the FA Youth Cup with the Gunners in 2000. Since leaving the London club permanently in 2004, he has carved out a career in The Football League making just over 300 appearances for five different clubs.

His passion for photography hasn't been with him throughout his respectable football career, though.

"My wife and I went on our honeymoon to South Africa a few years ago and whilst on a safari I took it upon myself to try and take some half decent photos.

"We were driving around and I just started taking pictures; it really began to interest me.

"I like to take photographs, just like anybody else, but once I started doing it on safari it has gone from there."

Being a footballer often has it perks and Liam's photography is benefiting from his career in the game.

"We have a photographer at Notts County and, when he heard that I was interested in photography, he mentioned it to me and said if I ever want to go to games or need any help he said he could give me tips - it's always good to have someone there who you can speak to about it.

"I'm also lucky enough to know somebody who works for the press association, who has done a considerable amount of sport. He has given me an idea of what I need to do to get into it."

Liam's team-mates were oblivious of his passion for photography, until they spotted him on the sidelines with a camera in his hand taking some shots. Little did Liam know that telling his team-mates would actually get him another contact in the photography industry.

"I was sat there on the side taking pictures and I got a few of them playing up to the camera and trying to make me get a good shot of them.

"Interestingly, Julian Kelly - our right-back - mentioned to me that his dad was a photographer, which has given me another person I could talk to."

It's more than just contacts you need to become successful in photography, though, which Liam is all too aware of. It's an expensive business and not even the wage of an experienced Football League defender can afford all of the lenses.

With his photography being just a hobby at the time being, Liam isn't spending all his well-earned wages on camera equipment.

"If you want a good lens they could cost as much as £10,000 - it's something you have to be sure you want to do because you don't want to be wasting that sort of money."

It may be something Liam takes up in the future but for the time being Notts County has his full attention.

By his own admittance, it's been a "funny old season" - having spent the beginning of the campaign out on loan with League 2 Port Vale.

He has arrived back at Meadow Lane, though, and has forced his way back into starting spot in the Magpies' backline and the Chelmsford-born defender is confident of his side's chances at the top end of the division.

"We got ourselves up into the Play-Offs but we have just dropped out. We're in a position where, if we can get a couple of wins, we would lift ourselves back into the Play-Offs and try and get promoted."

The good form at Meadow Lane has come since the arrival of Keith Curle, and Liam is enjoying playing under his new boss.

"I think the lads have taken to him, it's a lot more relaxed around the place and everyone is on a bit of a high, confidence-wise, so it's been nothing but positive since he has come in.

"Everyone is enjoying it and hopefully it can carry on."

With the upbeat attitude that Keith Curle has installed, the Magpies may still be on for Play-Off success come May.

Who knows, maybe we will see Liam Chilvers being a star both on and off the pitch at Wembley - with his boots on his feet whilst on the field, and his camera in his hand after lifting the League 1 Play-Off trophy in the Royal Box.

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