PHOTO OF THE SEASON 2013-2014

So, another football season is over, time to look back. It’s taken in four countries and various stadiums, teams and levels. There was a lot of pictures, so here are my favourites. Feel free to vote for yours :

FUGLAFJORDUR

Taken just after the final whistle of Linfield’s match with Fuglafjordur as fans applauded, the composition and framing just works for me which is why I love the photo.

SKODA

Taken before Linfield’s match with Skoda Xanthi, again, the composition and the light works for me, as supporters walk to The Kop, ready for the 90 (well, in this match, it was 120) minutes that await.

JEFFREY

Like the other two, it’s all about the composition, as David Jeffrey observes the action during a pre-season match against Derriaghy CC

RICHMOND

Taken during my trip to Dublin, I took in a St Patrick’s Athletic game. The colours just make this photo for me, as is the fact you came see a rainbow over the stadium.

CAMERAS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Portugal match, the two cameras, focused on the action in sync does it for me, alongside the composition of the players, so small in comparison with their surroundings.

BRISBANE ROAD

I’m a sucker for arty pics of football stadiums. I took this during a trip to London, when I took in a match at Leyton Orient.

THE OVAL

Linfield fans looking on, under the floodlights, as their side has a free-kick against Glentoran at The Oval.

ROONEY

Manchester United fans looking on as Wayne Rooney prepares to take a free-kick against Olympiacos.

SEAVIEW

Linfield fans looking one at a match at Seaview. Seaview is always good for photos.

BLUE

Arty one, take of seats in the South Stand at Linfield’s last game at Windsor Park before redevelopment, which the South Stand will be one of the main areas getting redeveloped.

CLARKE

Taken on the last day of the league season, love the composition, especially of the two players, one with the ball, and one trying to win the ball back,

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – FEBRUARY

February began for me at Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville. Linfield didn’t capitulate as usual, but still managed to lose, as usual.

Usual arrangements for taking photos at Solitude

The following weekend, I was on my travels, to London, for a short break. Unsurprisingly, football watching was amongst my plans.

I had plenty of games to choose from on the Saturday, but I plumped for Leyton Orient v Peterborough United, as it was a top of the table clash in League One.

Brisbane Road is a nice stadium, but where I was wasn’t good for photos. The game itself finished 2-1 to Peterborough with two late goals.

The next day, I managed to get a ticket for Spurs v Everton at White Hart Lane. It wasn’t the best of views of a game which Everton dominated but Spurs won because they knew where the net was.

The following Saturday, I headed to Windsor Park, with the news just breaking that David Jeffrey was to leave the club at the end of the season.

It was events on the pitch that were to grab as many headlines as Linfield won 6-0

The following weekend, was David Jeffrey’s final visit to The Oval as Linfield manager. It was an awful game, but Linfield won, which was the main thing.

On the Monday after that game, I was at Windsor Park for the rearranged game between Linfield and Glenavon, which Linfield won 2-1.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Leyton Orient v Peterborough United

Leyton Orient v Peterborough United Photo Album

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton Photo Album

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Glentoran v Linfield

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : 2013-2014

Barring something amazing, my matchgoing 2013-2014 season is over, time for a statistical analysis.

There were no curiousities to report. Went to some games, saw some goals, visited some new grounds. Standard stuff.

Matches Attended : 47

Goals Seen : 139

Red Cards : 23

Hat-Tricks : 2

Cristiano Ronaldo (Northern Ireland v Portugal)
Robin Van Persie (Manchester United v Olympiacos)

Penalties Missed/Saved : 2

Highest Scoring Match : 7 (Linfield 5-2 Ards, Glenavon 2-5 Linfield)

Countries Seen Matches In : 4

England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland

Teams Seen Play : 31

Ards, Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Cliftonville, Crusaders, Crystal Palace (1st time) Derriaghy CC, Drogheda United, Dundee United (1st time), Dungannon Swifts, Everton (1st time), Glenavon, Glentoran, Hibernian, IF Fuglafjordur (1st time), Leyton Orient (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Peterborough United (1st time) Portadown, Portugal, Russia (1st time) Skoda Xanthi (1st time), St Patrick’s Athletic, Tottenham Hotspur, Warrenpoint Town (1st time)

Competitions Watched : 11

County Antrim Shield, European Cup, FA Premier League, Football League One (1st time), Irish Cup, Irish League, League Of Ireland, Northern Ireland League Cup, Scottish Premier League, UEFA Cup, World Cup,

Stadiums Visited : 18

Ballymena Showgrounds, Brisbane Road (1st time), Coleraine Showgrounds, Dixon Park (1st time), Easter Road, Ferney Park, Milltown (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Richmond Park, Seaview, Seycon Park, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, The Oval, White Hart Lane (1st time), Windsor Park,

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – SEPTEMBER

September began for me with the World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal. Everything looked set for a Northern Ireland win, until Ronaldo turned on his magic, aided by playing against nine men.

The next day, it was back to Irish League action, as I made my first visit to Dixon Park, to see Linfield take on Ards.

The following weekend, I was Old Trafford bound. A trip with a difference, as it was my first visit with David Moyes as United manager, for the game against Crystal Palace.

There was much hype in the build-up about a Belgian on the bench about to make his first appearance for United at Old Trafford. Little did we know, it would be another Belgian on the bench that day we would be falling in love with over the season.

Seven days later, I was on my travels again, to Fermanagh, to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard, getting some nice shots on a sunny day, and watching Linfield win.

To end the month, it was back to Windsor Park for the first time in three weeks, to see Linfield take on Coleraine, which was won by Linfield with an injury time goal.

The sunny days might have been ending, but the football season was in full swing. Time to look forward to the Winter months.

Northern Ireland v Portugal

Northern Ireland v Portugal Photo Album

Ards v Linfield

Manchester United v Crystal Palace

Manchester United v Crystal Palace Photo Album

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 18.4.2014

1. Echo and the Bunnymen – Lovers On The Run
2. U2 – Invisible
3. Coldplay – Magic
4. Luke Sital-Singh – Greatest Lovers
5. Neil Finn – Dizzy Heights

Special treat now for English readers …….. it’s your National Day next week. So, as is tradition, i’ll give you a chart

FIVE TRACKS BY ENGLISH ARTISTS

1. Oasis – She Is Love
2. Cast – Finetime
3. Tears For Fears – Break It Down Again
4. OMD – Enola Gay
5. Embrace – You’re Not Alone

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 17.4.1999

As the 1998-1999 draws to a close, Match has three cover stars, a player each from Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, as Match attempts to predict who will win the Premier League.

Nigel Martyn is the subject of a feature called “My first ….”

His first record bought was by The Police, and his first concert was Status Quo in Cornwall.

In news, Michael Owen’s fame has reached America, with a feature of him appearing in ESPN’s monthly sports magazine.

Edwin Van Der Sar states that he would be interested in joining Manchester United. It only took him the six years.

Patrick Vieira, Gianfranco Zola and Dwight Yorke are interviewed about the title run-in, though Match doesn’t make any predictions.

Ryan Giggs and Zinedine Zidane are interviewed as Match previews the second leg of the European Cup Semi-final between Manchester United and Juventus, with the first leg at Old Trafford finishing 1-1.

In competitions, Match readers had the opportunity to win the new England kit.

Robbie Fowler and John Filan also get double page interviews, as well as Lee Mills and Ashley Westwood of Bradford City, as they aim to get promoted to the top flight of English football for the first time since 1922.

There’s more double page spreads, as Match interviews David Seaman, Michael Owen and Alan Shearer at the launch of England’s new kit, and have a full page feature on England kits through the years.

LONDON

Was in London last week for a short break, just as I was in February last year.

The reason I went back to London for a second successive year was simple, I had a lot of “Unfinished business” in London. I did and saw a lot of stuff when I was in London last year, yet there was still so much I didn’t do and see.

For that reason, London was always going to be my choice for getaway in February 2014.

Amazingly, I experienced travel problems before even reaching London as the airline moved my flight from a sensible 11am to 6pm. To fly out at 6pm would be a waste of a day. With the 11am flight cancelled, I got mine changed again to 6.45am.

The early start might be inconvenient, but at least I would get a full day in London.

A rearranged flight was only the start of my travel problems. Due to a Tube strike, I was going to have to go to my hotel by bus.

Due to the lack of transport options, Thursday was always going to be a write-off, but it wasn’t a total write-off. There were some Tube stations open, so I made the most of the ones that were.

Brixton was one of those open, so I headed there in late morning. I had a specific reason for wanting to visit Brixton, as I wanted to head to O2 Academy to try and get a ticket for Tom Odell on the Saturday night.

I’d tried online with no success in the weeks leading up to this, so I thought i’d try turning up at the venue. Turns out the venue box office is only open on the night of events.

It wasn’t a wasted trip as I had a walk around Brixton, Brixton Market, accidentally stumbling onto Electric Avenue, immortalised in song by Eddy Grant. Managed to get some excellent Street Art pictures when I was in Brixton.

From there, I headed into the City Centre and had a walk around, before heading back to the hotel for a brief sleep before heading East that night.

The reason why I was heading to East London was that I had an audience ticket for Life’s A Pitch on BT Sport. The studios are in Stratford, near the Olympic Stadium. I didn’t get to see much of the stadium though.

Just a pity it took nearly two hours to get from Stratford to Paddington by bus, thanks to Boris and Bob’s Comedy Act.

After a brief sleep, I was up early on the Friday morning to go on the Shoreditch Street Art Tour. Unfortunately, like the day before, I was frustrated by public transport, as delays on The Tube meant I missed the tour.

I was already en route to Shoreditch when I discovered the delays, so it was too late to turn back. Luckily, I had travelled through Shoreditch going from Stratford to Paddington, so had a mental note of where the Street Art was.

I had a walk around getting photos. If I go to London again, i’ll definitely try to go on a proper, organised, Street Art Tour.

From Shoreditch, I went into Oxford Circus and Leicester Square for a walkaround, before heading to Greenwich to go on the Emirates Air Line, a cable car journey across London Docks.

Got some good views due to it being a clear day, but it wouldn’t be an essential thing to do in London to be honest. It would certainly be a unique way to spend a night out, if it wasn’t for the fact that no booze is allowed.

From there, I headed in the direction of one of London’s most famous landmarks, Wembley Stadium. But it wasn’t Wembley I was visiting, it was the nearby Fountain Studios (where X-Factor is filmed) for Alan Davies Apres Ski, for which I had an audience ticket.

It was a very stop-start recording which got never really got going, to be honest, which is a shame as I like Alan Davies.

Saturday morning was spent in Camden. I went to Camden for a morning last year and loved it. Had a walk around Camden Market, and got some Street Art photos.

Saturday afternoon was spent in East London, watching Leyton Orient v Peterborough.

When in London, i’d hoped to take in a concert. Each concert I wanted to go to, I seemed to be thwarted.

Phoenix are a band I love, but inconveniently, were doing a gig in London the day before I arrived. Foster the People and Bombay Bicycle Club were doing XFM Sessions, but I couldn’t get a ticket.

Del Amitri were doing a gig in Hammersmith on the Friday night. I like Del Amitri, but not enough to spend 30 quid seeing them.

I wanted to see Tom Odell on the Saturday. I turned up at the venue to try and get a ticket. The Box Office was sold out. There were plenty of touts outside flogging, but the prices were extortionate. Looking at the volume of people already queing up to get in, it wasn’t worth it for what would be a crap view.

Luckily, on the Saturday night, I had a Plan B, a comedy gig at Bloomsbury Theatre headined by Katherine Ryan and Tom Rosenthal.

On the Sunday, I had a lie-in before heading to White Hart Lane for Spurs v Everton. After that, I headed into Oxford Circus to watch the United game (the less said of which, the better) before spending some more time in the City Centre.

That night, I discovered Prince was doing an impromptu gig in London, but, like the other gigs this week, I missed out on a ticket, being elsewhere when the queue was forming.

Monday morning, my last day in London, was spent in the City Centre again, making the most of my final day in the city, before heading to Gatwick and flying home.

And that, was my trip to London, an enjoyable experience despite the transport mayhem and being unable to get concert tickets.

Where will I be headed in February next year? Who knows.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1-0 EVERTON 9.2.2014

Having been to Brisbane Road the previous day, I took advantage of there being a game on the Sunday of my visit, at White Hart Lane.

With Everton the visitors, the game gave me a chance to add them to my UEFA 100 Club list as Number 31.

Being there as a neutral, I didn’t want to take sides and hoped it would end in a thrilling draw. The fact that this would have helped United is purely coincidental. Though, United probably should have helped themselves against Fulham later that day.

Managed to get a returned ticket two days earlier but had to pick it up from the ticket office on the day of the match. Getting to the ground, was an adventure, getting off at Seven Sisters Tube Station and having a long walk. Luckily, I didn’t get lost by following the crowd.

Curiously, there are three club shops at White Hart Lane.

Got into the ground in plenty of time. If you’ve seen a match at White Hart Lane on TV, I was sat at the bottom left of the TV screen. The downside is, you couldn’t see the ball when it was at the other end of the picth.

For most of the first-half, that’s were Tottenham were playing, trying to get Aaron Lennon into the game as much as possible.

Everton were the better team in the first-half but not dominant. For all their possession, they didn’t have many chances. You could tell how much they were missing Lukaku.

Every misplaced Spurs pass was met with groans, as they got restless.

In the second-half, Spurs went 1-0 up when a quick free-kick put Adebayor through. In his current form, there was only one result.

From there, Everton never looked like getting back into the game. The second-half mirrored the first for Everton, for all their build-up play, no end result.

Steven Naismith tried a dummy and ended up beating himself, the ball going out for a throw, much to the pleasure of the home support. This began a period of running battles between Naismith and Tottenham’s support, with Naisith determined to get the ball and make something happen, and Tottenham fans quick to taunt him when it didn’t.

Much to the annoyance of Spurs fans, Naismith was subbed soon afterwards for Aiden McGeady. In McGeady, Spurs fans had a new victim, chanting “You’re just a shit Steven Naismith” at any opportunity.

Photo Album

LEYTON ORIENT 1-2 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 8.2.2014

Was in London last weekend. While there, I decided to take in a game. The game I chose for the Saturday, was Leyton Orient v Peterborough.

Even though it was in the Third Tier, it was the most appealing game on offer. Before going, I narrowed down my choice to either Brentford or Leyton Orient. I chose Orient for the simple reason that they were easier to get to. As it turned out, Brentford’s game was postponed.

This game was a promotion battle, with Orient starting the day 3rd, and Peterborough 7th, both wanting promotion, with Orient aiming automatically, Peterborough via the play-offs.

The stadium was easy to get to from The Tube, and I managed to get a ticket no problem. I was a bit surprised by this, considering it was a top of the table clash.

My ticket was for the South Stand, behind the goal. If you’ve seen a game at Brisbane Road, it’s to the right of the TV screen.

If I go to Orient again, i’d prefer to go to the other end behind the goal. The view wasn’t bad, but you were too far from the pitch for my liking.

The weather all day was going from one extreme to the other, either rain or sunshine. There was a Double Rainbow over the stadium pre-match.

Managed to kill some time in the pub underneath the stand, which is no doubt convenient for Orient supporters.

In the first-half, both teams cancelled each other out. Orient had the best chance when a volley hit the post. Such was their luck, the rebound hit their attacker straight on the hand before he could get a chance to put the ball in.

In the second-half, with Peterborough attacking the South Stand, Orient fans were more than happy to mock Peterborough’s attacking mistakes. The favourite being “All that money and you’re shit”

With 20 minutes to go, Orient took the lead, with a header from a free-kick. Their fans were now in a party mood. Postponements for Brentford and Wolves meant a win would take them top.

With each passing minute, Orient fans started to sing “WE ARE TOP OF THE LEAGUE” – It was asking for trouble. Out of nowhere, Peterborough got an equaliser with a free header from a set piece on 87 minutes.

Brisbane Road was stunned. Soon after, they were stunned again when Peterborough scored a winner on 89 minutes.

An enjoyable game with a dramatic finish. A massive improvement on my last three games in London, 0-0, 0-0, 0-1.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 14.7.1979

Match action from England’s recent visit to Sweden is the cover of Shoot, as they try to fill in the gap durign the pre-season of 1979.

In news, Brian Clough has drawn praise from pundits in the Soviet Union after Nottingham Forest’s European Cup win, and Northern Ireland have announced a tour of Australia for the summer of 1980.

Pierce O’Leary of Shamrock Rovers was linked with a move to Coventry City, potentially, the first League Of Ireland player to move to an English club for a six figure fee. Staying in Dublin, Pele was a surprise visitor to Dublin for the friendly between Republic of Ireland and Argentina.

Distillery were facing expulsion from the Irish League if they couldn’t have a new ground by the start of the 1980-1981 season.

And finally, Coventry City became the first Football League team to visit the Faroe Islands, beating a local team 6-0.

The volume of British players in the US meant the NASL got a page of coverage, the lead story being that George Best had went missing for a week.

Gordon McQueen, writing a column, expresses his concern that the games between England and Scotland could be banned due to crowd violence, expressing his anger at a Scottish fan who invaded the pitch with his side 1-0 up, causing a delay. England went on to win the game 3-1.

McQueen also spoke about an 18 year old called Diego Maradona, who faced Scotland and was described by McQueen as “Another Pele in the making”, but was disappointed at the lack of TV coverage of the game, due to a dispute with the BBC.

In letters, a Shrewsbury Town fan complains about the lack of acknowledgement given to boss Graham Turner for his success at the club. A reader from Perth wrote in to complain about the BBC being biased towards Rangers.

A young manager starting out in the game is 32 year old Howard Kendall, and his appointment at Blackburn Rovers gets 2/3 of a page coverage.

RC Strasbourg get a full page profile, with a team poster on the other side.

To fill up space with no football, we get a full page of footballers on holiday, including a picture of Phil Neal throwing Phil Thompson into a swimming pool.

Part 8 of Shoot’s review of the 1978-1979 season reveals that Barcelona want Bobby Robson to be their manager. It only took 17 years for them to get him.

Derek Johnstone’s Scottish football column is accompanied by a picture of him playing video games with his wife.

Wigan Athletic, having just completed their first season as a league club, feature in an article asking if they will “Do a Wimbledon” – Wimbledon (promoted to the Football League in 1977) got promoted in their second season.

Wigan did indeed “Do a Wimbledon” in terms that they reached the top flight (in 27 years compared to Wimbledon’s 9) and won the FA Cup (took them 35 years compared to Wimbledon’s 11)