CARDIFF/BRISTOL/BATH

Recently, I travelled to South Wales and South-West England. I’d never been to South-West England before, but I had been to South Wales, in 2004.

That trip, in 2004, was to Cardiff for the World Cup Qualifier between Wales and Northern Ireland. I had such a fantastic time, and the match itself wasn’t bad.

Over the following ten years, i’d always wanted to visit Cardiff again. For various reasons, I just never got around to it.

Ten years on, it was another football match that would make me want to visit Cardiff again. Cardiff was chosen as the host venue for the 2014 European Super Cup Final, and i’d long earmarked this as an event to go to.

The game was on the Tuesday, but I flew out on the Sunday afternoon, to give me some time to travel around, instead of heading over on the day and only seeing the game.

Due to the difficulty of getting a hotel, I got one at Cardiff Airport, or so I thought. It had “Cardiff Airport” in the title, but it wasn’t actually at the airport. Not off to the best start.

Thankfully, there was a bus route to Cardiff City Centre outside the hotel, which was convenient. I was steps away from the boundaries of Barry, so I had the option of going there if I wanted.

I decided to spend Sunday night in Cardiff City Centre. Unsurprisingly, there wasn’t a lot happening, but it was good to get a bearing of the city and where to go.

Monday morning saw me have a lie-in, mainly due to the stormy weather outside. Eventually, I got up, and went into the City Centre, before getting the train to Bristol.

I’d always decided that if I was to go to Cardiff again, i’d fit in a trip to Bristol as well.

I got off at Temple Meads Station and just wandered about, exploring the city and getting lost in it.

Bristol is famous for it’s Street Art. I’d wanted to do the Street Art Tour, but unfortunately, it only runs on Thursdays and Saturdays.

That didn’t stop me though, and I stumbled upon some pieces. Of course, that will have it’s own blog.

Bristol is a nice city, and had some excellent canal walks on offer.

With a bit of time to spare, I headed to Bath, to see what it was like.

There is plenty to do in Bath, and plenty of Street Entertainment on offer. I had a visit to the Roman Baths, naturally.

From there, I headed back to Cardiff, having a look around the city centre, including the Millennium Stadium.

Tuesday, was always going to be my big Cardiff day, I headed to the City Centre. Unsurprisingly, the city had a Spanish invasion, it looked as though there was more Sevilla fans than Real Madrid fans.

There was no official Fan Park for the game, but both sets of fans were encouraged to congregate in specific areas of the city. Nobody really paid any attention to it.

I headed to Cardiff Fashion Quarter (I’d stumbled upon it on the Monday night and made a note to visit), a series of independent stores, as well as the various indoor markets in Cardiff. If you love music, you’ll love Kelly’s Records, whose stock takes up a lot of space.

I’d planned to visit Cardiff Bay, but I didn’t have the time unfortunately. It was a real pity too as I would have like to have seen it.

I headed back to the hotel to drop off my stuff and get ready to head to the match. Conveniently, there were shuttle buses arranged to take supporters from outside the Millennium Stadium to Cardiff City Stadium.

Cardiff City Stadium is a fantastic stadium, and I had a brilliant view, the only downside was that my seat was red (you know, Tan Out!!)

Like in 2004, football brought me to Cardiff. There’s good enough reasons to visit Cardiff if there isn’t a football match on. I would have like more time to explore South Wales even more.

Was great to visit Cardiff again. Hopefully, i’ll be back before 2024.

Street Entertainer in Bath

Millennium Stadium, Cardiff

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