2016 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March began for me at Solitude, to see Linfield take on Cliftonville in the Irish Cup, and get their first win there for four years.

The following week, Glentoran were the opponents, but the result was the same, a 3-0 win for Linfield.

After that, it was Solitude again, with Linfield only managing a 2-0 win this time.

Over the Easter Weekend, I went to see Northern Ireland take on Wales in Cardiff, and decided to make a trip of it between Bristol and Cardiff, getting some Street Art photos, and see Bristol Rovers take on Cambridge United.

Upon my return, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Slovenia.

The next day, I headed to Warrenpoint to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint, ending a busy Easter period of football watching.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Cliftonville v Linfield

Bristol Street Art

Bristol Street Art Photo Album 1

Bristol Street Art Photo Album 2

Cardiff Street Art

Cardiff Street Art Photo Album

Wales v Northern Ireland

Wales v Northern Ireland Photo Album

Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United

Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Slovenia

Northern Ireland v Slovenia Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

BRISTOL STREET ART MARCH 2016

I headed over to Cardiff recently for the Wales v Northern Ireland match, but also took the opportunity to spend some time in Bristol.

I’d been to Bristol before, in August 2014, but it was only a day, so I didn’t get a full chance to explore the city.

On that visit, i’d managed to get a lot of Street Art pictures, and I had previously known about Bristol’s reputation for Street Art.

As I got off my bus and headed towards my hotel, the first thing that greeted me was a mural of Wallace and Gromit.

A bit random, you may think, but not really, as Aardman Animations, who make Wallace and Gromit are based in Bristol.

After checking in, I then headed out to explore Bristol, and immediately spotted an incomplete tribute to David Bowie, inspired by the iconic cover to Aladdin Sane, and featuring the line “Put on your red shoes and dance the blues” (A lyric from Let’s Dance) and a tombstone reading 8th January 1947 (Bowie’s date of birth) and 10th January (the date he died, but not including the year of his death, 2016)

So that’s Belfast, Dublin (hoping to check that out in May as I have a day trip to Dublin planned over the second Bank Holiday weekend of the month), Bristol and Manchester who have Street Art tributes to David Bowie.

The one in Manchester is currently a work in progress. It’s in the Northern Quarter, just off Oldham Street (if you know Manchester). I’m looking forward to seeing it the next time i’m over for a match.

I then ventured into Bristol City Centre, photographing what I could see, before stumbling into Stokes Croft, a hotbed for Street Art.

I didn’t do the official tour. I usually try to avoid official tours as I like to stumble upon stuff myself, but it’s always handy to have that as a back-up option.

There is a mural of Abbe Pierre outside the office of Emmaus, the charity he helped to found.

On the Friday, I went to see Bristol Rovers play. When getting the bus back to the City Centre, I noticed some pieces on Gloucester Road, so I went back on the Saturday morning to photograph them. There are also a lot of independent and charity shops in that area, so it’s well worth visiting, not just for Street Art.

If the name Stokes Croft sounds familiar, it could be because of riots there in April 2011 after protests about Tesco opening up a store there.

There was a piece of Street Art referencing opposition to Tesco there.

Sunday was spent on the Harbourside. I wasn’t looking for Street Art, but I did manage to stumble upon some. Naturally of course, I had my camera ready to snap.

Photo Album 1

Photo Album 2

Bristol Street Art August 2014

Bristol Street Art August 2014 Photo Album

2014 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

It took a while for August to get going, but when it did, it was rather good.

My first photo adventure came on the second weekend, when I headed to Portadown to see a new era begin, Linfield’s first domestic game with Warren Feeney as manager. The less said of the result, the better.

Late that night, I headed to Falls Park to see Kaiser Chiefs in concert.

The following day, I was off to Wales for a few days, specifically to see the European Super Cup Final between Real Madrid and Sevilla.

I took the opportunity to explore Cardiff, go to Bristol for a day, and spend some time in Bath. Loved the Street Art in Bristol. Would have loved to have gone on the official tour, but it wasn’t on the day I was there.

Back in Belfast, it was off to The Oval to see Linfield come from 2-0 down to beat Glentoran.

I wasn’t back in Belfast long, as it was time to head to Edinburgh, mostly for the Festival, but I did take in some football, Hearts v Hibs. I also managed to get some Street Art photos when in Edinbugh.

Not long back in Belfast, it was time for Tennent’s Vital to see Bastille and The Killers on the same bill.

Two days later, it was on the road to see Linfield, a theme through the opening weeks of the season. This time, it was to Institute, my first time there.

Two days after that, was a trip to see Linfield go out of the League Cup to Ballyclare. The less said of that, the better.

One more road trip, to Dungannon, to see Linfield get a 1-0 win. At least the month ended on a winning note.

Portadown v Linfield

Kaiser Chiefs Live At Falls Park

Kaiser Chiefs Live At Falls Park Photo Album

Bristol Street Art

Bristol Street Art Photo Album

Cardiff/Bristol/Bath

Cardiff

Cardiff Street Art

Cardiff Street Art Photo Album

Real Madrid v Sevilla

Real Madrid v Sevilla Photo album

Glentoran v Linfield

Hearts v Hibs

Hearts v Hibs Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Bastille Live At Tennent’s Vital

Bastille Live At Tennent’s Vital Photo Album

The Killers Live At Tennent’s Vital

The Killers Live At Tennent’s Vital Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Ballyclare Comrades v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

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

FOOTBALL IN 2014

So, Thursday afternoon will see me attend my last football match of 2013. Once that is over, i’ll be looking back at the year, looking at the stats, and oddities witnessed, and choosing my Top 5 games been to.

But this blog, isn’t about looking back, it’s about looking forward. So here, are my football wishes for 2014.

Obviously, I want United and Linfield to win as many trophies as possible, and Northern Ireland to make a winning start to their Euro 2016 campaign.

But what else will I wish for in 2014?

LINFIELD

Getting way too far ahead of myself, having a pre-season wishlist of Stranraer away. Would also love an away game against Dundela, haven’t been there for a while.

I’d love to visit the recently redeveloped Clandeboye Park for a Linfield game. Hopefully an Irish Cup Quarter-Final, a pre-season friendly, or Ards avoiding relegation and Linfield visiting in 2014-2015.

Bangor, unfortunately, haven’t applied for a Premiership licence. Of the clubs who can get promoted, I hope either Carrick Rangers and Institute go up, preferrably Carrick.

An early match to look forward to in 2014 is Linfield’s trip to Warrenpoint on January 4th. Always love visiting new grounds.

Talking of new(ish) grounds, i’m looking forward to seeing the results of the Windsor Park Redevelopment. I’m hoping this blog will become a photo diary for the Redevelopment process.

EDINBURGH

Every August I go to Edinburgh, primarily for the festival, but I like to catch a football match when i’m over. The last two years have taken me to Easter Road, so i’m guessing i’m due a trip to Tynecastle.

I get the feeling it’s an absolute cert that it’ll be Hearts v Rangers on the weekend i’m there, meaning trying to get a ticket will be difficult.

Even if the fixture list sends me to Easter Road, i’m hoping to visit Tynecastle to get a look at the plaque, unveiled earlier this year, dedicated to the Hearts players who died in World War I.

When i’m in Edinburgh, i’m hoping that this will be the year I go and see The Spartans, hopefully by then they’ll be in SFL3.

CARDIFF

Undecided about this one as yet, but i’m tempted to visit Cardiff in August for the European Super Cup Final, regardless of who is in it, hoping to pick up a ticket when i’m over.

As well as visiting a new ground, it would be my first visit to Cardiff since the Wales v Northern Ireland World Cup Qualifier in 2004. It was such a great trip. Wish I had a camera in order to have taken some photos of it.

While i’m there (the match is on a Friday night) i’m tempted to go to Bristol on the Saturday to do the Street Art Tour, then go and see whichever of City or Rovers is at home that day.

MANCHESTER UNITED

As far as the rest of the 2013-2014 season is concerned, i’m hoping to get over to Old Trafford for another game this season (I’ve already been to the Crystal Palace game in September)

Hoping to go the Olympiakos game in March. Haven’t confirmed anything yet, but hoping I can get sorted to go to this game in the coming weeks.

NORTHERN IRELAND

The first big event for Northern Ireland in 2014 will come off the pitch, with the Euro 2016 draw. I’m actually hoping to go to Euro 2016, regardless if Northern Ireland qualify, basing myself in Paris and hopefully visiting Lens and/or Lille.

Anyway, here’s my hopes for the draw. I’d love us to draw England, but with the game at Wembley to be in March 2015. I’ve already been to New Wembley, but i’d love to go there for a Northern Ireland match.

I’d love us to drawn in the same group as Gibraltar, and to play them at home in the first game of the group.

It would be Gibraltar’s first competitive international, and it would be nice to go to a historic game.

As a bonus, would it be too much to ask for the August international date to be used for a friendly against Scotland at Easter Road?

LONDON

Heading to London for a short break in February, and hoping to take in a game while i’m there. Of the games taking place that weekend, Leyton Orient v Peterborough on the Saturday looks the most tempting, though Brentford v Crawley Town is my back-up game.

Spurs are at home to Everton on the Sunday and tempted by that. Had a look for tickets online last night and they are 58 quid. Not sure if adding Everton to my UEFA 100 Club is worth that. Think I might stick with Leyton Orient.

When I was looking forward to 2012, I didn’t imagine i’d be watching Northern Ireland playing in Amsterdam.

When I was looking forward to 2013, I didn’t imagine i’d be going to a Scottish Cup Semi-Final.

In life, like in football, you never know what’s going to happen next. Here’s to more football watching in 2014. Hopefully, I might enjoy some of it.