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

CARDIFF STREET ART MARCH 2016

I was over in Cardiff for the Wales v Northern Ireland match, and spent a day in Cardiff. I had been to Cardiff twice before, most recently in August 2014.

While I was over, I managed to get some Street Art photos, some of which were not there (to my knowledge) during my visit in 2014.

I don’t have exact street names, but they were around the back of Prince of Wales pub as you head towards Cardiff Central Train Station, the street where the Bus Station used to be.

There is currently redevelopment work going on to build a bus station on the same site.

There were also some pieces around Park Street, around the back of the Millennium Stadium, where BT’s offices are based.

There were also murals outside a pub near the Millennium Stadium. I can’t remember the street name or even the name of the pub, but it is near Angel Hotel.

Photo Album

Cardiff Street Art August 2014

Cardiff 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

REAL MADRID 2-0 SEVILLA 12.8.2014

I was in Cardiff recently for the European Super Cup Final, an all Spanish affair between Real Madrid and Sevilla.

The competition, is European football’s version of the Charity Shield, as the European Cup winners and UEFA Cup winners went head to head.

Originally a two legged affair, it became a one-off game at Monaco in 1998, before moving around Europe from last year onwards, in Prague, with next year’s game being in Tblisi.

There was even newspaper talk, of it being played at a redeveloped Windsor Park in the future.

Realistically, that won’t happen. The three stadiums hosting 2013-2015 have a capacity range from 20-33,000, which will be just beyond the redeveloped stadium.

When it was announced that Cardiff would host this game in 2014, i’d always intended to go to this. I’d loved going to the 2011 UEFA Cup Final in Dublin, and really regret not going to the cluster of European finals in Manchester and Glasgow between 2002 and 2008.

I’d managed to get a ticket for the game relatively easy, having missed out on the original application, extra tickets became available two weeks before the game through Cardiff City’s website. I was pleasantly surprised, considering it was a game involving Gareth Bale playing in his home city.

I’d hoped it would be Manchester United v Juventus, but Real Madrid v Sevilla was not a bad alternative.

I got to the ground at teatime, with UEFA putting on free shuttle buses to the ground from the City Centre from 5pm onwards.

Cardiff City Stadium was opening a new section of the ground that night, increasing the capacity to 33,000. It was not without controversy, as these new seats would be red. Incidentally, it was the section of the ground I was in, right on the halfway line.

Located close to Ninian Park, so close in fact, that signposts directing people to Ninian Park still remain, Cardiff City Stadium has a nod to the past with the Ninian Park gates being used for this ground. There is also a plaque as you enter the grounds in memory of Jock Stein, who died at Ninian Park in 1985, as well as recent additions for Simon Insole, who directed policing at the stadium, and former Cardiff City manager Eddie May.

Before the match, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer walked past me as he headed into the stadium.

I entered the stadium and went to my seat, in the second tier, in the new seats, right on the halfway line. Most of the crowd were supporting Real Madrid. I’m guessing The Bale Factor might have had something to do with it.

Wearing red shirts and being sponsored by Visit Malaysia will have guaranteed Sevilla at least one neutral in Cardiff cheering them on.

Sevilla started the game brightly and caused Real Madrid problems before Real took the lead with a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo.

Despite that, Sevilla were still in the game for the rest of the first-half, almost equalising straight away from a defensive mistake.

Early in the second-half, Cristiano Ronaldo got his second, which killed the game as Sevilla’s attacks were nullified, barring a late rally.

Gareth Bale had a late shot on goal saved, denying him the goal he wanted the most.

An enjoyable trip, and always great to visit a new stadium, Real were deserved winners.

Hopefully, the next time it is in the UK, Brighton’s Amex Stadium would be an excellent venue, and a fantastic city to visit.

Photo Album

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.