PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : JULY

2018-2019 began for me in the middle of the World Cup, giving England v Sweden a miss to head to Wilgar Park to see Linfield start their pre-season against Dundela.

The following weekend, I headed to Dublin for a short weekend, taking in a match, Shelbourne v Drogheda United.

After that, was a ground being visited for the first time, Breda Park, to see Linfield take on Knockbreda.

That was then followed by a trip to Newforge as Linfield continued their pre-season preparation with a friendly against PSNI.

Dundela v Linfield

Shelbourne v Drogheda United

Shelbourne v Drogheda United Photo Album

Knockbreda v Linfield

PSNI v Linfield

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2018 IN PICTURES – JULY

My first photo adventure of July came on the weekend of the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t in Russia, it was closer to home, at Wilgar Park as Linfield began their pre-season preparations.

The following weekend, I headed to Dublin over the July Holiday, got some Street Art Photos, and went to see Shelbourne take on Drogheda United.

The month ended with two more pre-season friendlies for Linfield, away to Knockbreda and PSNI.

Dundela v Linfield

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Shelbourne v Drogheda United

Shelbourne v Drogheda United Photo Album

Knockbreda v Linfield

PSNI v Linfield

SHELBOURNE 0-1 DROGHEDA UNITED 13.7.2018

The last time I visited Tolka Park, I met the incmubent England manager Sven Goran Eriksson. I did keep an eye out for Gareth Southgate, but I couldn’t see him. He must have had other things on his mind.

As it was a Bank Holiday period on a Thursday and Friday, I decided to head to Dublin for an overnight stay on the Friday. Naturally, i’d be doing all the touristy stuff and spotting Street Art, the trip would also include a football match.

I had a choice of two games on the Friday night : Bohs v Sligo Rovers or Shelbourne v Drogheda United.

I plumped for Shelbourne v Drogheda, as it presented me with an opportunity for a potential last visit to Tolka Park, the future of the ground looking uncertain, with Shelbourne planning to move to a redeveloped Dalymount Park.

This would be my only game while I was in Dublin. Shamrock Rovers v AIK wasn’t postponed and needed to be played on the Friday, while there were no friendlies in Dublin on the Saturday, with Oxford United (v UCD) and Newcastle United (v St Patrick’s Athletic) playing in Dublin a few days either side of my visit.

Shelbourne and Drogheda kicked-off a couple of points of the top of the table. During the 00s, both of these teams were challenging at the top of the table, but in the top flight.

They kicked-off in a sandwich, a few points behind UCD who are in the automatic promotion place, while themselves occupying a place in the Play-Offs, with the teams below them looking to take advantage of any points dropped and leap above them.

Getting to the ground was very easy. It did help that I had been there before. Certainly a lot easier than last year trying to get to UCD.

This was my fifth game seeing Drogheda United. The previous four (Linfield in 2006 and 2007, St Patrick’s Athletic in 2013, Bray Wanderers in 2014) had brought two wins and two draws. They were hoping I would continue to bring them good luck.

In the opening minutes of the game, Shelbourne had a glorious chance to score when Drogheda’s keeper was caught in possession, but the Shelbourne attacker dragged his shot wide. Drogheda responded immediately with a low shot that was easily saved.

It was a game where neither side really looked like scoring. There were very few clear goalscoring chances in the game.

With each passing minute, it was looking likely the game was going to finish 0-0. If there was to be a goal, it would more than likely be the only goal of the game.

On 89 minutes, Drogheda had a free-kick in a shooting position just outside the penalty area.

You know when somebody lines up a dead ball, you have a hunch that the ball is going in? This was one of those moments.

And so it proved, Sean Brennan fired home to give Drogheda the lead. Shelbourne still had time to equalise.

They had the ball in Drogheda’s half but never in their penalty area. Drogheda were able to hold out and get the three points.

Someone at Linfield must have been reading this blog, as they’ve just announced an away friendly against Knockbreda on Saturday. A new ground for me to visit. Looking forward to it.

This week, saw Easyjet announce new routes to Salzburg and Prague. That is very tempting. Prague especially. There’s a weekend in March 2019 where Sparta Prague, Dukla Prague and Bohemians Prague are all at home.

Might as well get a football trip to Mainland Europe before Brexit.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : JULY

After a two month break, my football watching for 2014-2015 began in early July, with the World Cup still going on (on the night of the first two Quarter-Finals) in Bray.

I was over there for a concert, and decided to take in a game as there was one on while I was there, a bottom of the table clash between Bray Wanderers and Drogheda United.

Carlisle Ground is a nice stadium for watching football in when it’s sunny. Unfortunately, when I was there, it was raining. A lot.

It was still an enjoyable game, with Drogheda winning 3-1.

On the night of the now infamous World Cup Semi-Final between Brazil and Germany, I was at Mourneview Park for the UEFA Cup tie between Linfield and B36 Torshavn, my first experience of seeing a Warren Feeney managed Linfield team in the flesh.

The following week, I was back at Mourneview Park again, for the next round against AIK, to see Linfield secure a fantastic 1-0 win. Unfortunately, a 2-0 defeat meant Linfield’s European hopes were over for another year.

Two days later, I was Bangor bound, as Linfield used Clandeboye Park for a friendly against Cowdenbeath.

My main reason for going was to check out the facilities at Clandeboye, which had recently had some renovation work and a new 3G pitch.

That was my football watching for July, the league season not long away from starting. It was great to be back watching football.

Bray Wanderers v Drogheda United

Bray Wanderers v Drogheda United Photo Album

Linfield v B36 Torshavn

Linfield v AIK

Linfield v Cowdenbeath

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2014

So, my football watching is over for 2014. Time to look back at the year just gone. And what better way to do it than with a load of stats.

Games : 54

Goals Seen : 164

Red Cards : 17 (includes Rhys Marshall getting sent-off after the final whistle, but not Gary Hamilton being sent-off as a substitute before he entered the field)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 4

Hat-Tricks : 1 (Robin Van Persie, Manchester United v Olympiacos)

Teams Seen : 37

Accrington Stanley (1st time), AIK Solna (1st time), Ards, B36 Torshavn, Ballinamallard United, Ballyclare Comrades (1st time), Ballymena United, Bangor, Bray Wanderers (1st time), Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Cowdenbeath (1st time), Crusaders, Drogheda United, Dungannon Swifts, Everton (1st time), Exeter City (1st time), Faroe Islands, Glenavon, Glentoran, Harland and Wolff Welders, Heart Of Midlothian, Hibernian, Hull City (1st time), Institute, Leyton Orient (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Olympiacos (1st time), Peterborough United (1st time), Portadown, Real Madrid, Sevilla (1st time), Tottenham Hotspur, Warrenpoint Town,

Stadiums Visited : 19

Ballymena Showgrounds, Brisbane Road (1st time), Cardiff City Stadium (1st time), Carlisle Grounds (1st time), Coleraine Showgrounds, Crown Ground (1st time), Drumahoe (1st time), Ferney Park, Milltown (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, The Oval, Tynecastle, White Hart Lane (1st time), Windsor Park

Competitions : 15

County Antrim Shield, European Championship, European Cup, European Super Cup (1st time), FA Premier League, Football League One (1st time), Football League Two (1st time), Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship, League Of Ireland, Northern Ireland League Cup, Scottish Championship (1st time), Steel and Sons Cup, UEFA Cup

Curiousities :

No real curiosities this year. There were two twins on opposing sides, but i’d already seen it. Other than that, a player setting up a goal with no boots. It was a poor year for curiousities.

UEFA 100 Club : Everton, Sevilla (now at 32 clubs)

2014 IN PICTURES – JULY

July began for me with a trip to Dublin, then Bray, primarily for a concert headlined by James and Paloma Faith, a bit of football to see Bray Wanderers, and some Dublin Street Art.

The following week, Linfield’s season was back up and running with the second leg of the UEFA Cup tie against B36 Torshavn at Mourneview Park, my first time seeing Warren Feeney’s Linfield in the flesh.

A 1-1 draw was enough to giver Linfield a tie in the next round against AIK, again at Mourneview Park, where and Andrew Waterworth goal secured a 1-0 win. Unfortunately, a 2-0 defeat in the away leg eliminated Linfield.

Two days later, it was back on the football wagon for Linfield’s friendly against Cowdenbeath. The only reason I went was to see Clandeboye Park, after having had some work done.

The month ended with another Wonder Villains gig, an instore at HMV.

Bray Wanderers v Drogheda United

Bray Wanderers v Drogheda United Photo Album

James – Live At Killruddery

James – Live At Killruddery Photo Album

Paloma Faith – Live At Killruddery

Paloma Faith – Live At Killruddery Photo Album

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v B36 Torshavn

Linfield v AIK

Linfield v Cowdenbeath

Wonder Villains Live At The Loft Photo Album

BRAY WANDERERS 1-3 DROGHEDA UNITED 4.7.2014

Was in the Dublin/Bray area last weekend, so I thought i’d take in a game of football.

There were no games in Dublin, so Bray won by default.

I’d actually planned to visit Bray for a match last year when I was in Dublin, but with a week to go, they rearranged their match from the Friday to the Sunday, meaning I couldn’t go (I went to see St Patrick’s Athletic instead)

I’d never been to a match there, so it’s always good to visit new stadiums. The ground, was literally hard to miss, as it was right beside the DART station. It’s one of the first things you see as you leave the station. I’d imagine it would be a favourable away trip for fans of Dublin clubs.

This match was a key bottom of the table clash, with Drogheda knowing a win would see them overtake Bray as both teams look to get as far away from the relegation play-off place.

“I know we’re bad, but there’s no need to pray” was what greeted my as I entered the stadium, as I leant over to pick up some money i’d dropped when buying a programme.

That said, i’d seen Drogheda three times previously, and they’d never lost, which was ominous for Bray.

There is no segregation as such at the Carlisle Grounds, but there was a sign asking away fans to sit in a designated area, but fans of both clubs were free to mingle.

Away fans were exposed to the elements, unlike their home counterparts. It would be a lovely stadium to watch football in the sunshine. This wasn’t a sunny evening.

As the match was about to kick-off the sound of drums and Drogheda fans singing could be heard outside as quite a few of their support were running late.

Some of them managed to get into the ground in time to see their side take the lead after 3 minutes. For the next 5 minutes, all I could hear behind me was late Drogheda fans asking stewards for confirmation of the score.

It took a while, but Bray eventually got back into the game, missing a free header from a corner, before equalising minutes later from a free-kick just outside the penalty area.

Not suggesting that Bray fans are pessimistic, but fans behind the goal moved to avoid getting hit when the free-kick was lined-up.

However, it would be Drogheda who would lead at half-time, as they would go 2-1 up late in the half.

At half-time, the heavens opened, and the Drogheda fans who were exposed to the elements moved to the stand where Bray fans were for cover, taking their place at the far end of the stand, at the end where Bray were attacking.

Some fans who couldn’t get seats there scattered themselves elsewhere around the stand.

Early in the second-half, came a red card for Bray, which killed the game. Bray didn’t look like scoring, and Drogheda didn’t need to score.

The closest Bray came was when a speculative header from a cross hit the post before going out for a goal kick.

In injury time, Drogheda got a third to secure the game, prompting one fan to jump up off his seat and high five their manager. Job done.

Photo Album

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,

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 – AUGUST

August was when the season properly started. For me, it included matches in three different countries.

My first match of the month was at Richmond Park, to see St Patrick’s Athletic take on Drogheda United. I was in Dublin that weekend, so thought i’d take in a game.

My original choice was Bray Wanderers v Boehmians, but they moved it from the original date, and I wasn’t able to go to it.

The match at Richmond Park, was the same score as my previous visit in 2010 ………. 0-0. I should probably be banned from attending matches there.

The following weekend, it was Shamrock Park, to see Linfield and Portadown draw 1-1. The Irish League season, was finally up and running.

Three days later, was a match that should have been played the previous season, the re-arranged World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Russia.

That weekend, I was in Edinburgh, primarily for the festival, but I always like to take in a game while i’m there.

The SPL Fixture Computer gave me Easter Road for a second successive year, the visitors this time being Dundee United.

My final match of the month saw bottom placed Linfield take on Glentoran, in a 0-0 draw. That is not how I imagined August would end.

St Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United

St Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Russia

Northern Ireland v Russia Photo Album

Hibernian v Dundee United

Hibernian v Dundee United Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran