THE KOOKS – LIVE AT ALBERT HALL MANCHESTER 23.1.2016

Exactly ten years since the release of their debut album, Inside In Inside Out, The Kooks were in Manchester for a concert at Albert Hall, a city that singer Luke Pritchard said gives him a tingle every time he visits there.

It was a gig that was supposed to have taken place the previous month, but was cancelled due to one of their members suffering a family bereavement.

Upon hearing that the rescheduled date would be on the weekend I would be in Manchester, I decided to get a ticket, especially as they were so good when I saw them at Mandela Hall in 2015.

Inside In Inside Out got to Number 2 in the album charts in 2006, and spawned the hit singles Naive, She Moves In Her Own Way and Ooh La.

The follow up, Konk went to Number 1 and spawned the Number 3 single Always Where I Need To Be. It looked like The Kooks were going to be one of the biggest bands in the world.

Then, well, nobody knows what actually happened next. It does seem unjust that a band like The Libertines were playing Manchester Arena on the night The Kooks were playing Albert Hall.

During the set, Luke Pritchard engaged in what will be the biggest concert cliche of the early months of 2016, toasting the recently departed David Bowie.

The Kooks had good reason to though, as they (just like Simple Minds) got their name from a David Bowie song.

The whole show was basically just people jumping up and down and from side to side. Unsurprisingly, the biggest jumps were saved for their biggest hits – Forgive and Forget, Naive, Ooh La, She Moves In Her Own Way, Always Where I Need To Be and Shine On.

Hopefully, when the 20th anniversary of Inside In Inside Out comes around, The Kooks will still be touring and making people jump up and down and from side to side.

Photo Album

The Kooks Live At Mandela Hall March 2015

The Kooks Live At Mandela Hall March 2015 Photo Album

MANCHESTER UNITED 0-1 SOUTHAMPTON 23.1.2016

Last weekend, I headed to Old Trafford for the second time this season. The last time I headed over, things were looking great. United were top of the league and knew that a home win over PSV Eindhoven would send them into the Last 16 of the European Cup with a game to spare.

And then it went ever so slightly wrong. An eight match winless run followed, elimination from the European Cup and falling behind in the league.

Then, a five match unbeaten run, progress in the FA Cup and everything was looking great again. Well, not quite, but it’s all relative.

I’d waited a while for this game, having booked the weekend away last July. I’d hoped (and thought) that this game would be moved by Sky to a Sunday, freeing me up to take in another game in the Greater Manchester area on the Saturday.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. On top of that, Suede were doing an instore gig at HMV at 2pm on Saturday. So that was two things I was missing out on to see United. Let’s hope it was worth it.

Not a lot was going on in the early stages, United’s best moment was a speculative long range shot from Daley Blind.

That was as good as it got for United in the first-half.

Despite not having a clear strike on goal, Southampton looked the most believable team to score, getting the ball forward and having players make runs in attacking positions.

It didn’t always come off, but if you keep doing the right things, eventually, you’ll get it right.

It should have done for Southampton when a one-two between Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic saw Sadio Mane be through on goal, but he couldn’t get the ball under his control to shoot at goal.

Half-time, 0-0. Boos rang out at Old Trafford. I can’t say booing is something i’d do. I couldn’t put up an argument against anyone who did.

When at Old Trafford, I usually head out to the concourse at half-time to watch the highlights of the first-half on the TV screens. There were none I could think of that i’d want to watch again.

As is now tradition, Social Media lit up with the stat about half-time scores at Old Trafford, all 0s barring Norwich City’s goal in December. The only people who would be excited by that would be Binary Code enthusiasts.

I’m not sure if lots of 0s and a solitary 1 is a good thing in Binary Code. It’s certainly not a good thing in football.

Things can change so easily in football. Having left the field to jeers, United returned to cheers. The first-half was forgotten about. The game was level, and there was 45 minutes to win it.

Juan Mata came on for Marouane Fellaini. Old Trafford universally approved of this.

There was a brief flurry from Untied, but it died down, and reverted back to the first-half performance. Southampton looked to have the first chance of the half from a counter attack. but where thrwarted by a clearance from Matteo Darmian to deny Shane Long, who got injured making it.

Again, more backwards passes. Old Trafford voiced it’s disapproval. There was actually one occasion when a pass backwards was booed even though it was the right decision.

However, once the player who received the ball had it, nobody ran for him. He had nowhere to play it to. Suddenly, a good pass to keep possession and build to go forward became another bad pass going backwards by a lack of forward movement.

Even when United did go forward, they would soon lose it, giving away possession cheaply. Even worse, a lot of the time, it came from their own throw ins. One incident summed up the game for United.

Morgan Schneiderlin took a quick free-kick which hit the referee and set up a Southampton attack. It was United’s best attacking move of the game, and it was for the opposition.

Frustrated by what they were seeing, United fans chanted for Adnan Januzaj to come on. Eventually he did. Soon after, there was a goal. Unfortunately, it came for Southampton, when Charlie Austin headed home from a free-kick.

87 minutes on the clock, there wasn’t a lot of time for United to strike back. In truth, if Southampton had scored in the first ten seconds, United wouldn’t have looked like getting an equaliser.

Five minutes added time was signalled for, Old Trafford roared United on with this news. It was false hope.

United’s only moment came when a Adnan Januzaj shot went wide. It looked closer than it was when you watched it in real time.

That was it, a win for Southampton. United’s feint title hopes suffered a blow, as did their top four hopes.

People will tolerate bad performances if you are getting results. People will tolerate bad results if performances suggest the results will get better.

United are having the (im)perfect storm of bad results and performances. Only one shot on goal, and it was a speculative one at that.

In terms of Old Trafford visits, i’m hoping to head over for the Bournemouth game in May, United’s last game of the season. Well, in the league, hopefully there’ll be at least one cup final after that.

It’s all the hope we’ve got at the moment.

MANCHESTER STREET ART JANUARY 2016

Was over in Manchester last weekend. Primarily, for the football, which was like watching paint dry.

However, the trip was salvaged by some paint that was actually dry, Street Art in the city. For Street Art in Manchester, the first port of call is the Northern Quarter, where I spotted some new pieces, most notably on Tib Street.

Considering that my last visit to Manchester was two months ago, it was unsurprising that a lot of the stuff I photographed was still there, even taking into account the quick turnover of Street Art in some cities.

There was a work in progress piece when I arrived on Friday, which ended up being completed by the time I left on Monday.

When I was last in Manchester in November, there were street pillars being painted. I had a look at the finished pieces, which go all the way up Oldham Street, which relates to a project called 16 Days Of Street Art, where female artists paint female icons throughout history.

The last time I was in Manchester, i’d plannedo n checking out the pieces on Salford Quays, but I didn’t get the chance to do so, so I planned to do so on this visit.

On Saturday, I took a wrong turn and got lost, and was stuck for time to get back on track due to meeting friends before the match.

So, on Sunday, I decided to try again, only to discover that part of the walkway at Salford Quays is closed due to subsidence.

It seemed like I was destined not to get photos of the Street Art along Salford Quays.

Well, not quite. I remembered that the Cornbrook Metrolink served where the Street Art ends, so I had a quick change in direction and hopped on the tram.

So, that was my latest Street Art adventures in Manchester. I haven’t given up on United yet, so i’ll hopefully be back at some point in 2016 to photograph some more.

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

2015 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November took a while to get going, my first adventure being on the 7th, to see Linfield take on Crusaders. I would be spending a lot of time at Windsor Park in the opening fortnight of the month.

Windsor Park is where I would be based in the opening two weekends of the month, taking in Northern Ireland’s friendly against Latvia, then Linfield’s match against Cliftonville the next day.

The following midweek was all about music, as Paul Weller and U2 came to Belfast.

The busy month continued when I took in my annual Ulster European game, a defeat to Saracens.

The final two Saturdays of the month saw me on the road, to see Linfield lose in Mid-Ulster against Glenavon and Portadown.

Sandwiched inbetween that, was a trip to Manchester to see United take on PSV Eindhoven, where I also took the opportunity to get some Street Art photos.

Linfield v Crusaders

Northern Ireland v Latvia

Northern Ireland v Latvia Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Paul Weller live at Waterfront Hall

Paul Weller live at Waterfront Hall Photo Album

U2 live at The Odyssey

U2 live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Ulster v Saracens

Ulster v Saracens Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Manchester Street Art November 2015

Manchester Street Art November 2015 Photo Album

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

2015 IN PICTURES – JUNE

June 2015 began in Crewe, but only briefly, as I was on an 8.35am train bound for Liverpool, to spend a day in the city having been at Northern Ireland’s match at Gresty Road the day before.

While in Liverpool, I managed to spot some Street Art and get some photos.

In the middle of the month, my last football match of 2014-2015, as Northern Ireland took on Romania in a European Championship Qualifier, my first game in the newly rebuilt Railway Stand at Windsor Park, which was fast tracked to be open for that game due to problems with The Kop

The month ended with a day trip to Dublin. Naturally, there were Street Art photos.

While there, I also took in Bray Wanderers match against Sligo Rovers, my first match of 2015-2016, just two weeks after my last game of 2014-2015.

That, was my photo adventures for June.

Liverpool Street Art

Liverpool Street Art Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Romania

Northern Ireland v Romania Photo Album

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers

Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers Photo Album

2015 IN PICTURES – MAY

May began for me at The Oval for the Irish Cup Final, in the Portadown end, getting absolutely drenched and watching Glentoran win the cup.

Thankfully, the day got better and drier, as I headed to a tent in Custom House Square to see The Charlatans in concert.

Two weeks later, I headed over to Manchester to see United take on Arsenal, and took the opportunity to get some Street Art photos while I was there.

The final weekend of the month saw me head to Ravenhill for the Pro 12 Final between Glasgow and Munster, which Glasgow deservedly won.

The following day, saw me take an early morning flight to Liverpool, to head to Crewe, to see Northern Ireland take on Qatar in a friendly. The appeal of that was to visit a ground (Gresty Road) for the first time, and the next day to make my every 4-5 years visit to Liverpool.

My Scouse adventures will be in next month’s round-up, as my day there was 1st June.

Glentoran v Portadown

Glentoran v Portadown Photo Album

The Charlatans Live At Custom House Square

The Charlatans Live At Custom House Square Photo Album

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Arsenal

Manchester United v Arsenal Photo Album

Glasgow v Munster

Glasgow v Munster Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Qatar

Northern Ireland v Qatar Photo Album

MANCHESTER UNITED 0-0 PSV EINDHOVEN 25.11.2015

As Manchester United fans paid tribute to George Best on the 10th anniversary of his death, it was the current incumbent of the number 7 shirt, Memphis Depay, who was hoping to build on his goal against Watford the previous Saturday, and fire United into the Last 16 of the European Cup.

It was my first trip of the season to Old Trafford, and thus, my first game seeing Adidas United in the flesh. How exciting.

Curiously, the last few years have seen me wait until November to make my first visit to Old Trafford. It’s purely coincidental, and not a conscious move. I had hoped to go to the Sunderland game in September, but that fell through.

United players arrived at Old Trafford knowing that a win would send them through to the next round as they led the tightest group in the competition due to the fact that their draw in Moscow was the only game in the previous four matchdays that wasn’t a home win.

At teatime, the other game in the group took place between CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg, resulting in a 2-0 win for Wolfsburg. The result meant that United wouldn’t win the group with a win, but it did guarantee European football in early 2016. What competition it would be in, was still to be determined.

Even though they played a long ball forward in the first five seconds of the game, PSV had set their stall out to defend. United had a lot of possession but no clear chances. Bastien Schweinsteiger created space for himself in the early minutes and fired a shot straight at PSV’s keeper.

Memphis also managed a shot on goal while Jesse Lingard but through on goal, only to miscontrol the ball.

The highlight, no pun intended, of the early moments, when Old Trafford paid tribute to George Best on the tenth anniversary of his death, as supporters switched on the lights on their phones as a tribute and sang Spirit In The Sky.

I’m not usually a fan of designated minute applause, but this one worked, as a small pocket of fans started, and the numbers got bigger and bigger.

More chances for United came, Morgan Schneiderlin coming the closest when his effort was cleared off the line after a scramble, Martial had a low shot saved when he perhaps should have scored. Wayne Rooney couldn’t get to the ball from the cross when a touch would have put the ball into the empty net. He didn’t have much luck when he chased down PSV’s keeper taking a backpass.

Jesse Lingard glanced a header wide in the early minutes of the second-half.

On the hour, came a double substitution for United, as Young and Fellaini came on as United chased the win, with Juan Mata left sitting on the bench.

The attacks were slow and predictable, only stepping up when prompted by the crowd groaning or shouting “Attack!!! Attack!!! Attack!!!”

When they did step it up, they looked like scoring. They didn’t do it enough, or for a sustained period of time.

PSV naturally came more into it, having a few counter attacks and forcing David De Gea into saves, albeit saves you would expect him to make.

Jess Lingard had United’s best chance when he fired over in the penalty area after a cross.

Lingard was getting into good positions out right, but Wayne Rooney’s attempts to find him with a crossfield “Hollywood Pass” only resulted in landing straight to the head of PSV’s left-back instead of getting in behind him and playing Lingard in.

Marouane Fellaini, brought on to win headers, only succeeded in fouling his opponent whenever the ball went to him. I’ve no problem as such with him being a target man, it would be nice if he was actually good at it.

Another worrying theme throughout the game was Morgan Schneiderlin giving away cheap possession. Thankfully, it wasn’t costly for United.

In the final moments, PSV sensed they could sneak a win and gave United some worrying moments.

With Juan Mata finally on from the bench, United couldn’t do likewise, as the game fizzled out into the 0-0 draw those watching were fearing with each passing minute.

Despite the result, it was good to get my first visit to Old Trafford this season. I’ll be back for the Southampton game in February and hopefully the Bournemouth game in May.

If United get into the Champions League next season (A wonderful hangover from the David Moyes era, referring to next season’s European campaign as “if”) and play a Wednesday night game at home, I might be tempted by that and head over on the Tuesday and see a local Football League side who are at home. Bury and Oldham (both on the Tramline) were both at home on the Tuesday night.

What this means for United, is that they must win their final group game away to Wolfsburg in order to ensure qualification for the next round. Otherwise, they’ll be begging for a favour from CSKA Moscow to avoid defeat away to PSV Eindhoven.

Failing to get qualification sorted out when the opportunity was there is an inconvenience.

Having to play UEFA Cup ties in February will be an even bigger inconvenience.

Photo Album

MANCHESTER STREET ART NOVEMBER 2015

I recently travelled to Manchester to see United take on PSV Eindhoven, but armed with a camera and having a lot of spare time, I decided to take in some Street Art as well.

Having some previous knowledge of the city, I knew where to go, and headed to the Northern Quarter to check out the walls which get repainted every few months.

I had hoped to spend Thursday morning walking along Salford Quays and checking out the Street Art there. The hotel I booked was in Salford Quays, but they moved me to another on in the City Centre and I chose to stay in the City Centre before catching my flight.

I’m heading back to Manchester for the Southampton game in January, and staying at the same hotel (unless they move me again) so i’ll plan to do that on the Sunday morning after the game, having got some photos from there when I last had a visit longer than a day, last November.

Unlike previous visits, I managed to get some shots from the University Area, on the street leading into Oxford Road station..

Stay tuned for hopefully some more photos in late January.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MAY/JUNE

As the season was winding down, the matches were less frequent, now a fortnightly thing.

I began May with the Irish Cup Final in the Portadown end, getting drenched, having to park at The Odyssey and the barrier eating my ticket, and to compound the misery – Glentoran won the cup.

Two weeks later was my second trip of the season to Old Trafford, with Arsenal being the visitors in a game that finished 1-1.

Two weeks later, I was back in the North-West of England, to see Northern Ireland take on Qatar in Crewe. Most of the appeal of the game was the opportunity to visit another ground for the first time.

Near to a train station and with a programme shop, Crewe gets a thumbs up from me.

The next day was spent in Liverpool. I had some spare time on my hands, and headed to Goodison Park, in search of a mural of Dixie Dean i’d read about, but doesn’t appear to be there anymore.

Undeterred by this, I decided to get some photos of the exterior of the ground.

Two weeks later, one last game, Northern Ireland’s European Championship Qualifier against Romania, and an opportunity to experience the new Railway Stand at Windsor Park for he first time.

It was the only 0-0 draw I saw all season.

Glentoran v Portadown

Glentoran v Portadown Photo Album

Manchester United v Arsenal

Manchester United v Arsenal Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Qatar

Northern Ireland v Qatar Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Romania

Northern Ireland v Romania Photo album

LIVERPOOL STREET ART

In the North-West of England earlier this week, I took the opportunity to visit Liverpool. As with any city I visit, I like to keep an eye out for Street Art, and Liverpool was no different.

It was my third time in Liverpool, visiting at a rate of every 4 to 5 years (2006, 2010 and now 2015)

The only thing I found on those visits was this Beatles inspired piece.

On the morning I arrived in Liverpool, I embarked on the Seecret Liverpool tour which focused on the hidden parts of the city worth visiting. It wasn’t a dedicated Street Art tour, but it took in some pieces, so naturally, I headed to get some snaps.

When the tour finished, I also managed to stumble onto some pieces, as well as returning to some things I noticed when doing the tour.

When having lunch, I had a sudden brainwave, remembering hearing about a mural of Dixie Dean near Goodison Park.

With time on my hands due to a late evening flight, I headed over but couldn’t find it. While there, I managed to find a shop face with a woman with rainbow coloured hair, and got some snaps, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.

Remember to check back in 2019 or 2020 for my next scheduled (by my current rate of visits) visit to Liverpool when i’ll probably have some new pieces.

Photo Album