PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

The 2014-2015 football season began domestically in August, with a trip to Portadown, for Linfield’s first domestic game under Warren Feeney.

The optimism was soon gone within 90 minutes as Portadown ran out 3-0 winners.

A few days later, I was in Cardiff for the European Super Cup Final between Real Madrid and Sevilla. It was a fantastic trip and great to visit another stadium for the first time. Was very impressed with the facilities there.

24 hours later, I was headed to The Oval to see Linfield get their first domestic win under Warren Feeney, a comeback win from 2-0 down.

That weekend, I was in Edinburgh, and took in a game, Hearts v Hibs at Tynecastle.

With Windsor Park being redeveloped, Linfield had a run of seven successive away games, so road trips became a regular feature of the opening weeks of the season, with trips to Institute (first time there), Ballyclare Comrades and Dungannon Swifts finishing off August.

Portadown v Linfield

Real Madrid v Sevilla

Real Madrid v Sevilla Photo Album

Glentoran v Linfield

Hearts v Hibs

Hearts v Hibs Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Ballyclare Comrades v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

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 – 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

BALLYCLARE COMRADES 1-0 LINFIELD 25.8.2014

There’s no way to put a gloss on this, as Warren Feeney’s first taste of domestic cup action saw Linfield fall to a deserved defeat against second tier opponents.

48 hours after the league game against Institute, it’s no surprise that there many changes from the team that started on Saturday, nine in fact.

It’s easy to question the team in retrospect, but if Warren Feeney kept the same team, and then Linfield didn’t win on Saturday, people would have been quick to complain.

Yes, there were a lot of kids playing, but there was also a lot of senior Irish League players. Haughey, Quinn, Carvill, Glendenning and Clarke have played enough games not to be considered inexperienced youngsters.

The team that started last night should have been good enough to win.

Linfield had some early pressure in the game, but didn’t get a shot on goal, it was mostly misplaced crossed and defenders getting a final touch to clear the ball.

If Linfield had went 1-0 up, it would have set them up for a comfortable victory.

“If” is the biggest word in football. If Linfield went 1-0 up when on top at Portadown ….. If Linfield went 2-0 up when they were on top at Institute ……

Ballyclare’s attacking play for most of the first-half was restricted to speculative long range shots. That had a chance towards the end of the first-half when they got behind Linfield’s defence, but the shot was fired over. It should have served as a warning.

Like on Saturday, Linfield couldn’t get going in the second-half, and when Ballyclare got an attempt on goal, they scored.

In a game like this, the first goal was going to be crucial. If Linfield got it, it would have been a comfortable victory. Now that Ballyclare got it, they had something to defend and hang on to, not that they were actually hanging on at any point in the second-half.

Soon afterwards, Warren Feeney and Kirk Millar were brought off the bench. Millar, is quickly becoming Linfield’s most important attacking player. He didn’t have the best of games. There was no Plan B.

Ross Clarke, a player I have previously championed, was disappointing all night.

We learnt that Linfield were defensive shaky and in desperate need of another striker. In short, we learnt nothing new.

For the last ten minutes, Ballyclare were comfortable, which was the most damming thing about the performance. Linfield never looked like scoring

Photo Album

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,

GLENTORAN 0-0 LINFIELD 8.10.2013

I don’t normally do League Cup ties, but last night I did, as Linfield travelled to The Oval to take on Glentoran.

I’d been enthused by recent results and performances, but how wrong that proved to be.

The evening got off to a farcical start, though it didn’t affect me too much directly.

As a driver, I have to get to The Oval early to ensure a parking space. It gets better, the parking space I usually use has now been converted into a bicycle lane. It’s going to be fun and games on Boxing Day trying to get parked.

I was lucky I arrived as early as I did, as there were only two double turnstiles open. I was amazed the kick-off wasn’t delayed as I looked out and saw a massive backlog of people looking to get in as the teams were entering the pitch.

Worst thing was, the queues were divided into “Terrace” and “Stand”, with the queue for Terrace being bigger than the one for Stand. When Linfield attacked the Sydenham End, I sat in the stand, and wasn’t once asked for a ticket.

Those that were queuing outside were unlucky, as they missed the most exciting moments of the game, with both sides having chances, Kyle McVey heading wide, Andrew Waterworth outpacing his marker and shooting just wide and Johnny Tuffey making a double save in quick succession.

After a good start, it looked like this was going to be a good game. How wrong I was, that was the height of excitement.

There are some matches that you just know early on, are going to finish 0-0. This was one of them. Worst thing was, as the tie was to be played to finish, I had no choice but to stay.

Linfield had most of the possession but didn’t really do anything with it.

One random observation was Johnny Tuffey wearing a mismatching kit of Black/Yellow/Yellow, presumably to avoid a clash with Glentoran’s Elliott Morris, who was wearing yellow.

I found this curious as Ross Glendenning wore Yellow against Distillery last season, whose keeper also wore Yellow that day, making me wonder if both keepers were allowed to wear the same colour top.

Any referees out there, feel free to get in touch and clarify.

The fact I was noticing something like that said much about the actual game.

Just after an hour, while Elliott Morris was getting booked for timewasting (quite late by his standards), there was a flare-up which saw Mark Clarke sent-off for a second yellow. It was his third red card against Linfield since February 2012, a walking red card if ever there was one.

Curiously, it was the 12th red card i’ve witnessed in 15 matches been to this season. Must be one of those seasons.

The numbers were levelled up towards the end of 90 minutes, when Kyle McVey had to leave the pitch for tratement after a clash of heads.

Stitched and bandaged, he arrived just in time for extra-time.

It seemed to be a Glentoran tactic to put their only striker up against him and try to go up against him in the air. A wee cut wasn’t going to stop him winning every header.

Extra-time, like the 90 minutes, saw Linfield dominated possession but not do much with it.

Glentoran actually finished strongish, winning a few tackles, but having their crowd right behind them.

Inevitably, the game meandered into a penalty shoot-out, nicely setting up Linfield for a 3rd League Cup penalty shoot-out defeat in 4 years, with Waterworth and Ward missing the vital kicks.

Waterworth missed the first penalty, it all looked like the perfect set-up. It changed at the third kick, with Glentoan 2-1 up.

Matthew Tipton scored his penalty, celebrated in front of the Linfield fans, and the atmosphere suddenly changed. Glentoran missed their next penalty, and it was all level. Tuffey celebrated in front of the Linfield fans.

Sometimes in a penalty shoot-out, you just know when the momentum has changed. Billy Joe Burns made it 3-2 before another Glentoran miss, setting up Michael Gault to win it, which he did.

It wasn’t a good game, but the main positive is that we won. Massive improvement needed for future matches, especially when up against teams set up to defend.

Photo Album