MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WHEN SATURDAY COMES – AUGUST 2012

Joined by Juan Mata, Fernando Torres is the cover star of this month’s When Saturday Comes, looking back in a horrendous season for him that saw him become a European champion for club and country, top scorer in Euro 2012 and an FA Cup winner.

Euro 2012 dominates this edition, with a day by day diary of the competition, looking back at every game, including a photographic look at how fans watched the tournament in the UK, while there was a feature on those who did travel to Poland and Ukraine, where the welcome for travelling fans wasn’t as bad as feared.

There is a look bad at some of the tournament’s failures, with group stage exiters Holland and Russia getting full page features on their failure.

Underdogs get profiles, with Republic of Ireland and Greece getting a full page looking back at their respective fortunes, as did both finalists Spain and Italy.

There is a look forward to Euro 2016, with sceptical analysis on the decision to increase the tournament from 16 teams to 24 teams.

In club football, there is a look at Harry Redknapp’s sacking as Tottenham Hotspur manager, and the polarising nature of the reaction to his departure from fans and media.

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

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2013

So, my football watching is over for 2013. Time to look back at the year just gone. And what better way to do it than with a load of stats.

Games : 48

Goals Seen : 135

Red Cards : 19

Missed/Saved Penalties : 5

Hat-Tricks : 2

Matthew Tipton (Linfield v Coleraine)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Northern Ireland v Portugal)

Teams Seen : 35

Ards, Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Bangor, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crystal Palace (1st time), Crusaders, Derriaghy CC, Drogheda United, Dundee United (1st time), Dungannon Swifts, Falkirk (1st time), Fulham, Glenavon, Glentoran, Hibernian, IF Fuglafjordur (1st time), Israel (1st time), Linfield, Lisburn Distillery, Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Norwich City, Portadown, Portugal, Queens Park Rangers, Rangers, Reading (1st time), Russia (1st time), Shamrock Rovers (1st time), Skoda Xanthi (1st time), St Patrick’s Athletic, Tobermore United (1st time) Warrenpoint Town (1st time)

Stadiums Visited : 21

Ballymena Showgrounds, Clandeboye Park, Coleraine Showgrounds, Craven Cottage (1st time), Dixon Park (1st time), Easter Road, Ferney Park, Hampden Park, Ibrox (1st time), Loftus Road (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Richmond Park, Seaview, Seycon Park, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, Tallaght Stadium (1st time), The Oval, Windsor Park

Competitions : 11

FA Premier League, IFA Championship, IFA Premiership, Irish Cup, League Of Ireland, Northern Ireland League Cup, Setanta Cup, Scottish Cup, Scottish Premier League, UEFA Cup, World Cup,

Curiousities :

2nd Feb/6th Apr : Two matches in one day

2nd Feb : First ever floodlight failure at a match attended, Fulham v Manchester United

Feb – Apr : Visiting, Queen’s Park, Rangers, and Queens Park Rangers grounds.

UEFA 100 Club : Dundee United (now at 30 clubs)

Top Five Matches :

1. Northern Ireland 2-4 Portugal
2. Falkirk 3-4 Hibernian AET
3. Fulham 0-1 Manchester United
4. Linfield 3-1 Cliftonville
5. Coleraine 2-3 Linfield

2013 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August began with a trip to Dublin to see Blur (supported by Bat For Lashes and The Strypes), for the first time, and possibly the only time, which was why I was so desperate to go.

As the concert was a Thursday, I decided to make a weekend of it, having not stayed in Dublin since 2011. While I was there, I saw lots of Street Art photos (I didn’t go in search of them, but I stumbled upon some, so it would have been rude not to get photos.

Also, while I was in Dublin, I went to see St Patrick’s Athletic take on Drogheda United (my original choice of Bray Wanderers v Shelbourne was moved to a later date) which finished 0-0.

It was my second visit to Richmond Park, both of which have finished 0-0. There’s probably a Banning Order against me attending another match there.

Upon my return from Dublin, that wasn’t the end of the fun, as I went to see The Charlatans at Falls Park. Like Blur, this was my first time seeing them, and possibly my only chance to.

The following weekend, the new season started, and I was at Shamrock Park to see Linfield take on Portadown

My next football match, was the rearranged from March game between Northern Ireland and Russia, which Northern Ireland won 1-0.

That weekend, I was travelling again, this time to Edinburgh, for the festival, but I took in a football match, Hibs v Dundee United, and got some Street Art photos.

After returning from Edinburgh, it was all about Belsonic, my only concert of it being Suede. I was already excited about Suede (like Blur and The Charlatans, never seen them, might be my only chance) but James being added as a support (seen them twice, but never in Northern Ireland) was the icing on the cake.

To end an exciting month, I went to see Linfield play Glentoran. It finished 0-0.

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Blur Live At IMMA Dublin

Blur Live At IMMA Dublin Photo Album

Bat For Lashes Photo Album

The Strypes Photo Album

St Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United

St Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United Photo Album

The Charlatans Live At Falls Park

The Charlatans Live At Falls Park Photo Album

Echo Raptors Live At Falls Park 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

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Runaway Go Live At Belsonic

Runaway Go Live At Belsonic Photo Album

James Live At Belsonic

James Live At Belsonic Photo Album

Suede Live At Belsonic

Suede Live At Belsonic Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

NORTHERN IRELAND 1-0 RUSSIA 14.8.2013

Well, the football season is truly in full swing now, as last night, I attended my first international of the season, albeit, one that should have been played in March.

Despite it being August, in typical Belfast fashion, the weather was only slightly better than when the original game was postponed.

For what it’s worth, if the original game had taken place when scheduled, I think Russia would have won easily. They had a winning run and momentum, but a defeat to Portugal, combined with Portugal and Israel winning while Russia were inactive, meant this was an entirely different game for Russia.

For games like this, you always think about the cliches about wether Russia “Would fancy it”. They conceded a throw-in within 3 seconds. Hmm, wonder if it is one of those nights?

Northern Ireland started well and held their own, but Russia always looked dangerous when they attacked. However, when they get through Northern Ireland’s defence, there always seemed to be another defender ready to cover.

They say, you make your own luck, and if your defenders are in the right place for a set piece, it’s not luck.

About midway through the first-half, I thought to myself that this could be a good night. When Northern Ireland hit the post, and Jamie Ward wasn’t able to put the rebound, I thought it might be one of those nights.

One the verge of half-time, Northern Ireland went 1-0 up when Niall McGinn crossed for Martin Paterson to head in. It showed what Northern Ireland’s performance was about. McGinn didn’t give up when it looked like the ball was going out, and Paterson fought to win that header.

But it wasn’t all about fight, Northern Ireland played some nice football, and weren’t afraid to try new things.

The expected bombardment from Russia never materialised. In fact, Northern Ireland looked more likely to score.

One of the things noticed was a new level of street smart, with players knowing how and where to win cheap free kicks to kill the game or give them a tactical advantage.

Before the kick-off, the atmosphere felt a little flat, but it got better and noisier as the game went on, as the crowd got behind the team throughout the 90 minutes.

Finally, the final whistle went and Northern Ireland got the win. It might not send us to Brazil, but it can be the springboard to moving up the rankings ahead of the Euro 2016 draw.

As disappointing as results have been, Michael O’Neill always had a long-term job to do. With so few games, it was always going to take a while to see the fruits of his labour.

Let’s hope this is a similar springboard to the England win in 2005.

Photo Album