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 – JULY

The 2012-2013 season couldn’t end soon enough for me. A couple of months later, refreshed and ready for the new season, I headed to Windsor Park in early July to see Linfield face IF Fuglafjordur in the UEFA Cup, winning 3-0 to secure a place in the next round.

Two weeks later, I was back at Windsor Park for UEFA Cup action, with Linfield once again defending a lead from the away leg. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be, as Skoda Xanthi ran out winners after extra-time.

With the UEFA Cup run over, it was back to earth with a bump, as pre-season friendlies resumed, Linfield facing Derriaghy CC and running out easy winners, getting some nice shots at a photo friendly ground (When the sun shines)

Good to be getting back in the match going habit.

Linfield v IF Fuglafjordur

Linfield v Skoda Xanthi

Derriaghy CC v Linfield

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 – JULY

Now into July, there was lots of warm days but not much photography.

No concerts, but I managed three football matches, two of Linfield’s European games and a friendly against Derriaghy CC.

The extra light in the evenings helped me with my football photography, so I made the most of it.

Got some Street Art around Belfast as well during the month, managing to get one of a snowman throwing a petrol bomb.

Linfield v Fuglafjordur

The Snow And The Sun

Linfield v Skoda Xanthi

Derriaghy CC v Linfield

LINFIELD 1-2 SKODA XANTHI 25.7.2013

It might not yet be August, but i’m already excited and optimistic about the new season, despite the first disappointment of the season.

Having seen off Fuglafjordur, Skoda Xanthi represented a step up to a higher level, a level to which Linfield stepped up to in the first leg, winning 1-0 away.

No offence to Fuglafjordur, but the tie was over after the first leg. Despite the away win in Greece, this wasn’t.

Xanthi started the game strong, as you expected they would. So strong, Linfield couldn’t get out of their half for the first couple of minutes. When they did, winning a throw in Xanthi’s final third, it was cheered like a goal.

The crowd, biggest in a while for a European game (few few seats in the Sout, or Kop Upper Tier) knew that the team needed them.

Linfield eventually got a grip in the game and started to hold their own, having a few attempts on goal. Neither side had many chances, more situation, though Xanthi had a clear shot on goal well saved by Jonathan Tuffey.

About midway through the first-half, I began to think myself that Linfield might actually be able to hold out. Within minutes, Xanthi went 1-0 up, levelling the tie on aggregate.

It could have been so easy to feel sorry for themselves, but Linfield just dusted themselves down and got on with it.

Towards the end of the first-half, the game came to life when Xanthi had a player sent-off. I was sat behind the goal and didn’t get a clear view of it, but judging by the reaction of Linfield players, it must have been a shocker. I got the chance to watch it again on UTV, and it was.

Against ten men, Linfield started the second-half strongly but couldn’t get the goal.

The game became tense, it looked as though there would only be one more goal, if any, in it. Both sides had situations rather than chances as it headed towards extra-time.

At the interval between full-time and extra-time, a loud roar went around Windsor Park as the crowd showed appreciation for the effort for the previous 180 minutes in the tie, and to try and drive them though the remaining 30 minutes.

The start of extra-time went along the same lines of the second-half in normal time …….. and the moment we were waiting for.

A cross came in and was headed out as far as Michael Gault, who hit a beautiful volley into the back of the net, and Windsor Park erupted. I let myself believe that it was going to happen.

The important thing was to hold out to half-time in extra-time, but Linfield couldn’t. Worst of all, it was a poor goal, a corner not cleared finding it’s way to the taker to blast in. To add insult to injury, it was in the last minute of the first-half of extra-time.

I’ve no doubt if Linfield had held out and gone through.

2-1 up, Xanthi strangled the game and killed it.

Beaten, but not disgraced. The way the team played, the way the new players have played, and most importantly, the fight displayed, have given me so much optimism for the new season. Time to build on it.

Photo Album