2014 IN PICTURES – FEBRUARY

February was busy, it usually is, as it usually involves a weekend away somewhere. In 2013 it was London. In 2014, it was, um, London.

But first, the month began with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville.

The following weekend, I was London bound for a short break. I’d went there in 2013 and had a great time, but there was still so much I wanted to do and see.

I’d wanted to do the Street Art Tour when I was there. Unfortunately, delays on The Tube meant I missed out. However, I kept stumbling across stuff and managed to get some nice photos by accident, including murals of David Bowie and John Lennon.

While I was in London, I did some football watching, going to see Leyton Orient take on Peterborough, then going to see Tottenham take on Everton the next day

The following Saturday, back in Belfast, heading to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard, on the day David Jeffrey announced he’d be standing down as manager at the end of the season.

Two days later, I was at the Ulster Hall to see The 1975 in concert before ending that week with a trip to The Oval to see Linfield beat Glentoran 1-0 in a televised game.

Cliftonville v Linfield

London Street Art

London Street Art Photo Album Volume 1

London Street Art Photo Album Volume 2

Leyton Orient v Peterborough United

Leyton Orient v Peterborough United Photo Album

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton Photo Album

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

The 1975 Live At Ulster Hall

The 1975 Live At Ulster Hall Photo Album

Glentoran v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – FEBRUARY

February began for me at Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville. Linfield didn’t capitulate as usual, but still managed to lose, as usual.

Usual arrangements for taking photos at Solitude

The following weekend, I was on my travels, to London, for a short break. Unsurprisingly, football watching was amongst my plans.

I had plenty of games to choose from on the Saturday, but I plumped for Leyton Orient v Peterborough United, as it was a top of the table clash in League One.

Brisbane Road is a nice stadium, but where I was wasn’t good for photos. The game itself finished 2-1 to Peterborough with two late goals.

The next day, I managed to get a ticket for Spurs v Everton at White Hart Lane. It wasn’t the best of views of a game which Everton dominated but Spurs won because they knew where the net was.

The following Saturday, I headed to Windsor Park, with the news just breaking that David Jeffrey was to leave the club at the end of the season.

It was events on the pitch that were to grab as many headlines as Linfield won 6-0

The following weekend, was David Jeffrey’s final visit to The Oval as Linfield manager. It was an awful game, but Linfield won, which was the main thing.

On the Monday after that game, I was at Windsor Park for the rearranged game between Linfield and Glenavon, which Linfield won 2-1.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Leyton Orient v Peterborough United

Leyton Orient v Peterborough United Photo Album

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton Photo Album

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Glentoran v Linfield

LONDON

Was in London last week for a short break, just as I was in February last year.

The reason I went back to London for a second successive year was simple, I had a lot of “Unfinished business” in London. I did and saw a lot of stuff when I was in London last year, yet there was still so much I didn’t do and see.

For that reason, London was always going to be my choice for getaway in February 2014.

Amazingly, I experienced travel problems before even reaching London as the airline moved my flight from a sensible 11am to 6pm. To fly out at 6pm would be a waste of a day. With the 11am flight cancelled, I got mine changed again to 6.45am.

The early start might be inconvenient, but at least I would get a full day in London.

A rearranged flight was only the start of my travel problems. Due to a Tube strike, I was going to have to go to my hotel by bus.

Due to the lack of transport options, Thursday was always going to be a write-off, but it wasn’t a total write-off. There were some Tube stations open, so I made the most of the ones that were.

Brixton was one of those open, so I headed there in late morning. I had a specific reason for wanting to visit Brixton, as I wanted to head to O2 Academy to try and get a ticket for Tom Odell on the Saturday night.

I’d tried online with no success in the weeks leading up to this, so I thought i’d try turning up at the venue. Turns out the venue box office is only open on the night of events.

It wasn’t a wasted trip as I had a walk around Brixton, Brixton Market, accidentally stumbling onto Electric Avenue, immortalised in song by Eddy Grant. Managed to get some excellent Street Art pictures when I was in Brixton.

From there, I headed into the City Centre and had a walk around, before heading back to the hotel for a brief sleep before heading East that night.

The reason why I was heading to East London was that I had an audience ticket for Life’s A Pitch on BT Sport. The studios are in Stratford, near the Olympic Stadium. I didn’t get to see much of the stadium though.

Just a pity it took nearly two hours to get from Stratford to Paddington by bus, thanks to Boris and Bob’s Comedy Act.

After a brief sleep, I was up early on the Friday morning to go on the Shoreditch Street Art Tour. Unfortunately, like the day before, I was frustrated by public transport, as delays on The Tube meant I missed the tour.

I was already en route to Shoreditch when I discovered the delays, so it was too late to turn back. Luckily, I had travelled through Shoreditch going from Stratford to Paddington, so had a mental note of where the Street Art was.

I had a walk around getting photos. If I go to London again, i’ll definitely try to go on a proper, organised, Street Art Tour.

From Shoreditch, I went into Oxford Circus and Leicester Square for a walkaround, before heading to Greenwich to go on the Emirates Air Line, a cable car journey across London Docks.

Got some good views due to it being a clear day, but it wouldn’t be an essential thing to do in London to be honest. It would certainly be a unique way to spend a night out, if it wasn’t for the fact that no booze is allowed.

From there, I headed in the direction of one of London’s most famous landmarks, Wembley Stadium. But it wasn’t Wembley I was visiting, it was the nearby Fountain Studios (where X-Factor is filmed) for Alan Davies Apres Ski, for which I had an audience ticket.

It was a very stop-start recording which got never really got going, to be honest, which is a shame as I like Alan Davies.

Saturday morning was spent in Camden. I went to Camden for a morning last year and loved it. Had a walk around Camden Market, and got some Street Art photos.

Saturday afternoon was spent in East London, watching Leyton Orient v Peterborough.

When in London, i’d hoped to take in a concert. Each concert I wanted to go to, I seemed to be thwarted.

Phoenix are a band I love, but inconveniently, were doing a gig in London the day before I arrived. Foster the People and Bombay Bicycle Club were doing XFM Sessions, but I couldn’t get a ticket.

Del Amitri were doing a gig in Hammersmith on the Friday night. I like Del Amitri, but not enough to spend 30 quid seeing them.

I wanted to see Tom Odell on the Saturday. I turned up at the venue to try and get a ticket. The Box Office was sold out. There were plenty of touts outside flogging, but the prices were extortionate. Looking at the volume of people already queing up to get in, it wasn’t worth it for what would be a crap view.

Luckily, on the Saturday night, I had a Plan B, a comedy gig at Bloomsbury Theatre headined by Katherine Ryan and Tom Rosenthal.

On the Sunday, I had a lie-in before heading to White Hart Lane for Spurs v Everton. After that, I headed into Oxford Circus to watch the United game (the less said of which, the better) before spending some more time in the City Centre.

That night, I discovered Prince was doing an impromptu gig in London, but, like the other gigs this week, I missed out on a ticket, being elsewhere when the queue was forming.

Monday morning, my last day in London, was spent in the City Centre again, making the most of my final day in the city, before heading to Gatwick and flying home.

And that, was my trip to London, an enjoyable experience despite the transport mayhem and being unable to get concert tickets.

Where will I be headed in February next year? Who knows.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 1-0 EVERTON 9.2.2014

Having been to Brisbane Road the previous day, I took advantage of there being a game on the Sunday of my visit, at White Hart Lane.

With Everton the visitors, the game gave me a chance to add them to my UEFA 100 Club list as Number 31.

Being there as a neutral, I didn’t want to take sides and hoped it would end in a thrilling draw. The fact that this would have helped United is purely coincidental. Though, United probably should have helped themselves against Fulham later that day.

Managed to get a returned ticket two days earlier but had to pick it up from the ticket office on the day of the match. Getting to the ground, was an adventure, getting off at Seven Sisters Tube Station and having a long walk. Luckily, I didn’t get lost by following the crowd.

Curiously, there are three club shops at White Hart Lane.

Got into the ground in plenty of time. If you’ve seen a match at White Hart Lane on TV, I was sat at the bottom left of the TV screen. The downside is, you couldn’t see the ball when it was at the other end of the picth.

For most of the first-half, that’s were Tottenham were playing, trying to get Aaron Lennon into the game as much as possible.

Everton were the better team in the first-half but not dominant. For all their possession, they didn’t have many chances. You could tell how much they were missing Lukaku.

Every misplaced Spurs pass was met with groans, as they got restless.

In the second-half, Spurs went 1-0 up when a quick free-kick put Adebayor through. In his current form, there was only one result.

From there, Everton never looked like getting back into the game. The second-half mirrored the first for Everton, for all their build-up play, no end result.

Steven Naismith tried a dummy and ended up beating himself, the ball going out for a throw, much to the pleasure of the home support. This began a period of running battles between Naismith and Tottenham’s support, with Naisith determined to get the ball and make something happen, and Tottenham fans quick to taunt him when it didn’t.

Much to the annoyance of Spurs fans, Naismith was subbed soon afterwards for Aiden McGeady. In McGeady, Spurs fans had a new victim, chanting “You’re just a shit Steven Naismith” at any opportunity.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 18.4.1981

John Wark, in action with Nottingham Forest’s Stuart Gray, is the cover star of Shoot, previewing cup Semi-Finals in both England and Scotland, as title chasing Ipswich Town face Manchester City at Villa Park.

The editorial, calls for a change in the structure of English football, claiming there are too many games (there were 42 games in England’s top flight that season) as the national team is struggling as a result of players being too tired.

Shoot previews both FA Cup Semi-Finals, making the bold prediction that the final will be Wolves v Ipswich. The final, was Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City. They also predict that it would be an Old Firm Scottish Cup Final. They were half right, as it was Rangers v Dundee United.

Andy Gray has a column in this edition, focusing on Scotland’s recent World Cup Qualifier against Northern Ireland (which finished 1-1), complaining about the defending for Northern Ireland’s goal, and stating that Scotland were confident of getting a good result in the return game in Belfast (It finished 0-0)

He states that Scotland were happy with two wins and two draws, but had expected the two wins to be at home rather than away.

He also previews the FA Cup Semi-Finals, unsurprisingly predicting his Wolves team would beat Spurs, and that Ipswich would beat Man City. He’s got a future in the punditry game, that boy.

In news, Arsenal are battling with Inter Milan, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Hamburg for Michel Platini, set to leave St Etienne at the end of the season, and TV Commentator Martin Tyler has a book about the history of the FA Cup Final ahead of this year’s game, the 100th FA Cup Final.

For just £1.60 plus P and P, you could have a framed portrait of the 1981 Aston Villa team. To be fair, they did win the league that season.

There is a double page poster of all four FA Cup Quarter-Finals, and the goals which decided them.

Derek Johnstone and Danny McGrain take it in turns to do a Scottish football column for Shoot, and it was Johnstone’s turn, hoping for an Old Firm Scottish Cup Final, so that Rangers could get the chance to avenge their defeat to Celtic in the 1980 final.

There is then a double page poster of the Home Nations (England in a friendly v Spain, Scotland v Northern Ireland and Turkey v Wales World Cup Qualfiers) and Republic of Ireland (v Belgium) internationals. Shoot describes Wales as “The best placed Home Nation to reach the finals”

As it turned out, Wales were the only home nation not to reach the 1982 World Cup finals.

Rotheram United, battling for promotion to the Second Division, get a full page profile, focusing on the success of their young manager, Ian Porterfield, with a team poster overleaf.

After 14 years without the league title, there wasn’t much cheer for Manchester United supporters in 1981, but they did win one trophy that year …….. Shoot’s Best Programme of all England’s top flight clubs.

In 1981, a copy of United Review cost 20p, had 24 pages and only 1 page of adverts.

Meanwhile, Shoot does a feature on promising youngsters at West Bromwich Albion dubbed “Atkinson’s Angels” featuring Remi Moses and Bryan Robson. Within six months, Robson, Moses and Atkinson would all have left Albion for Manchester United.

On the back page, there is a profile of Brighton star Steve Foster, pictured with trademark headband, where he reveals his favourite singers are Paul McCartney, George Benson and Dennis Waterman.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 10.4.1993

Chris Waddle and Mark Bright are the cover stars as Shoot reviews the 1993 FA Cup Semi-Finals, both Derby games (Sheffield and North London) with the Sheffield game getting the most coverage on the cover.

Pages 4-5 are a double page spread on the Sheffield Derby at Wembley, won 2-1 by Wednesday after extra-time.

Page 6 is a curious competition where you could win a Sega Game Gear, and a shaving kit.

In news, Sergei Baltacha, top scorer with Oakbank under 13s in Perth, is having a trial with Ipswich Town, who is dad played for a few years previously.

He eventually converted to a left-back and played for St Mirren and Milwall. If the name sounds familiar, his sister is the Tennis player Elena Baltacha.

Meanwhile, Southend’s Stan Collymore had an unusual pre-match routine, trying to spot managers in the crowd, saying he’d spotted Trevor Francis (Sheffield Wednesday) and George Graham (Arsenal)

One man who had hoped to see was Ron Atkinson

“That would be the dream move, to Aston Villa, They were the first team I went to see”

Stan Collymore did sign for Aston Villa four years late, but under Brian Little.

Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Spurs got a double page spread, with a photo collage of Tony Adams, whos scored the winning goal, greatest moments.

Jimmy Greaves Letters Page sees Neil Sinclair from London write in about Australia and Ghana’s performances at the recent World Youth Championship, asking if the power in world football is changing.

Greavsie wasn’t sure about Australia, but that African football was on the march and there could be an African World Cup winner in 20 years time.

20 years on, we are still waiting for an African country to win the World Cup.

He adds that “By 2000, Africa will take over from South America as the leading exponent of free-style football”

Australia and Ghana took until 2006 to qualify for the World Cup.

Meanwhile, Philip Heaver from Norfolk complains about Mark Robins and Ruel Fox not being selected for England.

Still in this season’s competition, Marseille were already planning their attempts to win the 1994 European Cup with summer moves for David Platt and Julio Cesar.

Marseille were banned from the 93-94 European Cup due to a match fixing scandal. David Platt signed for Sampdoria that summer.

Sampdoria, coincidentally, had a centrepage poster in that edition.

With the title race in the final stages, Shoot attempts predicting the Easter Saturday games.

They predicted a 2-1 win for Manchester United over Sheffield Wednesday, though i’m not sure they predicted it to be as dramatic as it turned out.

Aston Villa, top of the league, were predicted by Shoot to beat Coventry City 3-1. It finished 0-0, and they were overtaken by Manchester United, who weren’t dislodged for the rest of the season.

The recent PFA Awards got a page, focusing on Paul McGrath and Ryan Giggs success.

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2011-2012

After enjoying a month by month review of the past season, feel free to vote for your favourite photos from the following selected photos.

Corner

This photo was taken at the Hearts v Spurs UEFA Cup tie. I like it purely for the composition as Hearts fans look on helplessly as their team tries to restore some pride. They were 5-0 down when the corner was taken.

Statue

Again, the composition just makes this photo for me. Taken outside Old Trafford prior to a game against Sunderland on 5th November 2011

High Feet

Taken during a friendly between Derriaghy CC and Linfield in July. Again, the framing and composition just work for me.

Gaffers

Another one taken from Derriaghy CC v Linfield, I like this one showing Derriaghy’s management team watching the game, trying to see if there is anything they can spot which can help their team.

Lazy Summer Day

I used the pinhole effect in my camera for this shot, taken during a hastily arranged pre-season game between Linfield and Carrick Rangers.

I like the way it just captures watching football on a summer’s day. Even the Carrick Rangers subs appear to be relaxing while watching the game.

Linesman

Carrick Rangers again, this time a lot colder and darker, and more competitive, in a league match at their temporary home of Seaview.

I like this shot for the composition of the linesman, and the way the light reflects off Crusaders plastic pitch.

Boxing Day

This photo, taken on Boxing Day unsurprisingly, shows the crowd with their eyes fixed on Linfield taking a corner (taken, I think, by Rory Patterson) during a match against Glentoran.

Windsor Park

Taken prior to a match against Dungannon Swifts in January, I like this for the composition and the way the supporter’s shadows reflect.

Flag

Taken in Rotterdam while I was in Holland in February, Excelsior Rotterdam fans wave flags and release streamers as their side enters the field for a match against VVV Venlo

Cameraman

A TV cameraman captures the action during the Eredivise clash between Excelsior Rotterdam and VVV Venlo

Sunset

Photo outside Old Trafford prior to a UEFA Cup tie against Ajax on 23.2.2012

Old Trafford

Portrait shot of Old Trafford after the UEFA Cup tie against Ajax on 23.2.2012

City End

Linfield fans at The Oval, taken during a match against Newry City on 14.4.2012

Watson

Albert Watson, surrounded by supporters, is interviewed for TV after Linfield lift the Irish League title

Of ones not taken by me, there are two which stand out.

This one, credited to Getty Images, shows Kenny Dalglsh’s celebration just after Andy Carroll puts Liverpool 2-1 up in the FA Cup Semi-Final against Everton.

The composition and framing, capturing the emotion whcih makes it a fantastic photo.

I’m no lover of Liverpool FC, but credit where it’s due, that’s a fantastic photo.

The second photo, is of Ross Glendinning trying to save a shot during a friendly between Linfield and Rangers in May. It was credited to Pacemaker Press.

Like the Dalglish one, is the emotion and the framing which makes it, as Glendinning strains to try and stop the ball going into the back of the net.

For the record, the ball ended up in the back of the net.

I am aware that my natural footballing loyalties shouldn’t have me complimenting a photo of a Liverpool goal or a goal against Linfield, but, you’ve just to to appreciate good photography.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

The season finally started in August and it was a wet Mourneview Park for me on the opening day to see Linfield take on Glenavon.

The following week, I was on a week long break in Edinburgh, so I took the opportunity to see a local game, Hearts v Aberdeen.

As luck would have it, Hearts were also at home in the following midweek, against Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Cup, and I managed to blag a ticket for this.

The following weekend, I was in Brighton for a short break. I was unable to get a ticket for the match at The Amex, but I did get some shots of the exterior of the stadium.

Glenavon v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Faroe Islands

Northern Ireland v Faroe Islands Photo Album

Hearts v Aberdeen

Hearts v Aberdeen Photo Album

Hearts v Tottenham Hotspur

Hearts v Tottenham Hotspur Photo Album

The Amex

The Amex Photo Album

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL SEASON

You can thank @philmojones4 for the inspiration for this pointless blogpost, when he commented on how many matches he’d been too during the 2011-2012 season, and it got me thinking, then I thought some more, and came up with this statistical analysis of the football season just past (I know technically the season is still going, but for me, it is over)

Matches Attended : 44

Goals Seen : 120

Red Cards : 5

Hat-Tricks : 2

Aaron Burns (Linfield v Dungannon Swifts) Peter Thompson (Linfield v Newry City)

(Last season I witnessed hat-tricks by Dimitar Berbatov and Lionel Messi)

Hat-tricks missed due to being on holiday : 1

Phil Lowry (Linfield v Donegal Celtic)

Hat-tricks missed due to not being arsed with Irish Cup ties v lower league opposition : 2

Rory Patterson (Linfield v Ballyclare Comrades) Peter Thompson (Linfield v Coagh United)

Highest scoring match : 7 (Linfield 7-0 Newry City)

Countries seen football in : 4

England, Holland, Northern Ireland, Scotland

(Last season, it was 4 as well – England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Spain)

Teams seen play : 28

Aberdeen, Ajax Amsterdam, Ballymena United, BATE Borisov, Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Derriaghy CC, Donegal Celtic, Dungannon Swifts, Excelsior Rotterdam, Faroe Islands, Glenavon, Glentoran, Heart of Midlothian, Linfield, Lisburn Distillery, Manchester United, Newry City, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portadown, Serbia, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur, Utrecht, VVV Venlo

Competitions Watched : 8

Eredivise, Euro 2012, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish Premier League, Scottish Premier League, UEFA Cup

Stadiums Visited : 14

Amsterdam Arena, Ballymena Showgrounds, Ballyskeagh, Coleraine Showgrounds, Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Seycon Park, Shamrock Park, Solitude, The Oval, Tynecastle, Windsor Park, Woudestein

NB: Stats do not include last night’s Manchester United v Irish League XI game. My visit to Amsterdam for the Holland v Northern Ireland game will be counted towards 2012-2013 statistics.

2011 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

A busy month full of travel began in the most glamourous of settings of a rainstorm in Lurgan, as Linfield travelled to Glenavon on the opening day of the 2011-2012 Irish League season.

It literally rained throughout the whole match, and I wasn’t in a brave enough mood to move from my seat to get photos.

I did get a nice portrait shot of Mourneview Park at the end of the game though.

The following Saturday, I was in Edinburgh. The weather wasn’t much better though.

I was over for the festival, but with Edinburgh having two SPL teams, I decided to take in a match as well.

That day, Hearts were playing Aberdeen, and I managed to get into a good shooting position.

The following Thursday, as a bonus, Hearts played Tottenham Hotspur in a UEFA Cup tie, and I managed to blag a ticket, and get some good shots.

I also managed to get a lovely shot of Princes Street Gardens on the Sunday teatime between the two games.

Managed to stumble across some excellent graffiti in the University area of the city.

There are no pictures from the festival, but a full write up can be found here

From Edinburgh, I headed to Brighton for the weekend, and loved it, a fantastic city.

Managed to get some fantastic sunset shots and some street art pictures as well.

I’d hoped to get to a match at The Amex but couldn’t get a ticket unfortunately, but I did manage to get some nice shots of the exterior of the ground.


Glenavon v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Faroe Islands

Hearts v Aberdeen

Hearts v Aberdeen Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Hearts v Tottenham Hotspur

Hearts v Tottenham Hotspur Photo Album

Brighton Sunsets

Brighton Sunsets Photo Album

Brighton Street Art

The Amex

The Amex Photo Album