STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2015

My football watching for 2015 is now over, so, it’s time for a statistical look back at the football I watched.

Games : 54

Goals Seen : 143

Red Cards : 10 (Doesn’t include Caoimhin Bonner being sent-off in the tunnel after the game)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 6

Hat-Tricks : 2 (Andrew Waterworth, Linfield v Dungannon Swifts. Andrew Waterworth, Linfield v Warrenpoint Town)

Teams Seen : 40

Arsenal, Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Bray Wanderers, Carrick Rangers, CE Europa (1st time), Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Dundee (1st time), Dunfermline Athletic (1st time), Dungannon Swifts, Espanyol (1st time), Finland, Glenavon, Glentoran, Greece (1st time), Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Hungary, Institute, Latvia (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Masnau, Northern Ireland, NSI Runavik (1st time), Partick Thistle (1st time), Portadown, PSNI, PSV Eindhoven (1st time), Qatar (1st time), Rangers, Romania (1st time) Scotland, Sligo Rovers, Spartak Trnava (1st time), Tobermore United, Valencia (1st time), Warrenpoint Town

Stadiums Visited : 23

Ballymena Showgrounds, Carlisle Grounds, Drumahoe, East End Park (1st time), Estadi Cornella y Prat (1st time), Ferney Park, Fortwilliam Park (1st time), Gresty Road (1st time), Hampden Park, Ibrox, Milltown, Mourneview Park, Newforge (1st time), Nou Sardenya (1st time), Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, Taylor’s Avenue (1st time), The Oval, Tynecastle, Windsor Park

Competitions : 13

European Championship, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship, La Liga, League of Ireland, Scottish Championship, Scottish League Cup (1st time), Scottish Premier League, Tercera Division (1st time), UEFA Cup

Curiousities :

No real curiousities, other than a match with kick-off delayed for an hour due to the weather

UEFA 102 Club : Espanyol, PSV Eindhoven, Valencia (now at 35 clubs)

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2015 IN PICTURES – JANUARY

2015 began for me at Seaview, seeing Linfield take on Crusaders. The football didn’t stop there, as 48 hours later, I was at Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Coleraine.

The following Saturday, it was the Irish Cup, and the draw sent me to a new ground to visit – Fortwilliam Park of Tobermore United, in a game that had four seasons in one day.

Due to postponements and rearrangements, it was three weeks before my next football match, Linfield taking on Ballymena United at Windsor Park.

Football matches was all I did in January. It was a slow month. There was some snow, but it wasn’t photographable.

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Tobermore United v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : JANUARY

January began for me with a trip to Seaview to see Linfield take on Crusaders. The football came thick and fast at the start of the year, as 48 hours later, I was at Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Coleraine.

The draw for the Irish Cup gave me the opportunity to visit a new ground, Fortwilliam Park of Tobermore United, in a game played in a mixture of weather conditions, including some snow late in the game.

Postponements and rearrangements meant it was three weeks before my next game, as Linfield took on Ballymena United at Windsor Park

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Tobermore United v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

TOBERMORE UNITED 0-2 LINFIELD 10.1.2015

For the first time in a long time, Linfield had an away tie in the Irish Cup to a lower league team. It certainly made a difference from previous years, with home games against lower league teams which are of little interest.

A bonus, was that it was an opportunity to visit a ground i’d never been to. It wasn’t a new ground for Linfield, having played there in the cup in 2003, and a friendly in 2011.

It wasn’t my first time seeing Tobermore play. The only other time i’d seen Tobermore play, they got relegated, with a 1-0 defeat at Bangor in May 2013.

It was Warren Feeney’s first attempt at winning the Irish Cup. He used the game to make some changes, to freshen things up after a busy Christmas/New Year period. However, if Linfield were playing a league game, I don’t think today’s line-up would have started, as Mulgrew, Lowry, Morrow and Quinn were all left out, with rare starting opportunities for Seanan Clucas, Matthew Clarke and Michael Carvill.

Having come a cropper making changes to his side at Ballyclare in the League Cup in August, Warren Feeney was hoping to avoid a repeat by going out at the first stage of the Irish Cup.

With Irish Cup Replays now being abolished to history, Linfield needed to win this in 90 minutes, rather than adopting a “Sure, we’ll win it in the replay” attitude that is sometimes tempting in these ties.

In order to do that, Linfield needed an early goal to settle nerves.

It was Tobermore who had the first attacking moment of note in the game, when a dangerous cross flashed across the box, with thankfully, nobody there to finish.

Linfield eventually got control of possession, but couldn’t get that breakthrough. It looked like it was going to come when Andrew Waterworth was played through, in Linfield’s first real quality piece of play.

Waterworth was taken down. From where I was stood, it looked like it was in the penalty. The referee gave a free-kick outside the box. As close to the penalty as you can get without being in the penalty area. It looked like a straight red card to me, the referee only gave a yellow card.

The resulting free-kick hit the wall and was cleared down the pitch. From the play that resulted from that throw, justice was belatedly done, when Linfield went 1-0 up.

A cross came in for Andrew Waterworth, who hit the bar from a few yards out, and the resulting scramble saw the ball go in. Some media outlets have given the goal to Waterworth, and some have given it as an own goal by Tobermore defender Andrew Neill.

There is no such thing as a Dubious Goals Committee in the Irish League, so Waterworth will probably be credited with it as he’ll shout loudest that it is his.

The important thing was, Linfield were 1-0 up.

The nervousness at 0-0 was gone. Though Linfield had most of the possession, they couldn’t get a 2nd goal to make life easier. There was never a moment where a 2nd goal was imminent.

In fact, Tobermore had an opportunity to equalise just after Linfield went 1-0 up, but a weak shot was easily cleared off the line after Ross Glendinning was rounded.

Despite being cold, the first-half was played in sunshine. The second-half began with a rainstorm. Tobermore offered more of an attacking threat in the second-half, but it was mostly free-kicks and corners. Ross Glendinning wasn’t forced into many dramatic saves, but still had to be on his game.

Eventually, Linfield regained control of possession and began to force more pressure on Tobermore, with Burns and Waterworth having chances to make it 2-0.

Linfield got a lot of joy when running at Tobermore’s defence, especially Aaron Burns and Ross Clarke.

With just over ten minutes to go, Linfield secured the game when a miscued clearance fell to Andrew Waterworth, who fired home his first, or second goal of the game, depending on who you credit for the first goal.

Soon after, a snowstorm started. It didn’t lie on the pitch, so there was never a chance of the game being abandoned.

Nobody played awful, nobody played brilliant. Linfield were the better team and did enough to win. Despite the win, far better performances will be required over the coming weeks.

The draw for the next round saw Linfield drawn at home to Warrenpoint Town. Without sounding arrogant, Linfield should be winning that tie. Potential quarter-final opponents could be Larne/Carrick/Institute or Ballyclare/Dungannon. That would not be a bad draw.

But that is March, and a long way away. The only match that matters is the next one, that is Ballinamallard away next Saturday. Three points is a must.

Photo Album

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 – MAY

May began at Ravenhill, for the match between Ulster and Cardiff. Ulster needed to win to secure a home Semi-Final in the Play-Offs, which they did. Unfortunately, they went on to lose the final.

Got a good shooting position and some good shots, especially of the renovation work at the ground.

Usually, the first Saturday in May involves me going to a football match, but this year was a bit different. I’m usually watching Linfield in an Irish Cup Final, but in an attempt to avoid this year’s Cup Final between Cliftonville and Glentoran, I headed to watch Bangor v Tobermore United in a Championship relegation decider.

Bangor kicked off in the relegation space, but won a tense and nervous game 1-0 with a late goal, to send Tobermore down instead.

Later in the month, I went out and about in Belfast in search of new Street Art, and found a mural dedicated to the movie Gremlins, as well as new pieces in East Belfast, and a mural of Belfast life on the grounds of Duke Of York.

Ulster v Cardiff

Ulster v Cardiff Photo Album

Bangor v Tobermore United

Bangor v Tobermore United Photo Album

Gremlins

Duke Of York

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – APRIL/MAY

April began, like February, with two matches in one day.

Unlike when I was in London, I knew where I was going. I went to both Irish Cup Semi-Finals as a neutral.

The Glentoran v Portadown game wasn’t very good, and I didn’t get much in the way of photos. Crusaders v Cliftonville was a batter game with better photos, the Sydenham End of The Oval being a lot more photo friendly

The following midweek, I was in Glasgow for the friendly between Rangers and Linfield. The match wasn’t great, but it was a friendly, so I was hardly expecting both teams to go for it, especially with it being towards the end of the season (ie – if it was in pre-season, it would have been a lot more intense, with teams working towards the new season)

Ibrox is a fantastic stadium, architecturally stunning on the outside and inside. Managed to get some fantastic shots of the ground. Not so much match action, as I was closer to the corner flag when Linfield had their bets spell of attacking, in the second-half.

I stayed in Glasgow for a few more days, and went to the Scottish Cup Semi-Final between Falkirk and Hibernian. A brilliantly crazy game for a neutral, maybe not so much if you supported one of the two teams. Got some ok photos, Hampden PArk, as fantastic stadium as it is, isn’t very photo friendly.

Upon my return, I went to Linfield’s last two games of the season. Fixture fulfillment really, and making sure I got my money’s worth out of my Season Ticket.

I would have got more Value For Money if i’d stayed at home.

But that wasn’t the end of the season. The following week, I went to Clandeboye Park to see Bangor beat Tobermore United and avoid relegation.

And with that, my season was over.

Glentoran v Portadown

Glentoran v Portadown Photo Album

Crusaders v Cliftonville

Crusaders v Cliftonville Photo Album

Rangers v Linfield

Rangers v Linfield Photo Album

Falkirk v Hibernian

Falkirk v Hibernian Photo Album

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Linfield v Crusaders

Bangor v Tobermore United

Bangor v Tobermore United Photo Album

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : 2012-2013

Barring something dramatic, the 2012-2013 season is over for me in terms of football attending.

The season began in June at the Amsterdam Arena, and ended in May at Clandeboye Park.

Unsurprisingly, most of the Linfield matches I attended weren’t particularly enjoyable.

There wasn’t much in the way of curiousities (last season, I saw two twins on opposing sides) apart from going to two matches in once day – twice, and there being a power failure at a match I was at.

Amazingly, it was an FA Premier League game, rather than an Irish League game.

So here, is a statistical look back at my 2012-2013 football season :

Matches Attended : 52

Goals Seen : 147 (should be 149, but I missed 2 goals in 2 different matches due to being late)

Red Cards : 11 (Plus also 2 players sent-off in dressing room for on field incident)

Hat-Tricks : 2

Matthew Tipton (Orangefield OB v Linfield, Linfield v Coleraine)

Penalties Missed/Saved : 7

Highest Scoring Match : 7 (Linfield 5-2 Coleraine, Falkirk 3-4 Hibernian AET)

Countries Seen Matches In : 5

England, Holland, Northern Ireland, Republic Of Ireland, Scotland

Teams Seen Play : 35

Australia (1st time), Azerbaijan, B36 Torshavn (1st time), Ballinamallard United (1st time), Ballymena United, Bangor, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Donegal Celtic, Dungannon Swifts, Falkirk (1st time), Fulham, Glenavon, Glentoran, Harland and Wolff Welders (1st time), Hibernian, Heart of Midlothian, Holland (1st time), Israel, Linfield, Lisburn Distillery, Luxembourg (1st time), Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Norwich City, Orangefield OB (1st time), Portadown, Queens Park Rangers (1st time), Rangers, Reading (1st time), Rosenborg, Shamrock Rovers (1st time), Scotland, Tobermore United (1st time)

Competitions Watched : 11

County Antrim Shield, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship 1, Scottish Cup, Scottish Premier League, Setanta Cup, UEFA Cup, World Cup,

Stadiums Visited : 20

Amsterdam Arena, Ballyskeagh, Clandeboye Park, Craven Cottage (1st time), Cregagh Sports Ground (1st time), Easter Road, Ferney Park (1st time), Hampden Park, Ibrox (1st time), Loftus Road (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Stangmore Park, Solitude, Tallaght Stadium (1st time), The Oval, Tillysburn Park (1st time), Windsor Park,

BANGOR 1-0 TOBERMORE UNITED 4.5.2013

11 months after the season started in the Amsterdam Arena, Clandeboye Park was the venue for my final game of the season, the Championship 1 relegation battle between Bangor and Tobermore United.

It was a first for me ….. the first ever league match that wasn’t a top flight game.

Part of the reason for going to this game, was that it would give me a good excuse to bypass the Cup Final Of Doom at Windsor Park.

Bangor started the game in the one relegation position, one point behind three other clubs, one of whom was Tobermore United.

The maths was simple enough for Bangor. Win, and they’re safe. Lose, and they’re down. Draw, and they’re hoping Larne lose by three goals.

The pattern of the game was set early on. Bangor, on the attack, looking for a goal, with Tobermore looking to hit on the counter-attack. Tobermore had their best chance of the game that way, when they had a clean through that they should have scored, but Bangor’s keeper made the save.

Bangor were frustrated and kept at bay by Tobermore, as the first-half ended 0-0.

The second-half continued in a similar manner, with Bangor fans desperately appealing for everything with each passing minute, the songs and encouragement getting louder as the need grew greater.

For all their possession, Bangor looked unable to take advantage of it. It looked like being “one of those days”

Then, with less than ten minutes to go, Bangor got their breakthrough ….. and the relief was clear for all to see.

Tobermore, set up to frustrate and counter attack, now had to change their plans and take the game to Bangor.

Every free-kick and throw-in conceded was met with groans. The fear was clear for all to see. Bangor managed to hold out and avoid relegation, while Tobermore went down.

For me, the 2012-2013 season was now over.

Photo Album