Welcome to my blog bringing you various ramblings from my photographic experiences, the places it takes me, the events I cover and the people I get to meet.
At the turn of the year friends were flooding every social network I happened to frequent with grand plans for there 2012 photography projects so not having the dedication for a 365 project, I opted to make my own up.
Each month I make a collection of my favourite shots of the month, one for each day of the month and come the end of the year I'll have my own 365 project conforming to none of the rules! It won't be the best shots technically but those that for me captured the moment/mood/told the story.
So three months in and with my blog finally up and running in its shiney new home here I am telling anyone that cares to read about it!
So here's what happened in March;
I kept a long standing promise to Wigan Robin Parks Reserve team lads to cover one of there games, I ruined there table topping form by witnessing them get knocked out of the North West Counties Reserves Cup, I've not been invited back!
Manchester Futsal club went to town in there last home league game of the season knowing goal difference could be key winning 27-0 at home to East Coast, this is what the bench looks like when your losing by such a scoreline;
I took a walk around Manchester after dark;
Covered my first Championship Rugby League game at Leigh after cutting my teeth in the Northern Rail Cup;
Saw cards galore in a bizarre game between Wigan Robin Park and Holker Old Boys - confusion reigned!
Saw a great game between Manchester v Wales that finished 3-2 were Wales had Manchesters Futsal FA Cup Winning Coach from last season in there ranks pitting his wits against his successor and old squad;
The champagne corks popped, firstly at The Reebok Stadium, Bolton, as Chorley won the Lancashire Trophy;
And then at Crewe as Manchester Futsal Club won the title for the first time in there history;
Wigan Robin Parks good league form continued with a win at Oldham, Ste Edwards rounding of a great month that saw him lift the player of the month award;
Sadly the league form didn't roll over into the cup and they lost 3-1 after extra time against Norton in the Divisional Cup Final after taking the lead in normal time;
And that as they say was March 2012. All 31 pictures can be seen here.
For years I’ve known about the “92 Club” and people wearing the badge of honour that you get after visiting all 92 professional football grounds in England. What I had been blissfully unaware of though was the world of the serious groundhopper, for those were 92 grounds simply isn’t enough “hopping” takes on a whole new context and offers up list of possibilities that is both daunting and seemingly impossible to ever complete!
I’ve not idea how one gets into hopping, but clearly many are drawn into it either intentionally or unintentionally, perhaps one day you realise you’ve a fair few grounds under your belt and that’s it your away. However you get into it, as the saying goes, “theres an app for that” whilst racking up a few myself I had a quick browse of Apples App store and found “Groundhopper”, tick off grounds you’ve been to, dates, memorable moments goals, pies, coffee, the choice is yours! Currently it goes down to Step 4 of the Enlgish non-league pyramid (The BBC explain it much better than I for those blissfully unaware here) or in terms of actual leagues - Northern Premier League Division One homes of the likes of Lancaster City and there Giant Axe ground, cracking ground Wigan Robin Park won there 4-2, 13/12/2011 in the Lancashire Trophy ¼ final pics here since you asked!
Two things struck me about the Groundhopper app*, firstly the level of detail you can plan your visits with military precision thanks to integrated satellite images and fixture lists and more importantly, the next update must surely include Step 5 of non-league football which will bring the North West Counties Premier Division listings, sorted if Wigan Robin Parks promotion bid goes to plan!
The app seemingly also future proofs itself, filled your boots with English Football? Got them all? Theres 34 other countries to go at and I’m guessing even the hardest of the hardcore will be going some by the time they tick off places like MFK Tatran Liptovský Mikuláš in Slovenska Futbalova Liga (Slovakias 2nd Division to you and I!), looks quite tidy from the satellite shot mind and there at home this weekend (14/14/2012) to LAFC Lučenec if your tempted 3.30 kick off and your in luck……………. Just down the road Ružomberok are at home to Košice and it’s a 5.30 kick off in the Corgoň liga (Slovakias top division). Who knew this level of detail was only a couple of button clicks away, my good lady will be hiding my passport and camera if she gets wind of it!
Whilst I’m new to non-league football and it shows I’m sure, after almost two seasons of photographing, mainly in the North West Counties Division 1 I reckon I can pick your average “hopper” out of the crowd - Normally stood away from the regulars, has gone to great efforts to obtain a match day programme when told on the gate “they’ve sold out pal”, although most probably won’t have read it and it’ll have been slotted straight into an A4 document wallet for safe keeping. If its an early kick off, come the 85th minute they’ll be stood at the closest point to the exit where the pitch is still visible, ready for a quick getaway, there’s that game at 3 to get to not far from here…………………..
I’m sure as well the further down the non-league pyramid you go there’s every chance you’ll find yourself at a match where the “hoppers” out number fans of either side, a strange and unique footballing occurrence!
How many non-league grounds have I hopped? I couldn’t possibly say, I’ve not been keeping count, but, oh go on if you insist - I’ve barely scratched the service, 12 out of 18 in North West Counties Division 1 (Wigan Robin Park, Atherton Collieries, Rochdale Town, Irlam, Cheadle Town, Daisy Hill, Holker Old Boys, Oldham Boro, Northwich Villa, Nelson, Leek CSOB, Ashton Town) That leaves me “needing” Norton United, Abbey Hey, Eccleshall, Chadderton, Formby, AFC Darwen for a full set, subject to this seasons (2011/12) promotions and relegations of course.
In the North West Counties Premier Division I’ve 3 from 22 (Bacup, Runcorn Town, Ramsbottom United) as it stands, although Ramsbottom look good for promotion so if Wigan Robin Park carry on there good form and go up that could leave me with 20 at least to “aim” at next season!
Further up the pyramid I’ve ticked off Lancaster City as discussed and Chorley FCs Victory Park although I was running the line there so it probably doesn’t count and well, I certainly don’t want to talk about it, although I will say I’ve long since stopped “running lines” after taking on board the advice of those stood in close proximity on the terraces! I’ve also snuck in a trip to the ground at Lancashire FAs HQ in Leyland, I shall seek advice from the pro’s as to where such anomalies fit!
So if you’ve never ventured out into the welcoming world of non-league football, now’s as good a time as any, the weathers great, fixtures plentiful, there’s a whole other blog post I’m sure in the world that is non-league football and the great spectacles it delivers so I’ll leave that for another time.
*I've no connection with the Groundhopper App, I'm sure others are available, it was just the first I found and did the job etc etc so I didn't pay to much attention on what else was on offer!
I switched to a new platform for hosting my website after the last effort built in WordPress ground to a halt and was starting to struggle.
Here we have the added benefit of what I think is a slicker easier to navigate layout and now with the added benefit of e-commerce so you can buy and download images with either a personal use or commercial license.
All feedback welcome and of course any problems/issues you encounter then I'd be really grateful if you'd let me know.
All the old blog posts have been transferred across and should display either below or via the links to the right of this post. (until more "recent" content knocks them off the list!
Loire Magazine Issue 1 is available now, the magazine comprises of 100 pages of material featuring local and world music along with articles on clothes, football, futsal, rugby league, travel, photography and modern art.
’d be lying if I claimed to be anything other than biased given I’ve a job lot of photos published in Issue 1 which can be found here – however its a superb piece of work, photos aside!
In an age of people forming views based on the 140 characters of Twitter or the sanitised views of the main stream media who’s pre-determined political position colours any articles before there written to read something put out by an independent publisher is something of a breath of fresh air. Its also something of a throwback to the “fanzine” type magazine area the 30 somethings and above grew up with before this new fangled internet melarky became all the rage.
Editor at large Andrew Vaughan has been doing this sort of things for 25 plus years and this experience is clear to see as you flick through the pages of Loire.
For more information visit the Loire website, publishers Vaughan Media, contact the editor Andrew Vaughan directly via twitter or get in touch with me and I’ll help as best I can with any questions/queries.
I cover a lot of games in National Conference, Rugby Leagues flagship amateur competition last weekend “we” said goodbye to Winter rugby as the last game was played before the switch to summer.
Ironically we said goodbye in weather that you’d typically associate with November in Yorkshire, rain was coming in sideways aided by a cutting wind that soaked all 897 speccies, officials, players and photographers to the bone – accept those with the foresight to place themselves in the window of the club house and set up a supply chain from there to the bar!
So roll on next season “Summer Rugby” here we come, it’ll be barmy, short sleeve weather for all, except for when the season starts in March (earlier no doubt for those clubs in the Challenge Cup!) or when it ends in October when no doubt it’ll be a bit parky and if the final’s in Yorkshire I’ll assume raining to!
Oh hang-on then there’ll be all those Saturdays in “Summer” when it chucks it down and we all complain about the weather and don’t even get me started on those three Saturdays when it’ll be cracking the flags and we’ll all still be complaining about the weather………….!!!
From a photography point of view I’m glad we’ll keep those muddy weekends at the start and end of the season, they can often make for a atmospheric shot, but in all honesty I can’t wait for summer rugby, even if its raining at least it’ll be warm rain!
The debate around the switch is politically charged, but one I’ve followed from a distance with interest, whilst the pro game and some parts of the amateur game of Rugby League have played in summer for some time, some have held fast in Winter – in fact some will continue to hold fast in Winter. The National Conference however has decided to switch.
The arguments from either side would have you believe its seismic – perhaps it is and I miss the point, but to me it seems the argument is do you want an off season in November and December or 8 weeks spread over parts of May, June and July. So for me it would seem to boil down to when you have your 8 week break, play in “Winter” you still get exposed to the sun and sun hardened pitches of early and late summers, play in “Summer” and you still get exposed to some pretty shoddy weather.
Don’t tell the traditionalists, but I’m all for it myself – roll on the BBQ summer of 2012 – just don’t forget the umbrella!
PS – Congratulations to Hunslet Warriors, they ran out 18-14 victors over Wigan St Pats in what was a bruising encounter that was 8-8 after 80 minutes so an extra 20 minutes was played to determine the winner. More photos from the game can be found here.