Recent Football

It’s been a busy last week on the football front.

I travelled to Manchester last Tuesday night for City’s League Cup match against Aston Villa, where the visitors pulled off a surprise victory on a night when the unrelenting rain left us all thoroughly soaked…players and photographers alike…

 

Villa goalkeeper Shay Given stands in the rain

 

It was then back to Manchester the following evening, but this time to United, who were taking on Newcastle in the same competition. There was a surprise on the teamsheet when Wayne Rooney was announced in the starting line-up, so all eyes were on him and the scar from the injury that had kept him out for the last few weeks. Fortunately that night, the weather behaved itself, and the scar made an appearance too…

 

Wayne Rooney of Man Utd, with a scar on his leg following the injury he sustained earlier in the season

 

Then after a two-day trip down to Suffolk to take part in a memorial golf day, which was in aid of the St. Elizabeth Hospice, in memory of my father, I returned north, again to Old Trafford for the Premier League match between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. On this occasion, it was a match I’d rather forget. Four out of the five goals were scored at the opposite end to where I was sat, celebrations went anywhere but towards me, and I left feeling like I may as well have not turned up. From time to time, these things happen. You just wish they’d happen in lesser matches, or when less goals were involved, but sometimes you just have to sit there and accept that, despite where you’ve chosen to sit and what game plan you’ve put together, it is still sport, and, by it’s nanture, it is still fairly unpredictable.

Nevertheless, when I returned to the car, I looked back at the stadium, which was lit up by a full moon, and felt that this picture would go a tiny way to softening the blow of an otherwise weak day’s work…

 

A general view (GV) of Old Trafford as a full moon pokes through the clouds

 

The following day, I made my way down to Birmingham to cover one of the many West Midlands derbies, between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion. Traditionally a fiesty affair, this particular encounter lacked the edge that it’s had in recent years. Despite this, both teams put on a good display and the final 1-1 scoreline seemed fair enough on both sides…

 

Graham Dorrans of West Brom battles with Matthew Lowton of Villa

 

Then on Monday, it was back down the M6 again, this time to The Hawthorns, where West Bromwich Albion were playing Arsenal in the U21 Premier League, the new name for the Reserves’ league. I wouldn’t usually cover many of these matches each season, but this fixture stood out because of the inclusion in the Arsenal side of young Jack Wilshere. The Arsenal and England midfielder had been out of the game for over a year with an ankle injury, and was due to make his first appearance since the summer of 2011. A considerable media presence was in attendance, and the club didn’t disappoint, giving him more than a hour on the pitch…

 

Jack Wilshere of Arsenal U21 battles with Romaine Sawyers of West Brom U21

 

Sometimes, matches like this are surprisingly hard to cover, especially if the player in question tends to spend little time on or even near the ball, like a defender or goalkeeper. So it was a relief to see him getting stuck in from the start, sprinting, gesturing and running with the ball whenever he got the chance. Cue a mass exodus of photographers and TV cameramen when he was substituted with just less than thirty minutes to go, but it was job done…and just in time to make it back up the motorway before rush hour too!

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