Monday, 23 September 2019

Road to Wembley #3

Despite deciding not to follow Farsley Celtic in this round due to them being drawn at home consecutively, I once again headed into Yorkshire to witness Yorkshire Amateurs AFC take on Hartlepool United Women in this first qualifying round. This meant all three rounds so far of the Women's FA Cup I've ventured into Yorkshire. I'm not quite sure what the attraction is: it could be because it's the county I was born in and there's something inside pulling me back, or maybe it's because the grounds have been both appealing and easy to get to via public transport. I'll let you decide...

From my base in Preston it's an easy route: a straight through train to Leeds, followed by a bus. Bus being optional and on a nicer day I would have walked the 2.5 mile trip to The Southerns Stadium, but having already got drenched on my walk from my house to the Preston train station, I decided not to risk it for a second time in one day! This also gave me a bit more time in Leeds to allow me to 'tick off' my 109th bowling alley (Roxy Lanes). Plus, it was forecast 'thundery showers' for the whole day, with a high per cent chance of rain. Luckily, once having reached the ground it stayed mostly dry, though unfortunately very grey and dark. Not all that good for photos.

I arrived at the ground in good time. This allowed me to take my usual pictures of the stands before the spectators arrive and get a feel for the place. My favourite stand was the seated one- well to look at- I didn't actually sit it in. I think my pictures will describe it more eloquently than I can, so without further ado:

I saw an image of the ground online last season and thought it looked attractive, but in real life it's even better. Well, depending on your taste, of course.

To the left of the seated stand were the two dugouts and players tunnel, with the changing rooms in a building behind. You could also stand between the two dugouts and be covered as well. Next to this was another stand. It was more of a covered hard standing section, though there were some benches dotted along. Directly behind this was the clubhouse.

Around the rest of the ground was uncovered hard standing. It was quite different than most of the grounds I've been to recently, because the rail was set quite far back from the pitch. This was especially apparent at one of the ends behind the goal and coupled with the large net to stop the ball going over, it made for quite distracting viewing. Of course you don't have to stand there, in which I only did to take a few photographs before moving on. As I made my way around the pitch, I noticed facing that goal you could see some of the tall buildings in Leeds city centre. On a nicer day the view would have been more clear, but it still was a pleasant surprise as I continued with my lap.

The entry was free- always slightly disappointing as I would happily pay entry to any game I go to. I don't think charging even one or two pounds would have turned away any of the 52 person crowd attending, but I suppose free entry means all welcome, whatever income you are on. There was a very friendly atmosphere about the place and I would really recommend a trip here if you haven't previously been.

The visitors, who play in the North East Women's Regional League, took a lead nine minutes in over Yorkshire Amateurs who play a step below in the West Riding Women's League. Hartlepool scored another thirteen minutes after. The hosts defended well for the rest of the half and didn't concede any more before the half time whistle.

Mirroring the first half, Hartlepool scored early (nine minutes), though nothing again for a while letting Yorkshire have a couple of chances, but not managing to hit the net. With Yorkshire failing to put on enough pressure, they conceded a further two in quick succession (thirty nine and forty mins), with the guests confidently securing their place in the next round. It's always sad to see the host team you're visiting lose especially when the club were so friendly, though from a perspective of a neutral Hartlepool were overall the better team.

I wish both clubs the best for the rest of the season. You can follow Yorkshire Amateurs on Twitter here and Hartlepool United WFC here.

Full photo set here.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Elephant #2

If you keep up with this blog or my creative ventures in general on my social media channels, then I assume you will know I've already created a clip with an elephant. Well, as I enjoyed that one so much, I decided to make another, from another piece of footage.

I wanted to make this one different to the last and also different to my other work, though I wanted to use to same sort of concept/ style as the previous elephant, using a silhouette and detail lines within said silhouette.

This time, I decided to fill the silhouette with big, bold, colourful dots, which move every frame. Why? I wanted to attempt filling a shape with something that isn't a block colour, plus it's aside from my usual often quite 'neat' and realistic style. The colours aren't ones you'd find on an elephant, either, unless of course it has been thoroughly mistreated and painted. Which is not the look I was trying to portray in this animation and I hope it doesn't come across that way. I wanted to expand and push ways to create pattern and texture in moving image on screen, along with wanting to push all the reality out of my work!

I overlaid the dots with texture, made up of frames I hand painted and scanned in:

...Which made the dots textured:

I really liked the amount of texture I used on the last elephant clip, so decided to take it a lot further in this one and use a textured background as well:

I thought the two lots of textures might clash or look too 'busy' on the final clip, but once I darkened the background, the two styles complemented each other well. It gave the look I wanted, which was basically a wall of texture and colour and definitely something I've not used before.

I really like what I've done here with the colourful dots. It's something I probably wouldn't have thought to do a year or two ago, which shows that I'm trying really hard to step away from my realistic style of work, to create something more surreal, perhaps. I think there's still so much further I can go with the rotoscope technique and it's really exciting for me to be able to experiment with so many different styles at this moment in time.

My next piece is slightly more realistic, though that's because it's for a short film a friend and I are developing and the style of the film doesn't need to have any crazy colourful dots- or at least not for now anyway..! Without further ado, here's the colourful elephant animation: 

Monday, 2 September 2019

Road to Wembley #2

September first was here, which not only signified the meteorological start of autumn, but also the Preliminary Round of the Women's FA Cup. My tie of choice for this round was a local derby between Farsley Celtic Ladies and Thackley Ladies, situated just under five miles from each other. Despite seeing Farsley's 3-0 win over Wakefield Trinity in the previous round, I wasn't intending on following the winner from each round I attend, because that poses potential problems, such as transport issues and revisiting grounds. A big part of what I enjoy about my football travels is going to new places, therefore not so keen on the idea of revisiting a ground in such a close timeframe, should consecutive home ties be drawn.

I decided on this game, because I had intended to visit twice before, though unfortunately on both occasions, the games had been called off: once in March due to bad weather and more recently in August for a pre-season friendly when the opposing team couldn't field a side. I had also heard good things about the place and when a few fellow groundhoppers put pictures of the stand on social media following the men's game they attended on Bank Holiday Monday, I made up my mind to come here. Third time lucky, then?

I got on the 11:43 train from Preston, which goes straight through to New Pudsey (there isn't a 'Farsley' station), which would have me arrive at 13:21, giving me ample time to walk the eighteen minute journey to the ground. Unfortunately there was an issue with the train and it was held for what seemed like an infinite amount of time at Blackburn while they sorted out whatever fault the train had developed en route. Eventually the train got going again and luckily arrived just twelve minutes late, leaving me ten minutes to spare when I arrived at The Citadel. It gave me just enough time to get settled and take a few photographs of the exterior and clubhouse area before kick off.

I started watching the game near the entrance in front of the bar and clubhouse, just to the left of the main stand (more on that later). I then slowly made my way around the ground in an anti-clockwise direction, stopping at various intervals to take photos and watch the match from different angles. On the other side of the stand was some beautiful old terracing. After admiring that for a while and taking a couple of photographs, I continued on my lap and spied further terracing on the other side. This ran the whole length of the opposite long side and although not as old as the other, it still looked rather pleasing and when stood on, it gave a nice elevated change of view. The trees behind this also provided generous and well needed shelter for when the rain came at half time.

The older terracing
The other terracing
This is when the rain set in- or so it seemed: despite complete cloud cover and a heavy downpour, the rain eased off around fifteen minutes into the second half. Thankfully I had got the majority of the photos I wanted by then. By this point I had taken shelter under the long covered terrace behind the goal as the rain got too heavy for my makeshift tree shelter! Here was where I got chatting to a spectator who also turned out to be a hopper. He was based just outside of Leeds and had good knowledge about various clubs in the local area- both men's and women's. He explained to me that both the ground and club had had some work done over the summer, including a new look green and white kit, along with new badge. This was in replacement of the previous blue kit, the colours in which the ground is still painted in. He also told me that the youth teams use the back pitch, while the women and men's first teams, along with Albion Sports all use the main pitch. Kudos to the groundsperson(s).

Following a further shower or two after the main bulk of rain subsided, I left the stand and moved a little further around the ground to get a few more pictures of the main stand from a different angle, thus completing my lap. If you follow me on social media, then you might already know that I like a stand with wooden seats and The John Palmer Stand had exactly that. 400 of them, in fact. I lingered around after the final whistle had blown enabling me to take a few closer photographs of the stand and seats without any spectators in shot. I had almost one hour before my train, so this provided a productive way of spending a portion of that time.

Farsley scored in the fifth minute of the first half and didn't give the visitors much of a chance, with possession staying predominately with them. Despite this, they failed to hit the net for the rest of the half and it was only until the second half where they scored a further two- one being an absolutely fantastic kick by Shirley Murphey from a short corner assist! It could have perhaps been a couple more, because they missed a few what looked like clear cut chances, though a 3-0 win takes them safely into the next round. Despite Thackley not having as much possession, they didn't make it easy for the hosts and too had their fair share of chances- the closest hitting the crossbar.

There were about 50 in attendance, though I didn't actually do a count as I'm too embarrassed to use my clicker on my own! So there could have been more. The admittance was free, though I would happily have paid to watch this game. Congratulations to Farsley as they progress into the First Round Qualifying and commiserations to Thackley who will have to wait another year to try their hand at this prestigious tournament.

I'm now looking forward to the next draw to see where to visit next...

Full set of photographs here