The British Rowing Senior Championships were held at Nottingham Water Sports Centre at the weekend. It saw international oarsmen representing their clubs at a national regatta. It’s an exhausting mix of new talent and top rowers racing for their clubs. The Senior Championships, now a major focus of the GB regatta calendar, gives competitors, coaches and spectators an event they can really enjoy.
Here’s the weekend in words and pictures:
Early start on Saturday morning and the weather was overcast, blustery but warm.
The crews were out to warm up and stretch…
… boats were prepped and nuts were tightened…
.. and the crews hit the water for two days of exciting racing – against the clock and against each other.
Saturday morning’s time trails determined places for the semi-finals.
Hands were shook and backs were patted as the day’s trials separated the chaff from the wheat.
Until the semi’s progressed to the finals and the first day’s medal places were awarded.
Everybody was happy….
… some more than others….
…. even Gino had a smile (well almost)
And Heroes were born!
Sunday the weather took a turn for the worst with the wind quickening and gaining strength as the day went on…
The choppy water made everything soggy….
… giving competitors pause for thought…
.. but it didn’t dampen the spirit..
… just the occasional rower as they tipped the boats…
… and were rewarded with a refreshing shower.
But eventually as the morning turned to afternoon and the wind turned to gales the official had no choice but to cancelled the rest of the day’s competition and award places based on the morning’s time trials…
Not the most satisfying way to end the regatta …
.. but probably the fairest and safest way…
Crews raced off to get packed up for the trip home…
.. and the organised chaos began…
…. as derigging and the big clear up started.The wind had got the better of everybody…
.. it must have been something we’d eaten…
The awards ceremony took place in front of the main building at the finish line…
And just when I thought it was all over I found one of the clubs in the warm-up tent with 15 or so of their team on the concept II rowers. …
… slugging it out, and encouraged by coaches and coxswains, to see who could be the fastest rower without actually going anywhere!
And finally finally I’d like to thank British Rowing for their hospitality and friendliness during the two days. :)
(C) Drew Smith Photography.
With the FA Women’s Super League going down to the very last game of the season Notts County Ladies held title winning wannabees, Birmingham City, to a 2-2 draw yesterday. Handing Liverpool the title for the second year running.
Here’s the game in words and pictures:
Lets start with the fans. Last game of the season and the usual suspects were there needing no encouragement to pose of the camera. The tight Solihull ground was tightly packed and created a great atmosphere.
The Birmingham fans were flying the flag and hoping for a win to give them the Title. Yeah…. sorry guys! :)
The Blues fans came to cheer on their side and lift the trophy…
… a giant silver chess piece made of plastic.
See, a good photographer would have got a reflection of the Birmingham Manager in the trophy looking all expectant and nervous like.
The media looked confused; “So wait, this lot, Chelsea AND Liverpool could all win it?”
The camera man patiently explains the permutations to ‘Mr Scarf’.
Monsters Inc – Who is this guy? What does he have to do with this game? And will the poor little girl have nightmares?
Aww, they have matching T Shirts.
Then this guy turned up! ‘Zappygo’ dog? What the feck is he all about? He must be the Birmingham mascot, right?
I asked ZappyGo dog and Monsters Inc if they’d fight to see who was best but they both declined. Poor show.
The team’s came out for the warm-up; it started badly with Rachel Corsie being sidelined almost immediately suffering with ‘bad hair day’. She washed it last night and couldn’t do a thing with it.
Wash and Go warm-up.
Aileen Whelan challenged the BT Sports cameraman to a race. Which she narrowly won.
The cameraman was wearing comedy glasses which hampered his attempt to beat Aileen in a foot race.
Laura-Jayne O’Neil gets help from Krista van Alten, the County physio, to remove her boot.
There must be an easier way!
Manager Passmoor’s pre-game team talk didn’t inspire.
Then the teams came (back) out. The announcer had trouble with the tannoy; failing to understand that when he shouted the system cut out to protect the speakers. This caused much amusement, especially as he was asking the crowd to ‘make some……. (noise)’.
Skipper Bradley is hero-worshipped (see bottom left of pic).
Auntie Aileen kidnaps a small child at random.
I think she’d getting broody. :)
Anyhoo… on with the game. I’d only just got all my kit sorted out and boiled the kettle behind the goal County were attacking, when just three minutes in Aileen Whelan won a corner for Notts. Katie Hoyle clipped the ball into the box and Aileen Whelan, in a repeat of last week, thundered the ball past Blues keeper Becky Spencer with her head.
Whelan wins the corner and heads in the corner but loses points for not also taking the corner. The girl was everywhere.
1-0 Notts. Birmingham look on distraught.
Whelan wheels away to celebrate the Pies opener. Jess Clarke just makes sure she can’t poach a rebound…..
…. before joining in the celebrations herself. In the absence of information pertaining to the origins of this ‘happy dance’ we’ll have to settle for ‘howling at the moon’.
The Blues responded with determination. Battles were fought all over the park.
The large crowd filled the small ground creating a wonderful atmosphere.
Then to Birmingham’s dismay Notts County doubled their lead in the 20th minute. Desiree Scott’s cross was met by Laura-Jayne O’Neill whose header back across goal fell to Whelan looking for her second goal, but she failed to connect properly and the ball popped up in front of Fiona O’Sullivan……
… who trapped it neatly between her thighs….
… then prodded it into the back of the net with aplomb.
O’Sullivan is hugged by Clarke. Potter’s clenched fists speak volumes. Birmingham had to win to stand a chance of clinching the title ahead of Chelsea and Liverpool and this was not the start they’d expected.
But with 10 minutes to half time the wheels on County’s charge for 4 wins from 4 came off. Karen carney had been the usual ‘pain in Notts’ side’ and it was her mazey run that indirectly led to the Blues equaliser…
Rachel Corsie stopped Carney’s thrust through the County defense but the ball back to keeper Telford somehow didn’t get there and Blues’ Melissa Lawley stole in and played in team mate Kirsty Linnett, who needed two attempts to beat Amy Turner’s dogged defense on the line, to finally side-foot the ball into an empty net.
Birmingham score to pull back to 1-2 down.
With only 3 minutes left to half time the other wheel fell off the Pies barrow (can you have more than 1 wheel on a wheelbarrow?).
A scramble in the box resulted in the referee awarding a penalty. I didn’t see an infringement but strangely all of the Birmingham players, staff and supporters did. Hmmm, suspicious.
Karen Carney, 10, stepped up to take the spot kick and side-footed the ball with much gusto to Telford’s right…….
…. Telford went the right way and pulled off a fantastic save! The ball actually rebounded back out to Carney who, with the goal wide-open managed to have her shot saved a second time by Telford who pulled off an even better save. You’ll note there’s no picture of that save as I was too busy punching the air after the initial save. Bad photographer.
The teams went in for half time with the score-line 2-1 in Notts favour. Elsewhere Chelsea were being beaten by Manchester City and Liverpool were ahead in their game.
The second half resumed and once again almost before we’d taken our seats and let the kettle boil, Birmingham equalised.
With just 3 minutes played Birmingham’s Hannah Keryakoplis picked up a fortunate deflection close in and slotted the ball past Carly Telford in the Notts’ goal to make it 2-2.
Birmingham equalise. Corsie is remiss in not returning the ball to the opposition quickly enough to assist them in their attempt to win the league, and a scuffle breaks out. The referee got involved too and remarkably failed to give anybody a yellow card – something he’d seemed unable to stop himself from doing all day.
Hannah Keryakoplis is gleeful at scoring and that look tells you she thinks a 3rd goal is imminent.
The game quickened after this goal. ‘Quickened’ is a euphemism for ‘became dirtier’ with some hard tackling accompanied by more yellow cards awarded by the ref.
O’Sullivan is flattened and needed attention.
Jess Clarke in the thick of it as ever.
Desiree (allergic to losing) Scott didn’t give an inch.
Telford’s goal came under constant pressure as Birmingham pushed for the winner.
Katie Hoyle was resolute! I’ve come to realise this season that Katie approaches every game as if it were a battle for territorial supremacy and dominance over her opposite number… and the ball. Grrr!
Birmingham leaped, and ran and hustled ….
… and threw the kitchen sink at Notts…
.. but the last few grains of sand slipped through the title chase hour glass of destiny….. and the ref blew for full time with the score line at 2-2.
Carney knows it’s all over and looks as if she knows who’s to blame.
Birmingham had failed in their attempt to beat Notts and lift the trophy.
Players were consoled in the full glare of the TV cameras….
… and sportsman-like standards were upheld.
It was the finish of the FA WSL season and Notts had risen above much adversity to climb the table and finish on a 4 game unbeaten run claiming 10 points from 12.
Many friendships have been forged this season. County have a tremendous squad of players and back room staff. Here’s hoping that they’ll all be returning for the 2014/2015 season at Meadow lane.
From my own point of view I’m been very proud to have been involved this season. The standard of football has been incredibly high, the atmosphere full of energy and excitement with the general conduct of the players and spectators exemplary. The biggest compliment I can pay the team and the league is that if I wasn’t pitch-side photographing the game I’d be buying a ticket to watch it. :)
(c) Drew Smith Photography
The National Water Sports Centre hosted the Nottingham leg of the Men’s Health Survival of the Fittest 2014 event today. There was an ‘extreme’ class, an ‘average Joe’ class and also a ‘Super Hero’ class. Oh, and as usual, a ‘whacky people’ class:
Here’s the event in words and pictures:
What the T Shirt says.
The event is fundamentally a 10km obstacle course traversing up hill, down hill, through water and over and under various torturous obstacles.
For example this is the ‘Mangle’ (ask yer mum) constructed from old car tyres. It was great fun as long as you were only watching….
…. see, great fun!
And there were nets to scramble under….
.. with added mud of course.
And if you were lucky benevolent competitors held the net up at the start and finish….
… for example. Always amazes me how some people have that knack of staying clean and looking beautiful during these things.
Part of the course featured a water slide….
… constructed from pool liner with water sprinklers at the top, terminating in one of the many small lakes on the site. So a 30 meter slide into a freezing cold lake. As you can imagine it solicited some interesting facial expressions:
From abject terror…..
….. excitement (crazy person) …..
… mild bewilderment (this was the winner of the ‘Whacky Person’ class – I’m pretty sure this guy is supposed to be a ‘Minion’) …
… general ‘uncertainty principle’ (Top Beard competition was won by this chap)…
… to finally a mix of terror and excitement! Best possible combo.
Having almost completed the 10km slog contestants had to run down a lake-side bank, leap onto and across two floating inflatable pontoons….
… and from that precarious perch out onto a line of rubber rings….
… after a while it became apparent that the rubber rings were optional and swimming was employed. Either that or this bloke is just cheating!
This section ended with survivalists having to haul themselves up out of the lake and onto a wooden jetty…
… a very old wobbly wooden jetty….
.. which was tres slippery…
… and a cruel exit when everybody was pretty much exhausted.
Thighs were burning….
… feet were aching….
… buttocks had been clenched….
… and resolve had been set for the next section just 5 meters further on and back in the lake.
What fun! Competitors had to fling themselves back in the lake and then climb up a 6 meter floating inflatable climbing wall!
This was a very big ‘ask’! Most didn’t conquer the climb and having fallen off several times opted for swimming around it. …
… it was tough….
… but a few scaled it with aplomb.
And even had time for a cheeky grin…
.. or two!
…… Controversy. The Super Hero class came into disrepute:
Captain America (pictured here standing heroically) had his shield stolen and was not best pleased.
But the real shocker was the disgraceful encounter between Gotham’s Dark Knight; Batman and the Amazing Spiderman!
Whilst Batman was waiting patiently at the top of the water slide for his go, Spiderman appeared to push in front of the caped crusader …
(Batman waits patiently for his turn.)
….. at which point Batman cut back in front of Spiderman – a scuffle ensued and Batman lost his footing and unintentionally slid half way down the slide, twisting his ankle in the process.
(HOLY SPRAINED ANKLE Robin – they’ll be no crime fighting in Gotham City tonight, citizens!)
Batman complained and pointed out the web slinging culprit to a steward:
The steward tries to calm the caped crusader down.
After several minutes Spiderman did the decent thing and declined his go on the slide and came over to apologise:
(Spidey says ‘sorry’ but batman is having none of it and foolishly unmasks himself!)
The crime-fighting super hero’s race was run…
.. and he was carted off to be taken to the St John’s ambulance tent, explaining to the driver that it wasn’t ‘his fault’. He was later seen hobbling around the car park looking for the Bat Mobile.
So, an eventful day came to an eventful end….
… and I think this last image really says it all. :)
For those of a photographic bent; all the images were shot today with a Canon 400mm IS f2.8.
(C) Drew Smith Photography.
The Osberton International Horse Trials bookends our eventing calendar by opening the season for us in February and closing it in October.
This weekend is a CCI 1 & 2 star event which tends to attract some big names in Eventing. Attending this weekend are; rising star Emily King (Mary’s daughter), William Fox-Pitt, Oliver Townend, Jock Pagett, Caroline Powell, Pippa Funnell and Piggy French.
Here the Saturday Cross County phase in words and pictures:
The weather forecast for yesterday was for rain, followed by more rain with a possibility of clearing skies in the late afternoon. So we had a few showers for a couple of hours followed by glorious sunshine all afternoon.
Lots of prep goes into these gatherings and the love for the horse from the rider is always evident.
There was some Dressage going off at the start of the day. For the uninitiated Dressage is what you are forced to watch when you’ve been evil in a former life.
As my wife said yesterday ‘making an eventing horse do dressage when it knows the Cross Country is next is like making a child do a spelling test before getting out of the car to go to Disney World’. :)
Caroline Powell and Emily King share a joke before setting off.
Caroline and Emily – the current Queen bee talks with the King in waiting.
Brollies up for a downpour. But it didn’t last.
Full on concentration jumping out of the first water hazard.
The supremely serene Emily King takes the course in her stride – cool as a cucumber on the first of her 3 rides.
There was a lovely combination of fences called the ‘witches Broomsticks’…..
… I can’t think why they call them that.
And here’s Harry Meade back from breaking both of his elbows in a fall last year….
… each landing was still a bit tentative.
Mr Fox-Pitt warms up.
There is one particular jump on the course called the Leaf Pit which features a drop off a bank of some 2 meters (that’s about 6 feet in old money) and is quite fearsome. What follows are the various facial expressions (the rider’s not the horse’s) that express various levels of concern whilst jumping it.
Emily King demonstrates the ‘what’s all the fuss about’ facial expression.
This is the ‘Don’t look down, don’t look down, don’t look down….’ approach to the fence.
This the ‘Yikes – I looked down!’ approach.
This is definitely the ‘Oh SH*T!’ method……
… not to be confused with the ‘CrapCrapCrap!’ approach demonstrated by Pippa Funell – even the horse has it’s eyes closed.
.. just shear terror. Probably, at this point, tinged with great relief at feeling solid ground again.
It was a great fun day again and we finished the visit to Osberton with the traditional 5pm oven baked pizza sitting out by one of the two show jumping rings.
TTime for a rest.
I run a number of photographic courses in my spare time (that’s a lie – I have no spare time anymore) which I enjoy immensely. Each module of the 10 module course is predominately ‘hands on’ and out in the field using the camera for most of the lesson.
Last week I had the opportunity to take one of my students to the Flintham Show (and Plowing Match) for one of the modules. I’d like to take the opportunity of showcasing her fabulous work in pictures and words here:
The Flintham Show is basically a agricultural show that features livestock, big farm machinery and plowing competitions using tractors and horses. So I asked Carol to shoot in Manual mode and gather a number of images that reflected the flavour of the day.
An accurately exposed picture, sharp and full of subtle colour, that has human interest and showcases what the day was about. I kinda like the jaunty angle too.
Judging livestock was a big feature of the day and here Carol was asked to get a picture (for a mythical publication of which I’m the Editor) featuring livestock being judged. Carol met the brief perfectly.
Maybe a picture only a woman could capture :) I think this is beautiful. Carol deliberately chose a shallow depth of field (f1.8 on a 50mm lens I think) to give a wonderful soft blur to the background whilst being spot on with the focus on the butterfly. Her composition is compelling too, with the main subject being up in a (rule of thirds) compositional hot spot.
Dogs abound at gatherings like these and Carol snapped (pardon the pun) this shot of this little chap. Notice how she got down to the dog’s eye level and was quick enough and confident enough in her camera settings to instantly take this shot at just the moment the dog jumped up it’s owner’s leg.
More use of the shallow depth of field with a great diagonal composition. The flower display in focus with the background out of focus but still clear enough to put the flowers in context; i.e. part of the overall show and being viewed by the public.
This kind of shot is a challenge for Carol, she’s not at ease with ‘street photography'; basically taking pictures of people in public. She rose to the challenge though and said afterwards that she was pleased with her development in that genre. Again, notice the eye level and the deliberate jaunty angle that gives extra energy to the shot. I think I might have asked carol to move to her right a little for a second go at this so that the child’s face was a little fuller in the frame.
Here’s a beautiful image and one I know Carol was keen to try and get during the day. Two wonderful plow horses in the plowing competition. This is the shot in colour and awaiting further work in post processing for which Carol used Photoshop CS6 but fundamentally just the Camera Raw conversion software, which is a very powerful tool.
Having captured the shot she converted it to Black & White which I think works well for this image.
And to add the final touch she worked at the overall composition to maximise the full visual effect by cropping the image slightly to remove any distractions, like the dark earth bottom right (which took the eye away from the main subject) and the extra bushes to the far left of the image but still leaving enough space for the horses to move into. And to frame the picture nicely she has left the bending tree on the right behind the horses.
Great job Carol. :)
For information about any of my courses just send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aileen Whelan scored twice against the Toffees to secure victory for Notts and another season in the FA Women’s Super League Division 1! Their defeated opponents crash out of the top flight and will spend next season in the 2nd Division after what was effectively a relegation battle at Meadow Lane last night.
Here’s the game in words and pictures:
Meadow Lane held it’s collective breath on Sunday evening; a win or a draw assured Notts of continued Division 1 football. A loss to Everton meant the Toffees closed the gap with County to just 4 points and with only 2 games to go, relegation for County would still be a possibility.
The pre-game atmosphere after the defeat of table toppers Arsenal last weekend was an intoxicating mixture of high expectations and nerve jangling tension.
The usual suspects were in early – the fan support has been the best in the league this season.
Not. Missed. A. Game. All. Season!
A Carly Telford fan assures us that at least a point in on the cards.
The match day officials looked very… official….
… so much so that I actually balked at asking them to stand on one leg with their tongues out. Okay, maybe the guy on the left would have complied. :)
MARKETING NEWS: Apparently Matt Rowland (Notts County Marketing Guru) is all set to release a series of collectable Notts Player ‘TOP TRUMPS ‘cards called ‘TOP OF THE CROCS’!
Here are the current 3 Top Crocs:
The ‘Ellen White‘ card is much prized but she’s well on her way to recovery:
The ‘Sophie Bradley‘ card- carries extra ‘Skipper’ points.
And latest addition is Rachel Unitt (ACL) comes in at number 3.
Can’t help but notice how much more ‘substantial’ Sophie Bradley’s knee support looks compared to Rachel Unitt’s. At the rate our player’s get seriously injured there’s a serious opportunity for a commercial knee brace supplier to step in and sponsor the team next season.
Sophie Bradley comes up with a short list of possible replacement players to join the deleted County roster….
… Passmoor is not impressed, as he watches the players on the list warm up….
Despite this set-back the pre-game warm up continues with enthusiasm….
…. Ellen White is enthusiastically hit in the groin whilst crossing the ball for keeper Carly Telford…
Dunia Susi clones herself in a desperate attempt to bolster the player numbers….
… but her mini-me is only eligible for the Under 7’s.
The warm-up draws to a close. Target practice ensues for the strikers…
And at the last Passmoor decides to take a risk; concluding his motivational team talk he sing ‘I dreamed a dream’ (of staying up) from the hit musical ‘Les Miserables’…..
….. although delivered with true passion, some of the girls can’t bear to listen to Rick’s off key melody in the second verse.
The teams leave the pitch for final preparations before kick-off leaving just enough time for Marketing Behemoth-come steward Matt Rowland to organise the ball girls and sign autographs.
Matt Rowland – shocked and stunned to be caught on camera again. :)
Then it’s GAME ON!
It’s a nervy start – neither team really playing at their best with so much at stake. Opportunities are scarce but Notts start to make headway ….
… Amy Turner is stopped in her tracks by a sliding tackle as she attacks down the wing.
But Everton, in dire straights at the foot of the table, almost open the scoring with 15 minutes gone, when Millie Turner hits the post from 25 yards out! It seems obligatory that the opposing side shall hitheth the county post at least onceth during the game. For it is the law.
Now Notts respond and begin to fire in the crosses….
… but Rachel Brown-Finnis is up to the task and punches clear.
But Notts launch a flurry of attacks as the first half draws to a close – Fiona O’Sullivan goes close as she heads over the bar from inside the box.
O’Sullivan leaps like a gazelle to head over.
Aileen Whelan is having an absolute stormer of a game…. she seems to be everywhere.
During one spell of play she actually crosses this ball…..
… then sprints into the box and leaps like a salmon to get on the end of her own cross!
Jess Clarke is having a quiet first half but still impacts on the game when she’s on the ball…
… Clarke fizzes.
As the first half clock ticks down both teams look like they are relieved to get to half time without conceding. But with just minutes remaining the hapless Gabby George’s shanked her back pass to the Everton keeper and the ball runs out of play for a corner. A buzz of excitement went through the home fans like a swarm of South American Cicada.
Katie Hoyle swings the corner into the Everton box and both Brown-Finnis and Aileen whelan leap to contend it….
….. somehow the Toffees’ keeper misses the ball and Whelen THUMPS the ball into the back of the net with her head!
There is much jubilation!
Whelan wheels away in celebration from the stricken Brown-Finnis …..
….. the team are overjoyed. Hoyle and Walton are so overjoyed that they start to dance an impromptu Waltz together (far left).
The half time whistle blows minutes later and Notts go in with a crucial one goal lead.
Half time once again lacked the entertainment of Sytner’s ‘boot the ball into the boot’ challenge. So a quick mention that County joined up with the ‘kick it out’ campaign today.
The old footy adage: ‘If in doubt…… ‘
The second half resumed with a passion. Some of the tackles got a little feisty too.
Jess Clarke is …. prevented from getting anywhere near the ball by an elbow to the throat ….
… number 5 Fern Whelan can’t wait til the end of the game to swap shirt with O’Sullivan. The linesman (sorry.. ref’s assistant) isn’t quite close enough to see the infringement.
Katie Hoyle tries her luck from the edge of the box…..
……. with great technique; head down knee over the ball….. surely destined for the top corner….
….. but instead it kinda bumbles along the floor….. Katie can already see the funny side but Caitlin Friend (left) still holds out hope for the wounded duck….
… it’s actually still slowly rolling in this shot. Very slowly. :)
Anyway…. back in the game… and Notts nerves have completely vanished and the game starts to flow. Unfortunately for Everton the play was flowing in their direction….
… Jess Clarke is stopped with a last gasp tackle….
….. Brown-Finnis catches under pressure from Clarke….
… Caitlin Friend, on as a sub for Susi, fires a cross into the box….
With 10 minutes left in the game it looked like we may be in for a nervy last few minutes, but then Notts strung together a series of delightful passes that found Jess Clarke on the edge of the Everton box having committed the opponent’s last defender she slid a sublime ball in for Aileen Whelan.
Clarke plays Whelan in having committed the last defender (now I’m just repeating myself).
Whelan meets the ball in her stride, ignoring the on-rushing keeper….
… the contact is perfect….
… and Whelan lifts the ball over and wide of Brown-Finnis in the Toffees goal!
Clarke celebrates with Whelan…
…. Caitlin Friend (22) is moderately pleased with Whelan’s efforts thus far….
.. Desi Scott offers her congratulations…
.. and then….
… a ‘happy dance’ breaks out! And about time too. :)
Everton Keeper Brown-Finnis looks on and with only minutes of the game left, reflects on life in Division 2.
Notts future looks bright.
A relatively uneventful last few minutes is played out and County greet the full-time whistle with relish.
The party begins….
Hoyle and whelan, architects of the first goal, rejoice…
Top class sportsperson Rachel Brown-Finnis is the first to congratulate the Notts players. Although the three County players look like they’ve just staggered in from a night out in Magaluf.
There are hugs for Whelan.
Passmoor inadvertently joins in.
The fans sum up the campaign.
And County pull off an escape from relegation in the final stretch (okay, that was pushing it a little).
And there is just time for big High 5’s for little fans….
… and for Sophie Walton to bomb a young fan’s ‘selfie’.
And Finally….. the coaching staff… whom unselfishly posed for this heroic picture prior to the game, knowing in their heart of hearts that we would go on to win 2-0.
(C)Drew Smith Photography
This was a marathon effort – more pics than ever in this ‘issue’. If you’d like to follow this Blog you’ll find a ‘Subscribe’ button somewhere on the left hand-side near the top. Thank you for reading. :)
Notts County Ladies took a huge step toward Women’s Super League survival last night by beating table topping Chelsea 1-0 at Meadow Lane. The Pies clinched all three points courtesy of a Jess Clarke headed goal in the 40th minute of a momentous game that had the fans on the edge of their seats.
Here’s the game in words and pictures:
The warm-up was ominous. I always think we look sharp and accurate in the mini-game warm ups but last night we seemed a little …. careless ….. and flat-footed. Suddenly unbidden thoughts of a drubbing from Chelsea came floating in to mind like a Sophie Walton corner. But that was ridiculous, so what if we were second from bottom and Chelsea were top, we had a much nicer kit and a much better stadium. :)
The girls do the ‘Hokey-Cokey’ or possibly a ‘leg lunge’ during warm ups.
But disaster wasn’t far away…
… Sophie Walton’s Passion Pink nail varnish hadn’t quite dried yet. …
… and at least one of the ball-girls had already lost interest!
The ball-girls were supplied by Arnold Town FC and West Bridgford.
Here are the officials. I’ve come to realise over time that they are a malleable lot – happy to comply with my requests to ‘stand closer together’, ‘smile’ and look like they are a ‘team’. I think next game I’ll try getting them to stand on one leg with their tongues out. :P
The officials – nice boys and so biddable.
A sight for sore eyes! Dunia Susi’s return from injury.
She started on the bench.
So, lets start the game….. and it was Chelsea that started the quicker of the two teams, with Carly Telford being forced to tip over the bar early doors (more footy parlance to follow) …
The first real scare for Notts was when Eni Aluko was left in a foot race with County keeper Telford when she got in behind the Notts defense. Carly somehow managed to get there first and clear the danger (the ball girl was more stressed than anybody about this passage of play).
Telford – quicker than a whippet after drinking a can of Red Bull.
But County eased their way in to the game and started looking value for money. Jess Clarke was back to her best posing a constant threat down the right hand side.
Jess in space … lots of space.
Notts were looking good and hitting the channels early. Confidence was oozing through the team when suddenly Danielle Brogan appeared on the edge of the Chelsea 18 yard box. She’d managed to pass the half way line without getting a nose bleed and finding herself with the ball floating towards her she set her self for a spectacular volley…..
… adopting a shape worthy of Messi himself she swung gracefully at the ball which was now surely destined to fly into the top corner of the visitor’s net…
… but alas it has been raining for the last hour and the greasy surface took away her standing foot before she could make contact……
… I’m sure Daniella will appreciate me posting these pictures. :)
I forgot to mention that Fiona O’Sullivan was in the starting line-up and making her home debut. It was a pleasure watching her play.
O’Sullivan demonstrates her natural grace in motion.
Here’s a break in the narrative to bring you some ‘hair’.
No ball but plenty of golden locks.
Back to the game….
Then injury stricken Notts were ‘strick’ once more! Rachel Unitt was stretchered off in the first half…
Sophie Bradley sits on the bench with a telephone directory and starts to call possible replacement squad players on her mobile.
Unitt’s unfortunate injury saw the introduction of Dunia Susi’s into the fray….
The 4th official checks for illegal ‘levitation’ devices and inexplicably fails to spot Dunia’s.
It was wonderful to see this gracefully skilful player back in action – she’s been badly missed.
Susi wrong footing opponents again.
Then it happened.
Aileen Whelan, County’s heroic work-horse, cut through the Chelsea defense like a hot knife through dairy produce, only to be brought down just outside the box by Aluko….
Whelan brings a foul from Eniola Aluko in the 40th minute …..
Katie Hoyle stands poised and weighs up her options….
Hoyle gazes in to the Chelsea box before delivering an inch perfect free-kick.
Clarke get in front of the entire sleeping Chelsea back-four and heads the ball down….
… Marie Hourihan in the Chelsea goal is already beaten …..
… 1-0 NOTTS!
The crowd go wild. The County players go wild. The Notts bench go wild. I went wild.
Brogan, Corsie and O’Sullivan chase Clarke in celebration after her goal.
Best goal celebration of the season bar none! What a relief.
So, 1-0 up with only another 55 minutes to play. Easy.
The ref blew for half time and I changed ends. Then I wandered back to the half way line and waited for the ‘BMW Raffle’ draw. But it didn’t happen. No humiliation for the winning ticket holder. No ball clumped 3 yards in to the ground. Rumour has it that Sytner were so terrified by how close the winning ticket holder came to putting the ball in the boot of the car during the last home game, that they’ve insisted that the car be exchanged for something with a much smaller boot and the ball used be a lace-up, dubbin smothered dead-weight from the 1970’s. :)
The second half began and County slipped into a higher gear – something they’ve been unable to do recently.
County pressure had Chelsea on the back foot.
Corsie goes close….
Hourihan punches clear…
… then fumbles badly resulting in a scramble for the ball and Notts almost going 2-0 up.
But Chelsea were not out of it….
… with Aluko proving to be a real handful… well TWO hand fulls actually.
Chelsea started a concerted effort as the clocked ticked down and pummeled the County defenses; Yuki Ogimi fires a shot on target…
… but Carly Telford is not going to be beaten. Not today!
But then Notts pick up the pace again…. determined to hang on to all three points ahead of their 6 pointer with Everton.
Jess Clarke find herself in the Chelsea box … but…. well, I’ve got no idea what’s happening here. :)
The 90 minutes are up….. the announcer (who sounds just like the Quidditch commentator in the Harry Potter movies) informs us that there will be …
… a minimum of….
…. FOUR MINUTES of extra time. FOUR MINUTES!! Groan.
Carly Telford screams the Notts County battle-cry as she races out to collect the ball ahead of Chelsea’s Blundell.
There’s one minute left…… Chelsea get a corner. (Please… not now!) The Chelsea Keeper goes up for it. Whenever you see two goal keeper’s in the same 6 yard box you know that somewhere things are desperate.
The corner flies past everybody and County breath again.
But Chelsea come on the attack again…. County’s Hoyle gets across the box and hoofs the ball in to Row F of the stadium to waste the precious few remaining moments of the game.
Katie Hoyle introduces the ball to Row F of the Stadium.
Chelsea throw the ball forward again. The referee blows his whistle. The crowd erupts. I run on to the pitch with my camera to catch the elation. …. then I notice the referee hasn’t moved. neither have the players? Ah… he’s blowing for off-side then. I better get back off the pitch then. Embarrassed I slunk back to the sideline.
The the free kick is launched forward and this time the referee does blow for full time.
There was a lot of jubilation.
Passmoor blubbed like a baby. :)
In the aftermath of the victory there was a certain amount of confusion too….
… Matt Rowland (Notts County Marketing Megalith) was scratching his head, being seriously out of practice when it came to writing up a match report about a County win…
… Matt Lawson suddenly felt the need to be on crutches! Maybe he was feeling left out after all of Notts injuries…
… and when asked in the post match interview what it was like to win, Rick said that he didn’t understand the question. :)
As the pandemonium died down the ever-professional Carly Telford went over to thank the ball girls and the awe-struck bunch rushed over to have their pictures taken with the County Keeper….
… which provided a moment of hilarity because all the mums and dads were at the side-line ready to take pictures of their little darlings with Carly…. but they all had their mobile’s up taking ‘selfies’….
… so Carly took charge and told the girls to lower their phones….
.. which they did. And Carly being the true Pro, knew exactly where to look. :) Yup – 1-0.
And this is my favourite image from a wonderful and exciting night of football…
… Amy Turner sits on the pitch (she’s actually doing a thigh stretch – but we won’t let that spoil it) and has that dreamy ‘far-away’ look on her face. She is either contemplating the meaning of life, the meaning of 3 points for the win, or what’s she’s going to have for supper. :)
Well done girls – it was great to be a small part of it. Thank you.
(C) Drew Smith Photography.