Offside’s best pictures of 2014

All images via welloffside.com and welloffside.photoshelter.com.

Simon Stacpoole - Diego Costa of Chelsea puts his hand across the face of Martin Skrtel of Liverpool.
Simon Stacpoole – Diego Costa of Chelsea puts his hand across the face of Martin Skrtel of Liverpool.

It’s been another great year for sport and for Offside Sports Photography. Below are our best 24 shots of 2014, as chosen by Mark Leech.

Marc Atkins - Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal shows his skill, looking one way and playing a long pass in the other direction.
Marc Atkins – Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal shows his skill, looking one way and playing a long pass in the other direction.

Over the course of 2014 we saw the World Cup in Brazil, Glasgow host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the inaugural staging of the Invictus Games, Wimbledon, the Ashes and much, much more.

Mark Leech - The hair of England wing Marland Yarde flies as he drops the ball in the tackle.
Mark Leech – The hair of England wing Marland Yarde flies as he drops the ball in the tackle.
Mark Leech - Marland Yarde of Harlequins runs with the ball.
Mark Leech – Marland Yarde of Harlequins runs with the ball.

Alongside Leechy’s own work from the past year, this curated “best of” list also features images by Offside’s other key men: Simon Stacpoole, Marc Atkins, Paul Roberts and Ryan Smyth.

Ryan Smyth - An athlete with a tattoo on his leg that reads 'I Miss My Friend' with an arrow pointing toward his prosthetic leg.
Ryan Smyth – An athlete with a tattoo on his leg that reads ‘I Miss My Friend’ with an arrow pointing toward his prosthetic leg.
Ryan Smyth - An Invictus Games competitor sits on the edge of the pool during his training.
Ryan Smyth – An Invictus Games competitor sits on the edge of the pool during his training.
Ryan Smyth - Ricky Furgusson of Team GB crosses the finishing line in his 100m final event.
Ryan Smyth – Ricky Furgusson of Team GB crosses the finishing line in his 100m final event.

Football, as ever, features prominently, but there’s also plenty of great pictures from the worlds of Rugby, Athletics, Swimming, Tennis and Darts.

Mark Leech - The smiling face of Michael van Gerwen emerges on the walkway.
Mark Leech – The smiling face of Michael van Gerwen emerges on the walkway.
Mark Leech - An uncomfortable moment for England prop Matt Mullan.
Mark Leech – An uncomfortable moment for England prop Matt Mullan.

Simon, Marc and Paul all ventured across the Atlantic to Brazil in the summer to snap the World Cup. The Netherlands undid Spain, England fell behind Uruguay and Costa Rica, and eventual winners Germany dismantled the hosts in one of the most eventful and enjoyable tournaments in living memory.

Simon Stacpoole - The reflection of a young boy is seen in a puddle of water as he kicks a football on Ipanema beach at sunset.
Simon Stacpoole – The reflection of a young boy is seen in a puddle of water as he kicks a football on Ipanema beach at sunset.
Simon Stacpoole - The Brazil players walk out past a huddle of photographers.
Simon Stacpoole – The Brazil players walk out past a huddle of photographers.

The Germans also showed their class in the women’s game with a victory over England in a historic match at Wembley in November: the first to be staged at the ceremonial home of English football by the women’s national team.

Mark Leech - Fran Kirby of England reacts to a late tackle by Lena Goessling.
Mark Leech – Fran Kirby of England reacts to a late tackle by Lena Goessling.
Mark Leech - Hugs and kisses at the end of the mixed doubles between Huey & Raymond.
Mark Leech – Hugs and kisses at the end of the mixed doubles between Huey & Raymond.

Another champion in 2014 was Novak Djokovic, who won his second Wimbledon title to help keep himself up at the very top of the world rankings. Mark was on hand to snap some great images of SW19.

Mark Leech - Chris Foster of Essex bowling.
Mark Leech – Chris Foster of Essex bowling.
Mark Leech - Sunday morning football played on pitches high above the town of Colne in Lancashire where a lone goalkeeper stands in the wind.
Mark Leech – Sunday morning football played on pitches high above the town of Colne in Lancashire where a lone goalkeeper stands in the wind.
Paul Roberts -  flooded football pitch in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire as the River Severn bursts its banks, flooding hundreds of sports pitches.
Paul Roberts – flooded football pitch in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire as the River Severn bursts its banks, flooding hundreds of sports pitches.

The last year wasn’t just filled with good times and glory however. Rains came early on in 2014 and doused England in heavy water from on high leading to some spectacularly washed out images of the sporting landscape.

Marc Atkins - Water sprays up from the pitch as Yaya Toure of Manchester City is fouled by Victor Wanyama of Southampton.
Marc Atkins – Water sprays up from the pitch as Yaya Toure of Manchester City is fouled by Victor Wanyama of Southampton.
Paul Roberts - Frank Lampard of Manchester City pictured in the snow.
Paul Roberts – Frank Lampard of Manchester City pictured in the snow.

Perhaps it was fitting that the year also ended with some photogenic images taken of football played in another kind of adverse weather condition: snow.

Simon Stacpoole - Mikel John Obi of Chelsea heads clear from teammates Gary Cahill and Didier Drogba as well as Chris Smalling of Man Utd.
Simon Stacpoole – Mikel John Obi of Chelsea heads clear from teammates Gary Cahill and Didier Drogba as well as Chris Smalling of Man Utd.
Simon Stacpoole - David Silva, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy of Man City.
Simon Stacpoole – David Silva, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy of Man City.

The Premier League is unlikely to need much in the way of dramatic meteorology for another exciting finish, with Chelsea’s early lead having already been whittled down by a resurgent Manchester City, and Manchester United threatening to become a New Year threat.

Simon Stacpoole - Sergio Aguero of Man City tries an acrobatic shot.
Simon Stacpoole – Sergio Aguero of Man City tries an acrobatic shot.
Marc Atkins - Kyle Walker of Tottenham Hotspur sprays water water from his mouth.
Marc Atkins – Kyle Walker of Tottenham Hotspur sprays water water from his mouth.

Could the opening months of 2015 in England’s top flight match the brilliance of Liverpool’s unlikely spurt in early 2014 to chase down City, Chelsea and Arsenal to finish second? That finale could be difficult to match.

Marc Atkins - Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring the third goal against Fulham.
Marc Atkins – Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates scoring the third goal against Fulham.
Simon Stacpoole - Steven Gerrard of Liverpool tries to retrieve the ball from Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
Simon Stacpoole – Steven Gerrard of Liverpool tries to retrieve the ball from Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.

But regardless of what the New Year in sport brings, you can be sure that Offside will be ready to shoot the action, as usual, in our own special way.

Look out for our work in 2015 and beyond on Twitter at @welloffside, our official website welloffside.com and our new Photo Shelter site welloffside.photoshelter.com.

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Author: gregianjohnson

Football writer for The Blizzard, FourFourTwo, The Mirror, Squawka and VICE amongst others. Follow me on Twitter at @gregianjohnson.

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