THE FRIDAY FIVE – 27.3.2020

1. Tame Impala – Lost In Yesterday
2. Dermot Kennedy – Power Over Me
3. Lady Gaga – Stupid Love
4. Romeo Taylor – Kingdom Of Scotland
5. Kenny Rogers – The Gambler

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 26.8.2000

Kevin Phillips is the cover star of Match as he gives the lowdown on the men looking to take his Golden Boot off him in 2000-2001.

Trying to recover from injury, Ronaldo (The original one, not Cristiano) releases a video as he aims to prove his fitness.

John Aloisi of Coventry gets interviewed as to his firsts, his first football kit was a Juventus one, and his first concert was an Italian singer whose name he can’t pronounce.

There is a double page spread on Kevin Phillips analysing his rivals for the Golden Boot such as Andy Cole, Thierry Henry and Carl Cort.

Continuing the theme of strikers in this episode, Match does a feature on new strikers in the Premier League such as Alen Boksic, Sergei Rebrov, Mark Viduka and Luc Nilis.

Emile Heskey gets a triple page feature, as he admits that Spurs and Leeds were never in the running when he was leaving Leicester.

It’s not all strikers, as some defenders are interviewed ………. as the who the best Premier League striker is. Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp were the most nominated.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 15.7.1989

It’s the summer of 1989 and clubs are getting ready for the new season, as Paul Stewart is cover star of Shoot, telling him of his “White Hart Pain”

The pain in question was a disappointing 1988-1989 season following his move from Manchester City, which gets a double page feature as soon as you open the magazine.

Everton’s new signings Stefan Rehn and Martin Keown get a double page, with Rehn giving up his job as a Painter and Decorator to play in England, while Martin Keown hopes his move to Goodison Park will fulfill his dream of winning the league, which he thought had disappeared when he left Arsenal.

Also leaving Aston Villa was Alan McInally, with Graham Taylor facing criticism from angry fans over the sale. Taylor himself was angry with the conduct by Bayern Munich in the deal, who he says illegally approached his player.

Another player heading to the Continent was Chris Waddle, who has just left Tottenham Hotspur for Marseille, with Spurs manager Terry Venables telling Shoot that this is an opportunity for Gazza to come out of the shadows and become a big star.

Brits abroad were all the rage is this issue, with John Toshack getting a full page profile having just been appointed manager of spanish champions Real Madrid.

Rangers and Celtic are hoping that the Home Office will grant them permits for foreign signings, with Thomas Madigage of South Africa wanting to go to Rangers, and Dariusz Dziekanowski wanting to sign for Celtic.

Lou Macari is the new manager of West Ham, and has told his players they have to toughen up if they want to win promotion.

Tony Agana and Brian Deane are featured as part of a feature called Dynamic Duos, inspired by the cinematic success of the Batman movie, which didn’t actually feature Robin.

This week’s Player Profile was Alan McCleary of Milwall. Disappointingly, they asked him football related question and not who is favourite band is.

The magazine ends with Bryan Robson using his column to declare that Manchester United’s signing of Mike Phelan and Neil Webb will be the best signings of the summer.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 7.10.1989

John Barnes is the cover star of Match as England face a crunch World Cup Qualifier away to Poland.

It’s not just England in a crunch game, as Match previews matches involving Republic of Ireland and Scotland.

One man hoping to go to the World Cup if England get there is Mike Newell, who is profiled after a goal filled start to his career at Everton since signing in the summer.

Peter Shilton gets interviewed by Match, and the feature is accompanied by a piece on the oldest footballers in history.

The magazine ends with an advert for the Match 1990 Football Yearbook.

CARRICK RANGERS 0-2 LINFIELD 7.3.2020

After a Fruitful February (four games, four win), Linfield were hoping for a Marvellous March, returning to League action after a weekend off, with a trip to Carrick Rangers, as the season reaches the final straight.

This would also be Linfield’s last game of the season against an opponent in the bottom half of the table. Despite Carrick’s position outside the Top 6, this wouldn’t be an easy game for Linfield.

Despite the scorelines of 3-0 and 2-0, Linfield’s two previous meetings with Carrick have been anything but comfortable.

Their recent record against Carrick is good. Very good. In the four seasons Carrick have played in the top flight since promotion in 2015, Linfield have won ten and drawn one of the eleven meetings, only conceding one goal. An incredible run of nine successive clean sheets against Carrick. And the one goal that Carrick have scored in this period was a penalty.

Despite scoring four goals in each of their last two games, Linfield were forced into two changes through injury, Two Fs – Ferguson and Fallon, probably generating a few Fs amongst Linfield supporters when they heard the news. This was the first game that Rohan Ferguson had missed in the League this season.

Alex Moore got the nod ahead of Gareth Deane to replace him, his first appearance for the club since May 2018.

Bastien Hery, fresh from an international call-up for Madagascar, got the nod to replace Fallon in midfield.

Linfield’s squad was being stretched, just as it will be in January 2021 if Madagascar qualify for the African Cup Of Nations.

Also in receipt of good news, or not if you’re superstitious, is Andrew Waterworth, who won the Player Of The Month award for February, after a run of six goals in four games.

There are cynics who believe the award in jinxed, so it might not be a cause for celebration.

If you are of that persuasion, you’ll be hoping Oran Kearney beats David Healy to the Manager Of The Month award. Glentoran, Crusaders and Cliftonville were be hoping they get a joint award.

Thankfully, it was announced on Sunday morning that the winner was Kearney, which is good news if you believe the award is jinxed.

Positioned ready for the end that Linfield usually attack in the first-half (the one behind the goal where you just stand with no shelter), I got a shock when the sides switched ends and Linfield would now be attacking the away stand they usually attack in the second-half.

So, a quick dash to get into the position where Linfield were attacking, I was hoping there’d be no goal for Linfield inside the first minute of the game, so I wouldn’t miss it or have an obstructed view while being in motion.

They almost did, taking just ten seconds for Andrew Waterworth to look like he was going to get in behind Carrick’s defence, a bad bounce denying him the opportunity, and Carrick were able to clear the danger.

Joel Cooper got the crowd excited with a run out wide as Linfield searched for an early goal to settle the nerves.

They suffered an early blow when Niall Quinn went off injured. Thankfully, Linfield had a ready made replacement on the bench in the shape of Matthew Clarke.

Every weekend for what seems forever, there has been a named storm. No named storm this weekend, but Carrick has it’s own microclimate where today it was very windy. Carrick had it to their advantage in the first-half, and weren’t afraid to hit speculative long range shots.

A lot of them looked like they might be causing Alex Moore problems when the ball was in mid air. However, when the ball dropped down to earth, they turned out to be easy saves.

Whilst Moore was making a lot of saves, none of them were causing any trouble to Moore. You still have to make those saves.

Jordan Stewart had Linfield’s first effort on goal when he got into space but just over.

Soon after, Linfield took the lead when Chris Casement burst down the right wing and got himself into a crossing position in the penalty area. His cross was deflected onto the post, before an attempted clearance hit Kirk Millar and went into the net to put Linfield 1-0 up.

A stroke of luck perhaps, but you make your own luck. If Casement doesn’t make the run and if Millar doesn’t go into the penalty area, Linfield don’t get the goal.

An early goal was exactly what Linfield needed. They’ve struggled this season against teams who have had something to defend. They’ve especially struggled in the previous meetings with Carrick after failing to establish control of the game early on.

They couldn’t get the second goal that they needed. Andrew Waterworth thought he was going to get it but he was flagged offside.

Waterworth looked as though he was going to set up Kirk Millar (Should it not be the other way around?) when the ball fell loose to him after a challenge with Carrick’s keeper, it looked like he was going to put the ball into the empty net, only to be denied by a last ditch tackle.

1-0 up at half-time. Not playing great, but not playing awful. One more goal, and that would be three points.

They started the second-half determined to get that goal, with Joel Cooper firing a shot over in the opening seconds.

There wasn’t long to wait for that second goal, when Kirk Millar curled in a spectacular free-kick to make it 2-0.

It was such a good goal, even one of the Carrick subs warming up beside me applauded it.

Realistically, that was the game for Linfield. There was no way Carrick were going to score two. They didn’t even look like getting one.

Despite that, Linfield still needed a third just to be sure.

Soon after, Shayne Lavery came on for Jordan Stewart. I presume he had a slight injury as it was too early to be making a change with the game won, especially as it was only 2-0.

Lavery had a frustrating afternoon, getting into positions but being denied by a combination of post and Carrick’s keeper.

He almost got an assist when he crossed for Kirk Millar, but his header went just wide, as he looked for a hat-trick.

Millar had an effort go over as well. Whenever he got the ball in an attacking position, fans were urging him on to get the matchball.

There would be no third goal, but two was enough, another three points on the board.

Linfield’s gap at the top remained at four points, but this was a week where you could definitively argue that this season’s title race was whittled down to two teams.

Tuesday’s North Belfast Derby was effectively a title eliminator, where Cliftonville and Crusaders looked to reduce the gap to eight points.

A draw was perfect for Linfield, as it meant they are both ten points behind Linfield. Wins for them both meant they remain ten points behind.

The points difference is bigger than the number of games remaining. Even if either of them wins their last seven games to finish above Linfield, they’ll have to get seven more points than Coleraine as well.

Glentoran kicked off eight points behind Linfield, but the teams have to play each other twice.

That meant they had to win all their remaining games and hope Linfield drop a further three points.

Defeat at home to Cliftonville means the gap is eleven. That is too much to make up at this time of year.

I’m saying it. I’m writing them off. Neither Glentoran, Cliftonville or Crusaders will be 2020 Irish League Champions. It will be either Linfield or Coleraine.

Assuming that Linfield and Coleraine are the Top 2, 3rd place will be a UEFA Cup place if Coleraine win the Irish Cup, and Larne are in the mix for that now, giving those three something else to worry about.

Linfield and Coleraine both won 2-0, which means the goal difference remains at seven in Linfield’s favour. That seems like a lot, but that can be wiped out quite quickly.

It isn’t the big decisive advantage lurking in the background as it was in 2017.

Up next for Linfield is a home match against Larne.

A Larne side who have won their last six League matches.

However, Linfield have won their last five League matches and are unbeaten at Windsor Park in the League since August.

Larne will play Coleraine the week after. I have a suspicion that Linfield and Coleraine will replicate each others results against Larne just as Linfield and Glentoran did in January.

A big game for Linfield to get the win, keep the momentum going and keep the doubters at bay.

Especially as it’s hard to put a case forward for Dungannon Swifts getting a result away to Coleraine.

This week saw the Irish Cup Semi-Final draw, and my oh my, what a kerfuffle.

Surely when this season’s calendar was being created, somebody could have spotted that Irish Cup Semi-Finals over an international weekend could have been problematic if Windsor Park was unavailable.

Especially as they amended the dates of the Semi-Finals in 2015 because it was going to fall on an International Weekend. And 2015 has the exact same (from 1st March onwards) calendar as 2020.

And then to top it off, Cliftonville v Glentoran will be on a date when both clubs will have their Managers away on a Coaching Course.

Did nobody think to ask both clubs before confirming a date?

Talking of draws, this week saw the draw for the UEFA Nonsense League.

There would be no short trip to Scotland or Wales, instead we got Norway, Austria and Romania, all teams faced in the last five years.

Northern Ireland have the potential to finish anywhere between 1st and 4th. And there’ll be two sons of 90s players playing at Windsor Park in the shape of Erling Haaland and Ianis Hagi. Ianis Hagi will hope to avoid being sent-off at Windsor Park like his dad.

I had a look and Toni Polster and Andreas Herzog don’t have a son in the Austria squad.

I’m not booked for any of the away games. Austria would be the most tempting, especially as a double header with Slovakia (There is only one hour between Vienna and Bratislava)

Slovakia are at home to Scotland on the same day that Austria face Northern Ireland.

Talking of travelling, Flybe have gone under, which is a bit of a shitter, as I would use them when I fly to United matches.

As well as a lot of places which will now be cut off for Belfast (We don’t even have a lot of options to begin with), Flybe do a lot of Easyjet routes, so expect Easyjet prices to go up now that they have no competition.

Loganair haven’t wasted time and picked up the Aberdeen and Inverness routes, going direct.

Very tempted by that, for both cities, but Aberdeen has been interesting me after seeing it on Frankie Boyle’s Tour Of Scotland and Susan Calman’s Secret Scotland, and it has some decent Street Art.

However, my next football trip will be a short train journey across Belfast to The Oval in just under two weeks time.

Hopefully by then, Linfield will have a further three points in the bag.

Photo Album

BLOSSOMS – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 3.3.2020

Death, Taxes and Blossoms at The Limelight.

Even before the release of their debut album, Blossoms usually pop by Ormeau Avenue once a year. Well, apart from 2019. They were determined to make up for this.

However, their first trip to Belfast, and my first time seeing them, was at the more swankier surroundings of Waterfront Hall, supporting Paul Weller in 2015.

I was excited by this, as i’d already heard of them, knowing them as the band that do the song Charlemagne that I love, which ended up being voted The Song Of 2015.

They’ve done a lot of support slots in their career – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, The Charlatans and The Kooks have all had them as guests, sadly not at any concerts I’ve seen them that.

Surprising perhaps, for a band who have seen two of their three albums hit Number 1. The middle one “only” reached Number 4.

This would be a hits set, except their singles don’t really chart that high. They have radio hits, you know more songs of theirs than you realise, as noted during a recent interview with the BBC.

Despite their album success and radio hits, Blossoms are regulars at The Limelight. You’d expect them to be playing bigger venues.

There first visit here was in 2016, six months before the release of their debut album. I wasn’t at that. A concert that saw the venue upgraded from Voodoo to The Limelight, but a night looked back on with tragedy, as their support band that night, Viola Beach, died in a motor accident on tour the following weekend.

I was there in 2017 at The Limelight, just over six months after the release of that debut album.

They returned a few months later, as support to Kasabian, and I was there. There for Kasabian, but Blossoms was a nice bonus.

When I say supporting Kasabian, that was the plan. However, having warmed the crowd up, they would then be left cold as a bout of sickness saw Kasabian cancel their performance.

2018 saw another return to The Limelight. However, I would not be there, as I was in Manchester, watching United labour to a 1-0 win over Young Boys Berne.

So, 2020, a brief Irish tour announced, with The Limelight once again on the list

There was a surreal moment for me making my way to the venue. Walking along, minding my own business, somebody stops me to ask me to take a photo of them.

It was a group of fellas posing in the middle of the road, nothing usual there, but the Steve McManaman lookalike in the middle looked familiar. It was none other than Tom Ogden, lead singer of Blossoms.

I took the photos, and we all just walked to the venue.

Support came from The Lathums, who were decent.

Tom Ogden commented on how glad he was to be in “Beautiful Belfast”. I’m not sure where in Belfast he has visited.

Previous concerts have seen them dedicate a song to a member of the audience who had recently been dumped. That didn’t happen this time.

Three albums in, and they have a lot of hits behind them, all of which got played, songs like Your Girlfriend, There’s A Reason Why, I Can’t Stand It, Blown Rose, Honey Sweet and At Most A Kiss, as well as sneaking in covers of You’re Gorgeous and Half A World Away.

When doing an instrumental break after At Most A Kiss, the person in front of me turned around and shouted “CHARLEMAGNE!!” at me.

Of course, that was coming up next, the band signing off with their debut single, sending the fans home happy.

Talking of Paul Weller, who introduced them to Belfast, he’ll be coming back to Belfast in October for a concert at Ulster Hall. I’ve already got a ticket for that.

Having seen them (Well, one third of them) in HMV, Ash have announced a concert for The Limelight for a concert in May. Yep, already got a ticket for that.

Ian Brown is heading to Waterfront Hall in May. No ticket yet, undecided. I do enjoy some of his solo stuff.

Also coming to Belfast in Genesis. Love a lot of their big hits but waiting to decide wether to go. I saw the announcement video on Radio 2’s social media feeds and Phil Collins sounds as though his voice is fucked.

Also announced, is KT Tunstall for North Berwick for Fringe By The Sea in August. I might make this my weekend to go to Edinburgh. It would make up on missing out on her when she played North Berwick when I was in Edinburgh in 2017.

A lot to look forward to.

Photo Album

Blossoms live at Custom House Square 2017

Blossoms live at The Limelight 2017

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 2.3.2002

The World Cup is not far off, and the race is on to be leading the line for England in the Far East. Michael Owen is guaranteed to go, but the race is on to partner him.

Match does a feature on current Premier League managers who have been cover stars in Match during their playing days.

Match assesses England’s striking options and their chances of going to the World Cup, and it’s good news for Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Teddy Sheringham and Emile Heskey.

Match has a weekly series called The Men For Sven, profiling England’s squad players. This week’s subject is Gareth Southgate.

Staying with World Cup previews, there is a profile of Group C teams Costa Rica and China.

One of the strikers profiled earlier, Emile Heskey, gets a three page profile.

Hot players profiled by Match include Patrick Suffo, Marco Di Vaio and Maurice Ross.

In Spain, Barcelona striker Patrick Kluivert reveals that he wants to one day play in England.

In letters, Ross Bissell from Dundee predicts that Scotland will do well at Euro 2004 under newly appointed manager Berti Vogts.