IT’S A SHAM

It’s been hard not to notice this phenomenon in the Student/Lisburn Road areas of Belfast over the past week, as “IT’S A SHAM” has been stencilled into various walls in green.

Meanwhile, I managed to get some other Graffiti photos on my wee tour around Belfast today.

This one, appears on the bridge as you walk into Windsor Park via the Lisburn Road. Maybe i’m a bit naive, but i’d like to think that there would be some graffiti artists code of conduct regarding painting over other artists work.

Sadly, the bridge has declined aesthetically over the years as local yoofs think their own artwork is worthy of being painted over artistic interpretations of Northern Ireland’s footballing folklore moments.

Apologies for the poor photo, I took it on my phone about 6 years ago. It should be Gerry Armstrong’s winning goal against Spain in the 1982 World Cup.

Found this, on my way home through the Holylands, which has recently just been put up.

Eglantine Avenue proved to be the most productive in terms of graffiti spotting.

Very striking colourwise, but I don’t have a clue what it all means. Enjoy

SEE ALSO

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PAUL SIMON – MARKETING GENIUS?

2010 has been a good year already for Paul Simon as he (and Art Garfunkel) enjoyed a surprise return to the charts as “Mrs Robinson” enjoyed an upsurge in sales in the aftermath of Iris Robinson’s recent erractic behaviour and various parodies on Youtube and Facebook campaigns.

Meanwhile, today, it emerged that a “Superinjunction” taken out by Jiohn Terry to stop newspapers printing a story that he had an affair with the partner of a team-mate.

I’m saying nothing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if “Bridge Over Troubled Water” was number one next Sunday.

Maybe these scandals are all part of a genius marketing campaign by Paul Simon’s record label, as a way of using novelty campaigns to get songs with titles that are topical references in the charts.

Now, who is going to get involved in a scandal with Julio down in the schoolyard?

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Nerina Pallot has announced dates for Belfast and Dublin in May. Should I go to this and have it as my STLFTEM for May?

If so, which one should I go to?

Or, should I hold tight in case better concerts are announced for May and go to them instead?

Or shall I put my eggs on the basket of Linfield getting to the Irish Cup final?

Or, shall I hope that I win the competition on ITV which would see me get a trip to the UEFA, European and FA Cup Finals?

When I dreamt up this STLFTEM lark, I thought it was going to make things better, not cause a lot of stress trying to organise it. Thank goodness i’ve got February, March and April sorted.

BLOG UPDATE

Bebo blog time, Tunes and Football as ever, and this is what is instore this week.

A big shout out to John Hartson.
A wonder how Gareth Southgate’s studies are going along.
A rant at incompetent Irish League refereeing ……. again
Some helpful goalkeeping advice for Mr David Jeffrey.
The (late) Boxing Day post-mortem
A cheap laugh at Manchester City
Disbelief at the procedural process of Irish League administration

Enjoy

SO, WHAT NOW FOR THE SPECIAL IN HIS OWN MIND ONE?

I hate draws on derby day. It’s that numbing middling feeling. It’s not the despair of defeat, or the ecstacy of victory, nowhere in the middle. We didn’t lose, but we didn’t win.

No doubt the headline writers are feeling the same. The ‘JEFFREY SAFE’ and ‘JEFFREY A GONER’ headlines scrapped for um……?

Credit where it’s due for the second-half performance tonight, but, it should never have got to that situation.

Performances like that are a basic expectation, not a response to a backs against the wall situation.

Whatever he said at half-time, he should say it again at 2.55pm on Saturday, and every other Saturday (and a few midweeks) from now until May.

However, it doesn’t, and should not gloss over the ineptitude of the first-half perfomance. Outfought, outplayed and second to every ball. What made it worse was the fact that nobody seemed bothered about it.

A Glentoran player started ripping the piss whilst waiting to take a corner, doing fancy flicks and keepie-ups, and nobody seemed wound up about it.

The home crowed cheered and ole’d a succession of passes, and not one player felt wound up about to take the game by the scruff of the neck, just like in other recent matches, most notably against Cliftonville.

In park football, if the opposition ripped the piss like that, the opposition wouldn’t stand for that, they’d get stuck in and do something about it. The reaction from Linfield players – nothing.

Sadly, there were people hiding off the pitch as well, as David Jeffrey, was nowhere to be seen, slouched in his dugout, resigned to it all.

That’s what makes the second-half performance all the more frustrating, that it takes something like a shocking first-half display to inspire action which should be there from the start.

No doubt the inevitable quotes in the build-up to the visit of Newry will be of using The Oval game as a springboard and a stepping stone to lift the title.

It should be remembered, that we should be ready to go from the start, not stumbling along before realising the severity of the situation half-way through, very much like tonight’s performance.

I’ve already made my opinions on David Jeffrey’s position before. I think a parting of the ways is inevitable, and when it does happen i’ll be glad, because it’s the right decision.

But, i’ll also be sad about it, because it’s the right decision. There’s no doubt that history will be kind to David Jeffrey. The primary concern for Linfield is not what historians will write in 20/30/40 years time, but who will grab the trophy winning headlines in May.

Sadly, I can’t see Linfield winning the league under David Jeffrey this season. Saying that, I will be more than happy to be proved wrong in May. I don’t buy into this “Hope we lose to get rid of him” lark, so it’s a Chicken/Egg situation.

If he does, he’ll get credit from me where it’s due, just like I mentioned about how vast improvement in the second-half performance, just like when he deservedly won the manager of the month award for October.

But credit has to be earnt, and not a given on past glories.

Managers live and die by their signings. All managers make good signings and bad signings.

The trick, is to make more good singings than bad signings, and make sure the successes are more spectacular than the failures.

Sadly, the last eighteen months have been the reverse.

The second-half performance no doubt got a lot of people out of jail. There are only so many times you can get away with it.

There’s two ways the season can go. The positive aspects of tonight can be used as a springboard to rectofy and unbelievably still retrievable situation, or it can be another false dawn in a season of false dawns.

Over to you Mr Jeffrey.

SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO EVERY MONTH …… ANOTHER UPDATE

The problem with this STLFTEM lark, is that you get excited about so many things which seem so far away.

As I have another two working weeks until I head to Manchester, it is my other trip to the North of England in April which I am currently planning towards.

Today, I received my Ticket for the James concert in Sheffield. This was a pleasant surprise as it took Ticketmaster 4 days to give me an e-mail confirmation, I didn’t think it would only be 4 more days until I actually received it, bearing in mind I had to wait two and a half months to get my Kelly Clarkson ticket from Live Nation.

Maybe it is the geek in me coming out, but I absoultely love the fact that it is a branded ticket from the venue itself rather than a bland generic Ticketmaster ticket.

I don’t know why, and there is no real viable business case for promoters to do it, but I love individual tickets unique to events/venues. I suppose it makes it stand out in your collection.

For Irish League matches that are ticketed, the stubs are just fucking awful generic efforts where each club uses the same printer.

It would be good if Linfield could have a collage of images of current players, classic moments or club legends on their tickets, but in reality, I guess it’s too much of a cost for a niche market.

Anyway, I was browsing on the HMV Tickets website, and noticed Sean Lock was playing in Manchester the weekend i’m there in April.

I popped into the Belfast branch to purchase one, which turned out to be a bit of a trauma.

Despite the fact that they advertise their ticketing booth on the second floor, you do get a look of bewilderment from the staff when you look to purchase something, as I managed to hold up the queue and become the sort of customer I hate.

Thankfully, the manager opened the manual for their ticketing system and got me my ticket, which makes me a very happy bunny.

So, the April trip (after having the previous week off for Easter) is looking like this.

Thursday

Fly into Liverpool, train to Sheffield, check-in hotel, spend the day in Sheffield, off to James concert

Friday

Check-out, train to Manchester, check-in hotel, day in Manchester.

Saturday

Hopefully, off to Ewood Park to see United play Blackburn

Sunday

Sean Lock. Though, if the United match is moved, it will be a busy day. If it’s a 4pm kick-off, things will be fun trying to dash from Blackburn to Lowry Theatre.

Monday

Day in Liverpool, fly home that night.

Tuesday

Back to work. Cry. Look forward to May’s STLFTEM. With it being the midweek after the Irish Cup Semi-Finals, hopefully, the Irish Cup Final will be my STLFTEM for May.

WORK IN PROGRESS ……

Was out today getting some photographs, and as promised, got one of the mural in progress in Sandy Row.

As you can obviously see, it’s a football themed mural. When I originally saw it, it was just Grant McCann, which led me to think that it was dedicated to local footballers, but the presence of Warren Feeney seems to have skewed that theory, as he comes from East Belfast (But he’s OK, he supports Linfield, like the majority of East Belfast residents)

I genuinely can’t wait to see what it looks like when it is finished. When it is, it’ll be posted up here.

Meanwhile, got some other graffiti today, including this one, complaining that a road sign should in fact be a tree.

Unfortunately, one of my favourite pieces of graffiti is now no more.

There’s enough wall space in Belfast for crying out loud.

Some other graffiti spotted includes this, this and this.

TODAY’S CAMERA ADVENTURE

Was out today getting some photos with mixed results.

This is me being in an arty farty mood in the Ormeau Park

From there, I headed on to the car park of Bike Dock on the Ravenhill Road, and got some random graffiti

At the other end, I got some flowers

Be warned, outside of it there is a bomb.

If you’ve ever wondered if the Ravenhill Road is in South or East Belfast?

Well, this should settle it once and for all.

Anyone who has been in Sandy Row recently will have noticed one of the walls has looked different lately.

There is currently a football themed mural in progress. It is currently Grant McCann and another Northern Ireland player, who I think is Warren Feeney.

I’ll try to get a photo up tomorrow, and then the final outcome when it is completed.

On what i’ve seen so far, it looks very impressive.

THE DELIVERY OF BAD NEWS

You would think over the last couple of weeks, we’d be used to news of postponed matches in the Irish League.

But it’s not the news that is upsetting people, it’s the way it’s delivered.

Last Wednesday saw the postponement of the County Antrim Shield Final, until a quick thinking person at the County Antrim FA decided that it should be moved to an alternative venue.

That sounds fair enough, you say, but at an afternoon’s notice? seriously? And on a working day.

It’s not inconceivable that a supporter planning to attend this match could have been travelling to The Oval straight from work, or possbily going home to have something to eat and heading straight to the ground.

I’m glad that the match got moved to another venue and got played, though not with the result obviously, but it was the sheer farcical nature that we wouldn’t find up until Wednesday lunchtime of the venue location that has turned the competition organisation into a farce.

There have been occassions in GAA where venues have been moved at a day’s notice because the pitch isn’t fit for use, why did the County Antrim FA not do likewise?

By announcing it on Tuesday, they would have had 24 hours in which to communicate the news.

By targeting the late night news, electronic media and early morning papers, the message of the change of venue can be communicated effectively to their target audience.

It’s not as if Linfield and Crusaders fans are being inconvenienced, as they are two Belfast clubs, who are travelling to an alternative Belfast venue.

So what then, of those people who would work in an environment where there is no internet access or local media consumption.

These people could potentially to the wrong ground to watch a football match.

If the County Antrim FA had planned to move venues in the event of The Oval not passing a pitch inspection, then arrangements and confirmation should have been made on Tuesday, not Wednesday lunchtime.

It’s not the bad news which annoys people, it’s the way it’s delivered.

Another example of that came today when the match bewtween Institute and Linfield was postponed at 1.50pm, 70 minutes before the 3pm kick-off, as many Linfield fans were well on their way to Derry from Belfast.

This, despite the pitch passing a pitch inspection earlier this morning by a local referee brought in to inspect the pitch.

So, why was this situation allowed to happen?

Why did the designated match referee Raymond Crangle not arrive at the stadium at an acceptable time to make a decision for himself, rather than letting someone else make it, only for him to over-rule it?

Will the IFA hold an inquiry into it, as to why visiting fans (and a visiting team) have been inconvenienced in this way?

I’m cynical, that they’ll do nothing, because Irish League referees don’t seem to have any accountability whatsoever, which is a dangerous situation to have.

I’m not having a go at Institute, as they’ve no doubt made every possible effort to get the game on, and their players and fans have been inconvenienced as well.

The postponement is disappointing, but it’s the sheer lack of courtesy that is even more disappointing.

At a time when the Irish League can’t afford to lose any fans, do those in charge really believe this is the proper way to treat their clientele.

It’s just basic customer service, complimented with an effective communication strategy.

Football is unique in relation to other industries in that they already have brand loyalty built in.

But loyalty can only go so far. If people get messed around, they won’t bother to go any more.

And like with all PR own goals involving local football, it always seems to be a short-sighted approach of those in charge which is to blame.

BLOG UPDATE

This week, as usual, I start with the tunes of the week, and then :

Cast doubt on the future of the Setanta Cup
Tells United to pull the finger out
Despairs over ticket arrangements in the Irish League
Gives his view on the Newry v Larne flare-up
And gives a County Antrim Shield post-mortem

Enjoy