MANCHESTER UNITED 2-0 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 30.10.2010

Was at Old Trafford yesterday for United’s match against Spurs, my second trip of the season to Old Trafford.

17 years after my first trip, amazingly, it was the first time i’d ever seen United play Spurs, having seen a wide range of opponents line up at Old Trafford.

I’d always seemed destined to miss Spurs. In the 96/97 season, I had a choice of early season fixtures, Blackburn or Spurs. Spurs was the obvious one, but the Blackburn game meant that I would get to meet Eric Cantona. Game Over, my mind was made up, it was Blackburn (and an audience with Eric the King) I was going to see.

In 98/99, Spurs was the last game of the season. I was set to go, until I got my GCSE schedule, which meant I couldn;t go, and had to go to the Aston Villa game two weeks earlier.

In 07/08, another trip to see Spurs fell through due to a lack of numbers on the coach (Though I did get another match) it seemed as though I was destined never to see tham take on United at Old Trafford.

My seats were similar to the ones I had against Liverpool, presenting a great opportunity for photos when United were attacking the Stretford End.

The kick-off caught me out, as I messed up some photos when the sun went down and I was still in day mode.

Frustratingly, i’d spent some time pre-match at Salford Quays, and would have had a great position for a photo of Old Trafford at sunset, only the sunset was crap and not worth photographing.

United won the game 2-0 with the second goal by Nani prompting much mockrage in the media. Was very surreal to witness, especially as I was shouting at him to put it in as there was no whistle.

It looks likely that this will be my last trip to Old Trafford until the final game of the season, against Blackpool on May 22nd.

Hopefully, with United’s season now hopefully kickstarted, there may be a “United 19-18 Liverpool” photo special on May 23rd.

 

 

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PICADILLY GARDENS

Was in Manchester yesterday for United’s match against Spurs.

With the match being a 5.30pm kick-off, I decided to take advantage of this and head into the city centre for a bit of shopping/browsing.

Ventured past Picadilly Gardens to get some photos of the fountain which was very photo friendly on a clear and bright day.

Managed to get some photos of the fountain from different angles, experimenting and using fellow city centre shoppers to plot my composition.

Enjoy

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WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MAKES ….

After revelling in some Autumn sunshine yesterday in Botanic Gardens, I managed to grab some quick time to take a few photos udring my commute to work.

Fallen leaves and frost on the grass made for some brilliant settings, and I was sorely tempted to come into work later than usual to take advantage of it.

Whilst it may be beautiful on the eye, sadly, it means that Winter is edgin ever nearer.

Brrr!!!!!!

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TEENAGE DREAMS, SO HARD TO BEAT …..

Saw today it was mentioned that today marks the 6th anniversary of the death of DJ, Writer and Author John Peel from a heart attack in Peru at the age of 65.

I remember that day I was in BIFHE (Despite it being half-term, I was a very dedicated student) and came home, flicked on Ceefax to see it was the top headline story and was in a state of shock.

I’d always imagined that John Peel would live well into his 90s and die live on air, but summoning enough strength to put on ‘Teenage Kicks’ before signing off just before the fatal moment.

It was well known that the song ‘Teenage Kicks’ by Northern Ireland band The Undertones was his favourite song.

This fact is referenced in a tribute mural painted in Belfast soon afterwards, and still there to this day, which simply reads “TEENAGE DREAMS, SO HARD TO BEAT”

The mural is in East Belfast, at a bridge just as you would be walking towards the Short Strand area.

It also reminded me of a paint tribute to another music figure, Tony Wilson, after his death three years ago, simply reading “TONY WILSON RIP UP THE PUNX”

Unfortunately, that was cleared by the council within a day. Thankfully, Belfast’s tribute to John Peel remains.

JUST THE TICKET?

Irish League fans, and Linfield fans especially, are going to have to get used to the idea and concept of ticketed matches due to new Health and Safety regulations on ground capacity, with Linfield’s upcoming trips to Portadown and Crusaders being the first games to have this arrangement.

Firstly, credit must go to Linfield for working with the host clubs and relevent authorities to make sure that the tickets have been released to sell to Linfield fans, especially with the lack of home matches at Windsor Park in the coming weeks.

The Portadown game had two matchdays, three working weeks and importantly, three Saturday mornings for people to buy tickets.

Previous arrangements had left supporters with a lot less time for people in which to purchase, often having to go to the ground outside of a matchday.

This ticketing issue is a challenge which has to be met head on, with Linfield having to offer more purchasing avenues for supporters and to continue to ensure that host clubs release tickets for away games that give supporters ample time to purchase tickets.

My own personal gripe about ticketing arrangements is that the club shop only operates during the week between 9am and 5pm.

For me, this offers me no opportunity to buy tickets during the week, and I have to wait until the weekend to buy tickets.

I get the feeling i’m not the only one in this situation.

Now i’m not suggesting that the club shop opening hours should be changed to work around my working hours, but if it was feasible, it should be considered for a trial basis to change the opening hours to either 9.30am to 5.30pm or 10am to 6pm, to enable Belfast based supporters to get tickets after work.

Now, having watched Linfield for 16 years, I am aware that Linfield supporters do enjoy complaining, and that people would probably find something to complain about if they tickets were hand delivered to them personally by David Jeffrey.

However, an E-Commerce strategy must be put in place to enable supporters from outside Belfast, or even outside Northern Ireland should there be enough tickets available, to purchase online from the comfort of their PC.

This E-Commerce strategy would would need to complimented with an Communication strategy to match.

This involves ensuring ticket information is released to supporters regularly across varying forms.

It would be worth looking at how clubs on the mainland do this. The first, and most obvious, is to have a page in the club programme dedicated to ticketing, detailing when they are for sale, how much for, and how they can be purchased.

Even if there are matches where no ticket is required, this can be included in it just to say so.

Likewise, the creation of an e-newsletter and a dedicated section of the club website should also be looked at.

Only the visit of Glentoran is most likely to be a ticketed home game, and the demolition of the ticket office at the Railway Stand presents a problem for the club.

If it was feasible to hire a kiosk to be place outside the ground before kick-off, then it should be looked at.

Arrangements in the Irish League are that the host club gets 100% of the gate money, you may ask why Linfield should be going to the effort of helping people buy tickets that Linfield won’t see any money from?

As much as I hate referring to Irish League fans as “customers” it is important to remember that though they may be putting money through the turnstile of some clubs 2-3 times a season, Linfield need them to put money through their turnstiles 19-25 times a season, and they need to be kept ‘Onside’

At the moment, this regulation is a threat to the Irish League. Good business sense can turn this into an opportunity to develop a closer relationship with fans.

This week, it was interesting to note the League Of Ireland is currently in the process of moving back to a Winter season.

Hopefully, this news, and the reasons listed (Clashes with summer events and holidays) will see an end to the pointless debates about introducing Summer Football into the Irish League.

The different operating months of the Irish League and League Of Ireland has been the major stumbling block in making the Setanta Cup a major part of the local football season.

This season’s fixture list was announced, and two of the rounds take place in the immediate aftermath of Irish Cup weekends.

Heaven forbid, there should be any Irish Cup replays or a backlog of postponed league fixtures.

I predict an almighty mess. You read it here first.

NEWRY CITY 1-1 LINFIELD 23.10.2010

Was at Newry yesterday for the CIS Cup tie between Newry City and Linfield.

If it wasn’t for the fact that i’ll miss next week’s trip to Ballymena due to being at Old Trafford and being unlikely to make the trip to Portadown the following week, I probably would have given this game a miss in all honesty.

The trip was worthwhile at about 3.20pm when Michael Gault scored a wonderful volley to put Linfield into the lead.

Unfortunately, Newry equalised before half-time and eventually won the tie when it went to a penalty shoot-out.

To make matters worse, my camera ran out of battery just before the shoot-out, with me in a prime photography position.

Newry is an amateur photography friendly ground and I managed to get some shots. Not great, but OK.

Enjoy


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GILPINS

Got tipped-off regarding some new graffiti on Sandy Row which has appeared over the weekend, on the shutters of the abandoned Gilpins factory in Sandy Row.

I headed over after work, taking advantage of the fact it was still daylight and the surprising lull in traffic to get some photos.

The artwork looks impressive. The blurry “effects” in the photos are purely coincidental, I couldn’t do that if I tried.

Enjoy.

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MEDIAWATCH : THE BBCNI ‘REVERSE NEWS SANDWICH’

The term “news sandwich” came to prominence in 2009 when Gordon Brown’s temper tantrums at his staff became part of the news agenda.

Basically, it is a technique to deliver bad news, where an aide would tell him good news, moving on to the bad news, before finishing with another good news story.

The aim, is to soften the blow of the bad news, and to have it outweighed by good news, so as not to damage morale in the workplace.

Maybe it’s me, or it’s purely coincidental, but there seems to have been a few examples of this regarding Irish League coverage on Newsline, only it’s a “Reverse news sandwich”, where it seems good or neutral stories have to be balanced with a bad or negative story.

When Cliftonville eliminated Cibalia from the UEFA Cup this summer, the BBC’s coverage (Having previously ignored Northern Ireland sides in Europe to that point) focused not on the result, but on the logistical difficulties of Cliftonville getting to their next round tie.

Granted there were difficulties involved, but the club made an itinerary to get to Croatia and back, which ran perfectly.

When the draw was made, it was a “Double draw” where the winners knew who they would play in the next round, where and when.

It’s not as if Cliftonville suddenly had a trip to Bulgaria thrust upon them, they knew there was a possibility it could happen if they won.

Put simply, it seemed bizarre that the focus should be so much on the logistical difficulties face by the club, rather than the fact they won the tie.

To use another sporting analogy, you wouldn’t cover a GAA team winning at Croke Park, and focus the report on traffic james getting home.

“It was horrible so it was, we were stuck in Dundalk so we were, there were tailbacks everywhere”

The Raymond Kennedy will he/won’t he scenario has also provided the BBC with some news currency over the past few months, with the story conveniently breaking one day before the start of the new Irish League season.

And thus, the news agenda was dominated by how “Football was ruining it for the rest of us” like student who gets the whole class put into detention, with Nelson McCausland cast in the role of angry teacher.

The press launch and generic vox pops from Irish League players, “Well Jackie, i’m looking forward to the new season …… blah blah blah” were left to feed on scraps of the sports bulletin.

More updates, usually along the lines of “The update is ……. nothing is happening” just happened to appear after a midweek fixture list where Linfield cut the gap on Glentoran, setting it up nicely for the next league round which featured the two playing each other.

That day, also saw the CIS Cup 3rd Round draw, which was lost in the news agenda, amidst the fact that nothing was happening regarding Raymond Kennedy.

Even the launch of the Carling Nations Cup descended into the Raymond Kennedy Show.

Tonight, football was leading the news agenda with Kennedy finally leaving.

Last night saw a re-arranged Irish League game take place, with Linfield beating Crusaders 8-1.

The report, led on comments made by Linfield manager David Jeffrey “Hitting out” at critics of his team, most notably concerning resouces available to him.

Now, I have praised and criticised Jeffrey in equal measure, and will happily admit that he has a liability for putting his mouth in it during interviews, but it does seem bizarre for him to make such comments after such a win.

Perhaps, he was asked a question and answered, rather than walking into the post-match interview with an agenda to speak of.

Instead of a report of a team playing well and winning a match, we hear a negative story about how the Irish League is imbalanced and uncompetitive.

This was Linfield’s biggest win in 4 years (Against a team who got relegated that season) and the fact that this weekend was the first time Linfield went top of the league and most importantly, if Cliftonville win their game in hand, they will only be 3 points off the top.

Perhaps, the Irish League isn’t that uncompetitive after all, but let’s not say that, it’s not a good story.

Maybe it’s just me, or it’s puely coincidental, but I await with interest, the latest bite on the “Irish League Reverse News Sandwich”