The latest segment in the “Magazine Archive” series takes us back to a time when Ibrahim Ba was the future of French football and Glenavon fans were unhappy, because their team “only” won the Irish Cup. It was a strange world in August 1997.

That month’s edition of World Soccer had Ibrahim Ba as it’s cover star. Back then, Ba was the biggest rising star in French football tipped for a move to a major European side and to be one of the leadcing lights of the following year’s World Cup, which was to be held in France.

Also on the cover was Marc Overmars, who had recently signed for Arsenal, to highlight a feature on football’s biggest transfers that summer. Other headlines on the front cover include reviews of the World Youth Cup and Copa America.

Editor Keir Radnedge takes a look at the new-look Champions League, which now featured 2nd placed teams from selected countries, pointing out that of the clubs benefitting, only Barcelona and Parma had a realistic chance of winning the trophy. Both teams were eliminated in the group stage.

The following season, however, both finalists qualified for the competition by being 2nd in their league the previous season.

A round-up of the qualification for France 98 so far is featured in the magazine, taking a look at the hosts France and their preparation, which included Le Tournoi, a 4 team group competition featuring England, Brazil and Italy, which was won by England.

When looking at old reviews of youth events, it’s always fun looking at the line-ups to see who made it as a professional footballer in adult life. The team line-ups for the 1997 World Youth Cup includes Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso, Jamie Carragher, Michael Owen, Thierry Henry, and Trevor Molloy.

There is a picture of Cambiasso celebrating a goal wearing Argentina’s away kit, in a similar pose to when he scored his iconic goal against Serbia in the 2006 World Cup.

In the round-up from various countries, cover star Ibrahim Ba gets a full page dedicated to him.

Not long afterwards, he signed for AC Milan before suffering a dip in form which saw left left out of France’s squad for the 1998 World Cup.

Ba is probably best known to UK fans for a brief spell with Bolton Wanderers during the 2003-2004 season.

The four countries of the UK get a double page spread with the England piece looking at England’s Le Tournoi success and a look at the new signings in English football, with the accompanying picture being of Teddy Sheringham, signed to replace Eric Cantona at Manchester United.

In manager news, Southampton were unable (and some could say had a lucky escape) to persuade David Platt to be their player-manager, while Everton were rejected by Bobby Robson, and Andy Gray, who couldn’t be persuaded to leave Sky.

The offer of managing Everton couldn’t get him to leave Sky, but off-mic comments about a female official did, although not on his accord.

In Northern Ireland, the lack of signings at Linfield, Glentoran, Glenavon and Portadown grabbed the headlines, as these clubs had endured disappointing 1996-1997 seasons by their standards.

Ironically, it was a signing during the season which grabbed the headlines, as Glenn Ferguson moved from Glenavon to Linfield for an (still standing to this day) Irish League record of £55,000

Choice quote from the article “Even though top scorer Garry Haylock is at Portadown, one wonders if his club’s supporters rate him worth the £1,000 a week he is reputedly paid” – Though Haylock no doubt rates himself worth it ………. and then some more.

“Brian Glanville’s Last Word” focuses on the TV commentary debut of Jonathan Pearce, who had covered the World Cup Qualifier between Poland and England for newly formed terrestrial channel, Channel Five, and had suffered negative criticism for his performance, though Glanville’s article was very supportive of him.

Pearce eventually got a big move to the BBC, although, it was to commentate on Robot Wars, before eventually joining Match Of The Day.

Glanville also remarked that Paul Gascoigne wasn’t good enough to play international football anymore, and that Paul Scholes should now be the centrepiece of the England team.

This proved to be prophetic, as just under a year later, Gascoigne was left out of England’s World Cup squad, while Scholes was included, scoring the decisive 2nd goal in the 2-0 opening match win against Tunisia.


Just in case you were wondering, got a wee update regarding STLFTEM.

January’s has been and gone, but it was a bit of a cheat, as it was the Linfield v Glentoran game postponed from December.

But, it’s my lifestyle ethos, my rules, and after looking for it, I very much enjoyed the 2-1 win.

February’s STLFTEM will be my upcoming trip to Barcelona, hopefully being able to take in Barcelona’s match against Athletico Madrid.

The same weekend last year, I headed over to Manchester for a short break, so i’m considering making an early February break an annual tradition.

April’s STLFTEM was sorted today when I got tickets to see Beady Eye at Ulster Hall.

For those who don’t know, Beady Eye are Oasis, but without Noel Gallagher.

Having been sceptical, the clips i’ve heard are rather good and I can’t wait for both the album release and concert.

May has a double whammy of STLFTEM, by going to Dublin for the UEFA Cup Final (Haven’t got tickets but will be in the city that day) and going to United’s last home match of the season, against Blackpool.

Now, all I need to do is find something to look forward to during March.


Was at the Oh Yeah Centre tonight for the launch of a new charity EP by Duke Special, of covers of songs by Belfast born singer Ruby Murray.

Duke Special had become interested in Ruby Murray when filming a documentary on her for RTE, and recorded this EP to raise money for Depaul Ireland.

Ruby Murray was a major star in the 1950s, who died in 1996 aged only 61. She is commemorated in her home city with a blue plaque outside the Ulster Hall and a mosaic mural in her home neighbourhood of Donegall Road.

Duke Special only played five songs, interlinking it with clips from the documentary he recorded but it was an enjoyable evening with Duke on form.

Working on this concept, he will be performing this album in Dublin next Wednesday with the RTE Concert Orchestra.

The album can be found on Depaul’s website, and is well worth a purchase, as it is an enjoyable listen.

Photo Album


By attending Linfield’s match at Solitude last night, it now meant that I had visited all the grounds of the clubs in the top flight of the Irish League.

Obviously, there are people who will have ‘achieved’ this feat before me, but it’s still a nice wee milestone.

Of course, i’ll have had my camera with me to these grounds, with varying results.

Ballymena Showgrounds – Ballymena United

Not great for amateur photography for away fans. The home stand looks as though it could be handy for amateur photography.

Minus points though for no stands behind the goal, meaning all photos are going to be side on.

Managed to get some good photos when I visited in March 2009, especially one of David Jeffrey barking out instructions on the touchline.

Haven’t had a chance to attaned a match in their new stand ofr away fans, so hopefully that will make it a more pleasurable excperiance for amateur photography.

Solitude – Cliftonville

Was there for the first time yesterday, and is absolutely horrible for amateur photography as an away fan, hence why the best I could get was pre-match portrait shots.

However, for home fans, it looks like you could get some good photos.

Coleraine Showgrounds – Coleraine

A long and enjoyable away trip, especially if you win, and also a fan friendly ground for photography.

Seaview – Crusaders

Nice and local, and always full when Linfield visit, Seaview is a great ground for getting amatuer photography.

Bonus points also for freedom of movement meaning you can stand behind whichever end your team is attacking.

Suffolk Road – Donegal Celtic

Like Ballymena, minus points for no access behind the goals.

The only time i’ve been there, Linfield didn’t create anything of note, meaning I was unable to find out if it was good for action photography.

Stangmore Park – Dungannon Swifts

Very much like Seaview, easy access to the heart of the action and no segregation.

Always manage to get some decent photos when here.

Mourneview Park – Glenavon

Absolutely love travelling to Mourneview. Easy to get to, and close to the pitch, making some excellent photos.

Managed to get free tickets for the 2009 CIS Cup Final and went snap happy. A full album can be found here.

The Oval – Glentoran

Always enjoy leaving here after a Linfield victory, be it a cup semi-final or a match against Glentoran.

Not that great for photos when a full crowd, but very good when the crowd is smaller.

Windsor Park – Linfield

Not that great at domestic games, excellent for internationals, as you can get closer access to the pitch.

It is good for portrait shots, be it from the Kop or South Stands, or from the Viewing Lounge.

Ballyskeagh – Lisburn Distillery

Horrible ground, that is officially impossible to get a good photo in.

Newry Showgrounds – Newry City

The new stand in recent years has improved the photographicability of this ground, especially when your team are attacking that end.

Shamrock Park – Portadown

Always enjoyable visiting here. Usually guaranteed an excellent view and photographing opportunity.


Apologies for the delay in posting this blog, broadband problems meant I was unable to upload the photos for this blog until today.

Was at Solitude yesterday for the first ever time to see Linfield take on Cliftonville, in a rather eventful afternoon which saw Linfield win 4-2.

Having went through the joy of waiting endlessly at Ballysillan Leisure Centre, I eventually arrived at Solitude, and the stadium wasn’t really any surprise to me, based on what i’d seen on TV.

For shame, North Belfast might as well be North Korea to me, considering how very little I venture into the North of my home city.

As a result of yesterday, I have now been to the ground of all 12 clubs in the Irish Premier League (A blog on that will appear later)

It’s not a competition, if it was, i’m sure there’d be a lot of people who can claim to have achieved this feat long before me, but still, it’s a nice milestone.

The match itself was an end to end affair, with Linfield going in front early through Peter Thompson, before a crazy five minute period saw Cliftonville go 2-1 up before Philip Lowry equalised.

The second-half began, or rather didn’t begin, in farcical circumstances as fog covered the stadium, resulting in the serious possibility of an abandonment.

Thankfully, it wasn’t abandoned, and goals from Marcus Kane and Peter Thompson gave Linfield a 4-2 win.

Unfortunately, Solitude is a shit ground if you’re an away fan with an interest in amateur photography, but I did get some good portrait shots pre-match.

Photo Album


Last week, my MP3 player began to start playing up, and as a result, i’ve had to spend my daily commute to work and evening jog listening to the joys of Digital Radio.

After sifting through the crap, i’ve actually managed to come across some new songs that i’m just loving at the moment that are worth checking out over the forthcoming twelve months.

The first song is ‘Stop Hey’ by Sunday Girl, combining synth riffs (A slight reference to ‘All The Things She Said‘ by Tatu) and a hypnotic drumbeat to bring this soon to be Electro Pop classic.

When in Edinburgh over the summer, it was hard to escape the posters for Pearl and the Puppets, AKA Scottish singer Katie Sutherland.

After reading some reviews upon my return home, I checked her out on Myspace and Youtube, and fell in love with ‘Because I Do’, as will anyone who loves to lie back and drift into a song.

If you love this song, check out ‘Neapolitan Dreams‘ by Lisa Mitchell.

The next song i’m loving at the moment will be no surprise to anybody, ‘The Roller’, the new single by Beady Eye, AKA, Oasis without Noel Gallagher.

Despite my initial worries, the snippets of the Beady Eye songs i’ve heard are excellent, and I can’t wait for the album ‘Different Gear, Still Speeding’ to be released on February 28th, which as any Oasis geek will tell you, is the 11th anniversary of ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants‘ being released.

I’ve been pretty much indifferent to Adele so far.

I like ‘Chasing Pavements’ and ‘Cold Shoulder’, but I wouldn’t be rushing to play them at full blast.

Her new single, ‘Rolling In The Deep’, is a different scanario. I love it.

If ‘Me and You’ by Nero sounds familiar, it’s because it’s currently being used by the BBC on a trailer on TV for Radio 1, especially Zane Lowe’s show. Don’t let that put you off, it’s an excellent song.

The final song that i’m loving is ‘Butterflies’ by Tone Damli.

Six new songs that i’m loving from the first nineteen days isn’t a bad ratio. Hopefully, the remaining three hundred and fourty-six days has as good a ratio.


First proper blog post of the year, of a graffiti spot at the entrance to the Lagan Towpath in Belfast, of a mural of Barney Gumble.

At the side of the mural, is the inscription “To alcohol, the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems”

Any Simpsons geek will tell you that this is a line from the episode where alcohol is banned in Springfield, and Homer starts an undergound black market to keep the city’s drinkers happy.

There was also a mural of Homer Simpson, but somebody had defaced it unfortunaely. Doh!


Welcome to my first new blog of 2011, having just completed my first year of proper blogging in 2010.

WordPress were kind enough to send me (unsolicited) blog statistics for 2010, and it revealed that “Alex Higgins” was the search term which drove most people to my blog, and that an article ripping the piss out of Jerome Quinn was the most viewed article. How very Northern Ireland.

I’ve really enjoyed the past year’s blogging, and hope to continue throughout 2011.

That said, i’d really enjoyed blogging on Bebo before that, but the ability to post links, pictures and videos is really what i’m looking for, which is why I use WordPress now.

I’m not one for New Year Resolutions, but if I was for 2011, it would simply be : Travel more, and take more photos.

I’ve already got a few trips lined up in 2011. I’m going to Barcelona for a weekend at the start of February, because I just feel like it.

I did the same last year over the same weekend, when I went to Manchester, because it was demoralising getting to October with the nights getting darker, and I just wanted something to look forward to during the winter months.

I might just make a trip somewhere over the first weekend in February an annual tradition, you never know.

I also just fancied going somewhere in mainland Europe, as most of my travelling has been to mainland UK and Republic of Ireland, barring trips to Majorca when I was wee.

I’ve also booked two nights in Dublin in May for the UEFA Cup final. I haven’t got tickets yet, but i’m hoping to get some.

The weekend after, i’m hoping to go to Old Trafford to see United take on Blackpool, so fingers crossed for that.

I’m hoping that Blackpool don’t become a team I always end up missing.

In July, I won a competition being run in the Irish News to win return flights to Blackpool. The deadline for booking expires tomorrow, and unfortunately, it looks like I won’t be booking anything.

The flights only run from April to October, and have to be booked by May. I’ve had a look, and there’s no concerts that excite me, and I don’t want to go simply for the sake of it.

When I won the flights, my original plan was to fly over on the weekend United visit, and take my chance on getting a ticket. Unfortunately,the date United visited, there were no flights in operation during that period.

As it turned out, all flights leaving Belfast International Airport were cancelled, and the match was postponed, so it was probably a blessing that I was unable to make a booking for this weekend.

Like in August the last two years, i’m hoping to take in a few days in Edinburgh for the Festival.

In terms of places I wouldn’t mind going to, i’ve got an eye on Brighton, Bristol/Cardiff (double header) and Cork. Don’t know why, just fancy it.

As i’ve been using Bebo and/or Myspace for getting photo properties, i’ve been largely neglecting Flickr over the past year.

If I have any resolution, it’s to keep on top of Flickr and not let photos I want to upload build-up, and hopefully to take better quality photos.

So, I just thought i’d post a wee guide to some of my favourite accounts and photos

My Accounts

Account 1

Account 2

Account 3

Account 4

My Favourite Photos


Northern Ireland Fans

Windsor Park



Other Favourite Accounts

Aberdeen Fans

Across The Line

Alternative Ulster

Blogdroed (Welsh Football)

Beth Retro

Kev Largey (Belfast Street Artist)

Republic of Ireland Football

Fiorentina Photos

Other Favourite Photos

Batman On Fire

Green and Gold Protest

Elliott Morris In Disbelief

Portadown Fans

Layer Road



Sampdoria Fans

Linfield Fans In Zagreb

Wet Windsor

United Fans

Forza Bangor


Paul McAreavey

Dave Gahan


Jamie Mulgrew

FC United Fans