Was at Windsor Park on Tuesday night for the Euro 2012 Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Slovenia, which was won by Italy, as the draw here, and Estonia has put them halfway towards the finals without kicking a ball.

Sometimes, you just know a game is going to finish 0-0. This, was one of those games.

On the positive side, I did manage to get some photos, and I got a free poncho.

Photo Album


January 1997 is the subject of the latest Magazine Archive, set during the peak years of Britpop, and featuring Oasis on the cover, focusing on the Q Awards, which had just been recently staged.

It was a period when Q was mourning one of their main writers, John Bauldie, who was a passenger in the helicopter crash which killed then Chelsea Chairman Matthew Harding, which is commemorated in the obituaries section.

A whopping fifteen pages are dedicated to the Q Awards, with the first page of the feature having a double paged photo of various guests on stage, engaging in small talk.

Eagle eyed readers will have noticed Dermot Morgan and Ruud Gullit in conversation. It is worth clarifying that Ruud Gullit wasn’t sat on a shed, possibly because it wasn’t Christmas.

1996 was the year that saw Q celebrate it’s 10th anniversary, and the awards ceremony saw various celebrities record video messages of congratulations.

Amongst them, was Tony Blair, then Leader Of The Opposition, recorded one saying “Ten years in power with no opposition – Sounds good to me”. It was almost prophetic.

Ian Brodie was riding on the crest of a wave in 1996 on the back of “Three Lions” and gets five pages looking at his career to date, with minimal mentions of Baddiel and Skinner.

That month, Lightning Seeds were 11 in the Album Chart, being kept out of the Top Ten by Robson and Jerome, Spice Girls, East 17, Simply Red, The Smurfs, Boyzone and Rod Stewart.

Sometimes, history is better off being rewritten.


The summer of 2003 is the latest subject in The Magazine Archive, a time when AC Milan were European Champions and France was getting ready to host the Confederations Cup.

The front cover image is of Paolo Maldini holding aloft the European Cup trophy after a penalty shoot-out win over Juventus at Old Trafford as red and black confetti rains down.

The first six pages are dedicated to reviewing the European Cup Final between AC Milan and Juventus.

Quite how they managed to get six pages out of a dour 0-0 draw, I don’t know.

Eight pages are dedicated to looking at football finances, in a month when it was announced that Real Madrid were the world’s richest football club.

Of the Top 20, 11 had won the European Cup.

Also in the Top 20, 10 of them were British (8 English, 2 Scottish) including 13th place (Unlucky for some you could say) Leeds United, who were relegated from the Premier League.

Newcastle United, ranked 15th, were relegated from the Premier League in 2009.

The Confederations Cup gets six pages of coverage, the same as the European Cup Final.

The editorial for the preview questions the merits of the competition, both in terms of workload on players, and the credibility of a competition, which is a poor cousin to the World Cup, and various continental competitions.

Sadly, the competiton is now best remembered because Cameroon midfielder Marc Vivien Foe collapsed and died during a match against Colombia.

Not to be forgotten, the 2003 UEFA Cup Final between Celtic and Porto got three pages of coverage, as Porto won 3-2, before winning the European Cup a year later.

In the round-ups from around the countries, England’s focuses on the battle for supremacy between Arsenal and Manchester United, as Arsenal retained their FA Cup, but lost the league to United.

A year later, the trophies were reversed. In October 2004, United ended Arsenal’s 49 game unbeaten run with a 2-0 win at Old Trafford, before United secured a double over their North London rivals in the return fixture, a game that saw Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira square up in the tunnel pre-match.

Arsenal had the last laugh that season, beating United in a penalty shoot-out in the FA Cup Final, Arsenal’s last trophy.

The emergence of Chelsea from 2004 onwards has meant that the United-Arsenal rivalry has become dormant, in comparison with it’s peak from 1997-2005.

Amongst the players who are profiled in this edition is Eric Djemba-Djemba of Nantes, who is described as “the latest up and coming talent in Le Championnat to be linked with a move to a big European club, with Juventus, Valencia and Manchester United all said to be interested in him”

He did eventually end up at United that summer, before being offloaded to Aston Villa in January 2005.

He currently plays for Odense in Denmark. That’s probably not where World Soccer would have imagined one of the most sought after players of 2003 to be playing in 2011.


In this edition of The Magazine Archive, i’ll be looking back at the August 2005 edition of Q, featuring Oasis on the cover, but also including a feature on Charlotte Church, then just about to release her first ‘pop’ album, and Michael Jackson, who had just been on trial for child molestation.

I should issue a disclaimer that when I was searching for magazines to review, a lot of them are editions of Q with Oasis on the cover.

In the news section, three pages are dedicated to a feature on a trend of bands reforming, prompted by rumours of a Stone Roses reunion.

A picture of the Spice Girls during their 1990s peak is caption “Spice Girls : returning in 2006”

In fact, it was 2007 that the Spice Girls would reform, releasing a single called “Headlines” for Children In Need.

The song failed to reach the top ten, and Spice Girls have never recorded since.

A sub-feature looks at the possibility of other bands reforming.

The Verve were listed at 10/1. They did reform and release an album in 2008 titled “Forth” but split up again soon after.

Take That were listed as 25/1, with the text stating “Robbie Williams is unlikely to be keen on playing second fiddle to Gary Barlow again”

Bet you wish you took up the offer of those odds back in 2005.

In the section titled “Rising”, looking at up and coming bands, this month’s feature focuses on Arcade Fire, who won Best International Group and Best International Album at the 2011 Brit Awards.

Not only that, but Arcade Fire also do the best walkout music of any football team in the world, I say without a hint of bias.

In the album chart, very few ‘pop’ acts are in the Top Twenty, with Coldplay just holding off Oasis at Number One.

In the download charts, animation ruled as Gorillaz were keeping Crazy Frog off the top spot.

The middle of the magazine was dominated by a feature called “Scandal” with a compilation of “The 50 Biggest Villains In Music”, and features on “Wildchild” Charlotte Church, and Michael Jackson’s recent trial.

Eight pages are then dedicated to an interview with Oasis. It’s standard Gallagher interview, with the obligatory swearing.

And that, was the world of music in August 2005.


Next week, Slovenia will arrive at Windsor Park for a Euro 2012 Qualifier against Northern Ireland.

They’ve been there before, just short of two years ago for a World Cup Qualifier.

When visiting, their fans certainly left their mark on Belfast City Centre. I mean that, in a good way.

It seems to be customary for visiting football fans to leave stickers in cities they visit to indicate a supporters group they belong to, be it their national side or their club team.

Hopefully, when they are here next week, they will do likewise.

If you’re about in Belfast City Centre and you think you see someone taking a close-up photo of a lampost, do say hello.


Green Dragons

Olimpija Ljubljana


No doubt you all care, but it’s finally taken me until the 25th day of the month, but I have my STLFTEM for March sorted.

Originally, i’d planned that the Glentoran v Linfield match this weekend would be my STLFTEM, but it got postponed until April.

I then hoped that the re-arranged match between Crusaders and Linfield would be my STLFTEM, not that idea of William Murphy and Steven Douglas coming up against a semi-competent strikeforce is anything to look forward to, and then that got arranged for April.

So, I got myself a ticket for the Northern Ireland v Slovenia match on Tuesday, which will be my STLFTEM for this month.

April is already sorted with the Beady Eye concert, and the bonus of three Linfield-Glentoran matches, and May is also sorted with the UEFA Cup Final trip and going to Old Trafford for United v Blackpoool.

Just need to start working on June.

August will hopefully see me going to the Edinburgh Festival, with hopefully a wee stop off in Brighton included.

Unlike the trip to Oslo I planned in my head a few months back, this is definately, definately going to happen.

Also, keep an eye out in late May for a series on this blog titled “Photo Diary Of A Football Season”, which will be as the name suggests, a look back at the 2010-2011 football season through some of the photos I have taken.


Despite my better judgement after last week, I was at Windsor Park today for the match between Linfield and Lisburn Distillery, possibly because i’d paid my admission fee last summer.

Having despaired when I saw David Jeffrey’s continued insistence with O’Kane, Murphy and Douglas, I was proved to be not wrong as they managed to help Alan Blayney showcase his shotstopping skills.

One positive from today’s performance was that set pieces were not only better, but varied. We even scored from one. Someone must have been reading my blog last week.

Eventually, Linfield won the game 2-0, so I decided to watch the United match in the Viewing Lounge as the game died a death after Linfield’s 2nd goal.

The only thing of note after that point was the substitution of Glenn Ferguson, on what could possibly be his last appearance at Windsor Park, getting the reception he deserved.

Managed to get some OK photos, nothing special.

Next week, i’ll be at Seaview, one of the more photofriendly Irish League grounds to hopefully get some more photos.

That is, if i’m not despairing with my head in my hands after another defensive calamity.

Photo Album


In just over five months time, Brighton and Hove Albion will have a home ground for the first time since 1997 as The Amex nears completion.

I’ve always quite liked Brighton and Hove Albion, possibly because they reached the FA Cup Final in the year I was born although this fact has annoyed me in recent years when commentators say “Albion reached the FA Cup Final a long time ago” during FA Cup matches, which makes me feel old.

I remembered the departure from The Goldstone Ground mostly for how messy it was, with endless protests against the clubs board and vigilante behaviour from supporters.

I remember the protest that forced the abandonment of a match against York City in 1996, which was actually on of the lead stories on the main BBC news that night.

Youtube has news clips from this era and is well worth checking out, a fascinating look at a club’s struggle to keep up with their peers off the pitch.

The first clip, from Saint and Greavsie in 1991 is almost prophetic, as it states that a future of lower league football awaits Brighton if they are unable to find a new stadium within the next couple of years.

In 1991, Brighton were challenging for promotion to what was then the First Division, but lost in the Play-Off Final to Notts County.

The following year, they were relegated to the third tier, before relegation to the bottom division of the Football League in 1996.

In 1997, Brighton were one defeat away from Non-League football. The club recovered, and made it back to The Championship in 2002, but were immediately relegated, then promoted back, before being relegated again in 2006 to League One, where they have been since, but currently lead.

Unless there is a major collapse, the new Amex Stadium will host Championship football when it opens in August 2011.

Brighton is a city I have on places I hope to visit within the next couple of years, so I might even get to visit this stadium in the next couple of years.

So sit back, and look at the evolution of a stadium that has taken 20 years to be realised.

Hopefully one day Ards, in a similar situation to Brighton, will have something similar.

Amex Picture Gallery

Amex Website