It was Plan B and back to earth with a bump for Linfield last night, as they faced a friendly away to Derriaghy CC instead of preparing for a UEFA Cup tie against Standard Liege.

It wasn’t Linfield’s first visit to Seycon Park, as they visited there in 2011 for a pre-season game. Even though i’d been there before, i’d managed to get lost en route, as Seycon Park isn’t the easiest ground to find.

It’s a nice wee ground for watching football when the weather is nice, as the host club put on a barbecue. Pity it wasn’t barbecue weather, but it wasn’t awful weather.

It was a different Linfield team from those which faced Fuglafjordur and Xanthi, as players who didn’t start those games were given a run out. It was anything but a second string team, considering the likes of Mulgrew, McCaul, Tipton, McAllister, Quinn and Ross Glendenning, as well as players who have played first team football such as Reece Glendenning and Ross Clarke were in the starting 11.

It was, however, one of the lesser known players, Rodney Brown, who opened the scoring, before Mark McAllister controlled the ball before finishing for 2-0.

In the 2011 game, Linfield went 2-0 up an stopped, it was job done. Not tonight.

Shortly afterwards, Linfield got a soft penalty (from where I was) which was missed by Brian McCaul. It was the worst sort of penalty miss, where he tried to be clever and stopping his run, before hitting one post and missing the other before going out.

I get the feeling if he did that in a competitive game, it might not have been laughed off by player and fans as it was last night.

He would regret that as well, as he scored two goals soon afterwards to give Linfield a 4-0 lead.

Early in the second-half, Ross Clarke, the focal point for most of Linfield’s attacking, put in a superb cross for Matthew Tipton to head home from close range.

An expected win, but the night was about giving some players match practice, which they got. The weather fluctuated during the night, with spells of brightness making it easy for phototaking. Seycon Park is handy for amateur photography. I was so close to the pitch, I did ballboy twice.

Photo Album

Derriaghy CC v Linfield 2011



It might not yet be August, but i’m already excited and optimistic about the new season, despite the first disappointment of the season.

Having seen off Fuglafjordur, Skoda Xanthi represented a step up to a higher level, a level to which Linfield stepped up to in the first leg, winning 1-0 away.

No offence to Fuglafjordur, but the tie was over after the first leg. Despite the away win in Greece, this wasn’t.

Xanthi started the game strong, as you expected they would. So strong, Linfield couldn’t get out of their half for the first couple of minutes. When they did, winning a throw in Xanthi’s final third, it was cheered like a goal.

The crowd, biggest in a while for a European game (few few seats in the Sout, or Kop Upper Tier) knew that the team needed them.

Linfield eventually got a grip in the game and started to hold their own, having a few attempts on goal. Neither side had many chances, more situation, though Xanthi had a clear shot on goal well saved by Jonathan Tuffey.

About midway through the first-half, I began to think myself that Linfield might actually be able to hold out. Within minutes, Xanthi went 1-0 up, levelling the tie on aggregate.

It could have been so easy to feel sorry for themselves, but Linfield just dusted themselves down and got on with it.

Towards the end of the first-half, the game came to life when Xanthi had a player sent-off. I was sat behind the goal and didn’t get a clear view of it, but judging by the reaction of Linfield players, it must have been a shocker. I got the chance to watch it again on UTV, and it was.

Against ten men, Linfield started the second-half strongly but couldn’t get the goal.

The game became tense, it looked as though there would only be one more goal, if any, in it. Both sides had situations rather than chances as it headed towards extra-time.

At the interval between full-time and extra-time, a loud roar went around Windsor Park as the crowd showed appreciation for the effort for the previous 180 minutes in the tie, and to try and drive them though the remaining 30 minutes.

The start of extra-time went along the same lines of the second-half in normal time …….. and the moment we were waiting for.

A cross came in and was headed out as far as Michael Gault, who hit a beautiful volley into the back of the net, and Windsor Park erupted. I let myself believe that it was going to happen.

The important thing was to hold out to half-time in extra-time, but Linfield couldn’t. Worst of all, it was a poor goal, a corner not cleared finding it’s way to the taker to blast in. To add insult to injury, it was in the last minute of the first-half of extra-time.

I’ve no doubt if Linfield had held out and gone through.

2-1 up, Xanthi strangled the game and killed it.

Beaten, but not disgraced. The way the team played, the way the new players have played, and most importantly, the fight displayed, have given me so much optimism for the new season. Time to build on it.

Photo Album


THE FRIDAY FIVE – 26.7.2013

1. Franz Ferdinand – Right Action
2. Chvrches – Gun
3. Editors – Formaldehyde
4. Sense – Reasons to Be Cheerful
5. David Brent ft Dom Johnson – Ain’t No Trouble

So, this week, I got myself a ticket for Manic Street Preachers at Ulster Hall in September. One of the best bands i’ve seen live, the last time I saw them in 2009.

Curiously, I saw them at Tennent’s Vital in 2007, bizarrely, supporting Razorlight (No offence to Razorlight, but …..)

You know what’s coming ……. here’s a Manics Top Five to get you in the mood.


1. Motorcycle Emptiness
2. Everything Must Go
3. Your Love Alone Is Not Enough (with Nina Persson)
4. Design For Life
5. Autumn Song

Another band I got a ticket for this week, is Primal Scream, playing The Limelight in October. Seems a bit of a strange choice of venue as I would have thought they could play a bigger venue.

Curiously, like the Manics, it’ll be the 3rd time i’ve seen them, and like the Manics, i’ve also seen them at Tennent’s Vital, way back at the very first one, in 2002. Since you ask, the other time was T In The Park, also in 2002.

So, to get in the mood, here’s some Primal Scream songs.


1. Jailbird
2. Country Girl
3. Rocks
4. Some Velvet Morning (with Kate Moss)
5. Loaded


Lee Sharpe is the cover star, having just been signed as a columnist by Match.

This edition, came with a free wallchart ……. and Team Tabs.

Sharpe’s team-mate Mark Hughes is the subject of a competition, where one lucky reader could win a VHS of ‘Hughesie : The Mark Hughes Story’

Le Sharpe’s column gets a double page spread, which begins with him talking about his holidays, a week in Portugal with his girlfriend, then a week in Crete with 16 (SIXTEEN) of his mates.

He also speaks about Pre-Season, and who would be United’s biggest challengers in 94/95. He said that Blackburn would be United’s biggest challengers that season, and so it proved, with Blackburn winning the league.

He also addresses transfer speculation, stating that he has signed a five year deal with United, so “I’m not leaving any time soon”

He was sold to Leeds in 1996.

In news, Ian Wright has signed a new contract at Arsenal, worth a whopping 7,000 pounds a week, Coventry wanted to sign Alexi Lalas, and Leeds want to sign Thomas Skuhravy.

Bryan Robson, newly appointed Player-Manager at Middlesbrough is a poster, as is Dean Saunders, in full page form.

Meanwhile, John Fashanu is interviewed saying he wants to help, as a middleman, African players get moves to English clubs. Awooga.

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 19.7.2013

1. Tom Odell – Another Love
2. Bastille – Things We Lost In The Fire
3. Kings Of Leon – Supersoaker
4. The Killers – I Think We’re Alone Now
5. Jamie N Commons – Have A Little Faith

I had totally forgotten that it was Bastille Day last weekend. How unprofessional of me not to do a chart to commemorate it. Ironically, the band Bastille aren’t on it. Not that ironic, they’re not French so aren’t eligible.


1. Daft Punk – Da Funk
2. Desireless – Voyage Voyage
3. Phoenix – Entertainment
4. Daft Punk – Robot Rock
5. Air – Sexy Boy


Ipswich Town, promoted to England’s top flight for the first time since 1986, are the cover stars of Shoot, having made a good start to the season.

Lee Sharpe, hoping for a return to form after missing most of 91/92 through injury, is the subject of a Q and A, mostly covering his absence from the first team, stating that he wished to be ready for action in November.

Meanwhile, Michael Laudrup of Barcelona is advertising Patrick boots. The small print states that his brother Brian also wears Patrick boots.

After a disappointing Euro 92, Shoot assembles an expert panel to decide what England’s first choice team should be. This panel featured : Jimmy Greaves, Geoff Hurst. Kenny Sansom, Trevor Brooking. And John Fashanu.

Due to a printing error, a picture of Rob Jones appeared where Ian Wright should have been in their line-up

Turning over, Ian Wright appears in a double paged advert for Nike, with him on the right, and the left being taken up by red test saying ‘GARY WHO?’, a reference to Gary Lineker’s departure from English football.

Meanwhile, for most of Europe (some countries who failed to qualify for Euro 92, including Wales and Northern Ireland, began during the 91/92 season), the qualification campaign for the 1994 was about to start, and Shoot combines England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland games into a double page spread.

Flags, are not their strong point. Northern Ireland have the St Patrick’s Saltire, Latvia have a Soviet Latvia flag (outdated since 1990), Wales have no Dragon in their flag, and Faroe Islands have a Czechoslovia (also in the group, but played under the name of RCS during 1993) flag next to them.

England were playing Spain that week, in an international friendly, their World Cup campaign not starting until October 1992.

Ominously, England’s preview begins with a quote from Doug Ellis warning Graham Taylor that the next two years were going to be tough for him.

The reason for this was due to the number of games played by top flight English clubs, but that they were hoping to reduce the Premier League to 20 clubs within three years (The Premier League was reduced to 20 clubs for the 95/96 season)

Ellis said that Taylor’s ambition was for England’s top flight to be 18 clubs. That has yet to happen.

Shoot dedicated a page to readers letters on the recent ‘Back Pass Rule’, none of which had any sympathy for goalkeepers, now unable to pick up backpasses.

Ipswich Town were visited by Shoot to appear in a ‘Superstars’ type feature, trying to see tho has the Hardest Shot, Longest Throw, and longest Keeper’s Throw.

Neil Thompson (Hardest Shot, Longest Throw) and Craig Forrest (Keeper’s Throw) were the early leaders in the early stages of this competition.

Both players have an interesting Old Trafford connection. Both played in the Ipswich team which lost 9-0 at Old Trafford in 1995, while Thompson (Barnsley, 7-0 in 1997) and Forrest (West Ham United, 7-1 in 2000) both suffered large defeats with future employers.

Nigel Worthington is given a page to predict the results on six games over the weekend, of games involving his former clubs, and those games being televised.

Leeds United travelled to Old Trafford for Sky’s Super Sunday in a battle between the previous season’s top two, with neither side making a good start to 92/93. Worthington said it was close to call, but that Leeds were a slightly better team because they had Eric Cantona.

Little did we know happen then, that Eric Cantona would be playing at Old Trafford as a home player in just three months time.

Worthing predicted a 2-1 win for Leeds. It finished 2-0 to Manchester United.

That weekend, Football Italia launched on Channel 4, with (Des Walker’s) Sampdoria taking on (Gazza’s) Lazio. Worthington wasn’t convinced.

“I’m not sure about the introduction of televised football from Italy, and i’d rather watch Arsenal v Liverpool. I think people will soon realise that the English League is still the best”

During the 90s, Italian clubs won 3 European Cups (5 Runners-Up), 3 European Cup Winners Cups (1 Runner-Up) and 7 UEFA Cups (6 Runners-Up)

Meanwhile, Les Ferdinand gets a profile, answering questions, his favourite band are The Whispers.

A full page is given to a competition, that all the cool kids want, a VIP Day Out at Hearts ………. and a complete Hearts kit and tracksuit. All you had to do was answer three easy questions.

Over the page is another competition, which was probably a bit better, a Juventus shirt signed by David Platt, at the bottom of a double page spread where David Platt previews the forthcoming Serie A season.

Jean Pierre Papin gets a double page spread, having just joined AC Milan from Marseille.

Unfortunately, the move wasn’t as successful as people had predicted.


In a week where the weather has been a topic of conversation, it’s quite apt that this week’s Graffiti Round-Up should be on a weather theme.

I was cycling through Smithfield when I saw an image of a Snowman lighting a petrol bomb. You could analyse it further and suggest that it’s a statement about the stupidity of petrol bombs, as the heat would cause the Snowman to melt, or you could just take it at face value as an image of a Snowman lighting a petrol bomb.

Meanwhile, at the alleyway where Catalyst Arts is based, there was a slogan simply saying “Do Everything After Dark” and a piece about Maggie Thatcher and her relationship with The Sun, by The Most Nasty (TMN) done in the style of a tabloid front page.

Photo Album


You may remember a blog on here in September 2010 about something that was then known as “The UEFA 99 Club” based on an article in When Saturday Comes.

Basically, it was one man’s crusade to watch every team who had played in either the European Cup, European Cup Winner’s Cup and UEFA Cup, in the flesh.

Since the article was written SC Braga reached the UEFA Cup Final, so it is now known as The UEFA 100 Club. Obviously, when a club reaches a European Final for the first time, it will become the 101 Club, 102 Club, and so forth.

Living in Northern Ireland, you may think it will be hard to see teams, but if this season’s European draws were kinder, I could have added some. Cliftonville were drawn with Celtic, but i’ve already seen Celtic. Other potential opponents for Cliftonville were Dinamo Tblisi, Dinamo Zagreb (already seen …… twice), Steaua Bucharest, Partizan Belgrade and Slovan Bratislava.

For Linfield, Glentoran and Crusaders, potential UEFA Cup opponents included Malmo and Videoton. If Glentoran had beaten KR last night, they would have played Standard Liege. I might have been tempted along to add them to my list, cheering on Standard Liege, of course.

Linfield’s potential 2nd Round opponents included IFK Gothenborg and Red Star Belgrade.

Regular readers will know that I travel to Edinburgh every August. While i’m there, Hibs play Dundee United, so I can tick them off, a milestone one at that, as it would take me to 30.

In February, i’m thinking of heading to London for a weekend. While i’m there, Everton play Tottenham at White Hart Lane, so I might try and get a ticket for that one. Amazingly, in 20 years of travelling to Old Trafford 2-3 times a year, i’ve never seen Everton.

So, currently, i’m on 29, hopefully at least 31 by the end of the season. Here’s my full list.

Team (Year first seen)

Aberdeen (2011)
Ajax Amsterdam (2012)
Arsenal (2003)
AS Roma (2007)
Aston Villa (1993)
Atletico Madrid (2011)
Barcelona (2011)
Benfica (2000)
Brimingham City (2010)
Celtic (2009)
Chelsea (1997)
Dinamo Zagreb (2008)
FC Porto (2011)
Feyenoord (1999)
Fulham (2001)
Leeds United (1993)
Liverpool (1994)
Manchester City (2000)
Manchester United (1993)
Marseille (1992)
Middlesbrough (1995)
Newcastle United (1993)
Nottingham Forest (1996)
Rangers (2002)
Real Madrid (2003)
SC Braga (2011)
Tottenham Hotspur (2010)
West Ham United (1997)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (2010)


The last time I was at Windsor Park, I left fed up and disillusioned, having witnessed Linfield end a pathetic season with a pathetic run of form. What a difference a few months make.

New kit (it’s rather nice), new players (all in the positions which needed strengthened) and Linfield going into the game 2-0 up led to a mood of positivity, not seen at Windsor Park for a while.

The crowd was better than expected, considering it’s a UEFA Cup game, and the opposition not being well known and the tie being as good as dead. Not only that, there was a queue in the club shop before kick-off. Not sure if it was for the new shirt or a Season Ticket, but it was good to see.

For most of the first-half, both teams were, to use a pundits phrase, feeling each other out. IF had attacks but never really threatened. Anytime they got into a shooting position, there was usually a Linfield player getting in the way.

Linfield played well in spells, even *Gasp* playing it out from the back. New goalkeeper Johnny Tuffey seems to be fond of running off his line, but the important thing is, he spotted the danger, and dealt with it, every time.

Eventually Linfield took the lead towards the end of the first-half with a Michael Gault header, before a quick double from Jamie Mulgrew and Phil Lowry killed the game and the tie, if it wasn’t dead already.

The rest of the game was exhibition stuff, though there was a frustration of a lack of subs, to give players some game time, especially with only one friendly played, and no other friendlies scheduled before the next round.

That game is against Xanthi of Greece, who I know little about, but I know they will be better than IF. It was great to be back watching football again, and not only that, great to be enjoying football again.

Photo Album