LINFIELD 1-3 CLIFTONVILLE 29.3.2014

For the first time in almost two years, since the 2012 Irish Cup final, I arrived for a domestic Linfield game excited at what lay ahead.

Not only that, there was a bigger than usual crowd. Fans who were at Windsor Park today for the first time in a while would not be enticed back based on what they saw, as once again Linfield didn’t turn up for a big game.

Linfield now “Owe their supporters a big performance” so much, i’m considering taking Wonga style interest rates on that debt.

Both teams attacked from the start, “Feeling each other out”

Linfield had a couple of corners, and attacks on goal, but nothing that would trouble Cliftonville.

For the rest of the first-half, Cliftonville had the better of it. For all their play, they only managed one shot on target. If had managed to get some of their chances they created on target, they surely would have scored.

Linfield didn’t help themselves, with countless passes going astray.

Having been relieved to go in at half-time 0-0, Linfield needed to make an improved start to the second-half. It got worse, 1-0 down inside the first minute. Liam Boyce, free in the penalty area with enough time to fire home.

From there, it was a trademark capitulation. No ideas, no belief. Ross Clarke, who should have been on from the start, was brought on for Robert Garrett.

Cliftonville made it 2-0 from a counter-attack. Their players celebrated by swinging on the crossbar like chimps. I looked around at Linfield players. Not one player seemed upset that an away team strutting around Windsor Park like they own the place.

Serious questions have to be asked as to where the leadership was on the pitch? Nobody seemed to take it upon themselves to drag the team forward and get the result.

Michael Gault gave Linfield a bit of hope by making it 2-1, but Cliftonville made it 3-1 to get a deserved win.

That’s what hurts most. It wasn’t a smash and grab.

Worse thing is, this result is going to linger for two weeks until the next league game.

I was of the opinion that whoever is top at the end of today’s game will win the league. That is still my opinion. For Linfield now, we have to win four games and hope.

You’ve got to have hope.

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THE FRIDAY FIVE – 28.3.2014

1. London Grammar – Devil Inside
2. Bastille – Pompeii
3. James – Laid
4. The Killers – Shot At The Night
5. Kaiser Chiefs – Modern Way

Well, what a week of concert announcements it has been. Where do you start?

Listened to the Tennent’s Vital announcement on Tuesday night. I was already excited when Bastille were announced, but when it was revealed that they would be supporting The Killers, that was just the topping on the cake.

For the first time in seven years (hopefully, being able to get a ticket permitting) i’ll be at Tennent’s Vital.

Meanwhile, Kaiser Chiefs have announced a gig for August in Falls Park. The date is inconvenient for me as I might not be in Belfast that night. Boo.

And finally, James are supporting Paloma Faith in Bray in July. Very tempting.

And before we go, this time next week, Belsonic’s line-up will be announced. Six days of pondering awaits. I’m hoping for Franz Ferdinand and/or Embrace.

I love this time of year when summer concerts are announced.

50 YEARS OF TOP OF THE POPS : MAR 21 – MAR 27

Hello and welcome to this week’s look back at 50 years of Top Of The Pops (Or, to be pedantic, 42 years and 8 years worth of Christmas specials)

This week’s first birthday of note is Guy Chadwick, lead singer of House Of Love. Unfortunately, we don’t have a clip of them performing ‘Shine On’, but we do have East 17 performing ‘House Of Love’, a song not about the early 90s band of the same name.

East 17 of course, were named after their local postcode. If they came from East Belfast, they would have been called BT4, BT5 or BT6, depending on whereabouts in East Belfast they came from.

Also celebrating this week is Sarah Jane Morris of The Communards. This, is an epic tune. BAAYYYYYBAAYYYY!!!!!

and … Jonas Berggren from Ace Of Base. I once got lost en route to an Ace Of Base concert trying to find the venue ………. then, I, saw the sign.

And from Sweden, we head to Canada, for a bit of Sum 41.

And from Canada, to Liverpool, for Pete Wylie’s birthday.

And now, to chill the mood a bit, with a bit of Beverley Knight.

Our globetrotting adventures now take us to the suavest man in Glasgow. If you really need to be told, Marti Pellow of Wet Wet Wet, who spent the whole of 1994 at Number One. How exactly, was a Sweet Little Mystery. I know you’ll love these next few clips. Why? I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes.

Our birthday travels this week take us now to the Mockney King (from Colchester) …… Damon Albarn (And yes, I am aware he doesn’t sing on the first song)

And now ……. we go to Germany for one of the best songs of the 1980s. A woman who wouldn’t make a good Financial Advisor as she spent all her money on a bag of balloons. Since you ask, I counted, there were 78 balloons in the studio when this was filmed. BBC Cutbacks.

And from Germany, we go to German based West Indians …….. singing a song about The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Ironically, Bobby Farrell of Boney M had the most Belfasty name in pop.

39 this week was Mel Blatt from All Saints. Here she is as a solo artist.

Milestone time now, and Diana Ross was born 70 years ago this week. So, as a tribute, here’s Steps covering ‘Chain Reaction’

Wee treat for you for Tony Banks of Genesis birthday (the one who isn’t Phil Collins or the guy from Mike and the Mechanics) …. a studio appearance from 1992

With all these births, unfortunately, we have a death anniversary. Ian Dury died 14 years ago today.

And finally, Elton John *whispers* turned 67 this week.

This, is his best song, performed nearly 20 years after it came out on a TOTP Special.

I used to think the chorus went “Coco Heart” when I was younger.

And, if you don’t know already, he didn’t play on this song, just mimed on TOTP.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 29.5.1999

David May, David Beckham, Teddy Sheringham, and the FA Cup are the cover stars of Match, as Manchester United have just won the double, a third in six years, but there’s more to come.

Unfortunately, printing deadlines mean that only a preview, rather than a review, of the European Cup Final against Bayern Munich can appear in the magazine.

In the news section, there’s a random story of a West Ham celebrity fan having a kickabout at West Ham’s training group with Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand ……. Tamzin Outhwaite from Eastenders.

Meanwhile, Alan Thompson predicts big things for Aston Villa in 1999-2000, despite their 1998-1999 title challenge falling apart after Christmas. They finished 6th in 2000, like in 1999, but did reach the FA Cup Final.

Peter Beagrie, having just helped Bradford into the Premier League, is interviewed for a feature called “My First …..” where he reveals his first concert was Diana Ross at the NEC in Birmingham, his first film was Jaws, and his first kit was QPR.

The FA Cup Final, where Manchester United beat Newcastle United 2-0, gets a five page round-up, mostly pictures, with quotes, with a page dedicated to a mimute by minute report of the game.

The rest of the magazine is dubbed “Champions Special”, dedicated to teams that have won their league. First up, is Rangers, and a double page interview with Andrei Kanchelskis ahead of the Scottish Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic.

Meanwhile, Sunderland (Division One) Fulham (Division Two) Brentford (Division Three) and Cheltenham (Conference) all get full page reviews of their title winning seasons.

Meanwhile, there is a five page preview of the European Cup Final, focusing on an interview with Ryan Giggs, while Yorke and Cole get a joint interview as well.

Bayern Munich get a full page, written by Steffan Effenberg, listing five reasons why they would win, that they were underdogs, well prepared, good at penalties, under no pressure, and most importantly, United had Roy Keane missing.

It was a bit laughable of Bayern Munich to pretend they were underdogs considering they actually won their group (though both games were draws) ahead of United.

There is a centre page poster for the game, where fans can fill in blank spaces with the team line-ups and goalscorers.

Manchester’s other team, City, also had a big match that week, as they headed to Wembley for the Division Two Play-Off Final, and Match does a double page interview with Nicky Weaver.

But it’s not all about Champions, as Dennis Bergkamp looks back at Arsenal’s season, where they missed out on the title by a point.

Gareth Southgate is interviewed about Aston Villa’s New Year collapse (They were top of the league at Christmas) and heaps praise on youngsters in their team such as Gareth Barry, Lee Hendrie and Darius Vassell.

In the letters page, a West Bromwich Albion fan worries that his side might lose top goalscorer Lee Hughes. He left for Coventry in a big money move in 2001, before returning to Albion, before being sacked by the club after being sentence to prison for causing death by dangerous driving.

In other letters, a young Wigan Athletic fan suggests that the town’s football team are in the process of becoming more high profile than it’s rugby team.

This week, is also one of the very first weeks where you contribute to Match’s letters page via e-mail. Modern technology.

Meanwhile, you could do a quiz on Aston Villa right-back Steve Watson, if you wanted.

Talking of quizzes, Karl-Heinz Reidle took on Gianfranco Zola in a football quiz, with Zola winning 9 (out of 10) to 8.

It was Karl-Heinz Reidle’s inability to answer who got promoted from Division Three that cost him.

COLERAINE 0-0 LINFIELD 22.3.2014

48 hours after arriving home from Old Trafford, I was back on the road again to watch football. Thankfully not as far, Coleraine, though it does feel like it sometimes.

It was Linfield’s last game before the split, and a win would have taken them top going into it. Ever since it was introduced in 2009, every team that has went into their 34th game top has went on to win the league.

It ended up being one of those where you are stuck in the middle emotion wise. Frustrated at not going 4 points clear, but relieved that Cliftonville (who also drew 0-0, away to Glentoran) didn’t go level ahead of next week’s meeting.

Both teams will feel this was a game they could have won. That would probably suggest that a draw was a fair result.

After a relatively slow start, Linfield took control of the game, creating chances. Nothing clear cut, but enough to suggest that a goal could come soon. Half-time came at a good time for Coleraine.

As is tradition at Coleraine, Linfield attacked the end where their fans were based. A packed shed, willing their team on, could watch on as chances game and went.

Lucky bounce in Coleraine’s favour. Coleraine defender being in the right place to block it. Linfield player missing when they should have scored. Coleraine keeper making a save. You name it, it happened.

Coleraine were dangerous too when they attack, with Linfield fans nervous when they attack. Their best chance came when David McDaid shot straight at Tuffey when through on goal.

It was one of those games when you just knew it was going to finish 0-0, no matter how hard both times tried. And Linfield did try. More pressure on the Coleraine goal as the minutes ticked down. It just wasn’t to be.

Disappointed not to win, but thankful that no damage was done.

One positive from today? 5 clean sheets in the last 7 games. Now there’s something to build on for the next 5 games.

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MANCHESTER UNITED 3-0 OLYMPIACOS 19.3.2014

Having seen Linfield eliminated from the UEFA Cup by Skoda Xanthi, I looked set to witness a double dose of Greek heartbreak as Olympiacos arrived at Old Trafford on Wednesday night defending a 2-0 lead. Thankfully, it didn’t turn out that way.

It was my second trip to Old Trafford this season, and obviously, my second game seeing Moyes United. I have a suspicion that, despite this result, there’ll be a different manager in charge of my next visit, next season.

I like Moyes, and want him to succeed, but he doesn’t help himself. He’s had some very harsh on the job learning this season, getting caught out in press conferences, his uninspiring demeanour, down to the point of seeing him slouched down on the bench when United are behind, instead of standing on the touchline, trying to inspire his team.

I have a feeling he’ll be replaced the day after the final game of the season at Southampton. Though, we’re all hoping the final game of the season will come in Lisbon.

It was obvious that United were going to need an early goal if they were to turn this tie around, and had some situations. The most frustrating was when a Wayne Rooney header hit the post, only for an Olympiacos defender to get to the ball first.

In any other season, it would have went in off the keeper’s head when it hit the post. In any other season, someone would have put the rebound in.

I was sat in the corner of the Stretford End and the South Stand, having a perfect view of the game. I also had a perfect view of where it wasn’t going right for United.

The main one, was indecisiveness in attack. Too many attacks were ended by the wrong pass, too short a pass or too late a pass, much to the frustration of the crowd.

On 22 minutes, United got the chance to take the lead, when Robin Van Persie was fouled in the box. It was a clear penalty, but the ref waited a while to give it. For Robin Van Persie to take the penalty, he had to wait even longer.

It added to the tension and nervousness in the stadium. When he took it, he scored.

As United looked for that 2nd goal, Olympiacos looked vulnerable in defence. They looked like a team who could be “Got at”

However, it was Olympiacos who had the net chance. A free header from a cross was saved by De Gea, but it looked like they would score from the rebound, but De Gea stood firm and saved it. It was celebrated like a goal, such was the importance of it.

The first-half seemed to meander, but there was one last twist. As the 4th official indicated there was 1 minute remaining, United upped the pace. Giggs passed to Rooney, who could only do one thing – whip in a cross into the 6 yard area.

That he did, and found Robin Van Persie. 2-0.

It was a goal that changed the mood and the momentum of the tie.

Instead of being part of the way towards achieving their goal, United had now achieved Stage 1 – Getting level on aggregate.

United could now start the second-half looking to win the tie, instead of getting level. They weren’t slow on the uptake. On 52 minutes, Danny Welbeck won a free-kick on the edge of the box.

From where I was sat, as Rooney and Van Persie sat around the ball, it looked perfectly set up for a Van Persie strike. You just had a feeling you’d be celebrating a Van Persie goal within seconds.

And so, it happened. A hat-trick for Van Persie.

Unfortunately, the 3-0 lead brought about the worst in United, sitting back and inviting Olympiacos forward, instead of trying to make it 4-0 or 5-0, which would have made the final minutes more relaxed.

So defensive, there were times when Ashley Young was getting possession, having nobody to pass it to, and losing it.

I got nervous everytime Olympiacos went over the half-way line. It could just be my natural pessimism, but recent history backed it up, with late goals proving so costly against Southampton, Cardiff and Fulham this season.

In truth, Olympiacos never looked like getting the away goal that would have sent them through, as United saw the game out.

At least it gives something to play for in the final stages of what has been a pitiful season so far.

It’ll be tough against Bayern Munich in the Quarter-Final, but, if you’re not in, you can’t win.

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50 YEARS OF TOP OF THE POPS : MAR 14 – MAR 20

We kick off this week is IKEA Brand Ambassador Jona Lewie. Often thought of as a One Hit Wonder, he is actually a Two Hit Wonder.

If you’re wondering where he is these days, well, you can always find him in the kitchen at parties.

Remember Hanson? One of them turns 31 this week. I can’t remember which one thought. On the topic of Hanson “Where’s The Love?” is probably their best song.

Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 is 42 this week. I’m not really a massive fan (though ironically, I do like some stuff by Angels and Airwaves, The Transplants, and Boxcar Racer) but “I Miss You” is a brilliant song.

Also celebrating a birthday this week is William, or Will.I.Am, which bizarrely is the website code for Armenia. I wonder if there is an Armenian pop star called Will.I.Com?

Gregory’s Girl and Queen Of VH1 in the 90s, Clare Grogan is 52 this week. I bet it must be hell being invited to her birthday party and trying not to sing this.

Of course, it was St Paddy’s Day this week, and no doubt you’ll be expecting something along that theme. Well, believe it or not, there are two Irish pop birthdays that day. Caroline Corr …..

…… and Stephen Gately, who would have been 38 this week.

And also born on St Patrick’s Day (but he’s not Irish) was Justin Hawkins of The Darkness.

A death anniversary now, and it’s 17 years since Jermaine Stewart died.

Remember, you don’t have to take your clothes off to have a good time reading this blog. If you do, I won’t be held responsible, especially if you’re on Public Transport.

Get your lighters at the ready for an epic Power Ballad ….

Terry Hall was 55 this week and has performed on the show with three different acts, The Specials, Fun Boy Three and Colourfield.

42 today is Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand.

Alex Kapranos can currently be seen on BBC 2 telling Terry Wogan how he made it, but what he made is unclear. Talking of Terry Wogan ……..

38 today, is the man with the poshest name in Nu Metal, Chester Bennington of Linkin Park

And finally, a Soul classic from Newcastle’s finest musical export. Yes, you heard that right.

MAGAZNE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 28.8.1999

Paul Scholes, not usually noted for doing interviews, is the cover star of Match, as the 1999-2000 season is in it’s early stages.

In news, Ron Atkinson, recently retired from football, is now working as a Brand Ambassaor for AOL.

Aaron Hughes gets featured as a promising youngster. Seth Johnson of Derby County gets asked for his three favourite TV shows, which are : Only Fools and Horses, Emmerdale, and Dream Team.

Match does an interview with Paul Scholes, where he talks about his love of scoring goals, his discipline, and how things will be harder for United after winning the treble.

There was only a page in the interview, so Match does a double page spread about Scholes most important and best goals.

Match does a feature where they write to Premier League players asking for signed photos and advice on how to be a footballer, using the psuedonym Paul Bezant.

18 players out of 42 replied, with Robbie Keane taking 169 days before sending in a signed Wolves programme.

Don Hutchison replied with a signed photo and advice “Keep working hard and stay dedicated to football and you will get noticed”

Michael Owen sent a reprinted signed photograph …….. and a Michael Owen Merchandise Catalogue.

Newly promoted to the Premier League, Watcford get three pages where Nick Wright, who scored an overhead kick in the play-off final at Wembley, gives a profile of his team-mates.

To link those two stories, I wrote to Watford in 1999 asking for Mark Williams and Peter Kennedy’s autographs ……. and they sent them out.

In competitions, you could win a chance to hang out with Ugo Ehiogu.

In a forerunner of MTV Cribs, Ian Harte shows us around his house in a double page spread. In it, he shows off his CD collection, but admits that he takes music advice from his Fiance.

DOGS

Time for a belated round-up of Street Art in Belfast.

The simple truth is, I haven’t really seen much worth writing about recently.

Took myself to Alexandra Park today for the first time. I was aware that there was Street Art there, mainly due to it featuring on the news due to it being segregated by a wall.

I had a wee look. Ok, nothing worth getting excited over. Got some photos. On my way home through the City Centre, I spotted some new pieces at North Street, of dogs.

That was apt, as the alleyway round the back of Crescent Arts Centre had some new street art ……. of a dog. It had replaced a recently painted piece, which I got some photos of, albeit very low quality.

Photo Album

Alexandra Park Photo Album