THE FRIDAY FIVE – 28.11.2014

1. McBusted – Air Guitar
2. Becky Hill – Losing
3. Alexa Goddard – So There
4. Erasure – Always
5. Ting Tings – Shut Up And Let Me Go

This Sunday, is St Andrew’s Day. Do, how about a chart? How about two charts? One for all things Andrew, and one for all things Scottish.

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS WITH A MEMBER CALLED ANDREW

1. Wham! – Freedom
2. Wax – Bridge To Your Heart
3. Roachford – Cuddly Toy
4. Andrew WK – Party Hard
5. Andrew Cole – Outstandin

FIVE SONGS BY SCOTTISH ACTS

1. Biffy Clyro – The Captain
2. Chvrches – Recover
3. Prides – Messiah
4. Strawberry Switchblade – Since Yesterday
5. Bay City Rollers – I Only Wanna Be With You

Last week, was International Men’s Day. Being the big sexist that I am, I forgot about it. So here, is a chart to commemorate it.

FIVE SONGS ABOUT MEN

1. Mansun – Electric Man
2. Michael Jackson – Man In The Mirror
3. REM – Man On the Moon
4. David Bowie – The Man Who Sold The World
5. The Verve – Lucky Man

FIVE SONGS WITH MEN’S NAMES IN THE TITLE

1. Oasis – Little James
2. Paul Simon – You Can Call Me Al
3. Bat For Lashes – Daniel
4. Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Geno
5. Fine Young Cannibals – Johnny Come Home

Last week, on X-Factor, was Elton John v Whitney Houston, that well known rivalry. They’re not even trying any more.

FIVE SONGS BY ELTON JOHN

1. I’m Still Standing
2. Made In England
3. I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues
4. Step Into Christmas
5. Kiss The Bride

FIVE SONGS BY WHITNEY HOUSTON

1. Your Love Is My Love
2. I Wanna Dance With Somebody
3. How Will I Know?
4. I’m Your Baby Tonight
5. If I Told You That (ft George Michael)

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

SHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Alex James from Fat Les celebrates a birthday this week. No doubt he’ll be going out for a Vindaloo.

Some Canadian woman once walked up to me, gave me her phone number and asked me to call her.

Michael Hutchence died 17 years ago this week.

John Squire was 52 this week. Forget the Roses, this was his finest work.

Freddie Mercury died 23 years ago this week.

It’s easy to forget how brilliant ‘Baby Baby’ by Amy Grant is. (Apologies for the poor picture quality)

Whatever happened to Natasha Bedingfield?

And from one Blonde Bombshell, to another …..

Jimi Hendrix would have been 72 this week.

And as it’s Doctor Who’s 51st anniversary, I leave you, with this treat.

WARRENPOINT TOWN 1-2 LINFIELD 22.11.2014

Mark Haughey must hate Warrenpoint Town. Three appearances against them, and three goals, all winners. 7th March is the next meeting, if you want to bookmark that date for a trip to the bookies.

In truth, the three points was the only positive. It was the sort of game that pundits lazily cliche as “The sort of game that wins titles”

If today’s performance is repeated, it will be the “sort of performance that loses titles”

Linfield went in with two changes through injuries, Ross Clarke and Stephen Lowry. They were both sorely missed.

The opening minutes were uneventful, with both teams trying to get attacks going, without much success, before Warrenpoint took the lead when a cross was finished by Daniel Hughes.

The response from Linfield, didn’t come. In fact, it was Warrenpoint who looked more likely to score. Most of the shots they had on goal went over, but, they were creating chances and getting sights on goal, albeit not making the most of them.

Linfield weren’t even getting a sight on goal. Even on the rare occasion of a corner or an attacking free-kick, Linfield couldn’t create an opening.

When Linfield had the ball, they ran into trouble. When Warrenpoint got the ball, they seemed to be able to go straight on the attack.

The most damming fact of the first-half was that Jamie Mulgrew’s only meaningful contribution was to make a goalsaving block in his own six yard box.

As the half neared it’s end, there were those hoping it only be 0-1 at half-time, and that things could get sorted in the following 15 minutes.

There were probably just as many hoping for another floodlight failure, to try again at a later date.

Linfield came out for the second-half, and were already looking better than they did in the first-half. Not that it was hard. There was no real chances, but a lot of pressure on Warrenpoint’s goal.

You got the feeling, that if Linfield got one, there would still be enough time to win the game.

All games are must win, but with the title race so close, to fall more than a win off the top for the first time this season would be bordering on catastrophic, especially with Crusaders, Cliftonville and Portadown all winning this weekend.

The minutes ticked by, before Linfield finally made their breakthrough, and Andrew Waterworth got his only real sight on goal, it was all he needed. He had to hit a first time shot, which he did, and it went in. There was no celebration, he just grabbed the ball to get the game restarted as soon as possible.

There was 20 minutes to win the game. Linfield had all the pressure, snuffing out any breakaway by Warrenpoint. For all Linfield’s pressure and set pieces, it was a defender, Jimmy Callacher, who looked the most likely to score, first when his shot was blocked by the legs of Warrenpoint keeper Johnny Parr, then he got in behind Warrenpoint’s defence, but couldn’t control the ball to set up a shot.

Eventually, the winner came on 89 minutes when Mark Haughey headed home from a cross. Each side had a dominant half, Linfield took their chances when on top. That was the fact of the game. It was a real get out of jail. It also exposed the lack of creativity in the team outside of Ross Clarke.

Today’s results mean that Glenavon have dropped to the periphery (that’s me being generous) of the title race, with Linfield still very much in it.

Looking at next week’s games, Cliftonville and Crusaders (v Ballaymena and Institute) are odds on for victories, while Portadown should beat Glentoran, which makes Linfield’s match against Coleraine a must win, just to stary in the title race.

Any more performances like today, and we won’t be in the title race for long.

Meanwhile, there are strong rumours that Northern Ireland are play Scotland away in a friendly in March. Very tempted by that if it happened.

The best venue for it would be Easter Road, though Hampden Park is a fantastic stadium. It would be interesting to see what it is like post Commonwealth Games.

Of the two dates suggested, the Thursday night would be great for me. I’ve checked the gig listings, and Charli XCX plays Glasgow on the Friday. A two night break, then fly home on the Saturday morning in time for Glenavon v Linfield, then the Northern Ireland v Finland game on the Sunday teatime. Sounds tempting.

More upcoming, is my trip to Manchester next weekend, for the United v Hull game, but also planning to take in Accrington Stanley v Exter City on the Friday night.

As a result, i’ll be missing Linfield’s match against Coleraine. It’ll be the second time this season i’ll have missed Linfield take on Coleraine. I’ll eventually get to see Coleraine when they visit Windsor Park again on January 3rd.

Hopefully, by then, Linfield will still be in the thick of the title race. A long way, and a lot of work to go before then.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 21.11.2014

1. McBusted – Air Guitar
2. Sia – You’re Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile
3. David Guetta ft Sam Martin – Dangerous
4. Charli XCX – Gold Coins
5. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – In The Head Of The Moment (Andrew Weatherall remix)

Last week on X-Factor, was Big Band Week. Sorry, i’m doing a chart of that, it’s a bloody awful form of music. Let’s try again next week.

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

Not a lot of pop birthdays this week, but let’s get stuck into our weekly TOTP round-up.

Travis Barker from Blink 182 is another year closer to 40.

Incidentally, he shares a birthday with Faye from Steps, who, from next week, can be seen doing Panto in Belfast.

Anni-Frid from Superswedes (Actually, only three of them were Swedish, Anni-Frid is actually Norwegian) Abba (or Frida, as she’s more commonly known) turned 68 this week. ABBArasure anyone?

Mani from the Roses turned 52 this week.

And a Girls Aloud double birthday as both Sarah (17th November) and Kimberley (today) turn 33.

LINFIELD 2-2 GLENTORAN 15.11.2014

Let’s start with some positivity – We cut the gap at the top of the table.

Now for the reality – We dropped two points. Two extra points that should have been won.

Both sets of fans had a role reversal as to where they usually sit, Linfield fans in the North Stand and Glentoran fans in The Kop.

I usually like to sit where Linfield attack, so I took a risk and stood towards the Railway Stand, expecting Linfield to attack there in the first-half, but they were to attack The Kop in the first-half, so I had to make a quick move over the other end of the of the North Stand.

Good job I got over quickly, as Linfield were quick off the mark, with a cross from Jamie Richards being headed home by Sammy Morrow inside the second minute.

It wasn’t the first time Linfield had taken an early lead against Glentoran in recent years – Games in 2011 and 2013 saw Linfield take an early lead but fail to capitalise on it, and end up hanging on.

Unfortunately, today was the same.

Glentoran didn’t let their heads drop after the goal. Their main tactic was to try and get the ball to Curtis Allen running towards goal, it was effective, with him forcing Glendinning into a save, and Richards into a clearance out for a corner.

It was another corner, that resulted in Glentoran’s equaliser. A poor delivery saw the ball fall to Fre McCaffrey, who managed to find spence in the box to fire home.

The first cross should have been dealt with, but when the ball fell to McCaffrey, he shouldn’t have been able to get the space to shoot.

Linfield couldn’t get going again, Glentoran missed a glorious opportunity when McAlorum hit the post and wide from yards out.

On 36 minuted, Linfield regained the lead when a counter-attack saw the ball reach Andrew Waterworth, in a wide position, with no support.

He waited for runners, and waited, and waited, until Stephen Lowry arrived into the box, and backheeled home from his cross.

Linfield tried, but couldn’t get that third goal they needed before half-time.

With Glentoran attacking their fans in The Kop in the second-half, a big performance was needed, it didn’t come.

Linfield couldn’t keep the ball, losing it as soon as they won it.

There were chances though. Andrew Waterworth staying on his feet when he could have went down for a penalty when touched by Morris. That said, with Irish League referees ……

Michael Carvill, just couldn’t get onto a cross, while Stephen Lowry tried to get onto his right foot when he could have got a clear shot on his left.

Despite not getting a third, Linfield seemed content to hang on and win 2-1. It was just like the Ballymena game at the start of last month. It wasn’t so much winning the game, but hanging on, and nothing more.

Worse still, every time Glentoran had a set piece or a cross into the box, Glentoran were winning the 2nd and 3rd ball every time.

Linfield were heading to the corner flag at 85 minutes, Clucas came on for Burns. Memories of The Oval in 2005 and 2009 were coming to mind.

The fear was, that Glentoran would score so late, Linfield wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.

Unfortunately, those fears turned out to be justified, as Glentoran got an equaliser as injury time when Johnny Addis fired home after an assist from Stephen McAlorum’s arm.

As easy as it is to blame the ref for a shocking decision, questions have to be asked of Linfield’s performance, and why Glentoran weren’t killed off. You don’t need to score a 3rd goal to kill a game off when you’re 2-1 up.

If Linfield “Got away with it” by taking a point from today’s game given the performance, they certainly “Got away with it” in terms of the league table, despite dropping a place, actually reducing the gap at the top due to Crusaders beating Cliftonville 4-1, though it is Portadown who are now top.

Looking at next weekend’s fixtures, Glenavon v Cliftonville is the standout game. Glenavon (4 points behind Portadown) can’t afford to lose any more ground if they are to stay in the title race. Forget about Glenavon, Linfield can’t afford to drop any more if they are to stay in the race.

Up next, is Warrenpoint away, floodlight failure or waterlogged pitch permitting. As exciting as the visit in January was, i’d prefer a boring and routine win. In truth, i’ll take three points whichever way they come.

No disrespect to Warrenpoint, Coleraine, Ballymena and Ballinamallard, but that is a run of games that should bring 12 points, ahead of the Christmas/New Year run of games of Portadown, Glentoran and Crusaders – a potentially season defining run of games.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 14.11.2014

1. Gabrielle Aplin – That’s All
2. Wonder Villains – Golden Five
3. Take That – These Days
4. Sophie Ellis-Bextor – True Faith
5. Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

So, another week goes by, and once again, X-Factor make up the themes as they go along, as last week was Queen v Michael Jackson, that well known musical rivalry. Oh yes, I remember when the school playground was divided, and you were either Queen or Michael Jackson, there was no middle ground.

FIVE SONGS BY QUEEN

1. The Miracle
2. Seven Seas Of Rhye
3. Let Me Live
4. Innuendo
5. Bicycle Races

FIVE SONGS BY MICHAEL JACKSON

1. Man In The Mirror
2. Black Or White
3. Beat It
4. Will You Be There
5. They Don’t Really Care About Us

50 YEARS OF TOP OF THE POPS : NOV 7 – NOV 13

Fan of The Inbetweeners? Here’s Carli’s real life uncle

Not many birthdays this week, but we’ll try and get a round-up for you.

If you’re getting Sharleen Spiteri something for her birthday, remember, she doesn’t want a lover, she just needs a friend.

Believe it or not, Roy Wood has written more than one song. I have a suspicion we’ll be seeing him again on this blog next month.

And finally, put on your best tartan ……..

Les McKeown can be found these days, judging Scotch Pies.

LINFIELD 4-0 DUNGANNON SWIFTS 8.11.2014

After an eventful trip to Lurgan last week, it was a lot more mundane for Linfield today, though that was nothing to complain about considering the opponents were a side at the bottom of the table. The end result was the same – three points and encouraging signs for future games.

Stat fans will note that today was Linfield’s biggest league win under Warren Feeney, first home league win this season by more than one goal, and the biggest home league win over Dungannon (Previous biggest was a 4-1 win in 2010, though there was a 4-0 Irish Cup win, also in 2010)

The match itself, was a glorified training exercise, defence v attack, with Linfield taking on the role of attack.

Dungannon did have brief attacking moments, mostly attacks that were snuffed out before Linfield could have any worries.

Linfield’s best chance of the opening stages came when Ross Clarke cut in, but couldn’t get enough power when shooting on his left foot.

For most of the first-half, Dungannon were forced into last ditch clearances and blocks. Despite not having a clear shot on goal, it was obvious that a Linfield goal was inevitable.

As the final minutes of the half approached, it looked like it was going to be 0-0. It would have been frustrating, but no need to panic, such was the one way traffic.

On 37 minutes, the breakthrough came when Aaron Burns picked up possession, ran through Dungannon’s defence to give himself a clear shooting position, before firing home. It was similar to a goal he scored against Dungannon in January 2012.

Burns was the subject of a feature on Newsline the previous night, about him going up against his twin brother Andrew, though they had faced each other competitively twice previously (at least)

Unfortunately for them, Dungannon ruined the story by not picking Andrew Burns.

Aaron Burns was involved in Linfield’s second goal, playing through Andrew Waterworth in first-half injury time, who had the simple task of firing home first time for his 7th goal in 8 games.

Even though it was half-time, the game was over. A second goal for Burns in the opening minutes of the second-half removed all doubt.

Warren Feeney took the opportunity to bring on some subs, all attacking. One of those, Ivan Sproule made it 4-0 when played through by a bootless Ross Clarke.

Technically speaking, the goal should have been disallowed. There are probably internet warriors who will argue that the goal changed the game as Dungannon were on the verge of making a comeback.

Unsurprisingly, the game faded after that, the only incidents of note being a low shot saved by Glendinning, and Aaron Burns being denied a hat-trick when his close ranges shot was blocked by a Dungannon defender.

With Cliftonville, Crusaders and Portadown all facing bottom half teams this weekend, a win was essential to keep up ground at the top. Crusaders were the only team to blink today.

Also pleasing, was the Goal Difference boost, as Linfield’s is currently poor for a team challenging for the title.

And of course, a first clean sheet in 8 league matches.

Next week is big, not just because it is Glentoran, as there are derbies in both North Belfast and Mid Ulster. If results go Cliftonville and Portadown’s way, the traffic jam at the top of the league could be reduced to just 2 or 3 teams.

Ideally, both games would end draws. Whatever the result in those games, there’s only one that matters next Saturday, that Linfield win. If Linfield keep doing that week after week, the league table will look after itself.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 7.11.2014

1. Courteeners – Next Time You Call
2. Chvrches – Dead Air
3. James – All I’m Saying
4. Tom Odell – Real Love
5. Simple Minds – Human

So, last week, was Halloween (ish) Night on X-Factor. Make of that what you will, so I have. Here’s a um, scary chart for you. I seriously hope the themes step up a level here.

FIVE SCARY SONGS

1. Royal Blood – Little Monster
2. The Automatic – Monster
3. Eighth Wonder – I’m Not Scared
4. All Stars – Things That Go Bump In The Night
5. Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me