PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : OCTOBER

October. The month that was spent at Windsor Park. Five matches, all at the same stadium. Still, it gave me a chance to document the ongoing redevelopment work, as various construction milestones were reached, such as the demolition of the South Stand, and the first bits of steel added to the Railway Stand.

Unfortunately, the Railway Stand had more steel than Linfield during this month.

The month began well, with wins over Ballymena and Institute taking Linfield top, before defeats to Cliftonville and Crusaders saw them drop down to 5th.

Inbetween Linfield’s wins over Ballymena and Institute, came Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 Qualifying win over Faroe Islands.

Linfield v Ballymena United

Northern Ireland v Faroe Islands

Northern Ireland v Faroe Islands Photo Album

Linfield v Institute

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Crusaders

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THE FRIDAY FIVE – 29.5.2015

1. Florence and the Machine – Delilah
2. Paul Weller – Going My Way
3. Mans Zelmerlow – Heroes
4. Father John Misty – Chateau Lobby #4 (In C For Two Virgins)
5. Little Mix – Black Magic

Yesterday teatime, I went to see Ash play an acoustic gig at HMV – performing three new songs and A Life Less Ordinary. Ash was my first gig on New Year’s Eve 1998, going into 1999. Some drunk guy clumbed onto a signpost and rearranged the directions. Such memories.

The gig was described by Tim Wheeler as “A good warm-up for Slane”, very much tongue in cheek.

On Saturday, Ash will be performing at Slane, a line-up that is already impressive before headliners Foo Fighters enter the stage.

Talking of which, remember in 2012 when Dave Grohl promised Foo Fighters would be back to Belfast?

Come on Dave, don’t let us down. There’s a Facebook group with a ridiculously low number of members here.

If you’re going, i’m very jealous of you. I won’t be so jealous when you’re trying to get out afterwards.

Anyway, here’s a Slane playlist for you

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS PERFORMING AT SLANE

1. Foo Fighters – The One
2. Hozier – Take Me To Church
3. Ash – Envy
4. Kaiser Chiefs – Modern Way
5. The Strypes – Blue Collar Jane

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : SEPTEMBER

September’s first football watching didn’t begin until the middle of the month, when Linfield took on Warrenpoint Town.

A home match against Warrenpoint doesn’t usually generate much excitement, but it did on this occasion, as it was Linfield’s first home match of the season, and a first chance to see the ongoing redevelopment work at Windsor Park.

The following weekend, I was Windsor bound to see Linfield take on Glenavon.

As the month ended, it was Fermanagh for me to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard.

The final match of the month, was at Seaview, to see Linfield take on Crusaders in a rearranged Monday night game.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Glenavon

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Crusaders v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

The 2014-2015 football season began domestically in August, with a trip to Portadown, for Linfield’s first domestic game under Warren Feeney.

The optimism was soon gone within 90 minutes as Portadown ran out 3-0 winners.

A few days later, I was in Cardiff for the European Super Cup Final between Real Madrid and Sevilla. It was a fantastic trip and great to visit another stadium for the first time. Was very impressed with the facilities there.

24 hours later, I was headed to The Oval to see Linfield get their first domestic win under Warren Feeney, a comeback win from 2-0 down.

That weekend, I was in Edinburgh, and took in a game, Hearts v Hibs at Tynecastle.

With Windsor Park being redeveloped, Linfield had a run of seven successive away games, so road trips became a regular feature of the opening weeks of the season, with trips to Institute (first time there), Ballyclare Comrades and Dungannon Swifts finishing off August.

Portadown v Linfield

Real Madrid v Sevilla

Real Madrid v Sevilla Photo Album

Glentoran v Linfield

Hearts v Hibs

Hearts v Hibs Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Ballyclare Comrades v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : JULY

After a two month break, my football watching for 2014-2015 began in early July, with the World Cup still going on (on the night of the first two Quarter-Finals) in Bray.

I was over there for a concert, and decided to take in a game as there was one on while I was there, a bottom of the table clash between Bray Wanderers and Drogheda United.

Carlisle Ground is a nice stadium for watching football in when it’s sunny. Unfortunately, when I was there, it was raining. A lot.

It was still an enjoyable game, with Drogheda winning 3-1.

On the night of the now infamous World Cup Semi-Final between Brazil and Germany, I was at Mourneview Park for the UEFA Cup tie between Linfield and B36 Torshavn, my first experience of seeing a Warren Feeney managed Linfield team in the flesh.

The following week, I was back at Mourneview Park again, for the next round against AIK, to see Linfield secure a fantastic 1-0 win. Unfortunately, a 2-0 defeat meant Linfield’s European hopes were over for another year.

Two days later, I was Bangor bound, as Linfield used Clandeboye Park for a friendly against Cowdenbeath.

My main reason for going was to check out the facilities at Clandeboye, which had recently had some renovation work and a new 3G pitch.

That was my football watching for July, the league season not long away from starting. It was great to be back watching football.

Bray Wanderers v Drogheda United

Bray Wanderers v Drogheda United Photo Album

Linfield v B36 Torshavn

Linfield v AIK

Linfield v Cowdenbeath

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 22.5.2015

1. Little Mix – Black Magic
2. Kodaline – Ready
3. Muse – Mercy
4. The Strypes – Scumbag City
5. Doctor and the Medics – Spirit In The Sky

As if you needed to be reminded, this weekend is Eurovision, and i’m as excited as a Priest singing about a horse. So, to get you in the mood, as if you need to be got into the mood, he’re five Eurovision classics for you.

FIVE EUROVISION SONGS

1. A Friend In London – New Tomorrow
2. Emmelie De Forest – Only Teardrops
3. Katrina and the Waves – Love Shine A Light
4. Jedward – Lipstick
5. Anna Rossinelli – In Love For A While

MANCHESTER UNITED 1-1 ARSENAL 17.5.2015

For the second time this season, I was Old Trafford bound. This time, it was to see United take on Arsenal as they aimed to secure a Top 3 finish and automatic qualification for the Champions League group stage.

After last season, it wouldn’t take a lot to improve on it, so a jump of 3 places isn’t to be sniffed at. Hopefully, the same will happen next season.

It is particularly frustrating though, to hit a brick wall after some of the best performances of the season which means they will more than likely finish 4th, and face a Qualifier to reach the Champions League.

It’s not a new experience, having reached the groups by this method in 1998, 2004 and 2005. Thankfully, unlike in 2004 and 2005, it won’t cause postponement of Premier League games, meaning United fall behind at a time when teams are jostling for position.

Thankfully, Liverpool let United away with a poor run of form by only claiming one point from trips to West Brom and Hull, meaning United secured a Top 4 finish with two games to go.

It was my third time seeing United take on Arsenal, both the previous games finishing 0-0 draws. I was really putting my record of not seeing a 0-0 draw this season on the line.

Arsenal had a few early attacks but nothing that caused panic, as Untied grew into the game and were the stringer team.

Phil Jones almost scored an own goal by attempting a backpass from too close to De Gea, whose outstretch clearance set up an attack. It was classic Phil Jones.

Alongside him in defence, Chris Smalling, captain for the day, had a fine game.

United’s best player was Ashley Young, being at the centre of all attacking play, most often cutting onto his right foot and playing a dangerous cross.

The one time he crossed with his left foot resulted in United going 1-0 up as his cross went beyond Arsenal’s defence for Ander Herrera to volley home. It was a deserved lead.

Falcao was given a start. It didn’t happen for him. The effort was there, but the goal wasn’t.

Arsenal came out in the second-half a changed team, offering more in attack in the early moments than they did in the whole of the first-half.

United needed a second goal, they weren’t able to get it.

The second-half was in danger of becoming De Gea v Arsenal. The one time Arsenal got past him, Marcos Rojo was there to win the ball inside his own six yard box.

De Gea was injured in that incident, and was replaced by Victor Valdes, who made a long awaited debut for United.

By this point, Robin Van Persie was on for Falcao, as United chased a second goal.

It was Arsenal who got the second goal of the game, to square it at 1-1 with an unfortunate own goal from Tyler Blackett. I was at the side of the pitch where he scored and thought he squeezed it in from a tight angle. TV footage would prove me wrong, that it was an own goal instead.

After that, Arsenal were the mostly to score, the best chance coming when Mesut Ozil hit the side netting.

Robin Van Persie fired over with United’s best chance in the final moments, as it finished 1-1.

A missed opportunity to put some pressure on Arsenal in the race for 4th.

The media have been full of scare stories of the sides that United could face in August. Looking at the sides English clubs have faced (Celtic, Young Boys, Udinese, Fenerbache, Besiktas) at this stage since the format was amended in 2009, they are sides pundits lazily describe as “no mugs” but United should have enough to beat over two legs.

The tournament format will be changed from next season with the Champions of the top eight leagues being top seeds instead of the top eight ranked sides. It is good news for the likes of Benfica, PSV Eindhoven and Zenit St Petersburg.

Amazingly, if United get through, indications are that they will be second seeds, which is impressive for a side that missed out a whole season of European football.

However, the 2010-2011 run to the final will soon drop off, meaning United will need a very good run in Europe next season to have a decent ranking in 2016-2017. Or they could just win the Premier League or the Champions League.

When the fixture list comes out, i’ll have a look and deliberate over what games to go to. What i’m thinking of at the moment, is one fly to, one bus to and a there and back European game. If I fly over for a weekend, i’m hoping it’s a Sunday game and I can get a chance to take in a game at FC United’s soon to be opened Broadhurst Park.

New players to come in, and Adidas kits to come (my first United top was an Adidas one) – it’s all change at Old Trafford. Already looking forward to experiencing some of it in the flesh.

Photo Album

MANCHESTER STREET ART MAY 2015

Had a brief visit to Manchester over the weekend and took the opportunity to get some Street Art pictures. My schedule only allowed me an afternoon in the City Centre, so I headed straight to the Northern Quarter.

The pieces I snapped on my last visit in November are now gone and replaced by new pieces.

When I was in Manchester in November last year, I got some pictures from along Salford Quays. I didn’t get the opportunity due to a lack of time.

Staying in the North-West of England, i’m heading to Northern Ireland v Qatar in Crewe at the end of the month, before spending a day in Liverpool, where I hope to be getting some Scouse Street Art when i’m over there.

Photo Album

See Also

Manchester Street Art November 2014

Manchester Street Art November 2014 Photo Album 1

Manchester Street Art November 2014 Photo Album 2