Well, that was a short pre-season. Two weeks after the end of the 2014-2015 season, I was at my first game of the 2015-2016 season.

I was in Dublin for the day, and as Bray were at home, it would have been rude not to head to the Carlisle Grounds, on the DART line right beside a station.

Curiously, the 2014-2015 season also began for me at Carlisle Grounds. Like when I visited last season, Bray were struggling at the bottom end of the table and were desperate for points.

Like Bray, I had also seen Sligo Rovers play before, in their case against Bohemians in 2009. Like Bray, the only time i’d seen Sligo play ended in defeat. One, or possibly both, losing runs were going to end.

Given both teams proximity to each other at the bottom of the table, they were both desperate to get the points on offer.

Sligo’s pre-match preparation was dominated by the future of manager Owen Heary, or lack of a future. For a brief period during the first-half, visiting Sligo fans sang songs in support of him, with Sligo issuing a statement that he has stepped down.

Bray had made a bright start to the game, having some pressure on Sligo’s goal, but it was Sligo who had the first chance of the game when a cross flashed across the box by Cretaro, but Armstrong was unable to finish.

Within minutes, Bray struck when a scramble resulted in Sullivan firing home from close range after a team-mate failed to do so when he should have scored.

Sligo responded by having possession and attempts on goal. They were just that. They stung the goalkeeper’s hands but they were saves the goalkeeper should be making.

After all those shot, ironically, Sligo almost equalised when a tackle went goalwards. They also had a shot cleared off the line from close range that should have been scored.

Bray were glad to hear the half-time whistle, to allow them a chance to regroup.

The second-half was poor to watch, it was a typical bottom of the table clash with both teams desperate for points. Both teams were feeling the pressure. Neither of them looked like scoring in the second-half. There was no belief that they would.

With each passing moment, Bray fans were starting to fear that they would concede a vital equaliser. As the minutes ticked down, Bray were able to smother the game and hold on to possession.

There were still nerves. A speculative shot from Bray went over with 30 seconds remaining, prompting groans from the crowd and an angry response from manager Trevor Croly.

Bray were able to see the game out and get the three points which saw them leapfrog Sligo into 10th, and 1 point behind Derry City, who are now being dragged into a relegation battle.

Bray play Limerick (12th) and Derry (9th) in their next two games and are hitting a run of form just in time for these.

Now that 2015-2016 is up and running, next up is Linfield v NSI Runavik in the UEFA Cup on Thursday night. Linfield’s friendly schedule offers a trip to Knockbreda at the end of the month, a new ground for me to visit.

Another ground that i’ll be visiting for the first time to see Linfield play will be Belfast Loughshore Hotel Arena, or Taylor’s Avenue, in old currency.

I’ve just booked a trip to Edinburgh for the Festival, but of course, i’ll be planning to take in a game. The game on while i’m there is Hearts v Partick. There’s also midweek games on in the League Cup, so hopefully, Hibs will be at home, or even a team easily commutable (Fife/Falkirk) that week.

With regards to Manchester United, i’m looking at Sunderland in September and Bournemouth in May, and possible some more.

So that’s me off and running for 2015-2016, a season I hope will end in France in June.

Photo Album

Bray v Drogheda 2014


I took a trip down to Dublin at the weekend. I usually go to Dublin once a year, usually for an event and I end up staying over for a few days.

No events for me this year, so I decided to head down for a day some Saturday. While I was down there, I decided I would get some Street Art pictures while I was there.

I cheated a bit, by making a list of possible places to visit from a handy resource called Wallop Dublin, a website dedicated to Street Art in Dublin.

I also had previous knowledge of the city and revisited places I had previously been to to see if there was any updated work.

One such place I had hoped to photograph was Tivoli Car Park in Francis Street, but unfortunately it was closed whenever I visited. I’ll make a note to revisit there the next time in Dublin.

A major source of inspiration for Street Art is the recent Same Sex Marriage Referendum, and I spotted some stuff relating to this.

I was in the City Centre throughout my time there. Despite having a list of places to visit, I still found myself walking around and getting lost and exploring it that way.

Meanwhile, back in Belfast, there’s a new mural at the side of The Rotterdam Bar to commemorate the Tall Ships.

I haven’t have a chance to snap it yet, but if you want to see what it looks like, you can find it on Extramural Activity.

Photo Album

Dublin Street Art 2014

Dublin Street Art 2013

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 26.6.2015

1. Beck – Dreams
2. Oh Wonder – Livewire
3. Of Monsters And Men – Empire
4. Duran Duran – Pressure Off
5. Oasis – Don’t Look Back In Anger

This week, it was announced that New Order will be releasing new material and touring later this year. I used to think that the day would never come (Sorry!)

Hopefully, there’ll be a Belfast gig, and it won’t be like their Titanic Slipways one in 2012 that got cancelled joining Razorlight in Moira in 2011 as great Northern Ireland cancelled gigs.

Anyway, here’s a New Order Top Five


1. True Faith
2. Blue Monday
3. Temptation
4. Regret
5. Crystal


You may have noticed a new title. First of all, congratulations to Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk on becoming the 102nd club to reach a European final.

So, what is the 102 Club? Simple, it’s a task to watch every club that has played in a final of one of the three (European Cup, European Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Cup) European competitions. It was inspired by an article I saw about it in When Saturday Comes in 2010, so I decided to keep a note of my own progress.

I’d need a lottery win to have a chance of completing this. I’d be the sort of person who would spend a lottery win watching fallen East German giants now playing in lower leagues.

There are no official rules in place, but i’m counting teams I saw before they reached a final (Middlesbrough) and friendlies (Benfica, Feyenoord, Rangers)

I’m currently on 34, having added Espanyol, Sevilla and Valencia to my list over the past season. So, what are my chances of adding more teams in 2015-2016?

Well, there is the tantalising prospect of Ipswich Town playing Shelbourne in a friendly on July 11th. Ipswich are the English team on the list that I don’t have.

It’s the draw for the first round in both competitions tomorrow, and there are teams on the list who could be coming to Northern Ireland.

In the European Cup, Crusaders are unseeded in the First Round. If they make it through to the Second Round, possible ties against Steaua Bucharest, Celtic, Dinamo Zagreb, Partizan Belgrade, Malmo or Videton await.

Now, if they were to get to the Third Round, the only new entrant they could face would be Red Bull Salzburg, due to the competition being split into Champions and Non-Champions at this stage.

In the UEFA Cup, Linfield are seeded, but can still face a member of the 102 Club in the shape of Hungarian duo of Ferencvaros and MTK Budapest.

Remember Randers, Linfield’s UEFA Cup opponents in 2009-2010? They’re in this season’s competition but are seeded and can’t face Linfield, which might be a disappointment or a relief for the Todd family, with Randers manager Colin Todd being denied the chance to face his son Andy, Assistant Manager at Linfield.

They’re not on the list anyway, but a possible father v son clash was a nice curiousity. I have witnessed twins on opposing sides before.

My hope for Linfield is UCD (easy to get to, should win) or Colleague Europa (worst ranked team in the competition)

A tie against UCD would mean I would only have one more football stadium in Dublin to visit before getting the full set. That’s another list for another time.

If Todd Senior might be heading to The Oval or Mourneview Park this summer, what clubs that are on the list might be heading there?

The standout one is West Ham United, getting a Fair Play place. Also on the list are Slovan Bratislava, Red Star Belgrade, Dinamo Tblisi and Aberdeen.

If any of the three get to the Second Round, a possible tie against IFK Gothernborg awaits.

Round Three has some plum ties if Linfield, or any other Irish League team, can get past the Second Round hurdle they have fallen at in the last few years. Ties against sides such as Borussia Dortmund, Athletic Bilbao, AZ Alkmaar, Standard Liege, Bordeaux, Sampdoria and Saint Etienne would definitely generate a lot of interest for Irish League teams.

At some point before Christmas, i’m planning to head to one of Manchester United’s group games, the competition to be determined, so hopefully that will give me an opportunity to add another club to the list.

Today, several media outlets are reporting that Cardiff might be hosting the 2017 European Cup Final. Having been to Cardiff for last year’s European Super Cup Final, that would be absolutely fantastic.

It’s a city i’ve loved visiting, and this would give me a good excuse to go back, just to sample the atmosphere.

A European Cup Final in Cardiff could harm Belfast’s chances of hosting that summer’s European Super Cup Final on the basis that UEFA might be reluctant to have two finals in the UK in the same year, assuming the much rumoured IFA bid is for 2017.

So, want to see how many teams you here. The full list is below. The teams i’ve seen are in bold, with the year first seen in brackets.

1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig
1. FC Magdeburg
1860 Munich
Aberdeen (2011)
Ajax (2012)

Arsenal (2003)
AS Monaco
Aston Villa (1993)
Athletic Bilbao
Atlético Madrid (2011)
Austria Wien
AZ Alkmar
Barcelona (2011)
Bayer Leverkusen
Bayern Munich
Benfica (2000)
Birmingham City (2010)

Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Mönchengladbach
Braga (2011)
Carl Zeiss Jena
Casino Salzburg
Celtic (2009)
Chelsea (1997)

Club Brugge
CSKA Moscow
Deportivo Alavés
Dinamo Tbilisi
Dinamo Zagreb (2008)
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Dundee United (2013)
Dynamo Kyiv
Dynamo Moscow
Eintracht Frankfurt
Espanyol (2015)
Everton (2014)

Feyenoord (1999)
Fortuna Düsseldorf
Fulham (2001)
Górnik Zabrze
IFK Göteborg
Ipswich Town
KV Mechelen
Leeds United (1999)
Liverpool (1994)

Malmö FF
Manchester City (2000)
Manchester United (1993)
Marseille (1992)

Middlesbrough (1995)
AC Milan
MTK Hungária
Newcastle United (1993)
Nottingham Forest (1996)

Paris Saint-Germain
Porto (2011)
PSV Eindhoven
Rangers (2002)
Rapid Wien
Real Madrid (2003)
Real Mallorca
Real Zaragoza
Red Star Belgrade
Roma (2007)
Royal Antwerp
Schalke 04
Sevilla (2015)
Shakhtar Donetsk
Slovan Bratislava
Sporting CP
Stade de Reims
Standard Liège
Steaua București
Tottenham Hotspur (2010)
Valencia (2015)
VfB Stuttgart
Werder Bremen
West Ham United (1997)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (2010)

Zenit Saint Petersburg

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 19.6.2015

1. Frank Turner – The Next Storm
2. Walk The Moon – Shut Up And Dance
3. Courtney Barnett – Dead Fox
4. Muse – Mercy
5. Catfish and the Bottlemen – Hourglass

Today, tickets go on sale for Duran Duran’s tour in November/December. Unfortunately, there’s no Belfast gig. The tour begins in Manchester on Friday 27th November. If United were at home that weekend, i’d be making a weekend of it. Unfortunately, they’re away to Leicester City. Damm you Premier League Fixture Computer.

So it looks like i’m going to be crossing my fingers for a Belfast gig to be announced later.

If you’re reading this John, Simon, Roger and Nick – Spandau played Belfast this year. You don’t want Belfast folk to like Spandau more than you. Just saying.

To get you in the mood, here’s five Duran Duran classics for you


1. Wildboys
2. Ordinary World
3. Hungry Like The Wolf
4. Reach Out For The Sunrise
5. Serious

Talking of Manchester, last weekend was Manchester Day, so here’s five great things about Manchester.


1. Old Trafford
2. Empire Exchange
3. Northern Quarter
4. National Football Museum
5. Affleck’s

And some Manchester tuneage for you


1. James – She’s A Star
2. Oasis – She Is Love
3. New Order – True Faith
4. The Buzzcocks – Ever Fall In Love
5. Doves – Black and White Town


343 days after it started, for me, the 2014-2015 is over, and the 2015-2016 season isn’t that far away. There was a lot of matches, memories and photographs.

We’ve already had a month by month round-up, and now it’s time to look back at my favourites, and you can vote for your favourite.


It’s not a perfect photo. I’d have loved it if the celebrating players were more in focus, but what I love about it is how it just sums up the emotion of a late winner in a game where you are underdogs.


Again, it’s all about emotion for me. So many people, their eyes fixed on one person – the man taking the penalty kick. Within seconds they would be celebrating as it was missed.


I just like the composition of this – the crowd with their eyes on the game with the ball in mid air. I don’t know what happened next, but I know it wasn’t a goal.


I went over to the match against Hull in November and had a hotel near the ground. This picture was taken early on a Saturday morning. It felt so strange being outside Old Trafford with it so quiet and peaceful. The people you can see are matchday staff getting ready for the day ahead.


Dragged out of bed on Christmas morning for the Steel and Sons Cup final, I like this photo for the reaction of those in the crowd, and the prominence of the fan in the orange/tangerine/amber santa hat.


During a weekend in Barcelona, I took in a 4th tier game between CE Europa and Masnau. I love how this photo sums up the agony of Europa players as they chased a goal with the score at 0-0. They eventually win 1-0.


I like the symbolism of this, covering the past, present and future of Windsor Park. Capturing the redevelopment of Windsor Park as it was on that date in March, the progress on the Railway Stand which will host future matches, taken from a stand that would soon be consigned to the past. We didn’t know it at the time though.


I like this because of the synchronicity of this with player and supporters all pulling the same pose.


Matches Seen : 55

Goals Seen : 154

(Should be 155, but missed Ciaran Donaghy’s goal for Carrick against PSNI due to running late)

Red Cards : 11

(Doesn’t include Gary Hamilton being sent-off as a non-playing substitue)

Hat-Tricks : 0

Penalties Missed/Saved : 5

Highest Scoring Match : 5

(Glentoran 2-3 Linfield, Linfield 3-2 Ballymena United, Accrington Stanley 2-3 Exeter City, Ballymena United 2-3 Linfield, Linfield 3-2 Portadown, Carrick Rangers 4-1 Harland and Wolff Welders, Bangor 2-3 Ards, Portadown 3-2 Linfield)

Countries Seen Matches In : 6

(England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, Spain, Wales)

Teams Seen : 43

(Accrington Stanley, AIK Solna, Ards, Arsenal, B36 Torshavn, Bangor, Ballinamallard United, Ballyclare Comrades, Ballymena United, Bray Wanderers, Carrick Rangers, CE Europa, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Cowdenbeath, Crusaders, Drogheda United, Dungannon Swifts, Espanyol, Exter City, Faroe Islands, Finland, Glenavon, Glentoran, Harland and Wolff Welders, Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Hull City, Institute, Linfield, Manchester United, Masnau, Northern Ireland, Portadown, PSNI, Qatar, Real Madrid, Romania, Sevilla, Scotland, Tobermore United, Valencia, Warrenpoint Town)

Competitions Watched : 14

(Euro 2016, European Super Cup, FA Premier League, Football League Two, Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship, League Of Ireland, La Liga, Northern Ireland League Cup, Scottish Championship, Steel and Sons Cup, Tercera Division, UEFA Cup)

Grounds Visited : 23

(Ballymena Showgrounds, Cardiff City Stadium, Carlisle Grounds, Clandeboye Park, Crown Ground, Dixon Park, Drumahoe, Estadi Cornella-El Prat, Ferney Park, Fortwilliam Park, Gresty Road, Hampden Park, Milltown, Mourneview Park, Newforge, Nou Sardenya, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Stangmore Park, The Oval, Tynecastle, Windsor Park)


As the season was winding down, the matches were less frequent, now a fortnightly thing.

I began May with the Irish Cup Final in the Portadown end, getting drenched, having to park at The Odyssey and the barrier eating my ticket, and to compound the misery – Glentoran won the cup.

Two weeks later was my second trip of the season to Old Trafford, with Arsenal being the visitors in a game that finished 1-1.

Two weeks later, I was back in the North-West of England, to see Northern Ireland take on Qatar in Crewe. Most of the appeal of the game was the opportunity to visit another ground for the first time.

Near to a train station and with a programme shop, Crewe gets a thumbs up from me.

The next day was spent in Liverpool. I had some spare time on my hands, and headed to Goodison Park, in search of a mural of Dixie Dean i’d read about, but doesn’t appear to be there anymore.

Undeterred by this, I decided to get some photos of the exterior of the ground.

Two weeks later, one last game, Northern Ireland’s European Championship Qualifier against Romania, and an opportunity to experience the new Railway Stand at Windsor Park for he first time.

It was the only 0-0 draw I saw all season.

Glentoran v Portadown

Glentoran v Portadown Photo Album

Manchester United v Arsenal

Manchester United v Arsenal Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Qatar

Northern Ireland v Qatar Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Romania

Northern Ireland v Romania Photo album


As supporters entered the Railway Stand, they were greeted with a sign with an image of a construction worker with the caption “All set and ready to go”

It might have been referring to the Railway Stand, but Northern Ireland fans were hoping if would apply to the footballers on the pitch, who like the builders off it, have battled against the odds during this qualifying campaign.

Fans got used to their new surroundings, on an evening that the weather resembled that of Fr …..

I can’t say it, it’s almost taboo to mention the name of that country that Northern Ireland are hoping to play in next summer.

Hope for Northern Ireland came from that the fact that Romania had lost on both their previous visits to Windsor Park. Their last competitive visit, in 1984, was the night the North Stand was opened.

Fate would bring Romania to Windsor Park on the night the Railway Stand and South Stand would be used it first time. It certainly wasn’t planned that way in the construction schedule.

More recent inspiration, came in the form of Wales win over Belgium the previous night, with Northern Ireland hoping their side would get a similar result against higher ranked opponents.

The night didn’t get off to a good start, as news filtered through of the result from the 5pm kick-off, with Hungary winning 1-0 in Finland to cut the gap behind Northern Ireland to 1 point.

Northern Ireland would be finishing the night in a qualifying position regardless, but it could be a lot less comfortable than it was on Saturday morning.

The big team news for Northern Ireland, came with the inclusions of Michael McGovern and Stuart Dallas. McGovern was playing in place of the injured Roy Carroll, while Dallas was rewarded with a start after impressive performances against Finland and Qatar.

A regular performer for his club, and having played in a Scottish Cup Final, there was no fear of McGovern having a “Scott Carson type of night”

McGovern didn’t have a lot to do, but what he did do, he did well. Romania had some speculative shots on goal early on, but McGovern was in the right position to save if the shot was on target.

There was one moment of worry when Romania attempted to shoot directly from a corner, but McGovern was able to get back to his post to stop the ball going in.

You could see that the Romanians had the technical ability to punish Northern Ireland if they got a clear sight at goal. Northern Ireland didn’t help themselves with a couple of stray passes. Anytime Romania got in or around the penalty area, there was usually enough bodies to get rid of the danger.

Northern Ireland were holding their own. It was clear they were trying to get Kyle Lafferty as much of the ball as possible. They weren’t hoofing it to him, they were playing it to him.

As well as Lafferty played, he had the ball in the wrong areas. Northern Ireland needed him to be in the box to be on the end of the attacks he was starting. If only he could be cloned.

Northern Ireland’s best moments came when Chris Brunt caused a bit of a scramble by attempting a Paul Scholes v Bradford, and Jonny Evans having a header spectacularly saved by Romania’s keeper.

As the second-half kicked off, Northern Ireland attacked the new Railway Stand, where their fans who had previously occupied The Kop were based.

Romania’s keeper had a few dodgy goal kicks which gave away possession. Northern Ireland fans behind the goal were less than sympathetic.

Northern Ireland had a late rally, with fans hopeful of a dramatic late winner. When the ball fell to Kyle Lafferty after a corner, it looked like being it, but his snapshot was saved by Romania’s keeper.

It was a game either side could have won, so a draw was a fair result. The real winners were Hungary.

The only sour note of the night was a photographer being hit with a banger thrown from the Romanian section of the crowd. A steward also required treatment during the incident. I couldn’t see if he was hit as well or if it was from shock at being close to the bang that went off.

3rd place Hungary are now just two points behind Northern Ireland. It’s the same position after the game in Romania, but now two games further on.

Romania and Hungary face each other in the next matchday. The ideal result is a Romania win. Not only would it make the dream of qualification closer, but it would kill Hungary’s momentum before they arrive at Windsor Park later that week.

There’s nothing Northern Ireland can do about Budapest, so it’s not worth worrying about. Northern Ireland must worry about themselves, and their game against the Faroe Islands.

Whatever Hungary do against Romania, Northern Ireland must ensure Hungary arrive at Windsor Park to face a Northern Ireland team three points better off than now.

Faroe Islands beat Greece last night to do the double over them. A great result for Northern Ireland as it will kill the idea of any complacency towards the Faroe Islands.

Greece are effectively out. They’ll be officially eliminated in one of the two matchdays. It’s an incredible decline in such a short space of time, to reach the Quarter-Finals in 2012 and be out of contention a year before Euro 2016.

Hopefully, by the time Greece arrive at Windsor Park, they’ll be gone and fulfilling fixtures. They play Romania, Northern Ireland and Hungary in their final three games of the group.

They might get anywhere near France, but Greece could be the team who decides who does.

Applications for Euro 2016 tickets are now open, and are open for the next month. I’m going to fill out my application in the next week.

I didn’t want to do it in the build-up to this game for fear of putting a scud on things.

348 days after it started, the 2014-2015 season is now over for me. It’s possibly only two weeks before the 2015-2016 season begins for me.

Last night was my 55th match of the season, and it was my first 0-0 draw. It had to be. I should have out money on it.

By the way, that sign that met Northern Ireland fans as they entered the North Stand, the caption in full read “All set and ready to go!! Next match expect even more”

Let’s hope so.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 12.6.2015

1. FFS – Piss Off
2. The Strypes – Get Into It
3. Natalie Prass – Bird Of Prey
4. FFS – Call Girl
5. The Fratellis – Me And The Devil

This week has seen the opening of Live At The Marquee, a month long festival of music and comedy, set in a marquee in Cork.

Every year I keep telling myself i’m going to go, and then I end up not going. If the Noel Gallagher gig was on a weekend instead of a Tuesday, i’d be there. I haven’t got as much Annual Leave to use as i’d like.

Maybe next year will be the year, as I do want to visit Cork again, having not been since 1999.

If you are lucky enough to be heading over, here’s a chart for you based on the acts performing


1. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – AKA …… What A Life
2. The Waterboys – The Whole Of The Moon
3. Beck – Blue Moon
4. The Vamps ft Demi Lovato – Somebody To You
5. Billy Idol – Hot In The City