LINFIELD 2-0 CARRICK RANGERS 30.1.2016

Linfield ended the month with their fourth game of the month at Windsor Park (it would have been their fifth if it wasn’t for the postponement against Dungannon Swifts), hoping that it would be better than the third game of the month, the County Antrim Shield Final.

Linfield were quick on the attack and took the lead from their first set piece, a corner which was cleared, but Kirk Millar made the most of his second opportunity to play the ball in, for Mark Stafford to head home from close range.

It was the early goal that Linfield didn’t get when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Carrick in October.

Within minutes, it should have been 2-0, when Paul Smyth got in behind Carrick’s defence, only to find his shot saved by Carrick’s goalkeeper.

Soon after, Ross Gaynor fired over from close range unmarked after a cross. The game could have been over before it had even begun.

Sean Ward headed over from a corner a couple of minute later.

Linfield needed a second goal, and it wasn’t long in coming. A series of short and quick passes saw the ball go from centre of defence to Ross Gaynor on the left wing to cross for Andrew Waterworth to touch the ball home.

That wasn’t the end of the first-half action, as Ross Gaynor had a goal disallowed for offside. It was all one way traffic.

Naturally, the second-half was a non event. Linfield just had to make sure they kept Carrick and didn’t ancourage them back into the game.

Bar a flurry of corners, Linfield’s defence had a quiet afternoon.

The main talking point of the second-half was a two footed tackle by Conor McCluskey on Mark Stafford which only got him a yellow card.

I was at the other end of the ground and didn’t realise how bad it was until I saw the TV footage, a very poor decision to only award a yellow card. And that’s me being polite.

The only thing you could say in the referee’s defence, was that he got distracted by the melee which followed and his judgement would have been affected by having to deal with two incidents at the same time. It wasn’t. He had his yellow card out ready to show whenever both sets of players were squaring up to each other.

Having scored his first goal for Linfield last week, Ross Gaynor was played through by Jamie Mulgrew and looked set to score his first goal at Windsor Park, only to find his shot was saved.

If Linfield had got a third goal, we would have seen the introduction of some new signings off the bench. They did come, but a bit later than hoped.

Michael McLellan came on for Paul Smyth, having scored a lot of goals in not a lot of games for Harland and Wolff Welders. Hopefully, an away pre-seasom friendly is part of the deal.

With the game won, the attacking wasn’t as intense as it would have been earlier, so he didn’t get a lot of opportunities to showcase his abilities.

He got more than Stephen Fallon, who got the final minute of injury time.

Not the most exciting game, but that’s not a complaint. Carrick at home is the sort of game you should get the result and move on to the next game (even though Linfield didn’t actually do that in October)

That next game, is Dungannon Swifts at home, and an opportunity to go to within six points of Crusaders, with Crusaders facing Glenavon and Cliftonville in the next two matchdays, and Cliftonville not playing a league match until 20th February.

Three league wins in a row, three clean sheets and progress in the Irish Cup. Not a bad start to the year. County Antrim Shield would have been nice but it’s the League and Cup that matter.

Hopefully, February (and March, April and May) will be more of the same.

Photo Album

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THE KOOKS – LIVE AT ALBERT HALL MANCHESTER 23.1.2016

Exactly ten years since the release of their debut album, Inside In Inside Out, The Kooks were in Manchester for a concert at Albert Hall, a city that singer Luke Pritchard said gives him a tingle every time he visits there.

It was a gig that was supposed to have taken place the previous month, but was cancelled due to one of their members suffering a family bereavement.

Upon hearing that the rescheduled date would be on the weekend I would be in Manchester, I decided to get a ticket, especially as they were so good when I saw them at Mandela Hall in 2015.

Inside In Inside Out got to Number 2 in the album charts in 2006, and spawned the hit singles Naive, She Moves In Her Own Way and Ooh La.

The follow up, Konk went to Number 1 and spawned the Number 3 single Always Where I Need To Be. It looked like The Kooks were going to be one of the biggest bands in the world.

Then, well, nobody knows what actually happened next. It does seem unjust that a band like The Libertines were playing Manchester Arena on the night The Kooks were playing Albert Hall.

During the set, Luke Pritchard engaged in what will be the biggest concert cliche of the early months of 2016, toasting the recently departed David Bowie.

The Kooks had good reason to though, as they (just like Simple Minds) got their name from a David Bowie song.

The whole show was basically just people jumping up and down and from side to side. Unsurprisingly, the biggest jumps were saved for their biggest hits – Forgive and Forget, Naive, Ooh La, She Moves In Her Own Way, Always Where I Need To Be and Shine On.

Hopefully, when the 20th anniversary of Inside In Inside Out comes around, The Kooks will still be touring and making people jump up and down and from side to side.

Photo Album

The Kooks Live At Mandela Hall March 2015

The Kooks Live At Mandela Hall March 2015 Photo Album

MANCHESTER UNITED 0-1 SOUTHAMPTON 23.1.2016

Last weekend, I headed to Old Trafford for the second time this season. The last time I headed over, things were looking great. United were top of the league and knew that a home win over PSV Eindhoven would send them into the Last 16 of the European Cup with a game to spare.

And then it went ever so slightly wrong. An eight match winless run followed, elimination from the European Cup and falling behind in the league.

Then, a five match unbeaten run, progress in the FA Cup and everything was looking great again. Well, not quite, but it’s all relative.

I’d waited a while for this game, having booked the weekend away last July. I’d hoped (and thought) that this game would be moved by Sky to a Sunday, freeing me up to take in another game in the Greater Manchester area on the Saturday.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. On top of that, Suede were doing an instore gig at HMV at 2pm on Saturday. So that was two things I was missing out on to see United. Let’s hope it was worth it.

Not a lot was going on in the early stages, United’s best moment was a speculative long range shot from Daley Blind.

That was as good as it got for United in the first-half.

Despite not having a clear strike on goal, Southampton looked the most believable team to score, getting the ball forward and having players make runs in attacking positions.

It didn’t always come off, but if you keep doing the right things, eventually, you’ll get it right.

It should have done for Southampton when a one-two between Sadio Mane and Dusan Tadic saw Sadio Mane be through on goal, but he couldn’t get the ball under his control to shoot at goal.

Half-time, 0-0. Boos rang out at Old Trafford. I can’t say booing is something i’d do. I couldn’t put up an argument against anyone who did.

When at Old Trafford, I usually head out to the concourse at half-time to watch the highlights of the first-half on the TV screens. There were none I could think of that i’d want to watch again.

As is now tradition, Social Media lit up with the stat about half-time scores at Old Trafford, all 0s barring Norwich City’s goal in December. The only people who would be excited by that would be Binary Code enthusiasts.

I’m not sure if lots of 0s and a solitary 1 is a good thing in Binary Code. It’s certainly not a good thing in football.

Things can change so easily in football. Having left the field to jeers, United returned to cheers. The first-half was forgotten about. The game was level, and there was 45 minutes to win it.

Juan Mata came on for Marouane Fellaini. Old Trafford universally approved of this.

There was a brief flurry from Untied, but it died down, and reverted back to the first-half performance. Southampton looked to have the first chance of the half from a counter attack. but where thrwarted by a clearance from Matteo Darmian to deny Shane Long, who got injured making it.

Again, more backwards passes. Old Trafford voiced it’s disapproval. There was actually one occasion when a pass backwards was booed even though it was the right decision.

However, once the player who received the ball had it, nobody ran for him. He had nowhere to play it to. Suddenly, a good pass to keep possession and build to go forward became another bad pass going backwards by a lack of forward movement.

Even when United did go forward, they would soon lose it, giving away possession cheaply. Even worse, a lot of the time, it came from their own throw ins. One incident summed up the game for United.

Morgan Schneiderlin took a quick free-kick which hit the referee and set up a Southampton attack. It was United’s best attacking move of the game, and it was for the opposition.

Frustrated by what they were seeing, United fans chanted for Adnan Januzaj to come on. Eventually he did. Soon after, there was a goal. Unfortunately, it came for Southampton, when Charlie Austin headed home from a free-kick.

87 minutes on the clock, there wasn’t a lot of time for United to strike back. In truth, if Southampton had scored in the first ten seconds, United wouldn’t have looked like getting an equaliser.

Five minutes added time was signalled for, Old Trafford roared United on with this news. It was false hope.

United’s only moment came when a Adnan Januzaj shot went wide. It looked closer than it was when you watched it in real time.

That was it, a win for Southampton. United’s feint title hopes suffered a blow, as did their top four hopes.

People will tolerate bad performances if you are getting results. People will tolerate bad results if performances suggest the results will get better.

United are having the (im)perfect storm of bad results and performances. Only one shot on goal, and it was a speculative one at that.

In terms of Old Trafford visits, i’m hoping to head over for the Bournemouth game in May, United’s last game of the season. Well, in the league, hopefully there’ll be at least one cup final after that.

It’s all the hope we’ve got at the moment.

MANCHESTER STREET ART JANUARY 2016

Was over in Manchester last weekend. Primarily, for the football, which was like watching paint dry.

However, the trip was salvaged by some paint that was actually dry, Street Art in the city. For Street Art in Manchester, the first port of call is the Northern Quarter, where I spotted some new pieces, most notably on Tib Street.

Considering that my last visit to Manchester was two months ago, it was unsurprising that a lot of the stuff I photographed was still there, even taking into account the quick turnover of Street Art in some cities.

There was a work in progress piece when I arrived on Friday, which ended up being completed by the time I left on Monday.

When I was last in Manchester in November, there were street pillars being painted. I had a look at the finished pieces, which go all the way up Oldham Street, which relates to a project called 16 Days Of Street Art, where female artists paint female icons throughout history.

The last time I was in Manchester, i’d plannedo n checking out the pieces on Salford Quays, but I didn’t get the chance to do so, so I planned to do so on this visit.

On Saturday, I took a wrong turn and got lost, and was stuck for time to get back on track due to meeting friends before the match.

So, on Sunday, I decided to try again, only to discover that part of the walkway at Salford Quays is closed due to subsidence.

It seemed like I was destined not to get photos of the Street Art along Salford Quays.

Well, not quite. I remembered that the Cornbrook Metrolink served where the Street Art ends, so I had a quick change in direction and hopped on the tram.

So, that was my latest Street Art adventures in Manchester. I haven’t given up on United yet, so i’ll hopefully be back at some point in 2016 to photograph some more.

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : Q – MARCH 2011

Liam Gallagher is the cover star of Q as he prepares to launch the debut album of Beady Eye, a band comprising of the non Noel Gallagher members of Oasis.

If you look closely, in Liam’s shades, you can see the other members of Beady Eye in his reflection.

In “Q Mail”, Simon Hunt e-mails to respond to previous correspondence complaining about Take That appearing in Q, while cheekily asking when Justin Bieber will be appearing on Cash For Questions.

Jonathan Paul from Leicester contacts Q to complain about their ignoring of Ian Matthews and Chris Edwards in Kasabian articles, in comparison to Serge Pizzorno and Tom Meighan.

Q50 is a feature of the 50 songs you should download this month. Top of the pile was The Beat Goes On by cover stars Beady Eye.

Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol gets a guest submission, choosing Coal by The Mariner’s Children.

In news, Alex Turner records solo songs for a movie soundtrack, Green Day release a live album, The Kills are reforming and Beth Ditto is going on a solo career.

Featuring forthcoming albums, Glasvegas get a double page spread for their as yet titled new album.

Also working hard in the studio were Hard-Fi, with a propsed release date given as “Summer 2011”

Q dedicates a full page to a phone interview with Plan B, where he reveals that Forrest Gump is the one movie that makes him cry.

Tipped for greatness this month are The Joy Formidable, Miles Kane and MNDR.

Shaun Ryder is the subject of this month’s Cash For Questions, answering questions about Tony Wilson, UFOs and Reality TV.

In ads, Paul McCartney stars in an advert for PETA.

There are nine pages dedicated to cover stars Beady Eye, with Liam Gallagher claiming that “People will be calling their kids Beady Eye by the end of the year”

It’s not all about Liam, as Gem, Andy and Chris get profiled, looking at their musical CVs pre Oasis.

Junior Gallagher had gotten the first blow in to release post Oasis music, but Senior Gallagher (Noel) was at work on his debut solo album, with 17 tracks believed to have been recorded, one of which has Miles Kane on guitar, and was set for release in late summer.

Noel’s (using the name of Noel Galagher’s High Flying Birds) self titled debut album was eventually released in October 2011.

KT Tunstall gets a full page interview, where she denounces her stepdad, who was a BNP candidate.

Riding high on the success of Rolling In The Deep, Adele gets a four page profile.

Cee Lo Green is gets interviewed by Q, where he discusses his favourite albums.

Another band riding high in the charts, were Noah and the Whale, who got a three page feature.

2011 was the year that saw the 20th anniversary of the death of Freddie Mercury, and Q interviews Roger Taylor and Brian May, ahead of a feature about unseen Queen photographs being made public for the first time.

In reviews, Beady Eye’s debut album Different Gear, Still Speeding gets four stars.

Also getting four stars was Clare Maguire’s debut album Light After Dark and Hotel Shampoo by Gruff Rhys.

If Bruce Springsteen is your thing, Q has a handy guide for those wishing to explore his vast discography.

Concert Reviews sees Paul McCartney get a five star review for a concert at 100 Club in London just before Cristmas 2010.

Also getting five stars were The View for their pre Christmas gigs in Sheffield and Stoke.

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 22.1.2016

1. The Coral – Miss Fortune
2. Wyvern Lingo – Letter To Willow
3. Travis – 3 Miles High
4. The 1975 – The Sound
5. Nerina Pallot – If I Had A Girl

Well G’Day, it’s Australia Day on Tuesday and it would not to have a playlist for you from Australia’s musical talent.

FIVE SONGS BY AUSTRALIAN ACTS

1. Steffan Dennis – Don’t It Make You Feel Good
2. Kylie Minogue – I Believe In Love
3. Sheppard – Geronimo
4. Natalie Imbruglia – Want
5. Angry Anderson – Suddenly

BOWIE

When news of his death emerged earlier this month, there was only going to be one point of pilgrimage for David Bowie’s fans to pay tribute to their idol – The mural of him in Brixton, where he grew up.

That mural was the first thing i’d thought of whenever the news filtered through just before 7am on 11th January. I’d actually visited it in 2014, purely by accident. I’ll get to that later. Due to the nature of street art, I wasn’t sure if it would still be there nearly two years later, but i’m glad it was.

In 2014, I headed to London for a weekend away. Checking the concert listings, I saw that Tom Odell was playing in Brixton. I’d wanted to go to this but there were no tickets available online, so I thought i’d pop down to the venue box office to chance my arm.

While there, I stumbled upon the mural of Bowie. For the record, I wasn’t able to get a ticket for Tom Odell. Still, getting to see a mural of David Bowie made it a worthwhile trip to Brixton.

If you want to see David Bowie immortalised on a wall, you don’t have to go to Brixton though.

Withing days of his death, two tributes appeared in Dublin – One in Francis Street (A renowned Street Art hotspot) and another one in Richmond Street.

I’ve no immediate plans to visit Dublin, but I do plan on at least doing a day trip during the summer. Hopefully, when I do arrive there, both pieces will still be there for me to see in the flesh.

Not to be outdone, Belfast would soon be getting it’s own mural, done by renowned local artist Visual Waste.

I popped down on Tuesday lunchtime when it was a work in progress, and then again when it was a finished piece two days later.

If you want to see it in person, it’s on Gresham Street, beside The Hudson Bar.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : FOOTBALL ITALIA – JUNE 1996

It’s the summer of 1996 and Fabrizio Ravanelli is the cover star of Football Italia, as he gets ready to head to England for Euro 96. Little did we know, that a few months later, he would be making England his permanent residence.

The editorial focuses on Channel 4 clarifying that they’re not ditching their live coverage of Serie A, as they were unable to show recent games due to a combination of players taking strike action, and games being moved to Saturday.

In news, Fabio Capello is leaving AC Milan for Real Madrid, while Carlo Ancelotti is replacing Nevio Scala at Parma. In transfer news, Aron Winter is signing for Inter, while Gianluca Vialli has held talks with Parma, Rangers and several Premier League clubs.

There was a double page spread dedicated to the recent player strike in protest at the governing body negotiating a TV deal without consulting players and the increase of violence in stadiums. Gianluca Vialli’s involvement in organising the strike saw him be nicknamed “Robin Hood”

In more news, Mark Fish has signed for Lazio, becoming the first South African to play in Series A, while Michael Jackson was staying in the same hotel as the Parma team before their European Cup Winners Cup tie. Fulham supporter Jackson turned down the opportunity of a Parma scarf.

John Helm does a double page spread where he visits Chimney House Hotel in Sandbach, Cheshire, which will be Italy’s base during Euro 96. The hotel had to order in a bed specifically for Italy’s tall goalkeeper Sebastiano Rossi.

Italy weren’t the first team to stay there according to the manager of the hotel, they usually get away teams facing Crewe Alexandra staying there.

There is a four page spread focusing on the rise of players in Italy’s top two divisions who are well into their 30s, such as Pietro Vierchowod, looking forward to a European Cup final at the age of 37.

Football Italia previews Euro 96, with a guide to what games are live on what channel in the UK, and a team by team preview, expecting Italy to beat England in the semi-final before beating Holland in the final. Italy went out in the group stage.

It is predicted that Russia will get a lot of local support at their group matches at Old Trafford and Anfield, due to them having Everton’s former Manchester United player Andrei Kanchelskis in their line-up.

Both finalists, Germany and Czech Republic were predicted to go out in the group stages.

All three European competitions are reviewed ahead of their finals, and it’s a relatively bleak year for Italian football, with Parma (European Cup Winners Cup), Roma and AC Milan (UEFA Cup) all exiting at the quarter-finals.

Juventus are in the European Cup Final to face Ajax, in what is expected to be Gianluca Vialli’s last game for the club.

After Genoa beat Port Vale 5-2 at Wembley, Football Italia does a double page spread asking if the tournament should be scrapped.

James Richardson’s column previews Italy’s chances in England, noting that, for many Italians, the jury is still out on manager Arrigo Sacchi.

Ken Wolstenholme debuts his column, where he went to a Serie A game for the first time, Fiorentina v Juventus, where met the chairman of a London based Fiorentina Supporters Club, who are now on the internet, the link is posted by Wolstenholme.

As the magazine ends, the editor’s column focuses on the vacant England manager position, suggesting that the best contender is working in Serie A – Roy Hodgson of Inter Milan. It only took the FA 16 years to take his advice.

3

LINFIELD 2-3 BALLYMENA UNITED 12.1.2016

Under the moonlight, the serious moonlight, the tannoy at Windsor Park blasted out a tribute to David Bowie pre-match, with Linfield manager David Healy hoping his side could be heroes, and claim his first trophy in the job, and hopefully act as a springboard to some golden years.

It would have continued an impressive run of results for Healy, having been described as under pressure by some media outlets after four successive defeats in November.

Linfield, going through a lot of changes on and off the pitch, their stars look very different today to those that were lining up in years gone by under David Jeffrey.

As ever, all the young dudes of Blue Unity, complete with a little drummer boy, created the sound and vision.

Both side trade early blows. Linfield’s best effort was a Guy Bates shot was blocked, before Jamie Mulgrew burst through and hit the bar.

Despite that, Linfield were flat and never really got going. Ballymena took the lead when a set piece into the six yard box was headed home by Paddy McNally.

It was clear that Linfield were missing their starman of late, Paul Smyth, as they huffed and puffed but never looked like getting an equaliser before half-time.

Like in their previous two Shield Finals against Ballymena, Linfield found themselves 1-0 down at half-time. Those in the North Stand were hoping it would be a repeat of 2005/2006 rather than 2012/2013.

Linfield started better in the second-half, Andrew Waterworth getting space but firing his shot wide from an angle. Soon after, Guy Bates fired into the empty net from close range after a scramble.

Ballymena players lost their discipline and had a flurry of yellow cards. The game had now swung in Linfield’s favour.

Linfield now had their tails up and went in search of a second, but were shocked when a speculative David Cushley strike went in via a deflection. It was back to square one.

Linfield responded with a Niall Quinn header hitting the top of the bar, and Jimmy Callacher’s not getting the contact with a close range header he wanted. Sean Ward fired a shot just wide.

If Linfield were to get back into the game, they weren’t going to have a lot of match time in order to do so, with the usual charad of Ballymena players taking an ages with set pieces and kicking the ball as far away as possible Everytime the whistle blew for a stoppage.

The referee seemed content to be made a mug of.

Calamitous defending allowed Eóin Kane in to fire in off the bar to make it 3-1, and that seemed to be that.

With five minutes to go, Linfield got a lifeline when Mark Stafford headed home. Attack after attack followed, with both Kirk Millar both hit the woodwork. Linfield could claim they were unlucky, they really shouldn’t have been in that situation, giving away three bad goals.

As the final minute of injury time approached, a throw went to Andrew Waterworth who miscontrolled it straight out for a throw to Ballymena. That summed up the night.

The final whistle blew, and Ballymena fans were dancing in the street, and Linfield fans left with feelings of sorrow.

It’s a minor trophy, but it still would have been nice to win. It’s not the benchmark of Linfield’s season and should never be.

There was one positive for Linfield. It wasn’t at Windsor Park though, that came across the city at Solitude as Cliftonville could only manage a draw at home to Carrick Rangers, meaning they failed to take advantage of their game in hand and missed the opportunity to go above Linfield.

Time to get back on the wagon and try and get as many points on the board and see where that takes us. After all, it’s where we finish in Northern Ireland rather than County Antrim that matters.

Photo Album