You may remember in March last year, a piece about a mural in progress in East Belfast, where the Eastside Visitor Centre is.

It is a collage of famous people and landmarks associated with East Belfast. A full list of those featuring on the wall can be found here.

Back then, it was a building site. When I wrote the original blog, I promised I would update you when the building work was completed. So, just over a year later, it is now a garden that people can enjoy, relax, and most importantly, get closer to the mural if you want to get a photo of it.

You can also get a bite to eat while doing so, at Pot Kettle Black, which opened a few weeks ago.

The group East Belfast Partnership has been behind this. They posted a then and now of the area on their Twitter page.

If you’re into Street Art in East Belfast, keep an eye out on Pansy Street for the mural of CS Lewis to be repainted. There is no confirmed date for that yet.

That was covered in a previous blog, looking at some new pieces that appeared in East Belfast in March 2018.

And fingers crossed that Hit The East will return in August after debuting in 2017.

Photographed from late 2017 until April 2018, here’s a look at how a mural that was obstructed to the public became the focal point of a garden that locals and visitors to East Belfast can visit as part of the Connswater Greenway.

Photo Album


Last week, I entered Windsor Park to the sound of Some Kind Of Bliss, it was a song title not in keeping with Linfield’s season.

This week, the song on the tannoy as I entered the ground was You’re In A Bad Way by Saint Etienne. Sadly, apt, but the season was still retrievable.

This was one of five games on the final day with something riding on it.

Linfield were in the hunt for 3rd place, that would guarantee automatic qualification to the UEFA Cup if Coleraine win the Irish Cup.

Linfield kicked-off one point behind Glenavon, but while Glenavon faced a side going for the title, Linfield were facing a team locked in 5th and looking forward to the Irish Cup Final. That was reflected in their starting eleven.

Linfield’s starting eleven had three changes from their last match. Mark Haughey was suspended and replaced by Joe Crowe and Josh Robinson was replaced by Stephen Lowry.

Goals from Achille Campion and Kurtis Byrne against Coleraine gave David Healy a selection headache with Andrew Waterworth returning from a one match ban.

On Monday morning, young Ryan Strain was injured in a car collision. I don’t know any more about that other than what was posted on the club’s website. Naturally, best wishes to him.

It’s a minor point in the grand scheme of things, but he played well against Coleraine, making his absence even worse for him. His place was taken by the returning Waterowrth.

Cliftonville’s starting eleven was full of a lot of unfamiliar names. The names that stood out were those not in it – Neeson, J Donnelly, R Donnelly, Gormley, Curran.

This was a match watched from the South Stand. The experiment of allowing Linfield fans to watch from the Railway Stand lasting only one match.

Inside the opening thirty seconds of the match, Linfield had their first promising attack when Achille Campion looked set to get behind Cliftonville’s defence but he just couldn’t get clear of his defender to have a shot.

A goalmouth scramble saw a Jimmy Callacher overhead be blocked by a Cliftonville defender. Shouts for handball by Linfield fans were ambitious.

It was a good positive start by Linfield, though that was something we’d heard before this season.

Cliftonville rode out that storm. Well, it wasn’t really a storm, more of an inconvenient breeze if you want to use a weather analogy, and began to have some attacking possession of their own. No clear opportunities, but Linfield forced into clearances, mostly caused by sloppily giving possession away.

It was being sloppy in possession that would cost Linfield, not a goal, but a player, as Robert Garrett was sent-off for a late tackle on Jude Winchester after miscontrolling the ball.

It was a tackle that he had no chance of winning and didn’t need to be made. It kept up his record of being sent-off every four years against Cliftonville after red cards in 2010 and 2014.

If you’re looking free money in 2022. you know what to bet on.

If Linfield were to play in the UEFA Cup Play-Offs, Garrett would miss the Semi-Final, possibly the Final as well if Linfield get there. As it was his second red card this season, his ban will probably extend into next season.

With Josh Robinson starting a ban on Monday, i’m not sure how many games Andrew Mitchell has been banned for after his red card against Crusaders. With Jamie Mulgrew also injured since mid March, if Linfield do have to face a UEFA Cup Play-Off, they’ll have a crisis in terms of who to pick in midfield.

Discipline has been a serious issue for Linfield this season. In four out of five Post-Split matches, Linfield have had at least one, in some cases two, players suspended.

It’s blatantly obvious why that is not a good thing, key players missing in key games, as well as unnecessary disruption in terms of team selection.

You could see Cliftonville players get a boost from this, and Linfield heads go down. There was no rolling up the sleeves and getting on with it, like against Glenavon in November 2016.

With 80 minutes to go with ten men, it was always going to be tough. Linfield didn’t have to look back to November 2016 for inspiration in getting a result with ten men for most of the game, as Atletico Madrid held their own away to Arsenal with ten men for 80 minutes less just two days previously.

How apt, as you could say, as you could say that Cliftonville are the Arsenal of the Irish League. They have a soft centre and you always think they will drop points against lower ranked opponents. When they’re bad, they’re bad. When they’re good, they’re good. Over the next ten minutes, Linfield were to make Cliftonville look very good.

During that period, they went 2-0 up with goals from Jude Winchester and Daniel Reynolds. An already tough task had just got tougher for Linfield.

The only response that Linfield offered was a shot from Andrew Waterworth that went just wide after a pull back from Achille Campion.

You would have thought it was Cliftonville who needed the points to secure 3rd. It was frankly embarrassing from Linfield. This wasn’t even Cliftonville’s first choice team.

It wasn’t just Linfield who were being given the runaround by Cliftonville Reserves, so too was referee Keith Kennedy, who took no action as Clifonville timewsted at will.

The most embarrassing incident came when he stopped the game to allow a Cliftonville player to go into the concourse of The Kop to retrieve a ball that went out for a throw, even though a ballboy standing right beside him offered him an alternative ball.

You wouldn’t see a game being stopped like that in park football.

In truth, Linfield were thankful to be only 2-0 down at half-time.

Cliftonville fans had a more arduous afternoon walking to the Top Tier of the North Stand than their players were having on the pitch.

On the last game of last season, Linfield trailed Cliftonville at half-time. Back then, it was never in doubt that Linfield would come back and win the game, despite how bad they had played in the first-half.

Today, nobody had that belief.

You would have expected a Linfield response in the opening minutes of the second-half. Like most of the season, expectations were not met.

In fact, it was Cliftonville who looked most likely to score, with Conor McDonald firing a long range shot wide, while Ross Lavery had a low shot saved by Roy Carroll, while Carroll had to save a header from Stephen Garrett that looked like it was going to loop in.

Linfield’s response? Erm …….

By now, Stephen Fallon and Louis Rooney had come on for Joe Crowe and Achille Campion.

Out of nowhere, Linfield got a goal back, a header by Jimmy Callacher on 74 minutes. There was only half hearted celebrations from Linfield fans.

That suggested it was just a consolation rather than the start of a fightback.

Mark Stafford had a shot blocked on the line before having a goal disallowed for a foul on Cliftonville’s goalkeeper. It was a soft decision.

Linfield never looking like making it 2-2 to make the disallowed goal an issue.

Cliftonville held out and won the game 2-1.

It was another game that emphasised how badly Linfield miss Jamie Mulgrew when he doesn’t play. There was nobody to keep spirits up after the red card. There was nobody driving the team forward when they needed a goal.

When he gets the ball, you feel like something will happen. That’s why he gets fouled so much. Teams are scared of what he can do when he gets the ball.

There is nobody on the squad who can do what he does. He’s not getting any younger. It’s an issues that will have to be addressed on a long-term and short-term basis.

The result condemned Linfield to the UEFA Cup Play-Offs alongside Ballymena United and Glentoran. The final place will be Cliftonville (If Coleraine win the Irish Cup) or Glenavon (If Cliftonville win the Irish Cup)

It really should have been Linfield hanging on the result of the Irish Cup Final. They only have themselves to blame. Six points dropped against Glentoran, Ballinamallard United and Coleraine cost Linfield, as did the surrender at Seaview two weeks ago.

And that was just the last six weeks.

If Coleraine win the Irish Cup, Linfield will be at home to Glentoran while Cliftonville will be at home to Ballymena United.

If Cliftonville win the Irish Cup, Linfield will be at home to Ballymena United while Glenavon will be at home to Glentoran.

Hear me out, but i’m leaning towards a Cliftonville win in the Irish Cup Final next week.

Mainly because the dates of the games don’t suit me.

The Semi-Finals will be on Wednesday 9th May. I’ve got a ticket for Noel Gallagher at The Odyssey that night. If we’re playing Glentoran, I may be stupid enough to sell my ticket for Noel.

The Final is Saturday 12th May. I’ll be going to Manchester that day for Manchester United v Watford.

It’s my own fault for suggesting last year that the Final should be on a Saturday rather than a Friday, as it was last year.

However, it is still out of order for NIFL to arrange fixtures without consulting my social diary first.

Can’t say i’m feeling optimistic about the Play-Offs. Can’t say any of the following scenarios seem appealing:

Linfield 0-0 Ballymena United (0-1 on penalties)
Linfield 1-2 Glentoran AET
Glenavon 1 (Joel Cooper 90+3) Linfield 0

If Linfield aren’t going into the Play-Offs in great shape, it’s some consolation that neither are any of the other teams. Here’s the form

Glenavon : 1 win in 10 games
Linfield : 0 wins in 3, 6 goals conceded in 3 games
Cliftonville : 1 win in 5 games
Ballymena United : 0 wins and 1 goal in 5 games
Glentoran : 3 defeats in 4 games

The Play-Offs are a farce. It’s a reward for mediocrity. It’s equivalent to the team that finishes 17th in The Championship having an opportunity for promotion to the Premier League.

Check my archive, my view has been consistent on this, even though Linfield would be potentially benefitting from this if Cliftonville win the Irish Cup.

I had the choice of going to United v Arsenal or United v Watford. I’m beginning to think I should have given this game a miss and gone to Old Trafford instead.

If you care about results elsewhere, Crusaders won the League. A victory for hoofball and thuggery. There are too many teams in the League who are scared of Crusaders. Shamefully, Linfield are one of those teams. I thought that nonsense was put to bed in 2016-2017.

On the plus side, they have a lot of players in or approaching their 30s, so it will be fun over the next few years watching them struggle when they all hit a brick wall at the same time.

Ballinamallard got relegated. I do enjoy travelling to Ballinamallard, especially the Retro/Vintage Store in the town. Can’t say I feel too sorry for the tramp that operates the turnstiles who smokes away as you enter the ground.

Carrick Rangers will play Newry City in a Play-Off. I haven’t been to Newry since 2010, so i’m long overdue a visit.

In other Play-Offs, Cover Rangers beat Spartans 4-0 in the SPFL Play-Offs, meaning that there won’t be a new Edinburgh team in the SPFL, so i’ll just have a choice of three teams when I visit Edinburgh in August.

I’ll miss most of the Irish Cup Final as i’ll be going to see David Hepworth at CQAF. I wish I was having a vested interest in that game. Or even, better, going to that game to see Linfield play.

Photo Album


It’s late May and almost the summer, so Melody Maker suitably gets in a festival mood with this edition.

Travis are in a chart battle with Fat Les, who are doing England’s Euro 2000 song, hoping to get Number 1 as revenge for England putting Scotland out of Euro 2000.

Also hoping for a Number 1 is Toploader, who are going to release a one-off single after the success of Achilles Heel.

Elsewhere, Graham Coxon of Blur has gone solo, his sound being described as heavier than Blur.

Paul Daniels is subject of a Q and A, denying that he’s a right wing bigot.

Mark Gatiss of The League Of Gentlemen is interviewed as they prepare for a tour, a book and a Christmas special.

There is a four page feature listing the Top Ten Greatest Festivals of all-time. Unsurprisingly, the winner was Woodstock 1969.

One festival not on the list MTV’s Five Night Stand, headlined by Embrace, Muse and Primal Scream. It did get three pages of coverage in this edition of Melody Maker though.

Toploader were reviewing singles, giving their Single Of The Week to Crashland.


Entering Windsor Park in the sunshine as Some Kind Of Bliss by Her Majesty Kylie Minogue blasts out on the tannoy. As song titles go, it’s not one that would sum up Linfield’s season. Wake Me Up When It’s All Over could have doubled up as a tribute to Avicii and an accurate summary of Linfield’s season. By the time the full-time whistle blew, History Repeating by Propellerheads would have been an apt choice of song.

History repeated itself in so many ways. The first was the pre-match scenario.

Matchday 37, the sun is shining, Linfield face Coleraine as they look to overtake a team one point in front, while looking for a favour from Ballymena United. Just as it was last year.

The big difference, was that Linfield were aiming for 3rd rather than 1st.

A pitiful surrender at Seaview last weekend didn’t lead to much optimism amongst Linfield’s support pre-match.

That surrender at Seaview led to three changes in the starting eleven, although two of them were enforced due to suspensions to Andrew Waterworth and Andrew Mitchell. Stephen Fallon dropped to the bench as Jimmy Callacher, Achille Campion and Ryan Strain came into the team.

Jimmy Callacher coming into the team meant that Josh Robinson was pushed into midfield. I’ve been critical at times of Robinson’s performance this season, but he did well today.

Carroll was in goal for Linfield, no surprise there, but there was another Carroll in the Linfield squad today, with young striker Adam Carroll taking his place on the bench.

The only team in the League to lose four times to Crusaders, there is one positive record this season that Linfield do have, the only team to have beaten Coleraine in the League.

It was a match for me, and quite a few other Linfield fans that would be viewed from the Railway Stand, the stand being made available to Linfield fans on a trial basis.

It is definitely worth trialing, and letting this trial continue into the early months of next season. The tail end of a season that has sucked the life and enthusiasm out of everyone is never going to be the best barometer.

There are a few things that need to be ironed out.

There is absolutely no reason why fans can’t access the Railway Stand via the South Stand. There is no need to segregate the two stands. I know it’s been a bad season, but hardly so bad that we need to be kept apart from each other.

The two stands being kept apart leads nicely into my next observation, albeit one that doesn’t affect me.

Feel free to correct me if i’m wrong, but there didn’t appear to be any facilities for anyone who wanted to get an alcoholic beverage before the match or at half-time if they so wished. All that could be remedied by making it possible for people to freely move between the two stands.

It’s the little things that can make the difference. I’ve always felt that Linfield disadvantage themselves by not having fans behind the goal at Windsor Park.

You see matches away from home where Linfield are attacking with their fans behind the goal. You always feel that Linfield will get a goal. We have two stands, we should be putting our fans in one of them.

It’ll also serve a purpose as it’ll stop goalkeepers timewasting when the ball goes behind the goal if fans can return it quickly.

Linfield were straight on the attack, they were up for it, putting Coleraine straight under pressure, with Coleraine being forced to concede corners. From those corners, Coleraine goalkeeper Chris Johns was struggling. There were goals in this for Linield.

On 14 minutes, Linfield got one of those when a cross from Matthew Clarke was headed home by Achille Campion to put Linfield 1-0 up with his first goal at Windsor Park.

It was deserved. Unlike so many times this season, Linfield had scored when they were on top.

At the other end of the field, Eoin Bradley was enduring a frustrating afternoon. He spent most of the afternoon trying to goad and get a reaction out of Linfield’s defenders. They weren’t playing ball.

His afternoon was summed up as he tried to keep the ball in play by backheeling it off a Linfield defender, making a mess of it and conceding a throw.

He then tried to shield the ball and invite a foul from Jimmy Callacher. The foul didn’t come, and Bradley ended up conceding a throw. His afternoon only lasted 45 minutes as he was substituted at half-time.

Bradley did have an attempt on goal, a low free-kick being saved by Roy Carroll who then smothered it before the ball could squirm in, just as it looked set to squeeze in.

Johns then produced a double save from Kurtis Byrne and Ryan Strain, though an offside flag did go up, although that was ignored as Coleraine went straight on the attack.

All their early pressure only brought one goal, Linfield got a second as the half began to meander, as a long ball forward fell to Kurtis Byrne, who fired home with his left foot for his third goal in four games.

Linfield then had an attack on the break where Robert Garrett had a long range shot saved by Johns, Kirk Millar followed up on the rebound and dinked the ball over him, but also over the bar.

Linfield were feeling unstoppable.

In the final moment of the game, Eoin Bradley’s fortunes looked to be taking an upward turn, as he had a sight of goal, only to have that sight obstructed by a block from Mark Stafford.

The first-half was a repeat of the first-half when the sides met at Windsor Park in November 2017.

The lesson from that day was that if Coleraine pulled a goal back, it could be a nervous afternoon for Linfield.

In that match in November last year, Aaron Burns came on as a substitute for Linfield. Today, he came on as a substitute for Coleraine today, coming on at half-time alongside Ian Parkhill and Jamie McGonigle.

Second-half goals have been a speciality for Coleraine in recent weeks, drawing first-half blanks against Larne, Crusaders, Cliftonville and Ballymena United, and emerging with three wins and a draw.

In the game in November, the opening minutes of the second-half saw a lot of Coleraine pressure. That was expected to be the case again, but in fact it was the other way around.

A clearance from Chris Johns fell to Kirk Millar in the right midfield position, who returned it immediately.

He couldn’t replicate his goal against Ballinamallard United on the opening day of last season, curling wide of the goal but staying in play, Coleraine struggling to clear in their right-back position.

Kurtis Byrne then narrowly chipped wide from a wide position, as Linfield went in search of a third goal they needed to secure the points.

Coleraine fans were soon cheering a goal, but not at Windsor Park, across the city at Seaview as Cliftonville went 1-0 up against Crusaders.

It was Coleraine fans loudest cheer of the day. It was their only cheer of the day.

That joy was short-lived as Crusaders equalised immediately. Coleraine still had to help themselves as there was no point in Crusaders dropping points if they were doing likewise.

A cross from the right almost caught out Roy Carroll, hitting the post, while Carroll had to tip over a header that looked like sneaking in.

It looked like being one of those days for Coleraine as Linfield looked set to hold out.

Out of nowhere, Coleraine got a lifeline when Roy Carroll conceded a penalty.

As if the situation wasn’t tense enough for Darren McCauley as he waited to take the kick, there was a delay due to an injured Linfield player receiving treatment, as well as two Linfield substitutions, Stephen Fallon and Louis Rooney coming on for Achille Campion and Ryan Strain.

McCauley finished the penalty to make it 2-1, and with fifteen minutes to go, it set it up for a tense finish.

Linfield went straight on the attack, with Chris Johns forced into turning the ball around for a corner.

Before you could say that it was good to see that Linfield were dusting themselves down and getting on with it, Coleraine were level when a simple crossfield pass played in Darren McCauley to make it 2-2.

As soon as McCauley got the ball, there was only going to be one outcome.

There was no real science to it, one pass and he was through on goal. Once again, Linfield concede another bad goal.

It was similar (albeit from a different side) to Jamie McGonigle’s ‘goal’ when the sides met in October 2017.

Just as when the sides last met in January, the away side scored two quickfire goals to turn 0-2 into 2-2.

This match was like a Greatest Hits of matches between Linfield and Coleraine this season. Everything that happened in those three games happened at some point in this game.

Unlike in January when Linfield pulled it back to 2-2, Coleraine had time on their side to go on and win the game.

Coleraine couldn’t get a winner but neither could Linfield. The closest either side came to a goal was when Jimmy Callacher had a goalbound header blocked.

It finished 2-2, not an ideal result for either side. Draws in the other two Section A games mean that nothing changed at the top. Linfield and Coleraine will be ruing dropped points, but will be thankful others didn’t putt clear of them.

Both sides will be looking for a favour from others as their destiny will be out of their hands. Linfield will be looking for a favour from Coleraine a week after trying to kill off their title bid.

And if Linfield take advantage of a favour from Coleraine, we’ll be needing another one in the Irish Cup Final.

I was genuinely surprised and thankful that Ballymena got a draw at Mourneview Park.

I was also surprised that Cliftonville got a draw at Seaview. With last week’s defeat to Glenavon theoretically (but not mathematically) ending their hopes of 3rd place, I thought Cliftonville would have been winding down the League season in preparation for the Irish Cup Final, especially to avoid suspensions.

That result keeps the race for the title going until the last day, which is good as Coleraine will have to get something against Glenavon, which would benefit Linfield if they do. Coleraine’s pre-match mood would have been a lot more despondent if they were trailing Crusaders by two points with an inferior goal difference.

That draw at Seaview will also ensure no complacency (I hope) from Linfield fans and players who may think Cliftonville’s minds may be elsewhere.

It is a result that makes Linfield’s pitiful surrender last week even worse as Coleraine, Glenavon and Cliftonville have all emerged from Seaview in recent weeks unbeaten.

Hopefully, Linfield’s players will spend the Summer reading the following sentence over and over again – Do not be afraid of Crusaders, do not be a afraid of Crusaders, do not be afr …….

It doesn’t matter if Cliftonville have one eye or two eyes on the Irish Cup Final, all that matters is Linfield’s performance and application.

Cliftonville won’t want to go into their biggest match of the season with three defeats and a draw in their previous four matches.

Linfield will go into that game with one enforced change due to Mark Haughey serving a suspension. I would expect (and hope) that Joe Crowe will come in for him.

Who knows what is going to happen next Saturday?

As tense as it will be, i’d rather be playing for 1st than playing for 3rd on the last day of the season.

One thing that looks a certainty will be a delayed kick-off. I’ll be amazed if all three games in Section A kick off at 3pm.

With the outcome of the three games linking to each other, a delayed kick-off in Lurgan or Ballymena due to crowd congestion will have a knock-on effect of the other two games having to be delayed.

On the plus side, if there is a delayed kick-off, Linfield will get to be Champions for an extra fifteen minutes.

In Section B, the bottom two, like the top two, are separated by goal difference, with Carrick Rangers edging out Ballinamallard United.

Given the choice, I can’t say Carrick would be missed. Ten men behind the ball and foul as soon as the ball goes into their half. At least Ballinamallard try to play football.

One good thing about Carrick’s win at The Oval, apart from the obvious, is that it kills off Glentoran’s momentum.

One advantage that the team in 7th will have in relation to the UEFA Cup Play-Offs is that by playing the bottom five, they have the opportunity to get some form and momentum going into the Play-Offs.

That is now two defeats in three games for Glentoran. I’d expect Ballinamallard, on a six game unbeaten run and with so much to play for, to get a win at The Oval. Wether it will be enough to stay up, is another matter.

Got to feel for Ards and Dungannon Swifts fans, or possibly envy them, as their meeting at Clandeboye Park will be the only game with nothing riding on it.

One team definitely celebrating a title is Institute, who secured promotion after winning the NIFL Championship.

As you will already know, their ground is unusable after flooding last Summer. This season, they have alternated between Wilton Park and Limavady Showgrounds, while there are also rumours that they want to use The Brandywell.

Whichever of those three grounds they use, it will be a new one for me.

As previously mentioned, ideally Linfield will be away to Institute on Saturday 11th August, as Embrace are doing a concert in Limavady that day. A nice double header.

Meanwhile in England, Sunderland got relegated to League One. Ha ha ha. Poznan related “Banter”, cringeworthy halfscarfery at the 2014 League Cup Final, voting for Brexit, viewing announcing the first result at a General Election as an achievement. There’s really not a lot redeeming about Sunderland.

Finally, a club goal by Liam Boyce that is worth celebrating.

Elsehwere in the Nort-East, Middlesbrough continue to hold on to a Play-Off spot.

The reason why I have an interest in Middlesbrough this season is that Newcastle hosts the 2019 European Rugby Cup Final. Obviously, Newcastle would be away that weekend, but logically, Middlesbrough would be at home if they are in the Premier League. That would be a very tempting double header.

Yep, i’m already planning my football trips for 2018-2019.

Hopefully, i’ll have only one more Linfield match in 2017-2018

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 20.4.2018

1. Blossoms – There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)
2. Natalie Prass – Short Court Style
3. Tim Burgess- Clutching Insignificance
4. James – Busted
5. Tom Cochrane – Life Is A Highway

This Monday, is St George’s Day. As with all Saints Days, this blog will do a chart. In fact two charts. Enjoy.


1. Marillion – Cover My Eyes
2. Duran Duran – Ordinary World
3. Oasis – Don’t Go Away
4. The Human League – Don’t You Want Me?
5. The Cure – Friday I’m In Love


1. Wham! – Freedom
2. One Night Only – Say You Don’t Want It
3. The Beatles – While My Guitar Gently Weeps
4. George Baker Selection – Little Green Bag
5. George Ezra – Budapest


There’s a Scottish theme to this edition of Shoot, with Kenny Dalglish and Charlie Nicholas sharing the cover with Aberdeen, facing Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners Cup Final.

As you open the magazine, there are features on Dalglish and Nicholas, voted Most Exciting Player and Most Exciting Young Player respectively.

In news, Manchester United, Ipswich Town and West Ham United are showing an interest in Leicester City’s Gary Lineker, while West Bromwich Albion have denied that Martin Jol and Romeo Zondervan will be leaving the club.

Ray Wilkins uses his column to express his delight at being recalled to the England squad, and paying tribute to Manchester United team-mate Martin Buchan ahead of his testimonial.

Another United player with England ambitions is Gary Bailey, who tells Shoot that he is ready for a call-up. Shoot lists rivals for a place in the squad, which includes Andy Goram of Oldham Athletic.

Across Manchester, Kevin Bond tells Shoot of his delight at winning over Manchester City supporters following a difficult start to his time at the club.

Following Jimmy Case’s winning goal from a free-kick for Brighton in the FA Cup Semi-Final, Shoot does a double page spread on the importance of goals from set pieces.

There is a feature on 15 year old Dean Vokes, who won a competition to be Assistant Manager to Malcolm MacDonald at Fulham for a day. Fulham beat Charlton 2-1.

As the 1982-1983 season comes to an end, Shoot does a feature on four hat-trick during the season, by Clive Allen, Ian Rush, Luther Blissett and Gary brooke

Aberdeen’s match against Real Madrid gets previewed with Alex Ferguson doing a profile of the Aberdeen squad for Shoot.

There is also a profile of the Real Madrid squad.

Bobby Russell of Rangers uses the Tartan Talk column to reveal that he planned on emigrating to New Zealand as a teenager, but red tape stopped it, something he says he is grateful for in retrospect.

Phil Thompson uses his column to speak of his pride at winning his 7th title medal, a record for a player in English football, predicting that there will be more to come.

In West Germany, football authorities have expressed concern at falling attendances in the top flight.

Shoot does a feature on Andy Ritchie and Terry Connor, who have moved opposite ways in a player swap between Leeds ans Brighton.

England are hosting the European Youth Championship, with England manager Graham Taylor, who would be appointed senior manager in 1990, praising the youth football of neighbours and holders Scotland.

Gary Shaw uses his column to congratulate Aston Villa team-mate Peter Withe on being selected for the England team for their recent match against Hungary.

The magazine ends with a profile of Mike Flanagan of QPR, who reveals his favourite singers are Joe Jackson and Elkie Brookes.


After two successive wins at the start of the split, Linfield headed to Seaview looking for a third successive win to keep control of third place, and possible automatic qualification for next season’s UEFA Cup.

Next season’s UEFA Cup is a competition that Crusaders want to avoid playing in, currently top of the League only on goal difference.

Both teams were going for goal early on, with Jordan Owens and Andrew Waterworth both having shots on goal saved.

Linfield were holding their own, but it was Crusaders whose attacks were causing the most concerning, always having an option to pass or cross to every time they went forward.

On 15 minutes, Crusaders took the lead when a cross landed at an unmarked Jordan Owens, who had enough time to set himself up to finish from close range.

Questions have to be ask how Owens was unmarked in the six yard box. It wasn’t even a quick attack, why didn’t somebody get close to him?

Once again, Linfield concede a goal to Crusaders that is basic, and of their own doing.

The important thing was that heads didn’t go down.

Linfield almost got an instant equaliser when a neat passing move between Kurtis Byrne and Andrew Waterworth played in Stephen Fallon whose shot was smothered by Crusaders goalkeeper Brian Jensen.

Linfield were creating chances and were encouraged by this. Mark Stafford intercepted just as Jensen was going to pick up a free-kick, with Andrew Waterworth being unable to finish when the ball fell to him.

Despite Linfield’s attacking encouragement, it was clear that they were missing Jamie Mulgrew.

When Mulgrew gets the ball, his first intention is to go forward. Well, until he is fouled.

Neither Stephen Lowry or Andrew Mitchell were doing that. Nobody was driving forward from midfield.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Roy Carroll was the Linfield player who received the most passes, such was the lack of imagination going forward at times.

Stephen Fallon had another shot saved by Jensen, pouncing after he spilled a shot from Kurtis Byrne.

Billy Joe Burns almost scored from a cross come shot before a snapshot from Andrew Waterworth forced Jensen to turn it behind for a corner.

That resulting corner was the final actions of the first-half. The whistle blew with a Crusaders player injured in the penalty box. As Andrew Waterworth went to check on his welfare, a pack of Crusaders players surrounded him like feral wolves.

After midweek events in Madrid, this is a topical issue in football. However, the referee did nothing about it. Waterworth was already on a yellow card and the Crusaders players were targeting him. They knew what they were doing.

As the teams left the pitch, Colin Coates and Jordan Owens were trying to generate cheers in front of the home stand, like it was WWE or Panto. The absolute state of them.

That should have been David Healy’s half-time team talk sorted.

You can laugh at all of Cristano Ronaldo’s posturing, he can back it up by being one of the greatest players of all time with individual achievements and winners medals to go with it.

Watching a bunch of nobodies like Coates and Owens acting like Billy Big Balls should have been motivation to put them back in their box where they should have been put back in 2014.

Despite being 1-0 down, there were signs of encouragement for Linfield. They had chances and were creating chances. There were goals for Linfield if they went at Crusaders and attacked them, especially as their were playing towards where their fans were based.

Those attacks, never materialised.

In the early minutes of the second-half, Gavin Whyte had a free-kick saved by Carroll while Carroll saved a Jordan Owens header.

Linfield’s response. Um, ahhhh, erm ……

Kirk Millar had a free-kick which was overhit and went out for a goal kick.

Even if he did get it towards the penalty spot, there probably would have been a Crusaders head getting there first.

That was a theme throughout the game, Crusaders were first to every ball. Even though the wind was blowing and the pitch wasn’t bouncey, Linfield players were anticipating the ball, they weren’t in position to get the second ball. Too many Linfield attacks were ended because Crusaders players were first to the clearance.

David Healy was slow to change things. Probably because there weren’t a lot of options.

There were three attackers on the bench – Ryan Strain, Louis Rooney and Achille Campion, but not a lot of goals. You didn’t look at anyone on the bench and think “Yes, he’ll get us a goal”.

It’s quite damming that the biggest goal threat on Linfield’s bench was Jimmy Callacher.

Strain and Campion came on for Byrne and Fallon.

The grandstand finish never materialised as the game meandered. You would have thought it was a mid table clash between two sides with nothing to play for.

Having seen how vulnerable Crusaders were last weekend when 1-0 up, Linfield should have been grabbing the game by the throat and pushing for an equaliser, especially as they were attacking their own fans.

Even more so as by this point, Glenavon were 3-1 up at Solitude, putting them 3rd, one point ahead of Linfield. The race for 3rd was now being decided by the fact that Glenavon got a point at Seaview and Linfield didn’t.

This game at Solitude was Glenavon’s first win in seven games. There was no way they were going to go the final two months of the season without a win. Linfield had to grab every point that they could.

With two minutes remaining, Jordan Owens headed home to make it 2-0 and make sure of the points for Crusaders, not that they were in any danger of surrendering them. Linfield never looked like scoring.

What made it worse was the lack of ideas, hoofing the ball upfield, playing right into Crusaders.

In the space of one season, Linfield players have regressed into fearing Crusaders, just as they did between 2012 and 2016.

How many times do they need to be told? Do not be afraid of Crusaders. There is no need to be afraid of Crusaders.

Louis Rooney came on for Matthew Clarke as Linfield went to 3-4-3. Too little, too late.

By now, away fans were heading to the exits. They didn’t miss much, apart from an Andrew Mitchell red card, giving the Crusaders fans what they wanted. Once again, Linfield had been outsmarted by a stupid team.

For most of the game, the main saving grace for Linfield was that Cliftonville and Glenavon were drawing 0-0.

That meant that despite the defeat, Linfield would be one point clear of Glenavon and four points clear of Cliftonville in the race for 3rd.

Four goals and a red card in the space of ten minutes gave Glenavon a 3-1 win.

Glenavon are now 3rd, a point clear of Linfield and six clear of Cliftonville. Cliftonville can still catch Glenavon, but a goal difference of eleven in Glenavon’s favour which would be need to be overturned in four matches makes that unlikely.

Glenavon boosted their goal difference by four goals today, giving them five over Linfield. If Linfield are to get 3rd place, it won’t be on Goal Difference.

Next weekend, Glenavon are at home to Ballymena United. Once again, Linfield are looking for a favour from Ballymena United on Matchday 37. I would expect Glenavon to win that game. The only hope is, Ballymena must surely be due a win.

Next Saturday, Linfield are at home to Coleraine. I can’t say i’ve much expectation going into this game.

If Linfield were to win next Saturday, it would present the title to a bunch of Hoofball Thugs. In truth, the title was always going to be won by an unbearable shower. Linfield’s interest in the title race ended a long time ago. They didn’t even look like making much of an impact on it today.

Not going to lie, I really can’t be arsed with the UEFA Cup Play-Offs, it’s an utter farce. It should be Top Three in the League plus the Cup Winners, or Fourth if the Irish Cup win won by a team in the Top Three.

If that is the fate we are given, then we must be ready. When that is, is anyone’s guess, as the dates haven’t been announced. I would expect Tuesday 8th May and Friday 11th May.

Even if Glenavon finish 3rd, it would still be advantageous for Linfield if Cliftonville lose the Irish Cup Final, as they would be going into the Play-Offs on the back of a major disappointment and could struggle to life themselves for it. Plus, it would give Linfield home advantage (assuming they finish 4th) should they reach the Final.

Elsewhere, it was announced that Brandon Adams has left the club with immediate effect. That was no real surprise. He’s seemed to score for fun for Linfield Swifts but could never do it for the first team.

I know he has been restricted to substitute appearances, but there’s never been a time he has come off the bench where I have thought that he has to start the next game.

This week, saw St Patrick’s Athletic announce plans for a new stadium meaning i’ll have to try and fit in one last visit to Richmond Park on a future annual day trip to Dublin.

That may not be the smartest idea, as I have been to Richmond Park twice, in 2010 and 2013, with both games ending 0-0.

I’m doing a day trip to Dublin in July. The two matches on while i’m there. The options are Bohemians v Sligo Rovers and Shelbourne v Drogheda United. I’ll keep you updated on that.

Elsewhere, Spartans won the Lowland League. You may remember them facing Linfield in the Scottish Challenge Cup in September

Regular readers will know I keep an eye out for their results as I go to Edinburgh every August, and plan on seeing them if they get promoted to League Two, if they are at home when I am in Edinburgh.

All they have to do is win a Play-Off against the Highland League Champions (Cove Rangers), and then win a Play-Off against the side that finished bottom of League Two (Cowdenbeath).

Not going to lie, I can’t wait for this season to end. At least the World Cup will distract me from how farcical this season has been.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 13.4.2018

1. Editors – Darkness At The Door
2. Halsey – Alone
3. Ash – Annabel
4. James – Better Than That
5. Pound Shop Boys – Fireman Sam

Madness doing a concert in Dublin in July supported by The Lightning Seeds. Come on lads, sneak in a Belfast gig while you’re at it.

Managed to get myself sorted for a ticket for David Hepworth at CQAF. Going to have a proper browse through the programme this week.


George Michael is the cover star of Smash Hits, as Wham! are once again riding high in the charts.

1985 was the year of Live Aid, and the Fashion industry joined in with Fashion Aid, an event attended by the likes of Freddie Mercury, Suggs and Boy George.

Feargal Sharkey is interviewed, where he reveals he doesn’t like Ginger Nuts and isn’t very good at sports.

Wham! get a four page feature, where they reveal that their new single I’m Your Man is about sex.

In ads, there is an advert for a new single called West End Girls by an unknown band called Pet Shop Boys.

Also getting interviewed this week is the band Mai Tai.

Paul Hardcastle is subject to a Q and A. It wasn’t N-n-n-n-n-n-nineteen questions long, but he did reveal that Joan Collins is his favourite actress.

Concert Reviews sees Smash Hits head to Glasgow for Midge Ure doing a hometown show at Barrowlands Ballroom.

There’s no guest reviewer for Singles, as In Embrace got voted Best Single.

New products on the markets were Popic Watches, watches with the image of your favourite pop band on them.

Enjoying a good review were Jesus and Mary Chain, whose new album got awarded 9 and a half out of 10.