LINFIELD 2-1 BALLYMENA UNITED 29.9.2018

For the second time this month, Linfield began a match having just been knocked off the top of the table. The last time that happened, they took advantage of other teams being inactive to beat Warrenpoint Town 5-0 and return to the top.

If Linfield were to make another immediate return to the top, they would need Glenavon to drop points at home to Dungannon Swifts. There was no point worrying about what Glenavon did or didn’t do, Linfield had to help themselves.

Glenavon’s win over Ards which knocked Linfield off the top of the table was one of three rescheduled games played in midweek. Another of those was Ballymena United’s draw away to Coleraine.

A draw and a defeat in their last two games has seen them go from being potentially one point behind Linfield to falling a bit behind them. There is a traffic jam at the top of the table, but as we approach the milestone of matchday eleven when everybody will have played each other, Linfield knew if they kept winning, they would pull away from teams, such as Ballymena, if they won this game.

Linfield went into this game with an unchanged starting eleven from the draw at Coleraine. There was the boost, however, of Andrew Waterworth being available for a place on the bench after injury.

This was a match, for me, that would be viewed from The Kop, with the stand being open to Linfield fans for the first time in nearly four and a half years.

Hopefully, it would be a better result than the last time I watched a Linfield match from there in 2014, though Jordan Stewart would be hoping he would again score and be on the winning team. If he was to do so, he would do so from the bench.

This came after Linfield trialled the use of the Railway Stand for a match against Coleraine last season. I always feel that Linfield disadvantage themselves by not allowing fans to be based behind the goal at Windsor Park.

The only issue was not being able to freely move between South and Kop Stands like in the old days, as a lot of us like to watch the game from where we attack (you see this movement of fans at most away games) and would like to continue that at Windsor Park.

I didn’t try it or check it out, but some might like to sneak off to and from The Viewing Lounge, so I don’t know if they were able to. It’ll be trial and error for the first couple of games with these arrangements, so hopefully they’ll evolve to suit as many people as possible.

There were plenty of chances in the opening minutes, for both sides. Matthew Clarke was played through but a poor first touch meant that his shot was going to result in an easy save for Ross Glendenning instead of a goal.

I was at the other end and could see Roy Carroll put his hands on his head before the shot was hit.

Joel Cooper then had a first time right foot shot saved after being played in.

Michael O’Connor then set up the next chance at goal, but it was for Ballymena United when his attempted overhead kick clearance set up Jonny Addis for an overhead kick which went wide.

It was clear from the flurry of early chances that there were going to be goals in this game.

The first one came for Ballymena when a Cahir Friel header snuck in past Jamie Mulgrew on the line.

Going 1-0 down had reminders of the two home games against Ballymena during Warren Feeney’s full season in charge, with Linfield having to come from 1-0 down to win 3-2 and 2-1.

If that gave Linfield hope, so did recent history, with Ballymena blowing leads in the past week against Cliftonville and Coleraine (who had ten men) to lose and draw.

Despite only ten minutes being played, there wouldn’t be a lot of time left to win the game, as we would soon be treated to Ballymena’s timewasting (kicking the ball away at free-kicks, corners and throws) and cynical fouling, all unpunished with the yellow cards they deserved.

If there was no concern for Linfield at 0-1, there would have been concerns at 0-2, which almost happened when Andy McGrory had a free header soon afterwards.

Michael O’Connor equalised when he was able to get in front of his defender and finish from close range.

O’Connor looked set to make it 2-1 from a close range header but was denied by a world class save from an outstretched arm. It was an arm belonging to a Ballymena defender. However, no penalty was awarded.

Daniel Kearns then made some space for himself but fired wide from outside the penalty area as Linfield were unable to take a lead into the break.

After a slow start to the second-half, Linfield took the lead just before the hour mark when Joel Cooper ran at Ballymena’s defence and got into a shooting position on his right foot.

I was behind that goal, and it looked like he was trying to get onto his left foot. It turns out he’s quite decent on his right foot as well, firing home from the edge of the box. I was celebrating as soon as it left his foot.

Chris Casement then spectacularly went just wide as Linfield looked to kill the game, while Kirk Millar had a header saved by Ross Glendenning, whose save was a lot more spectacular than it needed to be.

Linfield couldn’t get the third goal, and the game remained in the balance, as Ballymena looked to get an equaliser, with Johnny McMurray and Tony Kane giving them moments of worry.

As each minute passed, Linfield were in control of the game and never looked like losing their lead, holding on to get the win. They had to as well, with Glenavon getting another win, meaning that the two sides are separated by one point in Glenavon’s favour.

Coleraine and Glentoran both drew, meaning that Glenavon and Linfield are starting to pull away from the rest of the league.

This has taken place over two matchdays, two bad results for either Glenavon or Linfield will see them being sucked back into a traffic jam in the table.

On the next weekend, the top four meet. Hopefully, Coleraine can take something off Glenavon, which would allow Linfield the opportunity to go back to the top.

Regardless of Glenavon’s result, a win at The Oval will see Linfield pull clear of Glentoran and open up a gap from them.

That game is live on Sky Sports. I’m sure you could afford to miss Paddington Station 24/7 just one week.

The weekend’s fixture list begins on Friday with Crusaders facing Cliftonville in the first ever League game live on BBCNI.

It could have been easy for them to choose to show a big team like Linfield, but fair play to them for giving mid table teams like Crusaders and Cliftonville a moment in the spotlight.

Looking a bit further ahead, i’ll be hoping Bohs beat Cork in the FAI Cup Semi-Final and then beat Dundalk in the Final.

Why? I hear you ask. Well, i’m hoping for a short break between Thursday 11th and Saturday 13th July next year, and would not be too unhappy if a Dublin team were at home in the UEFA Cup on Thursday 11th.

Looking further ahead, Euro 2024 will be held in Germany. Very tempted to go to this. However, the lack of options for flights between Northern Ireland and Germany mean that this might be a journey from Dublin.

And finally, you may remember that Belfast Telegraph did an April Fool’s prank that the UEFA Cup Play-Offs will take place on the one day at Windsor Park. Well, Scottish football are doing that with their League Cup Semi-Finals at Hampden Park.

You’ve got to love Scottish football, the only place that makes Irish League football look normal.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 28.9.2018

1. Mumford and Sons – Guiding Light
2. Kyle Falconer – Kelly
3. Ash – Confessions In The Pool
4. Hozier – Nina Cried Power
5. The Coral – Reaching Out For A Friend

NORTH STREET (AND SURROUNDING AREAS) STREET ART – SEPTEMBER 2018

It has now become a mid September tradition for the walls of Belfast to be given a dash of paint, as Hit The North, running alongside Culture Night, sees artists from around the world visit Belfast to paint the city’s walls.

One of those countries represented was Colombia, returning the favour after artists from Belfast recently visited Colombia to take part in a Street Art Festival.

Even though the festival is advertised as taking place on Thursday and Friday, past experience has seen pieces appear earlier than that, due to the time it takes to paint it.

So it proved, as a piece started to appear in the Car Park at Smithfield, where there was a Two Ronnies mural in 2017, so I headed to get some work in progress photos.

Thursday came, so I was out getting photos on my lunch break, and then again after work.

As I had booked a half day on the Friday for Culture Night, I made the most of my early departure from work to check out the progress so far, and then again on my arrival at Culture Night at teatime.

As is tradition, I was out on my bike on the Sunday morning to get photos of the finished pieces, starting in North Street, heading to Donegall Street and the side of the Telegraph Building. Much to my frustration, there were parked cars meaning I had to shoot from some odd angles.

Worth checking out, across the road, is Buoy Park, just outside the University Of Ulster.

I also checked out pieces at Kent Street, Sunflower Pub and Winetavern Street.

I wanted to get photos of a mural in Commercial Court, but there were binbags dumped in front of it. I’ll try again later.

I also spotted some graffiti in Bank Square so took a photo. It wasn’t part of Hit The North, but it would have been rude not to get a photo.

Also not part of Hit The North but worth checking out is that some of the yellow dots designed to guide people around Belfast due to part of Royal Avenue still being closed due to the fire at Primark have been defaced to look like Pacman.

It’s good to see that some pieces from previous years are still intact, giving Belfast a wide range of art from Hit The North from throughout the years.

Wonder what will be on the city’s walls in 2019?

Work In Progress Photo Album

North Street Art Photo Album

North Street Art 2017

North Street Art 2016

North Street Art 2015

North Street Art 2014

North Street Art 2013

North Street Art 2012

COLERAINE 0-0 LINFIELD 22.9.2018

This match was never going to win the League for Linfield, but a win would have seen them move eight points clear of Coleraine (albeit with a game more played) in late September, which would have been a monumental statement to make in the title race, even at this early stage.

They knew it wouldn’t be easy, as League meetings over the past two seasons were evenly matched, two wins each and four draws.

Last season, they were perfectly matched, a 2-1 win for Coleraine, a 2-1 win for Linfield, then two successive 2-2 draws. In those 2-2 draws, the away team came from 2-0 down with two quickfire goals.

This game was the first in charge for new Coleraine manager Rodney McAree. Surprisingly, he walked to the dugout almost unnoticed, giving a wave to the fans seated in the stand beside the dugout.

To be honest, I was expecting him to take his seat before the teams came out, in an attempt to gee up the home support.

Those that were there to see his debut saw an early corner for Coleraine evade everybody, while a Linfield corner saw Jamie Mulgrew hit a speculative shot over.

About ten years ago, Mulgrew had a run of goalscoring against Coleraine, and because of this, shot at every opportunity. This looked like being another one of those days, as he had another similar effort in the half.

Jamie McGonigle then had an effort saved by Roy Carroll, with nobody following up on the parry.

Coleraine’s attacks were more convincing than Linfield’s, but while Coleraine were having more opportunities, Linfield were always getting bodies in the way. They needed to be.

Coleraine had the better of things at the start of the second-half. Their attacks seemed to be a lot quicker than Linfield’s, but when it came to that final pass or shot, Linfield were able to avert the danger, with Jimmy Callacher having to block a shot after Roy Carroll parried out.

Even though Coleraine weren’t getting many shots on goal, they were having too many attacking moments, that they were bound to get one right.

It looked like that was going to come from a Stephen Lowry header, but it went wide. Jamie McGonigle then headed wide after a flick from Aaron Burns fell to him. He really should have scored.

Linfield’s best attacking moment resulted in Daniel Kearns getting space to shoot, only to see his effort saved.

It was clear that Linfield needed to look to their bench to liven things up. There was no Andrew Waterworth (I presume he was injured) which would have been the obvious change, especially with Michael O’Connor being on a yellow card. The only striking option was Daniel Reynolds.

The realistic attacking options were Jordan Stewart, Stephen Fallon and Niall Quinn. It was Quinn who got the nod, replacing Kirk Millar.

Having survived Coleraine pressure, Linfield were now applying pressure on their own, hoping to make Coleraine pay for not taking advantage when they were on top.

It looked like that was going to happen when Josh Robinson headed towards goal, but his effort hit the bar, with Coleraine able to clear the danger.

If either team were able to break the deadlock, that would surely win the game. It was one of those games. It looked like it was always destined to finish 0-0.

There was late drama as both teams went about changing that.

Jamie McGonigle got in behind Linfield’s defence, but his effort was saved by Roy Carroll just before the goalline. A lucky break for Linfield. Last season, it probably would have been cleared off the line but a goal would have been awarded. Oh, wait …….

Deep into stoppage time, Michael O’Connor had a shot deflected onto the post. The ball went slowly towards the goal. I dared to let myself to believe it was going in.

0-0 it finished, overall, a fair result. Neither side doing enough to win.

Frustrating, as Linfield could have opened up a healthy lead over Coleraine. They did extend their lead over Crusaders by a point, but that comes at the expense of Glenavon now having the opportunity to overtake Linfield if they win their game in hand, which they took, beating Ards 2-0.

I said last week that Linfield’s four point lead was deceptive due to other teams having games in hand, and the table can’t fully be assessed until those games are played.

And don’t forget Glentoran, who will be one point behind Linfield if they win their game in hand, with the sides due to meet on 8th October, live on Sky Sports.

That will be the second live game that weekend, with Crusaders facing Cliftonville on the Friday night as part of a new TV deal announced with BBC NI. Good to see.

Hopefully, we’ll be watching that game with a further three points in the bag and another clean sheet.

Top of the League with seven clean sheets out of eight and trips to Glenavon, Crusaders, Cliftonville and Coleraine out of the way.

That will only be a good foundation if Linfield have title winning home form. That has to start next Saturday.

Photo Album

CULTURE NIGHT BELFAST 2018

It’s an annual tradition in Belfast, but it’s hard to believe that Culture Night has only been around since 2009, meaning that this year’s event was the milestone tenth Culture Night. I’ve been to eight of them, not a bad ratio.

Another tradition, that it linked to Culture Night, is the booking of a half day from work for me. This is due to the fact I want to arrive in the City Centre between 4pm and 5pm, but I don’t want to go straight from work as it makes what is already a long day even longer.

I made the most of my half day by heading to North Street and that general area to have a look at some Street Art which is in progress as part of Hit The North, which runs alongside Culture Night.

That Street Art, a few hours further on, was my first port of call when I arrived in the City Centre for Culture Night.

That was, when I eventually arrived in the City Centre, as I had to jump off the bus at Havelock House and walk the rest due to the volume of traffic trying to get into the City Centre. It defeats the purpose of Translink marketing their services as a way to get to and from Culture Night when they can’t even get you into the City Centre.

Shortly after getting off the bus, the rain started to fall. This was not a great start. Thankfully, it was the only bit of rain all evening, keeping up another tradition of it being dry on Culture Night.

Being an eight time veteran of Culture Night, I know where to go in terms of what to see, which was handy, with a section of Royal Avenue still closed off due to the fire at Primark last month.

In truth, these diversions didn’t really affect me as I wouldn’t usually be around Royal Avenue on Culture Night.

My time was spent mostly in the Cathedral Quarter, checking out Street Art and venturing into University of Ulster, before a trip to the Oh Yeah Centre, then back to St Anne’s Square for some wrestling. Yes, you read that right.

Pro Wrestling Ulster set up a wrestling ring in the middle of St Anne’s Square and hosted matches. I went to see the first one. I don’t really know the names, so here goes ….

There was a guy wearing a lion mask and a guy whose character was that of a baddie. He punched a child’s balloon for crying out loud.

There was a third wrestler in this three way bout, and he was the eventual winner.

I was very happy with the photos of the wrestling I got, certainly ore interesting than the football ones I usually take.

Although, you don’t usually see clotheslines, chokeslams or flying kicks hen you watch football, apart from when you watch Crusaders play.

After that, it was more wandering about, making sure to take in Culture Night traditions such as Street Coundown and a bit of Cabaret, performed by Britney Spears.

Disclaimer, it might not have actually been Britney Spears.

The streets were busy, but not packed, which made it a lot easier getting around.

If you care, according to my Activity Tracker, I covered 34.37km on Friday.

There is one aspect of Culture Night which cannot be left uncommented on.

Usual drill, as with any outdoor event , the City Centre absolutely stank of fags and vapes. It was rancid, you literally could not move for it.

Absolute scummy tramps. I’ll repeat that. Anybody who smokes in public is a scummy tramp.

Imagine waking up one day and deciding to take up smoking because it will make you look cool, make you look sexy, and that nobody will ever laugh at you behind your back.

I’ve got a bit of bad news for you folks, I don’t know how to break it to you.

At least I can hold my nose, cover my mouth and swerve to avoid people. A child in a pram doesn’t have that luxury. There were people bringing their children to this event, and they still haven’t got the most basic decency or courtesy to others.

And yet, Belfast City Council will wheel out a few celebs for promo video with a trendy hashtag such as #yourbelfast

Too fucking right it’s my city, i’d love to get an opportunity to enjoy it, instead of having to hold my nose and cover my mouth as a form of self protection every time I leave the house.

Going to an outdoor concert. Going to a football match. Eating outside on a nice day. Going to a beer garden. Walking through the city centre. Queuing for a bus.

Just some of the things you can’t do in Belfast without having cigarette smoke blown into your face.

This has to stop. A total ban is the only answer. Fuck em. We are dealing with people who have proven time and time again that they can’t be trusted to show consideration for others. Treat them with the same contempt they treat others.

Dogs aren’t allowed in beer gardens but smokers are. That’s the sign of a failed society. I know who i’d rather be in the company of.

If smokers faced the same level of vitriol as cyclists face, Belfast would be a far better city.

And yet, the fire at Primark is a handy excuse. Have you ever been to Belfast City Centre? It’s a truly grim experience.

Sandwich boards clogging up the footpaths, cigarette smoke and broken glass everywhere, getting pestered for bus tours and broadband.

No amount of selfies in a trendy Cathedral Quarter bar with somebody from Game Of Thrones will disguise the fact that Belfast City Centre is a rancid shithole.

If Culture Night is a showcase, what did the rancid smell on Friday say about the city?

Time to decide what type of Belfast you want to live in. Apathy will give you a shithole.

Let’s get that sorted for Culture Night 2019.

Photo Album

Culture Night Belfast 2017

Culture Night Belfast 2015

Culture Night Belfast 2014

Culture Night Belfast 2013

Culture Night Belfast 2012

KYLE FALCONER – LIVE AT THE PALM HOUSE 20.9.2018

Over a decade since The View burst onto the scene, lead singer Kyle Falconer has now gone solo, releasing a debut album in late July, and rolled into Belfast to perform at The Palm House.

It wasn’t the first time he had performed solo in Belfast, though he seemed to be confused when posting on Twitter, as he was one of the support acts for Liam Gallagher last October.

I thought at the time that the unreleased material was decent, and so it proved, when Family Tree was on rotation on XFM, which led me to explore his Youtube channel, and then purchase his album.

It’s the album of the year for me, albeit by default, as it’s the only album i’ve purchased this year.

In all seriousness, his solo album is very decent and you should purchase it.

It was a new venue for me, my first time in The Palm House based in Bankmore Square.

Surprisingly, it was a sparse crowd. Seriously Belfast, what is wrong with you?

On the plus side, it did mean that there was plenty of room to move around and get a decent, um, view, no pun intended.

Falconer walked onto the stage and went straight into one of the standout tracks from No Thank You, Poor Me, which lacked the dramtaic violins on the record, but made up for it with dramatic drums when played live.

All of the standout tracks on his solo album were played – The Therapist, Family Tree, Kelly and Japanese Girl, as well as The View classics such as Blondie and Grace.

He even allowed a couple of fans onto the stage (they did ask him) to perform with him.

There seems to be a Scottish theme to my concerts recently.

Last month, I saw Travis at Custom House Square, while I have just purchased a ticket to see KT Tunstall in March, to go with the ticket for Chvrches in February.

That gig by KT Tunstall is scheduled to be my first visit to Elmwood Hall.

My first visit was supposed to be at the end of October to see Simon Day, but that has been cancelled. I’m not sure why.

There might not have been a lot of people in The Palm House, but those that were there certainly enjoyed themselves.

Photo Album

The View live at The Limelight 2012

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 5.8.1989

Paul McGrath, in action for Republic Of Ireland, is the cover star, as Match leads with the headline “FORCED OUT!”, with McGrath having just left Manchester United for Aston Villa.

As you open the magazine, there is an interview with McGrath, who tells Match that Manchester United’s search for a Central Defender left him with no option but to sign for Aston Villa, almost a year after a move to Tottenham Hotspur broke down.

When you turn over the page, there is an interview with Norman Whiteside, who feels his move to Goodison Park will help his ambition of winning a league title.

With a new season about to start in Scotland, Mo Johnston tells Match he wants to win over the Rangers fans, having previously played for Celtic, adding that he is confident of Rangers making an impression in the European Cup, despite being drawn against Bayern Munich in the group stages.

Staying in Scotland, Hibs goalkeeper Andy Goram has received a dressing down for leaving Hibs pre-season training to play international Cricket for Scotland.

Arsenal will be playing Independiente in a friendly in Miami, which will be broadcast live on ITV that weekend.

Another English club on tour in 1989 were Ipswich Town, becoming the first English club to tour the Soviet Union.

Division Four gets previewed, with both Ian Muir of Tranmere and Tony Grealish of Rotherham expecting Scunthorpe United to win the division in 1990. They finished 11th.

In ads, John Barnes and Graeme Souness were advertising Diadora, while Jennifer Saunders was advertising Nat West.

Match’s cut out A-Z Fixture Lists for English clubs this week cover P to S

Mick Quinn has just signed for Newcastle, but tells Match of his frustration at being priced out of a move to a top flight club due to Portsmouth’s valuation of him.

Neil Webb advertises Nike, and Chris Waddle tells Match he is enjoying life at Marseille.

LINFIELD 3-0 DUNGANNON SWIFTS 15.9.2018

With Robert Prosinecki and Andy Herzog occupying the Manager’s Seat in the away dugout at Windsor Park this week, I was part expecting Gheorghe Hagi to keep up the theme of cult 90s midfielders by taking temporary charge of Dungannon Swifts following the departure of Rodney McAree to Coleraine for a match that wasn’t quite as exciting as a holiday in Salisbury.

It was Terry Fitzpatrick who had the manager’s role for Dungannon today. Even though they had no wins this season or a permanent manager, Dungannon had cause for optimisim as they had a relatively good recent record at Windsor Park, only losing one (and narrowly, 1-0) of their last four visits, and winning on their last visit, against Ballymena United in the League Cup Final.

After four months away from Windsor Park over the close season, this was my third successive Saturday visiting Windsor Park this month. The two previous visits had seen dominance from the home team not rewarded with a win.

Linfield began the game with an unchanged starting eleven from their last game at Warrenpoint. Slightly surprising, as Jamie Mulgrew was now available after suspension, but was on the bench.

That decision may have been made with an eye on the upcoming trilogy of games against Coleraine, Ballymena United and Glentoran.

Linfield had the first attacking moment of note when Michael O’Connor and Joel Cooper combine to pickpocket a Dungannon defender trying to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick, with Cooper crossing for Kirk Millar whose shot went just over.

Michael O’Connor then went close with a spectacular overhead kick as Linfield searched for a goal.

You always felt there was a mistake in Dungannon’s defence. A miscontrol from a pass across the penalty area almost resulted in a chance for Linfield, with some last gasp defending resulting in the concession of a corner.

Even though the goal didn’t come from the sustained pressure, there was no frustration from Linfied’s support.

Eventually, Linfield got the goal when Joel Cooper made space for himself in the penalty area and fired home from a tight angle.

Or did he? On viewing of TV footage afterwards, it appeared to go in off Daniel Kearns. I’ll let the Dubious Goals Committee decide it. It didn’t matter, Linfield had the lead.

Soon afterwards, it was 2-0, when Daniel Kearns found space, only for his shot to hit Michael O’Connor and fall perfectly for Joel Cooper to finish low to make it 2-0.

It may have been a stroke of luck for the ball to fall so perfectly for Cooper, but that’s the way the ball is bouncing for Linfield right now, might as well embrace it.

Dungannon had their own attacking moments, the best of which saw Paul McElroy hit the angle of post and bar.

A head injury for Michael O’Connor saw his game end at half-time, with Andrew Waterworth coming on for him.

Dungannon had their first real sustained period of possession and pressure, the closest they came was when a Chris Hegarty shot was saved by Roy Carroll. Unsurprisingly, with five clean sheets from six games, Linfield were able to see out the danger. Dungannon never looking like picking themselves up for another period of pressure.

Despite that, Linfield still needed a third goal just to be sure. They thought they had it when Joel Cooper fired in low, but the goal was disallowed for a handball.

That denied him a possible hat-trick (he would surely have been awarded the first goal if he had bagged another one). Curiously, September hat-tricks have been a thing for Linfield players in recent years.

Winky Murphy would have had one if it wasn’t for his honesty against Portadown in 2012, having to make do with two goals. Andrew Waterworth got one against Ballymena in 2013, and then four against Warrenpoint in 2015, while Jordan Stewart got one against Ballinamallard on this weekend last year.

There wouldn’t be one for Cooper. He would have to make do with two goals and an assist, or one goal and two assists depending on who gets awarded with the first goal. Still, that is a good afternoon’s work.

Andre Waterworth headed over from close range before later making it 3-0 after a pull back from Niall Quinn.

Quinn had been introduced into the action alongside Jamie Mulgrew in a double substitution for Daniel Kearns and Robert Garrett.

That was the game over. Not much else of note happened as Linfield secured the points. It was a useful three points, as Linfield went four points clear at the top ahead of Glenavon, and five clear of Coleraine, after Coleraine drew with Ards, 0-0, just like Linfield did a fortnight ago.

It is however, a deceptive lead, as games in hand skew the League table.

If Glenavon win their game in hand, they will be one point behind Linfield. If Coleraine win their game in hand, they will be two points behind Linfield. If Glentoran win their game in hand, they will be three points behind Linfield. If Ballymena United win both their games in hand, they will be one point behind Linfield.

Linfield have the points in the bag, but you can’t fully evaluate the League table until the outstanding games are played over the next few weeks.

Next weekend, has some big games, with Linfield travelling to Coleraine while Glenavon are at home to Crusaders.

Even though a draw wouldn’t be the worst result, we have to go there looking for the win, knowing that we could have Coleraine on the ropes by mid September, and pull further clear of Glenavon and/or Crusaders.

With Ballymena United and Glentoran coming up, three wins could knock three rivals for six.

Before Coleraine, is a County Antrim Shield game against the PSNI. Hopefully, some fringe players will get a run out. It’s a game I would expect to win, even though Linfield scraped a draw against the PSNI in pre-season.

That trip to Coleraine, like the trip to Glentoran in early October is pay on the day. I’m pleasantly surprised that Coleraine isn’t all-ticket. I must admit, I did have fears that Linfield fans would be stitched up by a late announcement regarding this.

Elsewhere, it was announced that UEFA are planning on launching a third club competition. We’ll probably be represented by the Steel and Sons Cup winners seeing as we don’t decided UEFA Cup places on merit.

I’m hoping it’s based on the idea floated in 2015, a competition for clubs to drop into when they go out of the European Cup or UEFA Cup before September.

Meanwhile, looking at possibly going away for a weekend in March. Obviously, taking in a football match would be part of the criteria.

The options from Belfast to go to Mainland Europe are bloody awful. Amsterdam is cheap to get to, with Den Haag and Ajsx both at home on seperate days, but hotels are expensive. Prague is expensive to get to, which is a pity as there is a weekend in March with three teams at home. London is a lazy option. Nothing against London, but I don’t want to go every year.

One football trip I definitely am doing is Coleraine away next Saturday.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MELODY MAKER – 13.9.2000

The Dum Dums are this week’s cover stars, declaring themselves as the voice of a generation. One of them has “4 Real?” painted on his body, as a tribute to Richey Edwards.

In news, Graham Coxon declares he has no problem with a Blur Greatest Hits album, while being non committal on new material by the band.

Limp Bizkit won at the MTV VMAs amidst chaos being created by Tim C from Rage Against The Machine.

Meanwhile, Stereophonics are discussing the details of their new album JEEP, due out in early 2001.

The Dum Dums get four pages of coverage, dismissing Green Day as old men.

It’s the Sexiest People In Rock Poll, with Hillary Woods from JJ72 and Kelly Jones from Stereophonics winning.

Dave Grohl didn’t get onto the Sexiest List, but he did get a three page interview.

In reviews, Melody Maker paid visits to see Limp Bizkit and Travis in concert.

In Singles Reviews, Maxim from The Prodigy gives his Single Of The Week Award to Smashing Pumpkins.

Shirley Manson is the subject of a Q and A, revealing that she was indecisive about getting on board an alien spaceship.