STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2018

As my football watching for 2018 is over, it’s time for the traditional statistical analysis of my football watching during the year just gone.

Matches : 49

Goals : 133

Red Cards : 7

Missed Penalties : 2

Hat-Tricks : 2

Jimmy Callacher (Linfield v Newry City)
Andrew Waterworth (Linfield v Cliftonville)

Teams Seen : 30

Albion Rovers (1st time), Ards, Austria, Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Bosnia-Herzegovina (1st time), BSC Young Boys (1st time), Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Drogheda United, Dundela, Dungannon Swifts, Edinburgh City, Glenavon, Glentoran, Institute, Knockbreda (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Milwall, Newry City, Northern Ireland, PSNI, Rochdale (1st time), Shelbourne, South Korea (1st time), Warrenpoint Town, Watford (1st time)

Stadiums Visited : 18

Ainslie Park, Ballymena Showgrounds, Breda Park (1st time), Clandeboye Park, Coleraine Showgrounds, Milltown, Mourneview Park, Newforge, Old Trafford, Seaview, Solitude, Taylor’s Avenue, The Brandywell (1st time), The New Den (1st time), The Oval, Tolka Park, Wilgar Park, Windsor Park

Competitions : 8

European Cup, FA Cup (1st time), FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League, League Of Ireland First Division (1st time), Scottish Challenge Cup, UEFA Nations League (1st time)

Curiousities :

A cat running onto the pitch during the match between Warrenpoint Town and Linfield in September.

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FOOTBALL IN 2019

So, my football watching for 2018, it’s time to look forward to my football watching in 2019.

LINFIELD

For a start, there’s a Cup Final to look for, the NIFL Cup Final in mid February and a title challenge.

Hopefully, we’ll be back in Europe in the Summer (ideally, in the European Cup).

Worse than not being in Europe in 2018 was not being in the Scottish Challenge Cup, especially when Coleraine and Crusaders got decent away days. So, fingers crossed that Linfield will be involved in that in the final quarter of 2019, and get an easy to get to away game.

It’s never too early for a pre-season wishlist. All I want is away games at grounds I’ve never been to or haven’t been to in a while. Ideally – Stranraer, Moyola Park, Abbey Villa, Barn United, East Belfast and Sirocco Works.

MANCHESTER UNITED

I’m going to the home match against Burnley at the end of January, my first time seeing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United in the flesh. I’m planning to go to the Cardiff game in May as well.

With games in Australia booked for pre-season friendlies, it’s unlikely they’ll be going to Dublin unfortunately.

At the moment, if United are in Europe next season, it will be in the UEFA Cup. As much as I enjoyed doing a Thursday-Sunday double header in 2016, it’s not something I’d want to do every year. We’ll wait and see how the fixtures turn out. If they are in the UEFA Cup, I might do a group game.

NORTHERN IRELAND

I’ll definitely be going to all four Euro 2020 home Qualifiers. I’m not going to any of the away games, no matter how tempting Rotterdam in October is. I’ll definitely be giving the home friendly against Luxembourg a miss though, unless I win one in a competition.

Hoping for a random friendly in a random English ground, like Qatar in Crewe in 2015.

LEAGUE OF IRELAND

Booked a few days in Dublin over the 12th July weekend. The football options are St Patrick’s Athletic, Shelbourne and Bray Wanderers if I want to take in a match. Bray is looking like the most appealing option at the moment.

For some reason, there’s a full fixture list on Saturday 8th June. Depending on the kick-off time, Drogheda’s home match is tempting for a day trip, allowing me to finally get around to snapping some Street Art while I’m there.

OTHER FOOTBALL

When I’m over for United v Burnley at the end of January, I’ll have a spare day to myself. If there’s a game in the North or North-West of England that’s easy to get to, I’ll look into it about taking in a game.

I hope to making my annual visit to Edinburgh in August. Naturally, I’ll be hoping to take in a match while I’m there.

That’s my football watching plans for 2019. However, things crop up and plans can change. Watch this space.

CLIFTONVILLE 0-2 LINFIELD 29.12.2018

To be honest, 2018 was an awful year for Linfield.

However, the Irish League doesn’t run on calendar years, and the second part of the year was a lot better, giving hope that 2019 could be a good year. Linfield arrived at Solitude hoping to make the final week of the year a very good week.

The busiest time of the year, both sides were coming into this game on the back of contrasting fortunes of their games on Wednesday afternoon. The quick turnaround meant there wasn’t a lot of time to analyse the games on Boxing Day, which was probably good for Cliftonville, after a 5-1 defeat at home to Crusaders.

Linfield didn’t really have to do much analysing of their match against Glentoran, they just had to repeat it.

The only positive that Cliftonville had on Boxing Day, was that they conceded less goals than they did in their previous game, a 6-4 defeat away to Institute.

All season, Cliftonville have conceded goals. Linfield know this, they stuck four past them in November, with Andrew Waterworth becoming a trendsetter, as everybody now scores a hat-trick against Cliftonville.

As you entered Solitude, you were greeted with a muted atmosphere amongst the home support, those two results creating a sense of doom and gloom. They looked like a beaten team in the warm-up.

Linfield’s preparations for this game weren’t exactly smooth, on and off the pitch. The lucky cafe I usually go to for lunch before games at Solitude was closed today. Just as big, was the absence of Joel Cooper through suspension, with some supporters who weren’t aware of this getting a shock as they saw him taking his seat amongst the away support.

His place in the starting eleven was taken by Matthew Clarke, when Daniel Kearns looked a more obvious option.

However, when the sides met last month, Clarke came on for Cooper with the score at 3-2 to Linfield, with Niall Quinn being pushed into midfield.

I had my doubts about this substitution, as I thought it was too defensive, but it proved instantly effective as Quinn set up the goal to make it 4-2.

David Healy was hoping for a similar outcome at Solitude.

On the back of the two previous results, Cliftonville were going to go at Linfield early on, and Linfield would have to ride it out.

That would be more because they have conceded early goals in those two games, meaning that it was a case of attack being the best form of attack.

Cliftonville had the first opportunity of the game when Rory Donnelly cut inside only to see his shot saved by Roy Carroll, before Matthew Clarke blocked Joe Gormley’s rebound when he looked certain to score.

Clarke required treatment afterwards, it looked as though he suffered turf burn on the artificial pitch.

It was a painful afternoon for Clarke as later on, he blocked a cross which hit him right inbetween the legs.

Linfield were poor in the opening minutes, giving the ball away with stray passes, and being caught in possession and easily dispossessed when they had the ball.

Too often, Cliftonville were first to every ball, and first in the air. They weren’t doing any damage to Linfield, but there’s no way that Linfield could get away with it for 90 minutes.

Linfield’s first real chance of note came when Jordan Stewart had a shot saved by Richard Brush.

Stewart then set up Niall Quinn, who fired past Brush, who came rushing out, only for the ball to go wide. He really should have scored. Worst of all, I was at the other end, a celebrated prematurely.

A few minutes later, Linfield went in front when a header from Jordan Stewart hit the post and rolled over the line, though from where I was, it looked like it was rolling across the line, meaning my celebrations were delayed, rather than premature when Quinn shot at goal.

Looking at the TV footage, it does look like an own goal by Chris Curran to me. We all know how the Dubious Goals Committee works in the Irish League. If an Attacker shouts loud enough, it’s their goal.

Cliftonville responded with a Rory Donnelly header which hit the post, but fell perfectly for Jimmy Callacher to clear, to remind Linfield that even though Cliftonville’s confidence is low, this game was far from won.

The half ended with a free-kick from Stewart being saved by Brush.

Inside a minute of the second-half, it was 2-0, when Andrew Waterworth got in behind Cliftonville’s defence shot past the keeper who came rushing out, but his shot was going wide, so Niall Quinn made sure from a few yards out.

I’m not sure why the keeper ran out, as Waterworth still had a lot to do to score. By rushing out, he made it so much easier for Linfield to score, not that I’m complaining.

Just like on Boxing Day, Linfield started to really play now they had a cushion. They couldn’t get the third goal they needed to secure the points.

Even though Cliftonville never looked like getting back into the game, Linfield still had memories of blowing two goal leads at Solitude in 2015 and 2017.

Andrew Mitchell came on for the injured Stephen Fallon, while Michael O’Connor came on for Andrew Waterworth.

O’Connor’s afternoon didn’t last that long, as he got sent-off for two stupid bookings. Linfield were comfortable, and didn’t need to give any encouragement to Cliftonville.

The only moment of worry they had was a long range shot from Ryan Curran that was saved by Roy Carroll. Linfield might have had a man less, but they had the ball, and Cliftonville couldn’t score if Linfield had it.

In the end, it was a comfortable win for Linfield.

At one point, in the second-half, with Linfield 2-0 up, Ballymena United, Crusaders and Glenavon were all dropping points. In the end, only Glenavon dropped points.

Three other results going in our favour was hopeful, but we’ll take one.

Next up, is the first game of 2019 on the first day of 2019, a trip to Ards. We’ve already slipped up there once this season.

Elsewhere, Ballymena play Crusaders. One, or possibly two, teams below us will be dropping points on Tuesday. A win at Ards is a must.

Linfield can’t influence other results, but we can take advantage of them.

Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 28.12.2018

1. Robert Goulet- Jingle Bells, Batman Smells
2. The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping
3. Greg Lake- I Believe In Father Christmas
4. Ash – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday
5. John Lennon – Merry Xmas War Is Over

Apologies for missing out a couple of Friday Fives for the past few weeks. Believe it or not, i’ve been busy socially.

Here’s to more Friday Fives in 2019. I’ll try to do a 1987 as that’s where the Top Of The Pops repeats will be starting next week.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SMASH HITS – 29.9.1993

In this week’s edition of Smash Hits, Bad Boys Inc have a confession to make.

In fashion Stakka Bo offer fashion tips for fans who want to dress like them.

Smash Hits goes behind the scenes at the shoot for Bad Boys Inc video for their new single Whenever You Need Someone, giving it two pages of coverage.

Take That go one page better, as they get three pages as Smash Hits publishes their diary from a busy summer.

There was more Boy Band action as New Kids On The Block got three pages as well, though they weren’t really new kids by the time 1993 came around.

It wasn’t all about Boy Bands, as Smash Hits spent a girl’s night in with Eternal, in a double page spread.

In reviews, fashionistas Stakka Bo were Best New Single for Here We Go Again.

The magazine ends with an advert for the next edition, which comes with free tattoos.

LINFIELD 4-0 GLENTORAN 26.12.2018

There is a thing called Whamageddon. The objective is to avoid hearing Last Christmas by Wham. Linfield were also hoping to avoid Last Christmas, but it was nothing to do with George and Andrew. They wanted to avoid a repeat of the 2-1 defeat at The Oval, which killed off their title hopes, if they weren’t already dead by the time they arrived in East Belfast 365 days ago.

A defeat today, or even a draw, wouldn’t have been fatal to Linfield’s title hopes, but it certainly would have been a result they could do without. In the end, they produced a performance that left their fans on The Edge Of Heaven.

Having fallen four points behind Ballymena on Saturday, Linfield couldn’t afford to let the gap get any bigger.

As the teams entered the pitch, there wasn’t many players on the pitch at the start who had scored in this fixture. Linfield only had Niall Quinn (2015) and Andrew Waterworth (2013) while Glentoran had Stephen Gordon (2014), with last year’s matchwinner Curtis Allen being on the bench.

It was clear early on that Linfield were planning on giving it to Joel Cooper as much as possible, with good reason, having set up the winner when the sides met in October.

Having seen off early Linfield pressure, Glentoran had a bit of the ball in Linfield’s half, too much for Linfield’s liking, even though they didn’t do much with it.

On 15 minutes, Linfield got the breakthrough when Jimmy Callacher scored after a free-kick. It was his third goal in front of The Kop for the third time in four games. The only difference this time was that it was with his foot rather than his head. Linfield might as well be 1-0 up already in their Irish Cup tie against Ballymena in a few weeks time.

It was a perfect time to score as it wasn’t too early, as Linfield have tended to struggle in recent years when they have scored early against Glentoran.

All that Glentoran could offer in response was a free-kick from Willy Garrett that was easily saved by Roy Carroll.

Linfield were determined to get a second goal before half-time. Kirk Millar fired across goal from a wide angle, before a flicked header went agonisingly wide.

A neat passing move resulted in a Joel Cooper low cross just miss Andrew Waterworth when the slightest contact would have resulted in a goal.

Joel Cooper then had a shot saved, with Elliott Morris getting to the round ahead of Andrew Waterworth who had sniffed a goal, before the half ended with a ball in from Niall Quinn evaded everybody and hit the post.

In the 2016 fixture, Linfield could have had the game won in the first-half, before hanging on for a point. They had to be on it from the very first kick of the second-half.

They weren’t. Curtis Allen, now brought on as a substitute, headed over from the close range. Jimmy Callacher was forced to stick out a leg and concede a corner when intercepting a pass to Allen.

Glentoran were having a lot of the ball but not doing much with it. Despite that, your natural pessimism makes you fear they will get a goal.

The second goal that Linfield needed came from a counter attack from a Glentoran corner, when Joel Cooper and Jordan Stewart ran at pace at Glentoran’s defence, those that were behind them couldn’t get back in time to help out.

Eventually, Cooper crossed for Stewart to finish from a few yards out. If Stewart didn’t get there, Kirk Millar would have had a empty net to put the ball into.

That was it, game over. Any fear there was of conceding a soft goal and dropping cheap points was now gone. Now that the game was won, Linfield were ready to put on a show.

A few minutes later, Cooper had his goal, volleying home from a corner. At 3-0, even I was able to relax in the knowledge that the points were secured.

Linfield were now showing off, playing ole football, keeping the ball like Institute, with Glentoran’s players too downhearted to put a tackle in.

When they did, Robbie McDaid got himself sent-off for kicking out at Jordan Stewart before squaring up to Andrew Mitchell, who had come on as a substitute for Jamie Mulgrew.

It was the fifth red card in the last six Boxing Day fixtures between Linfield and Glentoran.

By this point, Andrew Waterworth had made it 4-0 to Linfield with his last kick of the game before being replaced by Michael O’Connor. Personally, with the game won, I would have let Daniel Reynolds get some minutes.

Daniel Kearns was brought on as he continues to make his recovery from injury. He almost made it 5-0 but his shot was saved by Elliott Morris. Morris was beaten again, by Michael O’Connor, but the goal was disallowed for offside, as Linfield had to make do with just a 4-0 win.

Elsewhere, Ballymena drew 3-3 with Coleraine, meaning the gap is now back down to two points. Linfield couldn’t afford to let the gap get bigger, they reduced it within one game.

Crusaders beat Cliftonville 5-1. Do Cliftonville fans call 26th December St Stephen’s Day as it’s usually a day when Stephen Baxter is smiling?

Just like last month, Linfield will be facing a Cliftonville side who have lost their last two games.

Hopefully, like last month, we’ll show no mercy.

This match will be Linfield’s last game of 2018. Let’s be honest, it’s been a bloody awful year, but three points can lay the foundation to 2019 being a lot better.

Oh, and of course, don’t forget, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way.

Photo Album

Boxing Day 2016

Boxing Day 2015

Boxing Day 2014

Boxing Day 2013

2018 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR ….)

December began with a top of the table clash on the first day, but not the result I wanted as Linfield lost to Ballymena United.

The following Saturday was a lot better, as Linfield thrashed Crusaders 4-1.

No football the following Saturday, meant a gap in photo adventures, before seeing Ash at The Limelight, followed by Linfield’s match against Glenavon.

Of course, there are still two more football matches for me this month, Linfield’s games against Glentoran (26th) and Cliftonville (29th).

Hope you’ve enjopyed my photographic look back at 2018, here’s to more in 2019.

Already booked for 2019 – Chvrches, Razorlight and a short break in Dublin.

Ballymena United v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

Ash live at The Limelight

Ash live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

LINFIELD 0-0 GLENAVON 22.12.2018

Linfield took on Glenavon sandwiched inbetween two milestone points of the season, Matchday 21 (though due to postponements and rearrangements, this was both sides 20th game) inbetween the halfway point (Matchday 19) and the point when everybody should have played each other twice (Matchday 22)

The previous meeting came at that most eagerly awaited of milestone days, the opening game. Fans of both sides arrived at Mourneview Park wanting to know if their team were capable of making a title challenge.

Four and a half months later, both sides were in a title challenge, the two main challengers to surprise leaders Ballymena United, who have started to become comfortable in that role since going top three weeks previously, sitting two points clear of Linfield, who were one point clear of Glenavon.

With two postponements since their last game, it had felt like ages since Linfield last played. Unsurprisingly, they were unchanged since their last League game, a 4-1 win over Crusaders.

There was a boost though in the shape of Daniel Kearns being able to take a place on the bench after two months out through injury.

In the opening minutes, Jamie Mulgrew was able to run unchallenged towards Glenavon’s goal, but fired over. Mulgrew had scored the winner when the two sides met at Windsor Park exactly eleven years previously, and he was in the mood to repeat it. It wasn’t the only time during the game that Glenavon let him run free at their goal.

A neat passing move down the left almost set up Joel Cooper to lob into the net, but Jonathan Tuffey was able to catch it.

Glenavon had their chances, gifted to them by Linfield. A defensive mix-up presented Andrew Mitchell with a clear strike at goal but he fired over, not as far over as his penalty on the opening day, but he still should have scored.

Another mix-up saw Stephen Murray hit the bar, while the woodwork was also hit when Roy Carroll dropped a corner into the post, to shocked gasps from both sets of fans.

Carroll had to run out of his penalty area to clear some danger, but the resulting shot from far out went wide.

Linfield had their own pressure on Glenavon’s goal, with Joel Cooper firing over, before Linfield thought they had taken the lead when Jonathan Tuffey fumbled a shot straight to Andrew Waterworth, whose quick reactions got him a goal, only for the offside flag to deny him.

The end of the half saw some Linfield pressure and a flurry of corners, the most dangerous of which saw a Glenavon defender head out for a corner, just as Jimmy Callacher look set to score in front of The Kop for the third successive home game.

In a game that looked like it had no more than one goal, Linfield’s set pieces were generally poor at a time when they needed just one to get right.

The start of the second-half saw an opportunity for each time, Glenavon hitting the bar followed by a low Joel Cooper cross evading two team-mates running in.

With each passing minute, it became obvious that Daniel Kearns would be introduced. That happened just after the hour, perhaps earlier than some expected, as part of a double substitution which saw Michael O’Connor join the action. With half an hour to go, Linfield had introduced two of their three attacking options from the bench in search of the win, especially with Ballymena United 2-0 up against Ards, and being so in front, they could afford to miss two penalties.

A quick counter attack saw Stephen Murray have a shot saved before both teams were frustrated by goal-line clearances.

Daniel Kearns tried to sneak the ball in fro a tight angle, but his shot was saved by Tuffey, before Kearns set up two late chances, pulling back for Stephen Fallon who fired just wide under pressure, while Joel Cooper couldn’t get to the ball before Tuffey.

It was a contradiction of a game, both teams had chances but neither looked like scoring, it was one of those games.

Elsewhere, Ballymena won to go four points clear. They can be overtaken but the lead can’t be allowed to get bigger.

I said at the start of the month that Ballymena had a run of winnable games, and so it has proved.

I wouldn’t put much hope on the, slipping up against Coleraine and Crusaders, considering that both have had four goal defeats recently against Top Six opposition.

Crusaders are now three points behind Linfield but I wouldn’t be too concerned, as Linfield have a game in hand.

Cliftonville meanwhile lost 6-4 to Institute and now don’t have a keeper for Boxing Day. I doubt Brian Neeson’s ban will be more than one game, which is a pity ahead of next Saturday.

And on to Boxing Day, I suppose we’re due a win, having failed to win the last two meetings, although facing a Glentoran team without a win in two months does worry me, if you know what I mean.

In truth, we should be beating them. The current state of the table dictates that we must, regardless of other results.

The day before that, is the Steel and Sons Cup Final between East Belfast and Sirocco Works. At the minute, I don’t plan on attending, but you never know.

Having discovered that Sirocco’s ground is on the Connswater Greenway, I’ll be adding them to the pre-season wishlist, alongside East Belfast.

Last weekend, Linfield should have been playing away to Newry, but it was postponed due to the weather.

Curiously, with a meeting scheduled for the weekend of the League Cup Final, it meant that Linfield had two away games against Newry postponed in the same week.

There’s still four months of the season left, so there’s no need to panic.

Finding new dates for games seems to be a thing, with the County Antrim Shield Semi-Final against Ballymena being postponed for the second time.

I don’t think either club will be unhappy with that, the match should never have been scheduled going into a busy Christmas period.

Though, it is now scheduled for Tueaday 8th January, so it’s now at the end of a busy period.

There’s absolutely no reason why it couldn’t have been played on Tuesday 15th January.

Now, I know the Final is scheduled for Tuesday 22nd January, but there’s no reason why a venue couldn’t be arranged now to cover for the seven day turnaround.

If it is Linfield v Crusaders it wil be played at xxxxxxx, and if it’s Ballymena v Crusaders, it will be played at xxxxxxx.

There is recent precedent for the County Antrim Shield Final date being put back, it has happened in 2010, 2014 and 2017.

This week saw the League Of Ireland fixture list for 2019. I’ve booked a two night stay in Dublin on 11th and 12th July as I’ll be off work. There’s no top flight games on the 12th, but Bray and Shelbourne are both at home. Bray is looking the most tempting at this moment in time.

Northern Ireland have announced a friendly against Luxembourg for October 2019. I’ll pass on that, but I’ll be entering competitions for a freebie, of course.

Not the result we wanted, but there are positives. The biggest of which, was the first clean sheet in nine matches. That would be a good habit to get into again.

Daniel Kearns is back from injury and Mark Haughey, Ryan McGivern and Cameron Stewart are all due back from injury, which is effectively like four new signings.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my blogs, and I’ll be intending to post more crap in 2019 and beyond.

So, Merry Christmas to you all, even Glentoran supporters. Though, in their case, I hope they have a horrid Boxing Day, especially between the hours of 3pm and 5pm.

Photo Album

ASH – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 20.12.2018

One last concert for me in 2018, as I headed to The Limelight to see the band I saw in my first ever concert, on the night that 1998 became 1999.

It fell on exactly three years to the day since their last indoor (outside of promotional appearances at HMV) concert in Belfast, at The Empire.

There was a previous Belfast appearance inbetween, with the band having performed at Titanic Belfast as part of Biggest Weekend in May this year.

There’s already a 2019 date in the calendar, but not in Belfast, but in Bangor, as support to Snow Patrol at Ward Park. Curiously, they didn’t mention that upcoming date during this concert.

They entered the stage looking different than they did at Titanic Belfast in May. Tim was now sporting a moustache which made him look like Freddie Mercury, while Mark now had his hair cut short, looking like Jason Orange. Meanwhile, Rick just looked like Rick.

The setlist began with a mixture of recent stuff and early stuff, before launching into biggies such as
Oh Yeah, Goldfinger and Girl From Mars.

As it was Christmas, we got some treats, such as a cover of Cantina Song from Star Wars, which had the crowd singing and dancing along, just as it did when they performed it at The Empire in 2015.

For the next cover, the fans were given a choice, as Mark Hamilton would perform an acapella version of Last Christmas by Wham or Mistletoe and Wine by Cliff Richard, depending on who got the biggest cheer.

The winner of that was Wham, although it might have been a different scenario if the much superior Saviour’s Day was put forward as Cliff’s suggested song.

If anybody in the room was taking part in Whamageddon, they will have been relieved to know they weren’t yet out, as covers don’t count.

Tim said he wasn’t feeling very Christmassy as he hadn’t had any mince pies yet, but they then played There Is A Star as their sort of Christmas song, though Shining Light does mention Royal David’s City in the lyrics. Also played from Free All Angels, unsurprisingly, was Burn Baby Burn.

Rick was then given the billing of “The best glockenspiel player in Killyleagh”, which is a lot to live up to, but he lived up to, before Mark jumped into the crowd during the encore which caused a bit of a panic amongst Venue Security.

By now, the festive party was in full swing, with confetti now falling onto the crowd.

At their last two Belfast gigs, they’ve had guest appearance from members of famous Northern Ireland bands such as Snow Patrol and The Undertones.

For the encore, they had guest appearances from friends and family, as well as the support act, Brand New Friend, to perform a cover of I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday by Wizzard.

As the band gave their bows to the crowd, guests still assembled, the PA system started playing (I think it might have been accidental) Time Of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, with the band, led by Mark, lip syncing along to it, egged on by the crowd.

Halfway through the song, the music stopped, and the band left the stage, giving us a comical and chaotic end to an enjoyable evening.

Photo Album

Ash live at Titanic Belfast May 2018

Ash live at The Empire December 2015

2018 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November 2018 began for me with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield scrape a late draw at home to Warrenpoint Town.

From Warrenpoint to Waterford, as the following week I spent a few days in Waterford seeing Waterford Walls, with a brief stop-off in Dublin.

The day after my return to Belfast, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose to Coleraine.

The following weekend, a new ground for me to visit for the first time, as I headed to The Brandywell to see Linfield take on Institute.

The day after, it was a return to Windsor Park, and another bad home result, as Northern Ireland lost to Austria in the UEFA Nations League.

On the following weekend, I headed to The Limelight to see Cast in concert.

That was then followed by a good home result at Windsor Park, as Linfield beat Cliftonville 4-2.

I then headed to Manchester for a few days, to see United take on BSC Young Boys and get some Street Art photos.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Waterford Walls

Waterford Walls Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Austria

Northern Ireland v Austria Photo Album

Cast live at The Limelight

Cast live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album