MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 6.12.1980

We go back to the week before John Lennon died, as Ian Wallace and Peter Ward of reigning European Champions Nottingham Forest are the cover stars of Shoot, billed as “Forest’s Tiny Terrors”

As you open the magazine, four top flight stars – Vince Hilare, Joe Blyth, John Craggs and Brian Horton are interviewed on the title race, and they all expect Liverpool to win their 3rd successive title in 1981. They finished 5th as Aston Villa won the title. Winning the European Cup made up for it though.

It’s the Quarter-Finals of the League Cup, and Shoot predicts a last four line-up of Liverpool, Coventry, Spurs and Man City. Three out of four were right, with West Ham beating Spurs the only one they got wrong.

Clive Allen uses his column to comment that he has now played for eleven managers so far in his short career, headlined as “My team of managers”

Newly appointed QPR manager Terry Venables is interviewed, stating that he is wary of making too many changes.

In news, Tottenham Hotspur manager Keith Burkinshaw believes that Chris Hughton has made a mistake by choosing to play for Republic Of Ireland instead of England, while Blackpool manager Alan Ball expects Colin Morris of Blackpool to be a million pound player some day.

Cover stars Ian Wallace and Peter Ward get a feature, as their role at Nottingham Forest is changing football as the days of lumping it up to the big man are now over.

18 year old Paul Walsh gets a feature, being described “The most exciting Charlton player in 25 years”

Danny McGrain uses his column to comment on Scottish clubs all being out of Europe before Christmas, blaming it due to “inexperience”

In posters, there was a Newport County team poster, while Trevor Francis and David O’Leary are advertising Adidas and Mitre.

In adverts, Kevin Keegan is flogging Grundig radios, and the England squad are flogging Trebor Mints.

There is a full page profile of Bernd Schuster’s protracted move from Cologne to Barcelona, with a chronological diary of events.

Leicester City get a full page club profile.

Gary Mabbutt gets a profile after overcoming Diabetes to break into Bristol Rovers team.

Shoot asks four top flight players what foreign league they would like to play in if they were to leave England. Joe Jordan would like to play in West Germany (he would eventually play in Italy), Eric Gates wants to play in Spain, Peter Barnes believes Argentina would suit him, while Craig Johnston wants to play in West Germany, before returning to Australia.

Shoot does a double page spread on three youngsters looking to break into the Scotland squad in time for the 1982 World Cup – Charlie Nicholas (Celtic), John MacDonald (Rangers) and Jim Leighton (Aberdeen)

Talking of the 1982 World Cup, Gordon Cowans hopes to be in England’s squad for it, as well has having a title medal to his name with Aston Villa.

England are offered some advice from Southampton’s Yugoslav defender Ivan Golac, who says that England fans are too critical of their team.

The magazine ends with a profile of Arthur Albiston, who lists his favourite singers as Donna Summer and George Benson.

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LINFIELD 1-0 BALLYMENA UNITED 23.2.2019

For Linfield, it was one in the bag and two to play for. Ballymena United also had two to play for, but they had two gone.

Those two that were gone (County Antrim Shield and League Cup) came courtesy of defeats to Linfield. A third defeat to Linfield wouldn’t have seen a third trophy slip from Ballymena’s grasp, but it would put them up against it in the race for the Gibson Cup.

Linfield kicked off six points clear of Ballymena United but with a game more played. Even though points in the bag trump games in hand, when evaluating a League table, you should always assume that a team will win their game in hand. Effectively, Linfield had a three point lead.

A win here would make it a nine point lead, but with a game more played, making it effectively six points. But, as said earlier, points in the bag trumps games in hand, especially as it isn’t for another month. A whole month where Ballymena would be trying to keep up with Linfield and have no margin for error.

Pre-match, I didn’t expect anything dramatic in terms of Linfield’s team selection. If there was to be a change from the League Cup Final, I thought it would have been Joel Cooper (if fit, it turned out he wasn’t) for Matthew Clarke.

Matthew Clarke would find himself on the bench for this game, but it would be Ryan McGivern who replaced him for his debut, his only previous appearance coming in a Friendly on the day he signed, against the PSNI in July, his time at Windsor Park being blighted by injury.

There were also starts for Daniel Kearns and Marek Cervenka at the expense of Kirk Millar and Jordan Stewart.

McGivern was involved in the opening minutes, having to hook clear a goalbound effort from Andy McGrory, after he got in behind Linfield’s defence and flicked it past Gareth Deane, the effort didn’t have enough power to go in, making it easy for McGivern to clear.

Despite Ballymena having a lot of the ball, Linfield had two opportunities to score, both involving Andrew Waterworth.

In the opening minutes, he hit an instinctive shot which just went wide, before a half chance was blocked by a Ballymena defender and then bounced off another defender and then over for a corner. The second incident came around the same stage of the game that he scored last week.

Waterworth was then involved in another incident where Linfield almost scored by accident, when Jamie Mulgrew ran towards goal after getting to a ball first that he was the underdog to get, his shot at goal hit Andrew Waterworth and changed direction, but Ross Glendenning was able to get across to the ball, with the deflection off Waterworth taking the sting out of the shot.

By this point, Tony Kane was booked for a foul on Jamie Mulgrew, but it wasn’t tactical fouls that Ballymena were using to deny Linfield, it was the winning of cheap free-kicks, engineering soft free-kicks any time a Linfield player went near them.

In the final moments of the first-half, Ballymena had a glorious opportunity to score when Scott Whiteside headed over unmarked from a few yards out. He really should have scored.

Despite Ballymena having a lot of the ball, and a lot of attacking situations, Gareth Deane didn’t have a save to make.

Linfield wouldn’t get away with another 45 minutes like that though, they had to step it up.

And that is what they did, attacking at Ballymena, who couldn’t get the ball off them. They had to make the most of it.

Josh Robinson ran forward with the ball, similar to what he did for the winning goal last weekend. With Ballymena getting ready to defend his pass, space began to open up for Linfield, with Chris Casement free in a crossing position on the right hand sand.

Robinson ignored him and hit a shot at goal. Before you could scream “What are you doing?” at him ignoring a team mate in space, the ball crashed off the bar.

From the resulting play, Ballymena could only concede a corner, which Robinson headed home, instantly forgetting about his near miss.

Even though the first two games this season between the sides saw the team who conceded first recover to win, you had the feeling that this would only be a one goal game, and Linfield had got it.

But they wanted more, and they needed more to be absolutely certain.

They almost got that much needed second goal when Andrew Waterworth flicked goalwards, but Jim Ervin, lucky to be available for selection for this game after his tackle on Jamie Mulgrew last week, took the sting out of it, meaning that Ross Glendenning was able to make an easy save.

With only one goal in it, Ballymena always felt like they could get something out of it.

With minutes remaining, Shane McGinty headed against the crossbar. You felt that was Ballymena’s best chance gone.

There was still time for some late drama, as Ballymena claimed for a penalty for a handball by Jimmy Callacher. Players and fans shouted for it in unison. It’s one of those that you will appeal for if you’re the attacking team, but they were never going to get it.

It was blasted at him from a few yards away, his hands weren’t in an unnatural position and he wasn’t looking at the ball. They were never going to get it. It was an ambitious appeal based on desperation.

Linfield won 1-0, with a win will be looked back on as pivotal if they go on to win the League. For the first time since October, there is daylight between Linfield and Ballymena United.

Ballymena’s game in hand makes the nine point lead deceptive. Even if it is cut to six, that is still a healthy lead and a good foundation for Linfield to see the job out. If we don’t, a lot of serious questions questions will have to be asked.

As well as a healthy points lead, we have a goal difference advantage of eighteen over Ballymena, though that could be overtaken in nineteen games (ten for Ballymena and nine for Linfield).

There’s no time to reflect on this result, with both Linfield and Ballymena back in League action on Tuesday night, in rearranged games that were postponed last weekend due to their involvement in the League Cup Final.

It’s a bit disappointing that Newry game isn’t put back to the Saturday, as both teams are out of the Irish Cup.

But you can flip it around, and we can use the enforced break to rest legs ahead of the final run-in.

Ballymena will face Cliftonville. I would expect Ballymena to win that, even though Cliftonville have won both their games and kept clean sheets under their new manager. In truth, they were two games they should be winning, but hopefully the new manager bounce will continue for a few more days.

On Friday night, Crusaders and Glenavon drew 1-1 in the live TV game, a bit of a surprising choice as you would have thought this game would have been chosen for live TV from this weekend’s fixture list.

That result means Crusaders are eleven points behind Linfield with a game more played. In truth, they’ve been an irrelevance in the title race for a long time. It was only the fact that they got games played while others had games postponed and got points on board which made them seem closer to the top of the League than they really were.

At this time of year, you start looking at fixtures coming up, and the form of teams playing you or your rivals. Glenavon are on a run of form after a Winter slump, while Institute have won two in a row, while Dungannon were on a decent run of form until defeat at Institute.

No points will be given out free to Linfield, but we’re on a decent run of form ourselves – eight wins in a row now.

And that’s all we can do, keep winning. If we do that, nobody can deny us the title.

A familiar face returned to Irish League football, with Warren Feeney being appointed manager of Ards.

The last time he managed a team in the Irish League, he sat on top of it, but he began his return at the bottom, but ended the day second bottom.

If you’re a fan of subplots, he won’t be making an impact on the title race, as Ards have already faced Linfield and Ballymena three times this season.

It will be him hoping for a favour from Linfield rather than Linfield getting a favour from him, which hopefully Linfield will deliver against Newry. They’ll be looking to help themselves. If anyone else benefits, so be it.

As a side note, the Irn Bru Cup Final will be held in Inverness, meaning a 10 mile trip for one team, and a 300 mile trip for the other. I’m not an active follower of Scottish football, but i’m starting to sense they make it up as they go along.

Surely somewhere in the Central Belt would have been an option?

Despite that, i’m looking forward to Linfield more than likely being back in the competition next season.

The weekend of that game, Linfield are away to Dungannon in a game that will be live on BBC Two on the Friday night, the second of two Friday night games in March.

That scheduling gives Linfield a chance to get more points on the board and really put the pressure on a Ballymena side who will have no margin for error.

That’s all we have to do, keep winning.

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RAZORLIGHT – LIVE AT THE LIMELIGHT 22.2.2019

Playing at, in their words, a “Special place” to them, Razorlight made a welcome return to Belfast with a gig at The Limelight.

I’d previously seen them before, but it was a while ago. It was so long ago, it was when Tennent’s Vital was at Ormeau Park, as they appeared alongside Manic Street Preachers in 2007.

Back then, they were riding high following the success of their self titled second album, with massive hits such as In The Morning, America, Before I Fall To Pieces and I Can’t Stop This Feeling I’ve Got. The second of that quartet, America, provided the band with their first, and so far only Number 1 single in the UK.

It was two years before, that I got into Razorlight. There was someone I worked with who was obsessed with them, and especially Golden Touch.

I didn’t really need to be persuaded, it’s a fantastic tune, as well as other singles from their debut album such as Rip It Up amd Somewhere Else.

Sticking to the industry standard of a new album every two years, they released their third album in 2008, Slipway Fires, with the lead single Wire To Wire, being a, um, slow burner, a grower of a song, but still well worth a listen. Despite that, it would be the only major single release from that album.

So, 2010 comes along, and we await Razorlight album number four. Then 2011, then 2012, then we just forgot about them, the band going on haitus until album number four, Olympus Sleeping, arrived in 2018.

All the hits that were mentioned were unsurprisingly played, as was the underrated Who Needs Love?, which was only an album track on their second album. If they released it as a single, it surely would have been a massive hit.

The band were on stage at around 8.15pm and off by around 9.30pm. Not going to lie, i’m a big fan of The Limelight’s early starts and finishes.

There, I said it, 00s nostalgia and sensible bedtimes.

Razorlight crammed as much as they could into their stage time, it was all killer and no filler, but no actual covers of songs by The Killers.

By this point, Johnny Borrell was very sweaty, and channelling his inner Mick Jagger when allowed to strut on stage without a guitar. The boy can’t help it, it’s not his fault, just a dangerous dangerous age.

Unsurprisingly, their biggest hit, America, was saved for the encore.

It’s a song that sounds best in the Winter months, the soundtrack to the end of 2006 for me, and a hug in musical form, that last line doesn’t sound weird in any way.

The sentiment, wasn’t that friendly, as Borrell made a dedication before the song, declaring “Fuck you” to Donald Trump and Fox News.

You could say the lyrics of the song are prophetic, but then again, all my life, panic in America.

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CHVRCHES – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 19.2.2019

First concert of 2019 for me, and it was a first for the band, as Chvrches made their first visit to Belfast, as singer Lauren Mayberry declared this to be a sort of local gig for her, saying “I had a Granny McIntyre from near here”.

The band said during the show that they love touring so much, because it stops them from returning to Glasgow, where they hear about family friends and distant relatives dying.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom though.

I’d first got into Chvrches back in 2013 when they released their debut album, with singles such as The Mother We Share, Recover, Lies and Gun, dreamy chilled out and atmospheric synthpop with a tune. Finally, they’d made it to Belfast.

Regular readers of this blog will know i’m a fan of Chvrches, featuring regularly in The Friday Five and The Sound Of, having the 14th best song of 2018, 7th best song of 2016, 3rd best song of 2015, and the 91st best song of 2013.

Wait a minute, isn’t Chvrches that Romanian guy that plays for Spurs?

No, that’s Vlad Chiriches, and he plays for Napoli now.

Support came from Let’s Eat Grandma, who were ok, very theatrical and dramatic, and there wasn’t a musical instrument that they didn’t play.

Coming from Scotland, Chvrches will be quick to tell you that Ye Cannae Throw Yer Granny Aff A Bus.

It was those hits that they jumped straight into, albeit more recent ones such as Get Out and Bury It.

Seeing the Mulholland Grand Organ (the keys were locked, much to their disappointment), they mistakenly believed the venue was a church, or a former church, pointing out the irony of a band called Chvrches playing there, a verbal exchanged which saw Martin Doherty being dubbed “The Phantom Of The Dochera” and “The Fanny Of The Opera”.

The gig wasn’t problem free, as the bass on the left hand side of the floor seemed to be a bit iffy, while Lauren was having microphone problems, stating she would prefer to have a headset microphone like Britney or Madonna, but stated that she wasn’t cool enough to use one.

One of the reasons that she wouldn’t want to use one of those microphones was that people would hear her mumbling and swearing inbetween songs, apologising to one young member of the crowd for using the mf word, while she sat on a box for a slow song, it was speculated, and hoped by the band that Gwyneth Paltrow’s head would be inside.

If you’re wondering, they explained that it was a reference to the film Seven, rather than them being weird Coldplay fans who wish ill will on her for divorcing, sorry, consciously uncoupling Chris Martin.

As the band appeared for their encore, Lauren commented that the applause she received made her feel like a sports star, though she was probably as knackered as one with the amount of pirouetting she did on stage.

It may not be the only time I see Chvrches in 2019, as the week before this, they were announced as one of the acts appearing at Summer Sessions, taking place in Edinburgh, the posh suburb part of their native Glasgow.

Regular readers will know I head to Edinburgh every August. I haven’t booked my trip yet, but the week when James and Madness appear at Summer Sessions a few days apart is very tempting.

Also recently announced was that Feeder will be headlining a night at Holywood Harmony, in Holywood, funnily enough.

As said last year, it’s good to see concerts in Northern Ireland outside Belfast. I’m tempted to head along to that. Good luck to them.

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MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 21.5.1977

David O’Leary is one of the cover stars as the 1976-1977 nears it’s finale.

Jack Charlton (Middlesbrough) and Johnny Giles (West Bromwich Albion) get a double page feature, as the two former Leeds players have left managerial positions in recent weeks.

Ray Kennedy gets a full page profile, as he aims to make English football history, aiming to become the first player to win the double twice, having been a part of Arsenal’s 1971 double winning team.

With Liverpool losing to Manchester United in that year’s FA Cup Final, the feat wasn’t achieve until various Manchester United players did it in 1996, with some more doing it in 1999 (Peter Schmeichel, Denis Irwin, Roy Keane and Ryan Giggs winning it three times)

Ashley Cole and Nicholas Anelka are the only players to win the double with two different clubs, after Kennedy was denied this achievement.

Shoot does a double page spread, offering Martin Peters, Pat Rice and Howard Kendall an opportunity to reflect on the season, and why their respective sides didn’t win a trophy.

Gerry Francis uses his column to suggest that anybody wanting to be a manager in England should get the relevant coaching and management qualifications, similar to the structure in West Germany.

In news, Arsenal manager Terry Neill has denied a story in Shoot that Frank Stapleton and Liam Brady are on their way to Liverpool. Middlesbrough midfielder Graeme Souness is unsettled at Ayresome Park

St Mirren manager Alex Ferguson has been fined £25 for comments to the referee after his side were eliminated from the Scottish Cup by Motherwell.

Aston Villa goalkeeper John Burridge gets a full page profile about facing penalties.

In the centre pages, there is a poster of the Aston Villa team, including the League Cup, which they won in 1977.

John Greig uses his column to explain why Rangers didn’t win the league.

Sheffield Wednesday’s teenage goalkeeper Chris Turner gets interviewed, having broke into the team and become a regular of the team he supported growing up.

In world news, Idi Amin is described as “The Generous General”, having rewarded the national team with a free holiday in Libya as a reward for winning the East African Challenge Cup.

LINFIELD 1-0 BALLYMENA UNITED 16.2.2019

Linfield fans aren’t really that used to seeing their team in the League Cup Final. I wouldn’t be surprised if some went to Newry on Friday night for a League game and were wondering where everybody else was, their last win coming in their last Final back in 2008.

Ballymena fans are a lot more familiar with the League Cup Final, with this being their third successive appearance, reach four of the past five overall.

Of those previous three finals, they had won one (2017) and lost two (2015, 2018) with the two defeats being at Windsor Park, an omen that Linfield would hope would continue.

Curiously, David Jeffrey was manager and Jim Ervin was playing the last time both Linfield and Ballymena United won this competition.

Even more curiously, the two were in the Linfield camp when the two sides met exactly eleven years to the day, Saturday 16th February 2008, a 4-0 win for Linfield.

It would have been greedy to ask for a repeat, just 1-0 would have done.

Having changed formation last week, Linfield reverted back to 4231, which meant a change in personnel. There was a shock in the starting eleven, as the absence of Joel Cooper from the matchday squad, presumably due to injury, meant a starting place for Matthew Clarke, with Niall Quinn pushed into centre midfield.

It was Ballymena who had the first meaningful attempt on goal in the game, when a James Knowles shot was deflected onto the post.

Linfield responded with a Kirk Millar cross causing panic in Ballymena’s defence, where a header just about denied Niall Quinn a certain goal.

Linfield were in the mood for an early goal and got it when Josh Robinson ventured forward only to see his attempted pass to Andrew Waterworth be blocked, before Niall Quinn made it second time lucky, for Waterworth to finish low into the corner.

A frustrating thing about Waterworth is that he sometimes doesn’t shoot until there is an absolute certain clear shot at goal. He made enough room for himself to fire home. I was in The Kop in the first-half, and it was in from the moment it left his foot.

Linfield couldn’t quite kick on from this and get a second, though Niall Quinn and Andrew Waterworth had shots saved by Ross Glendenning, they were saves you would expect him to make.

Ballymena almost immediately responded to Linfield’s goal when Josh Robinson lost possession trying to shepherd the ball out for a goal kick, the ball going across the goalmouth, though thankfully, there wasn’t a Ballymena player following up.

The big flashpoint of the half came in the final minutes of the half when Jim Ervin was booked for a reckless tackle on Jamie Mulgrew. It should have been a red. The referee was sure of his decision, brandishing a yellow card immediately.

Due to this, the match threatened to boil over. It was lucky that half-time was approaching.

The half-time whistle came with Linfield 1-0 up. Slightly better but not dominant, Linfield offered more of an attacking threat going forward, and were good value for their 1-0 lead.

If they could make it 2-0 early in the second-half, there would be no way back for Ballymena.

However, it was Ballymena who were the more likely to score in the early moments of the second-half.

That pressure on the Linfield goal resulted in a glorious opportunity for Cathair Friel, who managed for fire over when faced with an open net from three yards out.

I was at the other end, the corner of The Kop and Railway Stand by this point, and it looked bad. Seeing it again on TV replays backed that up. It defied science. It could easily stand up to anything on a Danny Baker Own Goals And Gaffes video.

It was the sort of miss that would make you want to hide in a darkened room, which is certainly a better option that staying up all night throwing tantrums on Twitter.

Even though they were struggling to get out of their own half, Linfield were able to create opportunities, with Kyle McClean having a shot blocked by a Ballymena defender, denying a certain goal.

Having missed from three yards out, Cathair Friel tried to use his head, nipping in ahead of Chris Casement, only to see his header turned around for a corner by Gareth Deane.

Ballymena had all the momentum by this point. There was a danger that if they did score, Linfield would be playing for extra-time and hope to get themselves together for those thirty minutes.

Ballymena needed to score for that situation, but Linfield held firm.

Linfield’s first, and as it turned out, only substitution of the game, saw Michael O’Connor come on for Jordan Stewart, an extra body up front giving them more of their attacking threat, as they looked to extend their lead rather than hold on to it.

A Niall Quinn cross saw a hooked clearance deny Kirk Millar a certain goal as Linfield looked to make it 2-0, while a Josh Robinson header from a corner went agonisingly wide.

With each passing minute, Ballymena’s belief drained. With every block by a defender or save by Deane, they knew they weren’t going to score.

Gareth Deane’s match ended with a yellow card in injury time for “Timewasting”.

And yet, apart from Sean O’Neill a few weeks ago, when have you ever seen an opposition goalkeeper booked for timewasting?

A bit of consistency isn’t too much to ask.

As Linfield held out for the 1-0 win, Deane was celebrating a first clean sheet since it was confirmed that Roy Carroll’s season was over, which will be a good confidence boost.

Not that he needed it, as he was happy to lambast his defence when he felt they were making him exposed.

Despite Ballymema’s possession and attempts on goal, a lot of the saves that Deane was making were saves you would expect him to make.

The award for Man Of The Match was announced over the tannoy as Jimmy McLean of Linfield, whoever he is.

That announcement was later corrected as Jimmy Callacher. Part of his prize is a trip to London. If you’re reading Jimmy, feel free to take me.

This match was the first of two successive meetings at Windsor Park between the sides. If the Irish Cup tie against Crusaders had worked out better, it would have been the first of three meetings between the sides at Windsor Park in fourteen days.

Next week’s game is in the League. This result will have no bearing on that game. It represents a great opportunity to really get a stranglehold on the League title, to go nine points clear (albeit with a game more played) and put the pressure on Ballymena to keep up with us.

There will be no time to dwell on the result, with midweek games following that. Ballymena face Cliftonville. Hopefully, they’ll still be enjoying a new manager bounce. They kept a clean sheet in Paddy McLaughlin’s first game in charge, that practically makes him a miracle worker.

Linfield are away to Newry that night. There’s no reason why that can’t be moved to Saturday 2nd March as both teams are out of the Irish Cup. Cliftonville face Glenavon that day, a match that would only have been confirmed last Tuesday, so there’s no reason why the match can’t be moved. Hopefully, the Weather Gods intervene.

If there was a complaint about the marketing of this game, it would be that no tickets were available on the day. Also, that a lot of the communications regarding tickets referred people to Ticketmaster, but didn’t list where Ticketmaster outlets were based. It’s the little things.

Later that night, Edinburgh City went out of the Irn Bru Cup. I was at their First Round game and was hoping they’d go all the way.

Hopefully, Linfield will be back in the competition next season. Without being rude, but if Connah’s Quay can reach the Final, why not Linfield?

This week, it was announced, somewhat prematurely it would seem, that there will be and Irish Champions League clash in November between the Irish League and League Of Ireland Champions. Hopefully, Linfield will be involved. I’ll comment later regarding this idea once Linfield’s destiny for this season is confirmed.

And finally, work started this week on Harland and Wolff Welders new ground, due for completion in January 2020. I’ve had a wee look at it already and hope to get some photos as it progresses and then visit it when it is completed.

So, one trophy in the bag, two more to go for.

Onto the next game.

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MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT 1.2.1986

Craig Johnston of Liverpool is the cover star ahead of a big week of cup football, but it will be revealed inside that he could be ending his season at the World Cup in Mexico.

Terry Gibson gets a double page interview after having an eventful year where his house and car suffered a series of attacks from a female fan who wanted to try and stop him from leaving Coventry.

Trevor Brooking tries to predict the outcome of the 4th Round of the FA Cup, tipping wins for Liverpool, Manchester United and Everton.

In Scotland, Shoot predicts a cup exit for Rangers in the tie of the round away to Hearts.

Shoot does a feature on Hung Quec Dang, who won Bobby Charlton Soccer Schools Competition to be invited to train with Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus and Aston Villa.

As the World Cup nears, Shoot does a “Focus On …..” with Bobby Robson, where he reveals that his favourite singers are Frank Sinatra, Neil Diamond and Shirley Bassey.

As you turn the page, there is another Robson, this time Bryan, who suggests that Craig Johnston, an Australian eligible for England, should be in England’s World Cup squad, while adding that Scotland and Northern Ireland might also be interested in getting his services, as he was eligible for all three countries due to having a UK passport.

There is a third Robson, Stewart, who got mentioned in Bryan’s column, suggesting he might be a star for Bobby at Euro 88.

Staying with the World Cup preparations, Scotland manager Alex Ferguson hits back at suggestions that his role with the national side is having a negative impact on Aberdeen, as he tries to do two jobs at once.

West Ham are getting cheered on from Yorkshire, as Mervyn Day tells Shoot he is pleased to see West Ham’s upturn in results this season.

Anthony Smith of Anglesey wins Jimmy Greaves Letter Of The Week for suggesting Don Revie should return to Leeds as manager, while Padraic Moran of Kilkenny suggests Liverpool should drop Ian Rush.

Gerry Forrest gets a full page feature, as he comes to terms with making his top flight debut at the age of 29, after making a move from Rotheram United to Southampton.

In transfer rumours, Everton want to sign Nick Pickering, Luton want to sign Brian McClair, and Sammy McIlroy wants to leave Manchester City in order to get games for the forthcoming World Cup.

Ian Rush uses his column to hit back at Brian Clough, after the Nottingham Forest manager accused Liverpool of being moaners after a recent draw between the two teams.

Motherwell get a Club Profile, while Aston Villa manager Graham Turner defends his record in the transfer market, having spent relatively big money on Paul Elliott, Simon Stainrod, Steve Hodge and Andy Gray.

LINFIELD 3-2 COLERAINE 9.2.2019

After exiting the Irish Cup last weekend, it was important for Linfield to bounce back as quickly as possible. The weather denied them the opportunity to do it in the County Antrim Shield Final on Tuesday, which meant they had to wait seven days. As a quirk, they would be facing a side they had a score to settle with, as Coleraine were the only team Linfield had yet to beat this season.

The postponement of the County Antrim Shield Final can be looked two ways. As a positive, it gave Linfield players a free midweek to recover from that cup tie, the final minutes saw Niall Quinn struggling to move while Jordan Stewart watched the final minutes from the bench with an ice pack strapped to him. As a negative, an opportunity to put Crusaders back in their place and get a trophy in the cabinet was delayed.

While Linfield and Crusaders were putting their feet up on Tuesday night, Coleraine were winning a rearranged League game at Dungannon to move them up to 4th, their highest position since the early months of the season.

After a slow start under new manager Rodney McAree, Coleraine had experienced an upturn in form in recent weeks, with only one defeat in their last ten matches. After going so close to the title last season, Coleraine’s struggles this season will have been seen as a shock by many, or maybe not, having been a victim of their own success by losing four key players to clubs on the Mainland, with Darren McCauley (Inverness Caledonian Thistle) joining Martin Smith (Swindon Town), Stephen Dooley (Rochdale) and Brad Lyons (Blackburn Rovers) in professional football, as well as losing manager Oran Kearney to St Mirren.

Linfield made a few changes to their starting eleven, with Marek Cervenko, Andrew Waterworth and Kirk Millar coming into the side.

Coleraine had the better of the opening minutes with Ben Doherty having a free shot from outside the box easily saved by Gareth Deane when he really should have made him work, before Jamie McGonigle hit the post.

Linfield came more into it and had their first chance when Niall Quinn’s cross, deliberately bypassing those waiting in the middle, fell to Kirk Millar who fired over when he needed to go low.

Jordan Stewart then fired over from outside the box. He had options to pass but he is justified to shoot considering the form he is in. Coleraine goalkeeper Chris Johns berated his defence. There may have been a double motivation, as it killed the game.

It was Coleraine who took the lead when Gareth McConaghie scored from close range after a cross from Jamie Glackin. It was poor from Linfield, who all switched off believing that the ball was going out for a goal kick, and couldn’t recover by the time the cross came in.

It wasn’t the only time that Linfield were slow to react in the first-half. Coleraine almost counter attacked because Jimmy Callacher was trying to shepherd the ball out for a corner, while Coleraine went on a counter attack as Jamie Mulgrew was second to the ball from a Linfield throw in Coleraine’s half.

Throughout the first-half, Linfield were sloppy in possession. Jordan Stewart conceding a throw straight from kick-off, the clock on the scoreboard wasn’t even running yet so I couldn’t tell you how many seconds it was into the game, was a ominous warning.

The only moments of joy they had was trying to get Marek Cervenka in behind Coleraine’s defence. The joy was limited though, as he couldn’t get a clear goalscoring opportunity, often being denied by Chris Johns clearing it or a Coleraine defender shepherding the ball out.

A big improvement was needed from Linfield. As my DAB could only pick up the Rugger and I have no data on my phone, so I was unaware of scores elsewhere. Regardless of what was happening elsewhere, Linfield had to win this.

Within a few minutes of the second-half, the task got harder for Linfield, when Dean Shiels made it 2-0 to Coleraine. Wether it was a goal, was up for debate.

I was sat at the other end and it didn’t look over the line. The TV footage, looked inconclusive, and that is being generous.

This game was heading the same way as the fixture in November. They didn’t look like scoring, but they had over 40 minutes to rectify the situation.

Immediately, Daniel Kearns, Michael O’Connor and Joel Cooper were sent to warm up. David Healy had options to change it, unlike in November when he had to throw on youngsters Daniel Reynolds and Brandon Doyle.

Just before the hour, Linfield got a goal back when a free-kick was headed back into the six yard box by NIFWA January Player Of The Month Jimmy Callacher and it fell to Josh Robinson.

He couldn’t quite control of the ball, it looked like one of those days, but he managed to get enough space to smash the ball into the back of the net.

In November, Linfield only had a couple of minutes left after pulling a goal back to make it 2-1, now they had over half and hour, and they were determined to make every second count.

The atmosphere at Windsor Park lifted, Linfield fans knew their team needed their backing, and they were up for it.

More pressure continued from Linfield, and they got an equaliser when Niall Quinn started and finished a move by firing home from just beside the penalty spot.

Linfield fans weren’t sure how and why he was in such a central position, but we were all thankful that he was.

68 minutes on the clock and still plenty of time to win the game, Linfield now had all the momentum.

2-0 has been a dangerous lead in this fixture in recent years, with Coleraine and then Linfield blowing 2-0 leads at home to draw 2-2 last season.

That wasn’t what Linfield wanted, they wanted a repeat of the game in February 2016 when Linfield came from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

By now, Ballymena United were winning at Institute, but only 2-1, while Crusaders were 1-0 down at Dungannon Swifts. There was no point in going a point further clear of Crusaders if Ballymena United were going to get two points closer to us.

Andrew Waterworth (goal) and Jordan Stewart (clean through on goal) were both denied by the offside flag as Linfield went in search of a winner.

Michael O’Connor came on for Marek Cervenka and Joel Cooper came on for Andrew Waterworth as Linfield searched for the winner.

On 83 minutes, it looked like it would be O’Connor who would get it when a Joel Cooper flick fell perfectly for him, only to be denied by the post. A shot from him was then blocked by a Coleraine defender and looped up onto the bar.

Linfield had to be careful they weren’t caught out by attacking so much, and got a reminder of this when Gareth Deane was forced into a save from James McLaughlin.

We then entered three minutes of injury time. It should have been more due to the amount of timewasting by Coleraine. And yet, the only time you ever see a goalkeeper get booked for it, it’s Roy Carroll.

It was enough time for Linfield to win the game thankfully, as a corner fell to Michael O’Connor, who saw his shot blocked, only to fall to Kyle McClean who fired home low to give Linfield the lead.

It wasn’t quite the points secured, as Coleraine still had one last attack, which resulted in a corner that Linfield just about cleared, learning their lesson from last week, and seeing out the game to win 3-2.

Ballymena United and Crusaders results stayed as they were, meaning that they remain six points clear of Ballymena, albeit with a game more played, and twelve clear of Crusaders. I think we can safely rule Crusaders out of the title race, if they were ever in it.

Ballymena’s game in hand isn’t until mid March, so if Linfield keep winning, Ballymena will have to keep up. Especially if Linfield win their next League match, against Ballymena on 23rd February.

That can wait, as it will be the second successive Saturday they meet, as they meet in the NIFL Cup Final next weekend. It’s been so long since Linfield won it, Glenn Ferguson scored the winner off the bench. As a substitute for Joe Bambrick.

The truth is, the first match won’t have any impact on the second. Winning one won’t automatically mean you win the other. Hopefully, next week, we’ll be celebrating a trophy. Hopefully, the first of three.

Hopefully, Linfield won’t turn up at 4.10pm and start playing next week. Obviously, that would be a waste of time because the match kicks off at 5.30pm.

Remember, if you can’t go, it’s on Sky Sports. As is Glentoran v Glenavon on Monday 18th, while Glenavon are on TV again on BBC on Friday 22nd. They’re on TV more times than Aston Villa these days.

At the moment, it looks like the away game against Newry is still going to be on February 26th, which is disappointing as Saturday 2nd March is now free. It was also space the games out better, meaning we don’t travel to Mourneview Park on 8th March after ten days without a game.

Guess what? That Glenavon match is live on TV. Just give them their own channel.

That rescheduling for TV works out well for Linfield as it gives them an extra day’s rest ahead of the County Antrim Shield Final on 12th March, which is now the provisional date for it.

That works out handy for me, as I have Chvrches (19th February) and KT Tunstall (5th March) over the next few Tuesdays, and was worried about a clash.

There are Irish Cup ties on Monday, with Ballymena involved. Hopefully, a heavy pitch and extra-time ahead of the NIFL Cup Final.

I’m not sure why they can’t play on European nights when three postponed Quarter-Finals were played on a European night last season.

After sorting out fixture scheduling in the Irish League, I now turn my attention to Scottish football.

Disappointingly, Bohs have had to pull out of the Irn Bru Cup after their game against East Fife was postponed last week.

Why not play it on the Semi-Final weekend, and there is still five weeks until the Final to slot the other Semi-Final in.

When it was announced that League of Ireland teams were entering the competition, the obvious thing that stood out was when the Quarter-Finals would be played if an Irish team was involved. Surely they could have made contingency plans?

It’s looking like Linfield will be in the competition again next season, but if we’re drawn away to Spartans or Edinburgh City, we may be subject to a Tourist Tax.

Robbing bastards. If i’m paying £2 for every day i’m in Edinburgh, i’m entitled to make a few demands of Edinburgh City Council.

1. Total smoking ban in the city. 2. Signage telling people to walk on the left of the footpath. 3. Jimmy Chungs to return to Waverley Train Station.

Just introduce a Flyer Tax and a Poster Tax if you’re that short of money.

Scottish Challenge Cup can wait, it’s about what we want in February 2019.

That’s a nine point lead at the top of the table and the NIFL Cup in the bag.

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