YORKGATE STREET ART

Spotted this when I looked out the window as I got the train to Carrick on Monday night, I made a note to go and see it the following weekend, a mural as you approach Yorkgate Shopping Centre from Belfast City Centre.

It’s obvious looking at it who it is by due to the style of painting, but a post on Instagram confirms it is by Friz.

I presume, it is a mural of Denise Weston Austin, one of North Belfast’s more curious residents, known as the Elephant Angel, who had an elephant from Belfast Zoo come home with her in the evenings.

You can read more about her here.

Phototaking wise, you are better taking photos from across the road to capture the mural in full.

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LINFIELD 7-0 GLENAVON 28.9.2019

With three matches postponed due to European involvement and international call-ups, Linfield’s season got off to a false start, hoping that a run of wins in September would kickstart their season.

Glenavon would say that their season also got off to a false start and were hoping that a run of September wind would kickstart their season.

Their circumstances were different to Linfield’s, as it was a series of dropped points and one postponement due to the Scottish Challenge Cup (Ironically, because Linfield declined to take part) have seen them be closer to the Relegation Zone than the top of the League, which is why they were looking for a (late) September run of form to kickstart their season.

They got one of those wins as a starting point, last Saturday against Ballymena United. A bit of a shock to this Observer, as I had expected Ballymena to leave Mourneview Park with three points.

Linfield had two changes to their starting eleven from their last outing, with Jamie Mulgrew coming in for Andrew Waterworth as Linfield reverted to a 4-3-3/4-5-1.

That meant Ryan McGivern dropped to the bench to make way for Matthew Clarke, with Niall Quinn moving to right-back.

To be honest, I wasn’t too sure about that as i’m not a fan of playing left footed players at Right-Back, Andrew Mitchell would have been a better option to slot in there instead of Clarke.

As it turned out, Glenavon barely got a chance to attack Quinn. Anyway, he will argue that he’s not too bad on his right, having used it to open the score at Carrick on Monday night.

Linfield’s first two games upon return from Europe were 1-0 wins. We wanted more goals. Be careful what you wish for, we got five at Ballinamallard, but at the cost of four goals conceded at the other end. Linfield fans were waiting for their side to get the balance just perfect.

Linfield were straight on the attack and were rewarded on three minutes when Shayne Lavery poked home from twelve yards after a cross from Joel Cooper.

There was an element of luck to the goal as the ball came to Cooper after his pass to Matthew Clarke was intercepted. From where I was sat, it looked like Clarke was offside, but the ball never got to him. Cooper made the most of his second chance.

It was Linfield’s first goal against Glenavon at Windsor Park since Andrew Waterworth scored a pointless consolation goal with the last kick of a 3-2 defeat in January 2018. Curiously, Linfield went 1-0 up after 3 minutes that day.

If Glenavon thought Linfield were going to take it easy, they were wrong, Shayne Lavery letting Glenavon defenders know they were in for a torrid afternoon by charging down a clearance, but not getting the luck his tenacity deserved as the ball went out for a goal kick.

Soon after, Niall Quinn went just wide with his right foot, trying to recreate his goal against Carrick.

It was clear from the opening minutes that Linfield were up for this, Bastien Hery running things in midfield, every time he got the ball, he was spoilt for choice for attacking options. They just needed a second goal to truly take advantage of their superiority.

They almost got it when Joel Cooper had a header saved by Jonathan Tuffey, and then hit the woodwork with the rebound.

There wasn’t long to wait for Linfield, as Bastien Hery played Kirk Millar in, who waited for Shayne Lavery to amend his run to be on the end of a cross. Lavery’s shot was scuffed, but it went in. If you make the run and aim for goal, you make your own luck.

Hery then got an inadvertent assist when his shot was blocked, but fell perfectly to Shayne Lavery to finish to make it 3-0, a hat-trick inside the opening 14 minutes, just like Andrew Waterworth against Cliftonville in 2017. Any excuse to bring up that match.

Lavery and Hery will get all the headlines from this game, but the contribution of Millar and Cooper shouldn’t go unnoticed. Everytime Hery, Fallon or Mulgrew got the ball, Millar and Cooper were usually in space, looking for the ball. When they got it, they were rarely wasteful with it.

Lavery then had a spectacular effort go just wide as Linfield looked to make it 4-0.

In the interest of balance, it should be noted that Glenavon did have an attempt on goal, Andrew Mitchell having a shot saved from a wide angle.

A big save, as there still would have been time for a Glenavon comeback at 3-1, you don’t want to give the opposition any encouragement.

That was it as far as Glenavon were concerned as an attacking threat.

The next goal came for Linfield, when Bastien Hery fired home from the edge of the box with his right foot after a pass from Matthew Clarke. Throughout the attack, it always looked like Linfield had an extra man available for a pass.

Just before that, Stephen Fallon had a shot well saved, in a game where he had a silent influence.

Every time a Glenavon player had the ball, their second touch was …… they didn’t get a second touch as they were dispossessed by Fallon.

Jack O’Mahony had a shot tipped over as Glenavon looked to launch an unlikely comeback. It was never going to happen.

Joel Cooper made it 5-0 just afterwards just to be sure. Yep, i’m being that guy.

It wouldn’t be a Linfield goalfest without Jimmy Callacher getting involved, and he obliged to make it 6-0, his first goal at Windsor Park since Boxing Day, after Glenavon couldn’t clear the ball after a Shayne Lavery header was cleared off the line.

Just like the other goals, there were always options for Linfield when the ball came into the box.

If Callacher missed the header, Kirk Millar would have scored. If he hit the post, Mark Stafford would have scored the rebound.

With the points in the bag, David Healy rested some players, bringing on Andrew Waterworth, Daniel Reynolds and Matthew Shevlin.

Stephen Fallon hit the bar before Andrew Waterworth made it 7-0, heading home from a Kirk Millar cross.

Again, there were more attacking options for Linfield. If Waterworth didn’t get the header, Matthew Shevlin would have scored.

The referee took mercy on Glenavon by only playing five seconds of injury time.

Results elsewhere mean that Linfield have now moved up to 4th.

It was always going to take a while to climb the table, but with teams above us playing each other over coming weeks, Linfield knew if they kept winning, ground would be made up.

When Linfield face Cliftonville, they knew they would end the day no higher than 9th even if they won. Each matchday, Linfield have climbed, 9th to 8th to 5th to 4th.

If results go their way next weekend, they could be 2nd. They’ll be at least 3rd if they get three points on Friday night.

That match, is away to Crusaders, live on BBC Two. It’s a match that has 0-0 written all over it to be honest, after both teams went goal crazy on Saturday.

The difference is, Crusaders aren’t keeping them out at the other end, conceding eight goals in their last three League matches, against Glenavon, Coleraine and Glentoran.

Linfield can exploit that. There is nothing to feat. Let them worry about us, and we have a lot that will worry them.

A curious fact about this game, was that I saw a cat loitering at the South Stand entrance as I entered the ground. The only time I’ve seen a cat at a Linfield match was when one ran onto the pitch during the game at Warrenpoint last season.

I’ve not suggesting there’s a correlation between cats in the ground and heavy wins, but feel free to bring a cat to Seaview to test the theory out.

As an addendum to the Carrick blog, I’ve actually read up on the European Conference League. It sounds shit to be honest.

Talking of shit competitions, the UEFA Nations League has been restructured, meaning Northern Ireland are in League B instead of League C. It’s still a reward for mediocrity.

Onto Seaview, for a game that won’t make or break Linfield’s season, but it will be nice to issue a statement of intent early on.

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MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : FOOTBALL ITALIA – NOVEMBER 1997

To Russia With Love is the headline of this edition of Football Italia. It’s nothing to do with James Bond, but the fact that Italy will be facing a World Cup Play-Off against Russia after a 0-0 draw with England.

There are two England players celebrating on the cover – Serie A old boys Paul Ince and Paul Gascoigne.

In news, Silvio Berlusconi has ordered AC Milan’s players to learn Italian in order to improve results on the pitch.

In reviews, there is a review of the 3rd Round of the Coppa Italia and the three European competitions, which still have Italian interest.

There is a ten page review of the World Cup Qualifier between Italy and England, which is quite impressive for a 0-0 draw.

Strike partnerships is a theme in this issue, with a look at the duos leading the line for Juventus, Sampdoria, AC Milan and Parma.

There is a look back at the opening weeks of the Serie A season, with Inter Milan being the team getting all the attention in the early weeks.

CARRICK RANGERS 0-3 LINFIELD 23.9.2019

This was not a night for football. This was a night for putting your feet up in front of the TV. Ironic, for a match that was broadcast live on TV.

When this game was announced for live broadcast, Linfield were hoping that this game being on a Monday night would give them extra recovery time from their opening UEFA Cup group match (I promise, that will be my last mention of the UEFA Cup until I go to see United v Partizan Belgrade in November) but instead, they were recovering from a League Cup tie at Ballinamallard.

They needed it too. A long trip and extra-time. I think Sky did Linfield a favour by pushing this game back to Monday night.

Not that I was thinking that when I was getting drenched. As soon as I saw how lovely the weather was, I knew it was going to chuck it down when this match started.

Linfield’s starting eleven saw two injury enforced changes from their last League match, with Jamie Mulgrew being replaced by Stephen Fallon and Chris Casement was replaced by Ryan McGivern, forcing Linfield to line-up in a 3-5-2 formation.

A bit surprising, as Andrew Mitchell, on the bench could have slotted in at right-back, or Trai Hume, another substitute, could have started, meaning there would be no need for a tactical reshuffle.

Linfield struggled at times in the first-half due to the inclement weather. We got a taste of that in the opening ten seconds when Jimmy Callacher misjudged a header back to Rohan Ferguson at the cost of a soft corner.

If it was more central, it would have been 1-0 to Carrick.

The danger wasn’t cleared yet, and from the resulting corner, Rohan Ferguson missed it, and was relieved to see Daniel Kelly head over.

Within a minute, Linfield were rueing a missed header of their own when Mark Stafford headed wide from a few yards out. He really should have scored. From where I was stood, it looked like he did.

Stafford has a good goalscoring record against Carrick, but only at Windsor Park. He was still looking for his first goal at Taylor’s Avenue.

Carrick were encouraged by their start, especially so when Daniel Kelly had a header tipped over by Rohan Ferguson, in a game that mirrored some of my previous visits to Taylor’s Avenue.

In 2015, Carrick were giving as good as they were getting, while the weather mirrored my visit in 2018.

Linfield’s best attacking moments usually came when Joel Cooper or Shayne Lavery got on the ball. Despite that, Linfield couldn’t create any clear chances.

It was Carrick who had the best opportunity to score when a poor backpass played in Stewart Nixon, who rolled the ball into the side netting from a wide angle.

From where I was stood, it looked like he had scored. He probably should have scored.

To be honest, Linfield fans were happy to take 0-0 at half-time.

It looked like that was going to be the half-time score, until the very last seconds when Niall Quinn managed to create space and fire home low with his right foot.

Undeserved, but Linfield were happy to take it.

It mirrored Linfield’s game there in 2017, where they had to wait until injury time in the first-half to take the lead.

Although, that was the only time Linfield had managed a first-half goal at Taylor’s Avenue since Carrick were promoted in 2015.

You always felt the first goal would be key in this game. If Linfield could get it, it would deflate Carrick’s enthusiasm. At least, that was the hope.

Linfield were out to make Carrick pay for their missed opportunities in the early stages of the second-half, with both Quinn and Lavery both hitting the crossbar, while Ryan McGivern had a shot saved.

If Linfield needed a reminded that they needed a second to be sure of the points, it came when Reece Neale flashed a shot just wide.

Neale’s luck didn’t improve when he flicked a Kirk Millar free-kick into his own net to put Linfield 2-0 up.

That goal Linfield in a strong position, a header from Mark Stafford, a customary goal against Carrick made it 3-0 on 75 minutes and secured the points.

This lead gave David Healy an opportunity to rest some players and give gametime to players who haven’t had much of it this season – Andrew Mitchell, Ross Larkin and Daniel Reynolds.

The only other moment of note in the rest of the game was some magic by Joel Cooper to work himself into a shooting position when it didn’t look possible, only to hit the sidenetting from a wide position.

A two goal defeat would have dropped Linfield from 8th to 9th, but this win moved them up to 5th. They would have been 4th if it wasn’t for Glentoran’s late winner against Warrenpoint on Saturday. If they win their games in hand, they will go top, which is where they want to be.

Elsewhere on Monday night, Dundalk won the League Of Ireland, meaning they will play Linfield in the Unite The Union Cup, two more games which will have to be arranged.

Linfield have already started getting dates arranged for their three outstanding League matches, with Warrenpoint Town visiting Windsor Park on Tuesday 22nd October. A handy double for me, as i’ll be heading to OMD the following night.

Last week, Easyjet released their Summer 2020 flights. I’d hoped to jump in and nab a brgain weekend in London for The 12th, to be there for the Euro 2020 Final.

£150 just to get on a plane. That’s before my luggage and hotel.

Looks like i’ll have to have a Plan B for that weekend. Feel free to hit me up with ideas.

Talking of European football, the 2021 European Super Cup Final will be at Windsor Park. Really want to go to this having been to the 2014 Final in Cardiff.

No pressure on Ole and David.

Meanwhile, UEFA have announced a third club competition called the Europa Conference League. Good idea, but an awful name.

I’ll wait to see what the qualifying criteria and format of the competition is before making a full analysis.

Up next for Linfield is a home match against Glenavon.

It’s not a fixture that has been kind to Linfield recently. No wins or goals in the last three meetings. No wins in the last four at home, and failed to score in their last three at home.

The last time Linfield beat Glenavon at home was the day the 2017 General Election was announced.

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CULTURE NIGHT CELEB SPOTTING 2019

This could be a one-off, or the first in an annual series like my Edinburgh Celeb Spotting blog.

Anyway, when I was out at Culture Night, I spotted some celebs out and about.

Mary Peters, walking along Union Street.

Claire Hanna, walking along Hill Street.

Eden Wilson, filming on the grounds of St Anne’s Cathedral. Good job I did spot her, otherwise I would have accidentally walked into shot and appeared on UTV Live.

Barra Best, walking along Donegall Street. I would have thanked him for the good weather, but we all know that Frank Mitchell arranged it.

CULTURE NIGHT BELFAST 2019

Nothing says Summer is over and Winter is imminent quite like Aston Villa 0-0 West Ham United on a Monday night. Fast forward four days, and we have the annual event which gives us something to look forward to as we try to convince ourselves that the Summer isn’t quite over yet.

Talking of Summer, we certainly got the weather for it. Nice and warm, decent daylight and most importantly, no rain. Although that was the weather all week leading into this, you had the fear it was going to unravel when we needed it most. I think Frank Mitchell must have had a word.

Culture Night in Belfast was a milestone this year, marking ten years since it started. This was the eleventh such event obviously, and I’ve been to nine of them, not a bad ratio.

I missed the first year and got tickets to an event in 2010 that was part of it. After the event in question, I wandered about and enjoyed myself, making a note to come back each year, which I’ve done.

Back then, i’d come home from work, have a bit to eat, and head straight out back into Belfast City Centre, usually arriving around 7pm.

Usually by then, things would be in full swing, so I decided from about 2015 onwards to take a half day and arrive a bit early, usually between 4pm and 5pm.

This year was no different, out of work at lunchtime, home, watch a bit of the Rugger, relax a bit, get showered and get ready to get cultured, arriving in Belfast City Centre just after 5pm.

Helpfully, there were programmes being handed out outside McDonalds if you wanted one, so you could see what was happening where.

I declined one at first, getting a dose of PTSD from Edinburgh, thinking that I was being handed a flyer, so I politely declined at first.

My first visit was to North Street, to have a look at the new mural on Garfield Street. The building work on that street meant it looked drab and was in need of something like that. The artwork is ok but it’s basically an advert for Tribeca and i’m not really that fussed on advertising murals, unless they’re done well and aren’t an in your face advert like the Derry Girls mural in Derry or the John Lydon mural in Bangor.

I then headed to Rosemary Street to see that the chess board was there again.

A major part of Culture Night in the past has been street art painted as part of Hit The North.

However, Hit The North was brought forward to May this year, meaning there would be no live street art painting as part of Culture Night.

The organisers of Hit The North announced the day before Culture Night that their event will only be taking place in May from now on. On the plus side, it’s only eight months away.

The National tried to plug that gap by hosting a Street Art even in their Beer Garden. It wasn’t really much of an event, two guys painting on a canvas for about 20-30 minutes and that was it.

A regular feature of Culture Night is Street Countdown, the TV show Countdown, but performed on the street. The one I popped along to see was won by someone selecting “Haribos” from the letters assembled.

That was in St Anne’s Square, where there is usually wrestling matches, but not this year.

I’m not really into WWE (although I am aware it is now called WWE and not WWF) but I enjoyed watching wrestling bouts at Culture Night.

There’s also usually a parade of something through North Street, but that was also missing this year.

Also changed this year was the Roller Derby, which was moved to an indoor venue at University Of Ulster.

It felt like it wasn’t as busy as it was in previous years, not as many people there.

The loss of a few mainstays meant that I found myself having to flick through the programme to see what else there was.

I called into University Of Ulster and it wasn’t as busy as it usually is.

I then returned to St Anne’s Square to catch up with Street Countdown, which had now gone (turns out it finished around 7.30pm) and the stage taken up with Flamenco Dancers, which I did enjoy watching.

There were a lot of venues that had showcases in previous years which weren’t involved this year.

It was a strange contradiction of a lot of things being on but not a long of things to do.

It did feel heavily commercialised this year. There was one group of performers whose outfit was plastered with the logo of an energy company. Meanwhile, a car showroom hired a projector to advertise on the exterior wall of a hotel.

I really hope we don’t end up being Edinburgh lite with posters plastered all over the venues and being unable to move due to Flyerers.

It was bearable in terms of fagbreaths. That’s not really something to celebrate or be proud of, there were still too many of them about.

It was disheartening to see the programme for the event encouraging people how to get rid of their cigarette butts instead of perhaps, telling them not to be a fucking tramp in the first place and just keep them in their pockets, considering it’s marketed as a family event.

To be honest, it felt a bit underwhelming, which was a bit sad, as it’s an event I’ve always looked to.

I left around 9pm, the earliest i’d ever left a Culture Night.

However, that was not the end of the weekend festivities.

For the first time, the Saturday would be designated as Culture Day. There was a market at St Anne’s Cathedral which interested me, so I popped along to that on the Saturday morning.

As we now hurtle towards Winter, i’m looking for travel inspiration to give me something to look forward to.

I had hoped to book a weekend in London over 12th July next year, so it was disappointing to check the prices on the day Easyjet released their flights that it was £150 just to get on the plane. That’s before I check in luggage and book a hotel.

Looks like I might be looking somewhere closer to home. Galway is the European Capital Of Culture in 2020, so I might head there that weekend.

Or I might go to Waterford again, to check out Waterford Walls.

Talking of Street Art, with Linfield having a free Saturday in a fortnight time, I might use that Saturday to do a day trip to check out Drogheda’s Street Art. I’m still trying to find out if Bridge Jam is on that weekend. It was on that weekend in 2018, so fingers crossed.

And finally, here’s somewhere you might not associate with Street Art …… Rochdale.

Rochdale Uprising is a Street Art festival organised by Nomad Clan, who are regular visitors to Belfast.

I’m heading to Manchester to see United play in early November, so i’m planning to take some time to visit Rochdale and it’s Street Art.

So that was Culture Night, it wasn’t awful, but it did feel a wee bit flat and a wee bit different.

The biggest difference is I won’t be out on my bike on the Sunday after to cover Hit The North.

But you know i’ll be back out to do it all again in September 2020.

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Culture Night 2018

Culture Night 2017

Culture Night 2015

Culture Night 2014

Culture Night 2013

Culture Night 2012

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 20.9.2019

1. Pet Shop Boys ft Olly Alexander – Dreamland
2. Freya Ridings – Castles
3. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – This Is The Place
4. The Cars – My Best Friend’s Girl
5. Edwyn Collins – A Girl Like You

Stereophonics and Pet Shop Boys announcing concerts with no Belfast gig. Flip sake.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WHEN SATURDAY COMES – NOVEMBER 2011

A Glum looking Carlos Tevez is the cover star of this week’s edition of When Saturday Comes, with a thought bubble stating that he won’t play with players who are only there for the money. A few weeks earlier, he had refused to come on as a substitute for Manchester City against Bayern Munich.

There is a look at Sion, expelled from the UEFA Cup but a pursuing the matter through the courts.

Brazil had recently played Ghana in a friendly at Craven Cottage, which saw a crush outside the ground of supporters trying to get in, with WSC looking at the events of that night.

In Scotland, it is reported that Rangers were on the verge of going bankrupt, a story which dominated Scottish football throughout 2012, which resulted in Rangers getting relegated to the fourth tier.

Truro City get a profile, currently in the Conference South, but with ambitions of being the first Cornish club to play in the Football League.

There is a photo feature of Birmingham City’s UEFA Cup tie against Braga, the first time in 50 years that European football had come to St Andrew’s.

Garry Cook had recently left Manchester City, and WSC looks at his successes at the City Of Manchester Stadium, to balance out the criticism he received over the manner of his departure, mocking the mother of one of City’s players.

The global appeal of English football is looked at, looking at Norwich City supporters across the world.

WSC also looks locally, wondering why it is considered a risk for English clubs to sign players from the lower leagues.

Talking of local issues, WSC looks at Hartlepool United, who are coming to terms with the fact they don’t have a local derby rival.

Match of the Month is the Conference clash between Gateshead and Cambridge United.

There is a look at the recent trend of clubs offering fans refunds after bad away results, asking if it is the right thing to do.

On a season long loan to Lille, there is a look at Joe Cole as he begins life in France.

There is a look back at George Best’s brief spell at Cork Celtic in 1975.

Socrates gets a profile after a spell in hospital due to Liver problems. He died the following month.

EDWYN COLLINS – LIVE AT STRANGE VICTORY 15.9.2019

Just putting it out there, all concerts should come with cake and tea on arrival.

That was what greeted me upon arrival at Stange Victory, where Edwyn Collins was doing a live instore afternoon gig before appearing at The Empire later that evening.

If you don’t know where Stange Victory is, walk towards Virgin Megas ……. what do you mean Virgin Megastore isn’t there any more?

Walk towards where Virgin Megastore was, and then turn left before you get to where Virgin Megastore was. Then you’ll find Strange Victory, and independent music store.

Starting a few minutes late due to the volume of fans wanting photos, autographs and everything inbetween, every request was honoured.

Not realising his mic was on, Collins accidentally broadcast his conversation to the crowd, it was nothing juicy or scandalous, he then asked for a glass of water, stating that it was thirsty work.

It was ironic, that he had a very dry sense of humour, commenting every time a member of his band introduced what song would be next.

Unsurprisingly, the setlist mostly comprised of songs from his new album Badbea, which he encouraged people to buy, even though he is against the commercialisation of rock n roll.

To be honest, I only really knew three songs by Edwyn Collins, none of which were played, not that it mattered.

A Girl Like You, undisputed banging tune. You can play air guitar to that song but not headbang, just strut and pose.

The Magic Piper Of Love, from the first Austin Powers movie, which wasn’t a massive hit, though it should have been.

And then, Rip It Up by Orange Juice, thanks to Top Of The Pops 2 for introducing it to me.

Of course, I managed to keep up my concert tradition of bumping into Linfield supporters, having a conversation about the previous day’s match as I left.

Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and it was especially enjoyable for Collins, who was presented with a cake by the store as he left

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