Action from a recent international between England and Scotland is the cover image of World Soccer during the summer of 1973.

The editorial focuses on discipline, with Alan Ball getting an indefinite ban from international football after a red card in Poland, debating if players in English club football should be allowed to appeal a red card.

England’s end of season tour gets reviews – a World Cup Qualifier in Poland (defeat) and friendlies in Soviet Union (win) and Italy (defeat), which have provided more questions than answers.

In Czechoslovakia, Spartak Trnava’s title bid as back on track after some disappointing results.

East Germany’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cuop in West Germany are now relying on their qualifier against Romania later in the year.

In Yugoslavia, Red Star Belgrade have stormed through to take the title.

Going back to Germany, this time to West Germany, it is reported that manager Helmut Schon faces a tough task to add the World Cup in 1974 to the European Championship, after a run of disappointing results.

Meanwhile in France, it is reported that the future of football in the country is described as “healthy”

Despite winning a third successive European Cup, all is not well at Ajax, with Spanish clubs eyeing up their stars. One of those clubs is Barcelona, who blew the title in the run-in, finishing second to Atletio Madrid.

Sunderland’s recent shock FA Cup win, beating the two previous winners en route, has instigated a debate if the difference in standard between England’s first and second tiers is as large as is made out.

In Wales, it is expected that their away game in Poland will decide if they have a chance of going to next year’s World Cup, while Cardiff City are hoping to arrange a special friendly to commemorate the opening of their £250,000 grandstand extension.

There is article on Dave Clements, who has recently emerged as Northern Ireland’s star player.

There is a tribute to John Connelly, a World Cup winner in 1966, who has just retired.

In Spain, clubs are now allowed to play two foreign players, with the writer describing it as a “black day” for Spanish football, as it will attract money grabbing mercenaries rather than improving the standard of Spanish football.

There is a review of the European Cup Final, which focuses more on Juventus poor performance than Ajax’s win.

Juventus were not involved in this season’s Anglo-Italian Cup, with Brian Glanville spending two pages writing about why the competition should be scrapped.

There is a review of the final weeks of the Irish League season, where Glentoran beat Linfield 3-2 in the Irish Cup Final, despite losing goalkeeper Alan Patterson to injury.

There is also a focus on World Cup Qualifying, with the big headline in Europe being the elimination of Hungary.

Scotland’s hopes of reaching West Germany will decided in their crunch encounter against Czechoslovakia in September.

GLENAVON 1-0 LINFIELD 22.11.2019

After a poor start to the season and a difficult run of games against Top 6 opposition, you did have a fear that Glenavon were going to get it right eventually, and it would come against Linfield. Those fears came true, as Linfield dropped three vital points in the race for the title.

The opening minutes saw Shayne Lavery get in behind Glenavon’s defence and win a ball he shouldn’t have won, but the ball went just wide.

Glenavon were fearful everytime the ball went to or near Lavery, with some justification after he scored a 14 minute hat-trick when the sides met in September.

Lavery wasn’t the only player to go close, as Mark Stafford had a header block before Joel Cooper’s effort went wide.

Cooper was getting a lot of joy in the opening minutes, and Linfield were trying to get him on the ball as much as possible.

Inbetween that, Josh Daniels had an effort tipped around for a corner, a reminder to Linfield that they needed to make the most of the early chances they were creating.

Some neat build-up play saw Shayne Lavery curl a shot just wide. It seemed like a matter of time before Linfield scored.

Of course, we all know what happened next, as a speculative effort from Robert Garrett deflected in to put Glenavon 1-0 up. Garrett was credited with the goal, but the deflection made it an own goal for me.

Garrett had given Linfield a warning a few minutes earlier when his shot from the edge of the box was saved by Rohan Ferguson, who saved the rebound from Gary Hamilton.

The make things worse, the move for Glenavon’s goal began with some possession cheaply lost by Linfield.

Linfield responded quickly, with a Bastien Hary header being flicked over by Shayne Lavery.

Having already created opportunities at 0-0, and going immediately close at 0-1, you felt that there was no way that Linfield weren’t going to score.

However, that was as good as it got in the first-half for Linfield, as Glenavon were able to go in at the break comfortably 1-0 up.

There was no need for Linfield to panic, but they really needed to step it up, and not give Glenavon any opportunity to get comfortable.

Linfield knew that if they got an early goal, they could build on it and go on to win the game. However, just getting that goal was the issue.

There was a half-time substitution for Linfield, with Andrew Waterworth coming on for Mark Stafford. It was clearly a tactical change, as if it was injury, Josh Robinson or Ryan McGivern would have come on.

Switching to 3-5-2 did mean an extra man up front, but it cam at the cost of not having a full-back to support Millar or Cooper out wide.

The early minutes of the second-half saw a lot of Linfield pressure. Kirk Millar being frustrating by firing over from a shooting position when he needed to hit the ball low.

Jimmy Callacher then had a header well saved by Jonathan Tuffey as Glenavon managed to frustrate Linfield.

Glenavon almost got one at the other end when Rohan Ferguson was forced into saves from Josh Daniels

After an early flurry, Linfield never regained that momentum as Glenavon were comfortably holding onto their lead.

Even Joel Cooper was struggling to get past his man in the second-half.

Set pieces were shocking all night, being easily cleared and never really look like they were going to do anything with the second ball, if they won it.

On a night when nothing was happening for Linfield in open play, they needed to make the most of any set piece opportunities that came their way. And a lot of them came their way, which was the most frustrating thing.

They didn’t need to get half of them right, they just needed to get one right. If they could pull it back to 1-1, if there was enough time on the clock, they could charge on to win the game in the final minutes.

3-5-2 then became 3-4-3 as Daniel Reynolds came on for Bastien Hery. If you were to take off a midfielder, it would have had to be Stephen Fallon or Jamie Mulgrew. Even though he wasn’t having the best of games, Hery was still capable of unlocking Glenavon’s defence.

He proved that by running from midfield, only to see his low shot turned around by Jonathan Tuffey.

Linfield’s bench looked bare without Jordan Stewart and Daniel Kearns. If one or both of them were available, they would have been introduced in search of an equaliser.

And so it proved, as Glenavon held out for a 1-0 win.

The closest Linfield came to scoring after their initial flurry was when a goalbound header from a Glenavon defender into his own goal hit a defender on the line.

If ever you knew that it was their night.

Even though Glenavon are better than their League position suggested, this was three points thrown away against a team who were there for the taking. An opportunity to put pressure on Cliftonville, Coleraine and Crusaders thrown away. They’ll be arriving for their games with a spring in their step.

There’s no need to panic, Linfield will only be a point off the top if they win their games in hand, but you’d rather have the points in the bag.

With three games postponed, the road to the top of the table was going to be long and difficult, but we can’t afford to keep stumbling when the summit is in sight.

The last three games have all had a similar theme, a lack of creativity and urgency. The difference in this game is that Linfield didn’t get a goal at a key time, and they gave the opposition a lead to defend.

There’s an immediate opportunity for Linfield to put it right, with a trip to Ballymena on Tuesday night, in what becomes a must win game. Well they all are, but they are especially so now.

I’ll miss that game as i’ll be on a short break in Lithuania. I’ve an early morning flight on the Wednesday and kick-off is 9.45pm local time, so I might be sleeping through it.

That might be the first Linfield match I’ve slept through, which will be impressive considering I’ve witnessed a 0-0 draw against Dungannon.

Charlie Allen wasn’t involved in this game as he was playing for the Swifts in a Steel and Sons Cup Semi-Final, which he scored in a 4-0 win.

That is the third final in four years for them, which is impressive, especially when they only play young players in the competition due to senior players being ineligible.

That means i’ll spend a month trying to decide if I want to get up early on Christmas Day to go to it.

That was Allen’s 16th birthday as well. To make you feel old, he was born on the day of the 2003 Rugby World Cup Final. Linfield scraped a 3-2 win at home to Limavady United that day. If you can remember either of those, you must be feeling really old.

I’m at the age now where I can remember the closest game to a Linfield player being born.

The newest Linfield player, Ethan Boyle, was born on the day that David Jeffrey became Manager.

Boyle will join in January alongside Kyle McClean. The signing of Boyle, a right sided defender, suggests that Mark Haughey’s return from injury isn’t going as well as planned, or that he may be loaned out in January in order to regain match fitness.

This game being moved to a Friday night meant that I wasn’t able to go to Ulster v Clermont as my one match a season.

Frustratingly, all of Ulster’s home European matches are at the same time as a Linfield match.

Sorry Egg Boys, but you’ll always lose out to Linfield.

As a result, my one Ulster match a season will be at home to Connacht on December 27th, sandwiched inbetween Linfield’s trips to Glentoran and Coleraine on the 26th and 28th.

And they say that Christmas is a time for taking it easy.

One football trip i’m not making, unless something dramatic happens is the trip to Bosnia for the Euro 2020 Play-Off Semi-Final.

The winner of that match will be at home in the Final. Already people are excited about Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland. If that is a game, I think it would be more advantageous for it to be at Lansdowne Road as playing away from home seems to suit them more.

If I was Manager of Slovakia or Bosnia, i’d be typing “Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland” into Twitter, screenshot everything, and pin it on the Dressing Room wall.

The draw for the Finals will be next Saturday, meaning that if Northern Ireland qualify, their opponents fans will have a four month head start on hotel rooms in that city.

It also means that any team qualifying from the Play-Off will only have two games maximum, unless they can squeeze a third game into the May/June friendly period to prepare, as well as two months to arrange those games. What a farce.

Thankfully, Northern Ireland weren’t screwed over by the UEFA Nations League. I feel for Slovenia who finished 4th in their group, and will sit and watch a team who finished 5th in their group play in the Play-Offs.

If Bulgaria win their Semi-Final and Final on penalties, they will qualify with only one win in ten games, and that came against a Czech Republic side who had already qualified.

International Football can take a back seat until March.

Let’s hope Linfield are in a much stronger League position by then.

Photo Album


Leeds United v Manchester City is the cover image of Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly, two clubs who are chasing European glory, as there is still a possibility of UK clubs winning all three European trophies. That possibility gets a double page feature.

The draw for the World Cup has just taken place, and the tournament gets previewed, with Brazil’s defence being highlighted as a possible weakness.

There are recent reports from England’s recent friendly with Holland and some European games.

West Bromwich Albion face Manchester City in the League Cup Final, and this game gets a four page preview.

There is a profile of Doncaster manager Lawrie McMenemy, who is one of the youngest managers in the Football League.

There is a profile of football in Merseyside, looking at the meetings between Everton and Liverpool since Liverpool got promoted to the First Division in 1962.

With the World Cup approaching, there is a profile of Morocco, representing Africa, with the writer expecting that an African team will win the World Cup by the year 2000.


We were 15 minutes away from a 30 foot statue of Josh Magennis being erected in Bangor Marina. It could still happen, but it won’t be in 2019.

Northern Ireland had hoped this Dutch Double Header would become a virtual play-off for 2nd place, though Holland’s win in Germany in early September put a spanner in the works.

As Northern Ireland led 1-0, things were looking interesting, but three late Dutch goals deflated our bubble.

Those two goals in injury time for Holland meant that they not only had three points, but that if Northern Ireland won the return match at Windsor Park, they would have to do so by a score of 2-0, or a three goal margin in order to win the head to heads should the sides finish level on points.

Since then, Michael O’Neill has left his job as Northern Ireland Manager. Well, sort of. He’s going, but not yet.

I was surprised that he chose Stoke, considering their League position and the general downward spiral since relegation from the Premier League in 2018.

However, he would have seen the impact that The Cowleys had at Huddersfield Town, a club in a similar situation, and felt he could do likewise.

There’s no ideal time for a Manager to leave, if they are lucky to leave a job on their own terms.

It is a credit to O’Neill and the IFA that a deal has been done to minimise disruption, as he will continue as Northern Ireland Manager until their Euro 2020 campaign is over.

This could have been his last game as Manager at Windsor Park, it might not be.

We know that Michael O’Neill will be leaving as Northern Ireland Manager, but we don’t know when his last game will be.

Between you and me, I think it might be at Wembley on Sunday 12th July 2020.

To give you a barometer of Northern Ireland’s progress under O’Neill, it was Holland who they faced in his second match in charge, a friendly in Amsterdam as Northern Ireland were cannon fodder in Holland’s farewell party ahead of Euro 2012.

Now they faced them as genuine rivals, having outperformed them in the previous two campaigns.

Holland fans marched to Windsor Park behind an orange party bus playing bad techno music. As I walked to the ground, I saw the bus parked in a street just off Tate’s Avenue. It had the logo of the tournaments it had travelled to, though it hadn’t been updated since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. A point at Windsor Park would see them able to add Euro 2020 to the list, and they’d be playing their group matches in Amsterdam.

I’m not sure how it was calculated, but results elsewhere meant that Northern Ireland had already secured a Play-Off spot, though a 3rd place finish should have been enough if the UEFA Nonsense League didn’t exist.

We almost got a dramatic start when Corry Evans charged down a clearance from Holland’s keeper, but was unable to put the ball into the net when he got on the end of it.

Josh Magennis then headed just wide as Northern Ireland chased an early goal.

Holland also had their moments, and Northern Ireland were lucky not the go 1-0 down when a period of pinball in the penalty area saw Holland hit the bar just as the ball looked set to loop in.

Midway through the first-half, Northern Ireland got a penalty for handball. On TV replay, it did look a bit harsh.

Thankfully, Joel Cooper wasn’t taking it, but Steven Davis, Mr Reliable.

Davis stepped up and secured three points. Well, three points at Mount Merrion Avenue rather than Donegall Avenue, as his shot was between the posts but well over the bar.

Yet again in this campaign, Northern Ireland were left to rue a glorious chance gone missing. Ironically, when they needed a goal in Estonia, they got one deflected in when the ball hit Josh Magennis in his Willie John McBride.

The rest of the game drifted towards a 0-0 draw, which suited Holland, as a point would be enough for them to qualify.

The game did finish 0-0, my first 0-0 draw attended this season, and it was enough for Holland, alongside Germany who qualified as a result of this draw.

For stat fans, it also meant that Holland joined England, Scotland, Republic of Ireland and Germany in securing qualification for a tournament at Windsor Park.

Northern Ireland were made to wait on other results to see who their Play-Off opponents are. At the time of writing, it looks like Bosnia away. They finished 4th in a poor group, so we shouldn’t be fearing them.

Plus, we more than matched them in the two UEFA Nations League games.

I’m beginning to think it was a tactical masterstroke to lose twice to them, as we’ll be due a win against them.

Whilst this is taking place, the search for a new Manager will be ongoing. I’m obviously not privy to who has applied for it, but unless a major name (might as well joke about it being Pochettino) applies for it, I would expect it to be Stephen Robinson or Ian Baraclough.

Hopefully, whoever it is, will be taking over a team who have just qualified for the European Championship.

Photo Album

Holland v Northern Ireland 2012


It didn’t quit banish the memory of Dundalk on Monday night, but it was a welcome three points for Linfield as they looked to secure a place in next season’s Unite The Union Cup.

On paper, a trip to face Institute at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium looked like an easy three points to recover from that 6-0 defeat. The reality was far from that, with Institute enjoying a resurgence under new Manager Sean Connor, getting draws against Crusaders and Glentoran, as well as reaching the NIFL Cup Semi-Finals.

As it was last year, this matched kicked off at 1pm. That worked out convenient for fans and players, even though it wasn’t decided for those reasons.

Those going to the Northern Ireland match later in the evening could get back to Belfast in plenty of time for kick-off at Windsor Park, while the players knew that if they could get three points, they could put pressure on Coleraine and Cliftonville, who kicked off at 3pm.

As it was on the weekend the last time Linfield played a League match, on November 2nd, all the games were Top 6 v Bottom 6. You might get one shock result, but you won’t get three or four. Linfield didn’t want to be that team, especially as Crusaders had already secured three points on the Friday night, just about though.

Linfield’s starting eleven saw a return to League action for Chris Casement as Linfield returned to four defenders. Thank goodness for that.

There was a welcome return to the starting eleven for Joel Cooper, who recently had minor surgery after being roughed up by Carrick Rangers.

In the early moments, Linfield were trying to get him on the ball to make things happen. Not a lot was happening for Linfield in the early moments as Institute looked comfortable when defending, it didn’t look like a Linfield goal was inevitable.

Institute weren’t afraid to attack either, but Linfield were able to shut them out. Thankfully, as the last thing you want to do in a game like this is to give the opposition something to defend.

Linfield wee presented with an opportunity to make a breakthrough when they were awarded a penalty for a foul on Joel Cooper. A soft foul, but still a foul.

Cooper immediately grabbed the ball and stated that he was taking the kick. He had already scored from a penalty this season. Well, sort of, having scored the rebound from a saved penalty only for a goal not to be given despite the ball being clearly over the line. Yep, i’m still going on about it even though we won that match.

It was a bit surprising that Cooper was putting himself forward to take the kick, especially with Andrew Mitchell, on as a substitute for the injured Niall Quinn, and Andrew Waterworth being on the pitch.

Cooper’s finish didn’t match his confidence, with his poor kick being easily saved and held by Institute’s keeper. In a game where Linfield weren’t playing well, they needed to make the most of the rare opportunity that came their way.

Within a few minutes, Linfield were given another opportunity when they got a second penalty.

It was for an off the ball incident, so I don’t know what actually happened. However, the referee seemed certain in his decision when he flashed a red card at Institute defender Ryan Morrow.

It took a while for fans to compute that another penalty had been given. This time, Andrew Waterworth.

He Panenkaed it, it really wasn’t the time or place for it, and for a moment, it looked like he was going to miss it. Thankfully, he didn’t, and Linfield had the lead.

In the aftermath of the red card, Institute players lost their discipline, arguing with the referee and squaring up to Linfield players.

Sean Connor was hoping for half-time just to get them to calm down and work on a plan on getting back into the game. It was essential that Linfield made the most of this.’

As the half neared it’s end, Bastien Hery worked himself into space on the edge of the penalty area and fired home to make it 2-0.

Curiously, the move began when Institute’s keeper caught a low cross from Kirk Millar, and then kicked it away, Institute were never able to get the ball back from there.

I’m not sure why he kicked it out, I can only think that he lost his bearings and thought he was going to slip the ball into his own net.

Without playing too well, Linfield were 2-0 up and a man up.

However, it was Rohan Ferguson who was the busier keeper in the second-half, making four big saves to stop Institute pulling the game back to 2-1 and getting ideas of an unlikely comeback.

Linfield weren’t without their chances to kill the game off at 3-0, with Andrew Waterworth getting on the end of a Kirk Millar cross but his effort was saved.

It was crosses from Joel Cooper down the left that were causing Institute the most problems, going right into the six yard box, with a desperate block usually denying Linfield.

Deep into injury time, Linfield did make it 3-0, and it came from another penalty.

I think this was the first time I’ve ever been to a football match where three penalties have been awarded to the one team. It was a foul on guess who? Joel Cooper.

Andrew Waterworth stepped up and repeated his feat from last season, 364 days previously, by scoring twice at The Brandywell.

He must have been fuming inside at not getting to hit the first penalty, and missing out on the chance to get a hat-trick.

Three points in the bag, Linfield headed back down the motorway with their feet up hoping that Cliftonville or Coleraine slip up.

It was Coleraine who slipped up, losing 3-1 at Warrenpoint. That was not a result I saw coming, but it was welcomely accepted by Linfield fans.

That meant Cliftonville went top of the League, as a result of their seventh successive win.

Dare I be that guy and point out they had a run of games they should be winning?

I’ll be surprised if they’re top after 22 games when everybody plays each other twice. However, Linfield just have to look after themselves.

Up next, is a match against Glenavon live on BBC Two, which hopefully goes better than our previous televised games against Glenavon, both 2-0 defeats.

That is followed by a trip to Ballymena, which has been scheduled in after being postponed due to Linfield’s run in Europe. Both teams current runs of form mean they are games we should be winning.

If we do, we get to put pressure on the teams playing on Saturday afternoon. If we follow that up at Ballymena, we’ll be breathing down the necks of Coleraine, Cliftonville and Crusaders.

I’ll be missing that Ballymena match as i’ll be on a short break in Lithuania, meaning it’ll be a 9.45pm kick-off for me local time. Unfortunately, I’ve got an early morning flight home on Wednesday morning, so I may be sleeping the whole way through the match.

Unfortunately, I can’t go without mentioning the game against Dundalk.

I was hoping to go as i’d never been to Oriel Park before, but the ticketing arrangements were a pain in the arse. I had a lucky escape.

It was frankly, an embarrassing result. There’s no shame in losing to Dundalk, but that scoreline was embarrassing. We’re better than that.

We just looked off the pace from the start and were punished by a team who were ruthless. We weren’t as ruthless in the few opportunities we had.

David Healy didn’t really help himself by declaring it not a priority. He was probably saying what a lot of people were thinking, myself included, it probably wasn’t best to say it out loud in public.

If we won the Unite The Union Cup but finished 4th, it wouldn’t be considered a successful season.

If we win the League, that night in Dundalk will be forgotten about.

The best way to remedy that result? Qualify for next year’s Unite The Union Cup.

Photo Album


Welcome to the first in what will probably be a one part series, looking at abandoned football stadiums.

Linfield’s trip to Institute presented me with an opportunity to check out one such venue, Institute’s former home of Drumahoe.

Though the match would be played at The Brandywell, the pre-match arrangements were for Linfield fans to meet at Drumahoe Park and Ride, beside Drumahoe, in order to be bussed in to The Brandywell.

When the sides met last season, I intended to have a nosey around the abandoned ground, but time constraints meant that I couldn’t. So, I made sure that I had enough time in my stay in the village to look around.

The reason why the ground is abandoned is that it became flooded during heavy rain in 2017.

This caused an infestation of Japanese Knotweed on the pitch, making it unplayable.

That was then compounded by an arson attack on the changing rooms in the Summer of 2018.

Institute then moved to Wilton Park for the rest of the 2017-2018 season, but after winning promotion, needed a suitable stadium for top flight football, hence their groundshare with Derry City at The Brandywell.

There are plans in place for a new stadium at Clooney Park West.

The closest you can get to an Irish League version of Chernobyl, you can’t actually get into the stadium, but there are railings where you can take photos through, which is what I did, capturing the pitch where the grass has grown. A lot.

It’s the first time I have visited an abandoned stadium. When I was last in Glasgow, I attempted to visit Cathkin Park, a former football stadium which now forms part of a public park, though the terracing is still intact.

Next time i’m in Glasgow, i’ll make an effort to make that Part 2 of this series.

Photo Album


Having scored the goal that took England to the World Cup Finals, David Beckham is the cover star of Match, which reviews England’s successful qualifying campaign.

The man who made Beckham captain, Peter Taylor, is the main story on the contents page, having just been sacked by Leicester City, a year after being Caretaker Manager of England.

There is a full page interview with the Co-Creator of Championship Manager, Paul Collyer, following the release of Championship Manager 01/02.

There are four pages dedicated to England’s World Cup qualifying campaign, a match by match guide, as well as looking at the dramatic departure of Kevin Keegan as manager, and the appointment of Sven Goran-Eriksson.

There is a “Where Are They Now?” of Leeds United’s 1992 title winning team. The Leeds team of 2001-2002 were hoping to emulate them, sitting top of the Premier League. This magazine had a four page interview with goalkeeper Nigel Martyn.

Players described as “Hot” get a feature, such as Andy Oakes of Derby, Peter Crouch of Portsmouth and Darius Henderson of Reading.

George Burley, manager of Ipswich Town gets an interview, where he says the vacant Scotland job doesn’t appeal to him.

In ads, you could buy Michael Owen’s own brand breakfast cereal.