It’s the early months of the 96/97 and Eric Cantona is the cover star of Manchester United’s official magazine, in what would turn out to be his last season at the club.

Pat Crerand writes in his column about a summer of new arrivals and some experienced players leaving, stating that he wished to see the European Cup back at Old Trafford some day..

In news, Old Trafford was being considered as a venue for the 1998 European Cup Winners Cup Final. That would be played in Stockholm, but it made it’s way to England in 1999 at Villa Park, the last final of the competition. Old Trafford would have to make do with the 2003 European Cup Final.

There was a poll for readers, asking if Old Trafford needed a new scoreboard.

Meanwhile, Gary Pallister announces he is raring to go after an injury ravaged 95/96 season.

Cover star Eric Cantona gets a four page interview, revealing that he didn’t watch Euro 96, but wanted England to win it.

As Untied are back in the European Cup and one of eight seeded teams automatically in the group stages, and previews the tournament, with 1995 winners Ajax amongst the seeds, managed by future United manager Louis Van Gaal.

There are four pages dedicated to United’s pre-season routine, with a look at how they compare to other sports.

There are also match reports from United’s early pre-season games, against Portadown and a League Of Ireland XI.

There are profiles of United’s five new signings Raimond Van Der Gowu, Karel Poborsky, Jordi Cruyff, Ronny Johnsen and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

There was an offer for readers, where you could get a 1997 Eric Cantona calendar for £5.

Gary Pallister takes questions from fans, the recently departed defensive partner Steve Bruce being a prominent subject.


The last time I was at The Odyssey, it was to see U2 in 2018. If you told me it would be two and a half years before I came back, and it would be to see The Vaccines supported by Doctor and the Medics, i’d be asking a lot of questions about the charts in 2019 and 2020.

I’ve actually seen The Vaccines live, not too far away at Titanic Slipways, supporting Noel Gallagher in 2016.

You should know by now that when something is announced that I want to go to, i’m usually straight on the ball to get it organised.

I can’t say I particularly wanted a jab, but needs must.

Bill Gates needs to update his microchips, i’ve had voices in my head telling me to kill Steve Jobs.

I booked myself an early morning appointment, thinking i’d avoid crowds but it was still busy. Thankfully, I could just walk right into the venue instead of having to queue outside, as I had witnessed on my teatime cycles to Airport Road.

It was very simple and efficient, walk in, register, brief pre-chat with a Doctor and then in I go.

I had a Scottish guy doing mine. I love Scottish accents, but it’s not the most reassuring then you’re about to get an injection. “Which arm ye want it in pal?” just sounds so menacing, even though it is not meant to be.

I remarked that he looked like a pop star from the 1950s, to which he replied “I’m no teenage icon, i’m no Frankie Avalon”.

Okay, that didn’t happen, but it would have been rude not to do a Vaccines joke.

Just as I was getting ready for it, it was done, and all I had to do was sit in the Seating Area, everybody maxing the use out of the free wifi on offer.

Whenever I booked my jab, I got two for the price of one, getting my date for the second jab.

Even though there is nothing on, it is still inconvenient. I’ll explain why later on.

They did say as I was leaving “If you wanna come back, it’s alright, it’s alright”.

Sorry for doing another Vaccines joke.

Thank goodness we have a vaccine, and it is being rolled out, because this country has been absolutely useless from Day 1.

This time last year, we were all “Community spirit, we’re all in this together, let’s look out for one another”. That has now been replaced with “Old people and people with medical conditions can fuck off, I want to go to the pub” because people realised this wasn’t going to be a two week holiday where you can fix things around the house.

If you want to do a job right, you have to do it the whole way through, and our society couldn’t be bothered.

Right from the start, we had people giving it Billy Big Balls, acting is if they’re the most inconvenienced person in the world.

Listening to some people, you’d think they left the house at 8am and don’t come home until 2am, because they’re so busy doing lots of outdoor things because they have such busy and interesting lives that will impress people.

In most cases, they go to work, slouch in front of the TV, and once a month their wife allows them to go to The Pub, as long as they’re home by 9pm.

We’ve all been inconvenienced, it’s not a competition.

I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, this country is absolutely paralysed by it’s obsession with Pubs and World War II.

Ever since Day 1, all we’ve ever heard is “When are the pubs going to reopen?” instead of “When are we getting the R Number down?”. Maybe i’m just seeing things from a different angle because I used to work in the industry? Spoiler Alert, it’s a horrible industry to work in.

“Why should I not be allowed to go to the pub because of old people?”. Well, if it’s intergenerational warfare people want, i’m taking the side of old people. I’ve never been to a concert and seen a bunch of old people that need a slap because they can’t behave themselves.

It’s not young people that are propping up this economy, it’s Ethel and Mabel buying Cliff Richard CDs, Princess Diana Dinner Plates and creating an audience for This Morning and Countdown to sell advertising revenue that is keeping this country going.

I really don’t want to be that guy, but there are too many Grifters “White Knighting” on behalf of pubs, usually with their own agendas and commercial interests. You’d think Pubs were the only industry having a tough time, but they believe they should be at the front of the queue just because.

“Reopening pubs is good for people’s health” usually means that reopening pubs will be good for my bank balance. Just come out with it, don’t hijack something else for your own agenda.

You know what is good for people’s mental health? People leaving room for others on the footpath. People not climbing each other in Supermarkets and people not ramming up each other’s arses in Supermarkets.

People already have enough to worry about without worrying if someone else’s reckless behaviour has given them Covid. Let’s maybe address that first.

Looking at you especially Joggers. There’s a group who are the absolute definition of entitlement. See people coming a mile off and still don’t leave room for people on the footpath.

All that room left for them, and they still run up against people puffing and panting, and then start screaming and shouting when challenged, or pre-emptively asked to move.

War, Famine and Racism going on, but just you get worked up and angry about being asked to show a bit of consideration towards others. Grow up Nigel.

It’s the same profile every time, usually some middle-aged gammon male with a distinct stench of “Pity about Piers Morgan, tells it as it is. Legend”.

Quite where they get the front to behave like they do, I have no idea.

You’re not in training for the Olympics, just grow up Trevor. Even if you are in training for the Olympics, just grow up Trevor.

I should point out in the interest of balance that Women Joggers are every bit as useless. They just run up beside you and carry on as if nothing happened, instead of mouthing off.

Sometimes, you have to endure the same behaviour from people out walking. See you a mile off, spread across the entire footpath and still won’t move aside for a few seconds.

Even better, why not just stand in the middle of the footpath staring at your phone? Feel free to block people from getting where they want to go.

A society where it is safer to walk on the road than on the footpath is a society that has failed.

This walk on the road, literally or metaphorically – you decide, feels like a lonely one. Am I the only person making an effort here?

Talking of Supermarkets, they have been especially useless, getting rid of one way systems because people were too stupid to understand how they work.

And as a nice bonus, Tesco have now decided to make their self service tills card only.

Has the person who made that decision ever been to Tesco?

The vast majority of people use cash, why is there not self service tills for cash?

As a result, people are having to queue for longer when they could be in and out straight away if a self service cash till was available.

Although it seems to be that some people don’t want to be in and out quickly, treating Tesco like a family day out.

Surely if you’re walking into a shop, you should know what you need to buy?

For crying out loud, don’t stand in the middle of the aisle staring at a shelf, stopping people from getting past.

I’ve even seen people standing in the middle of the aisle blocking people because they’re reading a magazine.

I saw a great post on Twitter about Anti-Maskers. It simply said “Do they think people enjoy being in Lockdown?”

That’s exactly it. I don’t enjoy Lockdown, I don’t enjoy having to keep my distance from people, but if that’s what it takes to help drive the R Number down to get “Back to normal”, that’s what i’ll do.

The main issue has been the mixed messages from Government. You can meet if this, but only if, if there are. These muddled rules are going to make people just make up their own rules, ie – just do what you want. We should either be in Lockdown or not in Lockdown. None of this phased or tiers nonsense that was only going to bring about a free for all that would take us back to Square One.

Possibly the worst example of poor message was telling people to stay at home. That was never going to work.

What should have been done was to remind people of their responsibilities when outside. Get your groceries, visit Nature Parks and Beauty Spots, but use your brain when doing so.

Not once have I ever seen a Politician use a Covid Briefing to remind people to walk on the left. It’s literally that simple and effective. That message is the one that should have been rammed home from the start. That, and maybe making an effort for once to tackle smoking, which is at epidemic levels in Belfast.

The most at risk group of getting and spreading Covid and what do we do? Scratch our collective arses and do nothing while they congregate around each other infecting themselves and others.

If Cyclists got the accommodation Smokers get, and Smokers get the vitriol Cyclists get, Belfast might be a liveable city.

Politicians like to talk about “Inclusivity” and making Belfast more “Inclusive”. A polite reminder that inclusivity is about more than flags and murals, it’s about having a city that people can fully enjoy without having to take preventative measures to enjoy outdoor living.

When Society 2.0 gets up and running, this should be high on the list of issues that need addressed.

Of course, when you see bad examples at the highest level regarding behaviour, it’s only natural that standards will slip elsewhere.

You know what i’m referring to.

The thing is, Bobby Storey’s Funeral didn’t descend Northern Ireland’s Lockdown into anarchy. By this point, we’d already verbally agreed to just to do whatever we want and not care about others. This just formally signed the paperwork.

What it meant was, that if you ever challenged anyone over their behaviour, they could instantly quote that, and you can’t say anything in response.

This country has given up on Law and Order and replaced with the rules of the Atherstone Ball Game.

As hard as it is to hear, never let your standards drop because others can get away with dropping theirs. Be better.

Trust me, it’s infuriating, but be better.

I’ll park around the corner to go to a shop because there’s no parking space available. By the time I walk there, there’ll be someone parked on a double yellow line right outside it, blocking traffic, and not getting a ticket for it, with me wondering why I bothered.

For the avoidance of doubt, if you gather in a large group and breach Social Distancing because of a Political Protest, you’re an idiot, not matter how valid your cause.

If you gather in a large group and breach Social Distancing in reaction to a football result, you’re an idiot.

The list is not exhaustive. If you gather in a large group and breach Social Distancing, you’re an idiot.

If Belfast City Council or the Northern Ireland Assembly decide to award some sort of “Symbolic honour” to the “People of Belfast”, it will be politely rejected by me as I refuse to share an award with people who didn’t make an effort.

It should be a condition if this much rumoured voucher scheme in Northern Ireland becomes a reality, that anybody convicted of a Covid Breach should not be eligible. If you’re going to have a Reward Culture, actually reward those that did things properly.

If it results in somebody having to have an awkward conversation about why their household is not getting a voucher, that is not my problem.

Talking of empty gestures, it’s already started with the National Day Of Reflection. National Day Of Deflection more like.

Standing for a minute silence before engaging in the behaviour that spreads Covid and then kills people is an empty gesture. If it was a proper National Day Of Reflection, people would be looking in the mirror and asking themselves if they have done enough to protect themselves and others.

This Friday, pubs in Northern Ireland will reopen. Choosing a Friday going into a Bank Holiday Weekend is the dumbest thing i’ve heard.

Over the past few months, Journalists and News Outlets have been pushing a narrative that “We’re all going to go mad and let ourselves go when pubs reopen”. That attitude needs knocked on the head immedaitely.

That is going to be a green light for the biggest scumbags in our society to believe that they can behave however they want. Just watch over the next few years how many court cases will include a line from the Defence QC “My Client was feeling frustrated due to the effects of Lockdown”. Don’t be that guy.

Instead of “Going mad” and “Letting yourself go”, just pick up where you left off and enjoy yourself without being a dick.

That leads me neatly into concerts. I really hope that the next concert I go to isn’t in the first batch of the return of concerts for the above mentioned reasons.

Next on my schedule is Beabadoobee (September), followed by Paul Weller (November), Ash (December), Paul Heaton/Jacqui Abbott (January) and Doves (February) with Lightning Seeds still to be rearranged.

I’m hoping to add The Charlatans in November to that list. Have to be on the ball when they go on sale on Friday.

OMD might also be on the list. I have flights to Gatwick booked for July. I’m leaving it to June to make a decision on them, but it’s a very high chance i’ll move them to November and exchange a weekend in London for a few days in Brighton, sneaking in an OMD concert while i’m there.

I also have a few days in Bray booked for late June. It was supposed to be my base to try and turn up at Lansdowne Road and blag a ticket for the Euro 2021 Last 16 game there.

As you now know, Dublin has lost it’s Hosting Rights for Euro 2021, but i’ll leave it to mid June before cancelling my hotel. If there’s a possibility of a trip, especially one where no flights are needed, I might as well hold on to it as long as possible.

To add to the confusion, my second jab has been scheduled for when I should be there. I’ll be getting that date changed.

There’s another reason to get the R Number down, Man United might be playing at Windsor Park in August.

They’re going to win the UEFA Cup, but Northern Ireland will go into another Lockdown and we’ll lose the Hosting Rights. I’m already bracing myself for the disappointment. That’s what happens when you get used to this useless country letting you down time and time again.

Jonathan Van-Tam, whose stylisation of his surname I autocorrect in my head as Jonathan TV-AM, loves his football analogies to explain the situation.

When he does, I can usually give an example of a team not winning from the position he has just mentioned.

How would you describe Northern Ireland with it’s high rate of vaccine rollout? Four goals up with twenty-minutes to go?

Surely there isn’t an example of a team not winning from that position?

Turns out there is, Hibs drawing 6-6 with Motherwell in 2010. Oh for crying out loud.


Simone and Pippo Inzaghi are the cover stars of this edition of Football Italia, a spin-off magazine of Channel 4’s coverage of Italian football.

In news, Juventus will have a new manager in the summer, with Carlo Ancelotti being picked to succeed Marcello Lippi.

Italy beat a Rest Of The World XI 6-2 in a friendly to mark the 100th anniversary of the FIGC.

There are reviews of the draws for the Quarter-Finals of the three European competitions, the highlight being Inter Milan’s European Cup tie against Manchester United, while the UEFA Cup draw presents the opportunity for an all Italian final.

There is a report on the first leg of the Coppa Italia Quarter-Finals, with Juventus on the brink of elimination after a 2-1 home defeat to Bologna.

The two Inzaghi brothers get a six page profile, which also features some of the famous brothers to have played in Serie A.

Parma are the subject of a club profile, including a two page profile of Hernan Crespo.

Sampdoria also get a profile, under new manager David Platt and new signing Lee Sharpe.

There is also reviews of recent matches and previews of upcoming matches.

The magazine ends with a preview of the next edition, which will feature Lazio, as they aim to win their first title since the 1970s.


Cristiano Ronaldo is the cover star of Manchester United’s official magazine having just won both PFA Player Of The Year awards.

United are going for a League and Cup double, with Chelsea standing in the way in both competitions, and both meetings get previewed. The FA Cup Final between the two sides will be the first one held at the newly rebuilt Wembley Stadium.

In news, it has been announced that United’s pre-season tour in 2007 will be in Asia.

Gabriel Heinze is invited to write a column and reflects on United’s 7-1 win over AS Roma in April.

Brian McClair scoffs at the idea that Sunderland manager Roy Keane noticed Jonathan Evans (as he was known then) through his performances for Northern Ireland, and not to do with the fact that Keane was a recently departed United player.

Cristiano Ronaldo gets a six page interview, with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson comparing him favourably to Maradona and Pele.

As United will be playing their first game at the newly rebuilt Wembley Stadium, there is a ten page look at United’s history at the previous incarnation of the ground.

Guiseppe Rossi gets interviewed as he has had an interesting year away from Old Trafford, an unsuccessful loan spell at Newcastle terminated early before a more successful loan spell at Parma.

As the magazine nears it’s end, there is the usual review of recent matches and stats, while the youth round-ups feature future Premier League stars James Chester and Danny Drinkwater.

The magazine ends with Pete Boyle discussing his favourite United memories.


A lot of things might have been put on hold over the past year, but Street Art in Belfast isn’t one of them.

The location to find these pieces isn’t in the Cathedral Quarter where you would expect, but on the Shankill Road, with two separate projects working independently of each other.

I spotted it on Instagram, that Friz and Emic, both featured regularly on this blog, had posted pictures of work they had done on the outside of the Spectrum Centre.

At the same time, Dan Kitchener, also featured on this blog for work previously done in Belfast in 2017, and when I stumbled upon work in his native London on a weekend break in 2018, also posted on Instagram that he was working on a piece in Shankill.

So, on Good Friday, I headed out on my bike after finishing work to get photos of the pieces.

Getting photos of the pieces outside Spectrum Centre was easy, but finding Dan Kitchener was a different matter. I cycled all over Shankill Road and couldn’t find him.

I did cycle to Lanark Way and saw a piece of Jesus recently done by Glen Molloy.

Appeals on social media were unsuccessful in trying to find out where Dan Kitchener was working, as I was hoping to get some work in progress photos as he completed his work.

It turned out it was on Enfield Street right at the very top of the Shankill, just past Woodvale Park.

Thankfully, Dan Kitchener was on hand to do his own updates, such as Day 1 and Day 3.

To compliment this, he has a video on his Youtube channel detailing his stay in Belfast.

If you are familiar with his work, there’s no deviation, you can spot a mile off that it is a Dan Kitchener piece, usually specialising in cities at night, this time depicting a Belfast Taxi in Downtown Tokyo.

For further reading, there is also an interview with him on Belfast Live.

With the work being completed over Easter, I had planned on cycling up on the Wednesday night to see it and get photos.

However, Linfield were on Sky so instead I did my walking route on a weeknight when Linfield are live on TV. Don’t laugh, it’s brought three wins in six weeks.

It turned out to be a good decision considering what was kicking off on Wednesday teatime.

So, Sunday morning, things are a lot calmer, heading up to take some extra photos of Spectrum Centre as some didn’t turn out as I hope when I went up on Good Friday, and to see the Dan Kitchener piece on Enfield Street, making the most of quiet traffic to get photos of it.

Photo Album


With my walks being rotated, it was no surprise that next on my list was going to be Cregagh Glen and Lisnabreeny Hill.

Just because I haven’t blogged about it recently doesn’t mean I haven’t been there.

I made a visit when I was off over Christmas, and then again on St Patrick’s Day.

On both occasions, the weather was dull and didn’t make for good photos, so I didn’t bother writing about it.

This time, was different, having lots of daylight to work with when I arrived around 8.30am, and not many other people about.

I took the opportunity to explore some areas of Cregagh Glen I hadn’t been to, one path leading to someone’s (fenced off) back garden, giving me a serious case of house envy.

For a change, I actually headed into the American War Cemetery, and noticed some changes such as new fences being put up and trees being planted.

From there, I continued to Lisnabreeny Hill, making the most of having a clear view over Belfast with no fog.

The last time I reached the top of Lisnabreeny Hill, on St Patrick’s Day, I turned left out of curiousity.

That led me along Lisnabreeny Road, towards Henry Jones Playing Fields, bringing back memories of PE. I think i’ve just let slip what school I went to.

My familiarity with the area meant I was able to walk over to the Road Crossing where Cregagh Glen meets Lisnabreeny Hill, to continue my descent towards my car on the Cregagh Road.

Naturally, my curiousity would be sending me right this time, leading me to the end of Lisnabreeny Road to McDowell’s Meats, which were very popular and doing a lot of business.

There were lots of long and winding country roads that could be explored at a later date.

That will be my rotated walks for April, doing them all again in May.

At some point before the end of June, i’ll be using up Annual Leave, which will give me the opportunity to explore more outdoors.

On that list will be taking in Colin Glen Forest Park for the first time, and visiting Blackmountain as it will be a weekday, and much quieter.

Photo Album

Cregagh Glen/Lisnabreeny Hill – August 2020

Cregagh Glen – July 2020