PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – NOVEMBER

November’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed by a first trip of the season to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on
Partizan Belgrade.

The following Saturday, came another football trip, but it was a relatively short one Foyleside, to get some photos of the abandoned stadium at Drumahoe, and then Linfield’s match against
Institute.

After that, it was a dash back to Belfast on the 212 to see Northern Ireland play Holland in aEuropean Championship Qualifer.

The month ended with Linfield’s matches against Glenavon and Larne.

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade

Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade Photo Album

Drumahoe

Drumahoe Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Holland

Northern Ireland v Holland Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Larne

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – OCTOBER

October began with a disappointing trip to Seaview to see Linfield lose to Crusaders.

It got better the following Saturday, with a 4-1 win at Dungannon Swifts.

That was then followed by two quick trips to Windsor Park, to see Linfield beat Ballymena United 2-1, and then hammer Warrenpoint Town 7-0, before the month ended as it started, with a disappointing away defeat for Linfield, this time at Coleraine.

Crusaders v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Coleraine v Linfield

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 22.7.1989

Mo Johnston is the cover star of Match as Match asks how good he is.

This was prompted by a claim by Rangers manager Graeme Souness that Johnston was the best striker in Britain, so Match organised a poll to end the arguement once and for all.

Match also revealed that Johnston predicted in 1982 that one day he would sign for Rangers.

Another big summer signing was Chris Waddle of Marseille, who tells Match that money wasn’t a factor in his move.

Also moving to the Continent was Alan McInally, who hopes his move to Bayern Munich will earn him a place in Scotland’s squad for the 1990 World Cup if they qualify.

Match looks at the race for promotion to Division One, asking players from clubs promoted in 1989 (Chelsea, Manchester City, Crystal Palace) who they think will go up in 1990, the general consensus being Leeds.

Some footballers are without a club, and Match writes about those top flight players looking for a club.

If they end up at another top flight club, you’ll know how much it will cost to watch them, as Match does a chart of admission prices at Division One clubs, apart from Southampton and Liverpool, who didn’t provide information.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – SEPTEMBER

It took a week for September’s football watching to start, with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield beat Cliftonville on their return to domestic action after their European exploits.

That was followed 48 hours later (well, 52 hours and 44 minutes later, to be precise) with a trip to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Germany in a Euro 2020 Qualifier.

It was Windsor Park again the following Saturday to see Linfield beat Glentoran, before a nine day wait to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers on a wet Monday night live on TV.

The month ended with a goalfest, as Linfield hammered Glenavon 7-0.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Germany

Northern Ireland v Germany Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Carrick Rangers v Linfield

Linfield v Glenavon

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – AUGUST

August’s football watching began in dramatic fashions with three games in the first three days of the month.

The 1st of the month saw me head to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on HB Torshavn in the UEFA Cup.

The following day, I headed to Edinburgh for a short break. It would have been rude not to take in some football.

On Friday 2nd, I headed to see Dunfermline Athletic take on Dundee, while on Saturday 3rd, I went to see Hibernian take on St Mirren.

The rest of the month was a residency at Windsor Park, seeing Linfield’s League matches against Institute and Coleraine, and their UEFA Cup matches against Sutjeska and Qarabag.

Linfield v HB Torshavn

Dunfermline Athletic v Dundee

Dunfermline Athletic v Dundee Photo Album

Hibernian v St Mirren

Hibernian v St Mirren Photo Album

Linfield v Institute

Linfield v FK Sutjeska

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Qarabag

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MANCHESTER UNITED – AUGUST 1995

Lee Sharpe is the cover star of Manchester United’s official magazine during what would turn out to be an eventful summer at Old Trafford.

As you open the magazine, there is a poster of Paul Ince and Mark Hughes, who left United that summer.

Meanwhile, Eric Cantona would have an eventful return from suspension, an Old Trafford date against either Liverpool or Manchester City, depending on wether Sky Sports would move the game against Liverpool back to October 1st.

A United fan was fined £500 for producing Manchester United branded aftershave without the club’s consent.

Gary Neville was the subject of a brief interview after a breakthrough year where he broke into United’s team and made his England debut.

There was a fixture list for 95/96, while an advert appeared to reveal United’s new away kit would be unveiled on 1st August. It turned out the be the infamous grey kit.

There was six pages of coverage of Paul Ince and Mark Hughes departures, looking back at their time with United.

There is a four page profile of the forthcoming European competitions, as United aimed to win the UEFA Cup for the first time. They went out in the 1st Round on away goals to Rotor Volgograd.

There is a double page feature on United Supporters Clubs around the world, in countries such as Wales, USA, Germany and Belgium.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – JULY

The 2019-2020 was always going to be memorable, due to the contrasting emotions watching Linfield ranging from the highest of highs to the most ridiculous of lows. I’d hoped it would end at Old Trafford before beginning 2020-2021 a few weeks later taking in a couple of European Championship games in Dublin.

Of course, it became memorable in a way that nobody could imagine. My matchgoing season is now officially over, although I had accepted that fate a long long time ago.

At the end of each season, I do a month by month look back at the season just past, so I might as well look back at this most eventful of seasons.

My 2019-2020 football watching season began in mid July at a very wet Windsor Park, seeing Linfield take on Rosenborg in the European Cup.

With the July holidays, I took the opportunity to spend a few days in Dublin. As luck would have it, there were a few football matches on, St Patrick’s Athletic v IFK Norrkoping and Bray Wanderers v Limerick.

Upon my return to Northern Ireland, I headed to Wilgar Park to see a much changed Linfield side take on Dundela in a Pre-Season Friendly.

Linfield v Rosenborg

St Patrick’s Athletic v IFK Norrkoping

St Patrick’s Athletic v IFK Norrkoping Photo Album

Bray Wanderers v Limerick

Bray Wanderers v Limerick Photo Album

Dundela v Linfield

CAVEHILL – JUNE 2020

Coronaboredom got the better of me. When you’re stuck indoors for 22 hours a day, it’s only natural that you’ll be getting the urge to go outdoors

This blog post too six weeks to write, let me explain.

Stuck indoors all day, you just want to get out. I was planning that I would only go to Cavehill once a year, but that went out the window when other travel options become unavailable, if I wanted to go somewhere, i’d have to explore Belfast a bit more.

Regular readers will know that this blog is mostly football matches and concerts, neither of which are happening. I hadn’t taken a photo of anything since I attended the Carrick Rangers v Linfield match in early March.

Early May saw a three day weekend, with the Bank Holiday being moved from the Monday by four days to the Friday for the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

That Friday, I got up early, and drove to the entrance at Innisfayle Park. It’s the way I know how to get in to Cavehill.

Unfortunately, the gate for cars was closed, you could still get in on foot though.

So, where do I park my car?

I could have parked safely on the street, but I was worried about falling foul of a busybody resident, even though most people would be safely tucked up in bed.

I didn’t take that chance, instead heading to North Circular Road and parking at a place when I catch a bus to football matches from there (Ahh, going to football matches, remember that?) and entering Cavehill via an entrance in Ballysillan.

I’m not sure where I ended up, but it was not somewhere I was familiar with, I ended up walking along Upper Hightown Road. It might not have been Cavehill, but it was one heck of a walk.

That day didn’t go to plan.

Two weeks later, I headed back for another early morning trek, parking in one of the bays at the Antrim Road entrance.

As I was entering at a different point, further away from where I usually enter, being timebound meant I couldn’t cover as much ground, only getting about halfway up before I had to go down.

Rejoice though, as it was announced that Belfast City Council would be reopening the car parks of their Country Parks from Wednesday 27th May.

To save myself a wasted car journey, I made that my cycle route on the Saturday after just to check it out, and it was indeed true. Open gate. Party time.

However, I wouldn’t be parking the bike and going for a walk, as it was a bit of an arduous cycle there, and a walk upwards would be too much. Just wait until the following Saturday for that.

The following Saturday, I headed over in the car. The weather, was not kind, dull sky and light rain. I was up, so I might as well go for a walk.

Thankfully, when the rain came down it was when I was in the well covered foresty bit, so I didn’t get too wet. It was cold, but a good cold, if that makes sense. The sort of cold air that makes you feel refreshed, if that makes sense.

As I approached the first gate, I decided to turn left instead of going forward towards McArt’s Fort, out of curiousity as i’d never been that way before.

There wasn’t really much, other than lots of cows. I think I saw more cows than people. Try again next week, hopefully have better luck.

Well, I did walk up to the top the following week, but the weather was crap. It was dull and didn’t make for good photos, so I didn’t bother taking any, which made for an empty experience.

I did take some photos during my visits in May, collating them into an album if you wish to view.

One week later, waking up and seeing the sun shine coming though my blinds, I jumped straight out to make the most of this opportunity.

The Car Park at Innisfayle Park at Cavehill usually opens at 7.30am, which is when I aim to be there for.

You may think being up and about on a day off at that time is madness, it probably is, but it’s worth it when you see the end results.

A bonus of this is that I can stop off at Tesco on Antrim Road to get some groceries as it’s off peak, something I can’t do during the week because i’m in the house until 5pm and all the supermarkets near me sell booze so there’s always a mile long queue outside when I get there.

Sooner the pubs open the better, so I can get some groceries. Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

Where I live, I have a bit of a clear run to North Belfast, especially when the traffic is light, so I was able to arrive there at 7.45am, and had my choice of parking spaces as they were all empty, another benefit of arriving so early.

That turned out to be the case when I headed back to my car just before 10am, as every space was filled resulting in some people being creative with their parking, on grass banks and wherever they bloody well wanted to.

The sun was shining, which made for good photos.

What I wasn’t expecting, was that my path would be blocked. By cows. Yes, you read that right.

A group of cows were wandering about and blocking the path. That would have been a comical demise, getting attacked by a cow and falling down a hill.

Thankfully, I avoided such a fate, waiting for them to pass before moving on.

It’s quite the experience when a cow walks up to you, looks you in the eyes, and moos at you.

When I reached the top in February, I walked straight ahead, taking in Carnmoney Hills. This time, I turned left to have a look as i’d never been that way before.

There was some nice areas to shoot as well as somewhere if you want to have a short break and/or picnic. Unfortunately, some had already done that and left their rubbish behind.

I headed towards a mast but there was barb wire and an inconvenient walkway. I could have carried on if I wanted to, but I didn’t want to risk getting into trouble for possible trespassing, so I turned back.

On my way back, I headed to McArt’s Fort and had a look over Belfast, before heading back down.

The next time I head up Cavehill, i’ll go an explore more of Carnmoney Hill. That might not be too far away, as I might make an early morning visit when i’m off during the July Holidays.

Next week (29th June – 1st July) I should have been having a short break in Dublin/Bray, trying to blag a ticket for the Euro 2020 game on 30th June and walking up Bray Head while i’m there.

As we now know, Euro 2020 has been put back a year, and even if I wanted to go, my hotel cancelled on me (I get a refund, if you were wondering).

However, I have rebooked for the new date in 2021, so at least I’ve got to look forward to. Although, if things calm down, I might try and sneak in a Dublin/Bray trip later in the year, although the weather won’t be on my side in terms of temperature and daylight if I want to walk up Bray Head.

Despite not going anywhere, i’m still going to use the Annual Leave that has been booked and just relax.

I may use that time to explore Blackmountain. If you’ve got any suggestions for what I should do on my time off, feel free to leave a comment.

One walk I did last year which is up in the air for 2020 is Arthur’s Seat.

I hadn’t anything booked, but I usually head to Edinburgh in August, but there is no Fringe so I won’t be there in August. I may try to sneak in a short break to Scotland (ideally, a Edinburgh/Glasgow/Stirling triple header) later in the year.

Another travel idea i’m having is Brecon Beacons. Being in lockdown, I’ve been watching a lot of TV, some of which has been shows about Brecon Beacons, which looks an amazing place to visit.

If things had been normal, I would have been looking at a short break to Warsaw in October, but everything is up in the air at the moment.

Even staying in Belfast, my plans are taking a hit.

This week has seen concerts by Lightning Seeds (September, already postponed from March and then May) and Paul Weller (October) both being moved to 2021.

2020 is already looking like a write-off. The only entertainment i’ll be having is walking up hills.

Photo Album

Cavehill May 2020 Photo Album

Cavehill February 2020

Cavehill November 2019

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : FOOTBALL EUROPE – JANUARY 1999

Ian Wright is the cover star of Football Europe as the final year of the 20th century is about to start.

There is a look at demanding schedules and club’s abilities to balance domestic and international commitments, prompted by the fact that Arsenal, Manchester United, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid all lost on the weekend prior to Matchday 5 in the group stages of the European Cup.

In news, Ronaldo of Inter Milan is suffering injury problems, while Jean-Pierre Papin has announced his retirement from football, and Peter Schmeichel has announced he will be leaving Manchester United at the end of the season.

There is a profile of German football, with the national team struggling, as the country aims to bounce back to the top of European football at both club and international level.

There is a look at Qualifying for Euro 2000, with Belgium, who will co-host the tournament, and Norway both having bad form in friendly games, while Pippo Inzaghi has finally got his first goals for Italy.

After a successful World Cup, the focus is now on France’s domestic game, with the top flight getting a four page feature.