STLFTEM UPDATE 2012

Regular and long-term readers will know that I have a lifestyle ethos of sorts. It’s called ‘Something To Look Forward To Every Month’ ….. or STLFTEM for short.

It’s quite self explanatory really. Each month, I need at least one thing to look forward to. It can be anything, but I have to do or see something in person. Events watched on TV don’t count.

The rules of this are at my discretion. There can be more than one STLFTEM per month. Some months are a real struggle, but i’ve (just about) managed to have an unbroken run since July 2009.

The first one this year, was unsurprisingly, in January. I went to see Roy Walker live as part of the Out To Lunch Festival (the winter version of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival)

It was a mostly retrospective show, looking back at his career in showbusiness and doing a ‘Greatest Hits’, telling stories of some of the performers he’s worked with, recalling one story of going to dinner with Charlie Williams

He was told by a waiter “Sorry, we don’t serve black men” to which he replied “It’s ok, I don’t eat black men”

The event ended on a sad note when he commented on the health of Frank Carson, that “He didn’t have long left”, and so it sadly proved the following month.

February was a very exciting month, lots of travelling though.

As my birthday falls in February, the last three years I have travelled away for the first weekend for a short break.

This year, I went to Amsterdam for a weekend. It was enjoyable. It would have been more enjoyable if it wasn’t freezing.

The weekend I was there it was snowing, so I took the opportunity to get photos, seeing as there was no snow in Belfast the past winter.

On the Saturday, I went to Rotterdam for a day. It’s a nice enough city. While there, I took in a game. It wasn’t Feyenoord (though I did visit their stadium with some spare time I had) but little known Excelsior Rotterdam, struggling at the bottom of the Eredivise.

I contacted the club and they sorted me out with a ticket no problem (I saw people paying in, so I probably could have got one on the day) and I watched the start of the game against VVV Venlo in the Robin Van Persie stand, named after a player from the local area who began his career with their youth teams, before moving to Feyenoord, then Arsenal.

The clubs bar (I went in their pre-match and half-time for heat rather than refreshment) had pictures of him on the wall. Little did I know then, that just over six months later, Robin Van Persie would be playing for Manchester United.

Incidentally, the day I visited Woudestein, he scored a hat-trick (for Arsenal against Blackburn)

If you’re reading this Robin, and believe in omens, feel free for me to pay to travel to Rotterdam every weekend.

Absolutely loved the game, Excelsior won 3-1, but unfortunately were unable to avoid relegation. The following day, I visited Amsterdam Arena to see Ajax lose 2-0 to FC Utrecht.

I saw Ajax again later in the month as they visited Old Trafford for a UEFA Cup tie against Manchester United.

I’d planned to travel over for United’s post christmas game. I’d hoped it would be in the European Cup, but a UEFA Cup tie made it handier for booking leave (Work from Monday to Wednesday, then off for a four day weekend)

United lost 2-1, the first time I witnessed a United defeat at Old Trafford in person (40+ visits) but went through 3-2 on aggregate.

On my flight there and back, Tommy Breslin, Oran Kearney and Scott Young were fellow passengers.

The previous Thursday, I was at The Odyssey for Noel Gallagher in concert. Absoultely fantastic.

March was a quiet month with not a lot happening. It was a struggle to get a STLFTEM, but I decided to attend the opening of T13, in the Titanic Quarter.

My original STLFTEM for March was Linfield’s Irish Cup Semi-Final, but it was postponed, and became my STLFTEM for April.

A lovely sunny day, Linfield winning 7-0, and I managed to get some nice shots of the game and stadium. Win all round.

May’s STLFTEM was two football matches, both at Windsor Park, which both ended 4-1.

The first was the Irish Cup Final. Linfield supporters not much younger than me are spoilt and think this is an annual event. The day I turned 18, Linfield had only won the Irish Cup twice in my lifetime, so I make the most of Cup Final Day.

The next game was the Harry Gregg Testimonial between Manchester United and an Irish League XI. It was a full United team (barring injured players) and it wasn’t an embarrassing result for the Irish League XI, so it was a good result all round.

In March, I won a competition to win free flights, so I put that to good use for June’s STLFTEM. From the choice I had, it was mostly ‘Sunshine breaks’ (I prefer city breaks rather than lazing on the beach) and UK cities. There was nothing on in London that interested me (the prize had to be taken by the end of June) or Birmingham, so I went for the lazy option and chose Amsterdam, where Northern Ireland played Holland.

The less said about the football, the better, but the city was again fantastic, I went to see the parts of the city I didn’t see on my first trip, and I had better weather than when I visited in February.

Not a fan of taking part in rioting, July’s STLFTEM was another July tradition, Linfield in Europe.

August’s STLFTEM was my annual trip to the Edinburgh Fringe. I had second thoughts with this being my 4th succesive year visiting. I couldn’t have been more wrong, I loved it and saw new acts I hadn’t seen and acts I hadn’t seen in a while.

Upon my return, three Belsonic concerts, including seeing Madness for the first time. I can’t believe I waited so long to see Madness live.

September started with a visit to The Oval. We drew, and scored a goal. Already, an improvement on last season’s results.

The following week, I saw The View play live, a virtual free gig as I bought the ticket using a Ticketmaster voucher I got for my birthday.

The following midweek, I went to see Northern Ireland play Luxembourg. The less said about this, the better.

Tomorrow, of course, is Belfast Culture Night, which i’ve attended the last two years and enjoyed.

Four STLFTEMs this month. Nice going.

For October, I shall be going to see Norman Whiteside do a talk as part of Belfast Festival. I’ve only got a copy of the programme today, so haven’t looked through it fully. From browsing online, i’d suggest David O’Doherty and Sarfraz Manzoor (saw them both in Edinburgh)

Very tempted to get a second helping of David O’Doherty. I urge you to go and see him live, especially if you love surreal comedy.

In November, i’ll be making my first trip of the season to Old Trafford for the game against QPR. While in Manchester, i’ll be looking forward to visiting the newly reopened National Football Museum. I was at the old one at Preston in 2006, and loved it, wish I had more time to spend at it.

For December, i’ll be taking in my annual one Ulster European game a season against Northampton. The match kicks off at 6pm on a Saturday of a Linfield home game. I see a double header developing.

I’m already looking to 2013. I haven’t booked anything, but i’m looking at a weekend in London in February (Never been ‘properly’ to London, just a trip to Wembley and flew there en route to Brighton. Want to see the city properly) and going to United v Reading over St Patrick’s weekend (will be off work on the Monday)

I shall be looking to visit Scotland twice in 2013. In August, it shall be Edinburgh again, but Rangers have promised Linfield a friendly at Ibrox in 2013.

I’ve never been to Ibrox, and haven’t been to Glasgow since 2008, so i’ll be looking forward to this when it gets confirmed.

Somehow, i’ve managed to get a full set of STLFTEM for 2012.

So, anybody got anything exciting I could do or see in January 2013?

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STLFTEM UPDATE

As the third month of 2012 is almost over, it was a bit of a close run thing in terms of getting a STLFTEM.

I’d originally planned, to go to Linfield’s Irish Cup Semi-Final at The Oval on March 31st, but that has bitten the dust. Instead, I shall be East Belfast bound on Saturday, but for Titanic Lockdown.

Should be a good day, looking forward to it.

To recap, my January STLFTEM was to go and see Roy Walker at Black Box. Was a very enjoyable show, a sort of Greatest Hits set, and a slideshow, looking back at his life and career to date.

The only downside was when he spoke about Frank Carson, alluding to the fact that he may not have long left to live. Sadly, it came to be in late February.

My STLFTEM for February was a double whammy, with trips to Amsterdam and Manchester taking that honour.

April hasn’t been confirmed, but i’m hoping Linfield will be able to play their Irish Cup Semi-Final, so I could make it that.

I’v got an application for a ticket to the Titanic Commemoration concert at Waterfront Hall featuring Bryan Ferry (quite apt) and Joss Stone pending, so I hope to get lucky with that.

For May, I am getting tickets for the Man United v Irish League XI game (haven’t actually seen them, but I am assured they are getting bought for me)

June’s STLFTEM will see visit Amsterdam (Again!) for the international between Holland and Northern Ireland. It will be my first “proper” Northern Ireland away game.

I won flights with an airline two weeks ago, and chose Amsterdam. The flights had to be taken by June, and having looked at the destinations, I plumped for Amsterdam for this game.

As tempting as catching a flight for a game in Malaga or Alicante was, I was a bit stuck for dates through not wanting to miss any Linfield games in the run-in.

Birmingham was an option, and if United were playing at Villa Park anytime soon, I would have taken it up.

Meanwhile, I got tickets today to see Michael Winslow at the Grand Opera House in June (and worth missing Germany v Portugal for)

I saw him in Edinburgh last year, and he was fantastic.

Meanwhile, I got tickets for Madness and Two Door Cinema Club at Belsonic, so very much looking forward to that. On Friday, I shall be trying to get Noel Gallagher tickets as well.

It will be my first time seeing Madness, a band i’ve always wanted to see live. I bough Heavy Heavy Hits with my first ever pay packet in 1999.

Of course, August will also see me (not yet booked) make my annual trip to Edinburgh.

Noah and the Whale are supporting Two Door Cinema Club. An excellent band worth checking out.

So that is my STLFTEM for the next couple of months. It’s hard work keeping it all up, but very worth it.

Scotland v Northern Ireland 2008

Belsonic 2008 Review

Belsonic 2008 Pictures

Belsonic 2010 Review

Belsonic 2010 Pictures

Edinburgh 2009

Edinburgh 2010

Edinburgh 2011

Noah and the Whale Review

Noah and the Whale Pictures

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Review

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Pictures

THE 2012 BLOG

So, 2012 is here, so I thought i’d blog about this and my plans for the year ahead.

I’ve already got a couple of trips ahead. Next, month, i’m going to Amsterdam for a weekend.

I’ve never been to Amsterdam before, so i’m looking forward to this. I’m also looking to take in a game as Ajax play Utrect while i’m there.

The day before, Excelsior Rotterdam play, so i’m thinking of going to Rotterdam for a day, so might try to get along to this game. Problem is, their ground only holds 5,000 people, so getting a ticket might be tricky.

In late February, i’m going to Old Trafford to see United take on Ajax in the UEFA Cup. Got a ticket on Saturday, so looking forwad to this.

This will probably be my last United game of the season, as i’ll wanting to stay in Northern Ireland for the finale of the Irish League season.

As is now tradition, i’ll be looking to go to Edinburgh in August for the festival.

Last year was the best one I was at (apart from the rain) and i’ll definately be looking to go during the middle week again.

Hopefully, the SPL fixture list will be kind and i’ll be able to go to a Hibs match as I was at two Hearts matches last year.

Can’t see myself going to a Setanta Cup away game, unless Linfield get drawn against Bray or Sligo, and might make a long weekend of it if it’s a Monday game.

I promise i’ll get more photos for you throughout 2012, but January looks like being a quiet month photowise.

I’ll aim to get a STLFTEM for every month. I’ve got January and February 2012 sorted.

Check the archives for my STLFTEM review of 2011.

A round-up of 2011 in football saw me attend 48 games in 5 countries in 9 competitions in 15 stadiums. More of the same in 2012 I suppose.

This year, I hope to walk or cycle the Comber Greenway. Managed to cycle to Dundonald last week, so i’ll make the effort to complete the rest of it.

And that, is what 2012 will look like.

STLFTEM ROUND-UP 2011

Seeing as it’s the end of the year, almost, I thought I’d keep you all up to date with my STLFTEM for 2011.

For those who don’t know, STLFTEM is basically Something To Look Forward To Every Month.

I started it in 2009, and it basically is to have something to go, see or do every month, and look forward to it.

The only rules are that it has to be something seen in person. Therefore, watching Euro 2012 on TV won’t count for June next year.

Also, I can have more than one STLFTEM each month. In fact, I can have as many as I wish.

January was a bit of a cheat, as I went to the Linfield v Glentoran match postponed from 26th December 2010. But, my lifestyle ethos, my rules.

February was a bumper month as I went to Barcelona for a weekend, and then the following Wednesday, I went to see Northern Ireland take on Scotland.

March was also a Northern Ireland match. A 0-0 draw v Slovenia. Yep, that was well worth the wait.

April was a bumper month with a title showdown for Linfield against Crusaders and three matches against Glentoran, one of which was an Irish Cup Semi-Final. Not only that, but there was also the matter of Beady Eye’s first concert in Belfast.

Four wins, and an excellent concert made it a worthwhile month.

May was all about travelling as I went to the UEFA Cup Final, and Manchester United’s last match of the season, against Blackpool.

June was quiet, but I did go and see 3OH!3

July was also quiet, but Linfield playing in Europe and a pre-season friendly against Derriaghy were enjoyable. As I stated earlier, some months are a struggle.

August was busy with the start of the new Irish League season and trips to Edinburgh and Brighton.

September was the Arthur’s Day concert at Ulster Hall (Any my ticket was free)

October was another concert at Ulster Hall, Noah and the Whale. There were fantastic.

I’d hoped that November would be going to the MTV EMAs. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a ticket, so I had to make do with a trip to Old Trafford to see United take on Sunderland.

December will be the Boxing Day match at The Oval. If that bites the dust because of the weather, I’ll make it the Ulster v Aironi match two weeks ago (Again, a free ticket)

Well, that is how i’ve managed to have STLFTEM throughout the year, but I’ve already got some lined up for 2012.

In January, I’m going to see Roy “Catchphrase” Walker as part of the Out To Lunch Festival.

February will be a busy month as I’ll be taking a break to Amsterdam from 3rd-6th, then going to see Noel Gallagher at The Odyssey on 16th, before flying to Manchester on 23rd.

I’m hoping to see United v Ajax. I’ve no ticket sorted as yet, but I’m confident I’ll get one.

Pretty tempted to go and see The Beat at The Limelight in March. Undecided as yet.

August of course, will see me head to Edinburgh for the Festival. If I could afford to, I’d spend the whole month there.

So that, is how I’ve managed to enjoy myself at least once a month this year and how I plan to do so next year.

If you have any suggestions for any of the months, feel free to get in touch and suggest.

UPCOMING MAGAZINE ARCHIVE ARTICLES

First of all, apologies for the lack of blog posts in recent weeks. The simple fact is, not much of interest has happened over the last couple of weeks.

On Saturday though, I managed to get some new magazines for inclusion for The Magazine Archive.

I was in Empire Exchange in Manchester on Saturday and rummaged through their music magazines. There were editions of Q from 1999 which had The Corrs on the cover, and another had Shania Twain.

Mind you, around that time I was boycotting Q in protest at them putting Robbie Williams and Spice Girls on the cover in successive months. They must have really gone to the dogs in the late 90s.

Also, I got the complete 1986 editions of World Soccer magazine in May, but I held back on those, as I didn’t want everything in The Magazine Archive to be all football.

In the meantime, editions of The Magazine Archive already published can be found here

SOME UPCOMING BLOGGING

Seeing as the nights are getting colder and darker, that can only mean one thing, the end (of 2011) is nigh.

Admittedly, it’s almost two and a half months away, but there’s no harm in being ready.

In 2011, like in 2010, I shall be blogging a look back at the year in photos on a month by month basis, as well as doing my Top 100 songs of the year.

I’ve flicked through the calendar on got my dates sorted, with both series reaching their conclusions on Thursday 22nd December.

To view 2010 In Pictures or The Sound of 2010, just click on the links.

The Half-Term Half Century and The Sound Of …… blogposts may give you an idea as to what is on it.

2011 IN PICTURES

January : 30th November

February : 2nd December

March : 4th December

April : 6th December

May : 8th December

June : 10th December

July : 12th December

August : 14th December

September : 16th December

October : 18th December

November : 20th December

December : 22nd December

THE SOUND OF 2011

81-100 : November 24th

61-80 : December 1st

41-60 : December 8th

21-40 : December 15th

1-20 : December 22nd

I’VE GOT A COUSIN CALLED KEVIN ……

It was during an episode of Outnumbered last week, which i’ve recently become addicted to which started this nostalgiafest.

It was a scene when Pete challenges Jake to a game of Subbuteo, to which Jake just looks confused. Poor Jake, he never got to experience the joy of Subbuteo.

It was Christmas 1991, perhaps the greatest Christmas of all. That year, I got my first football top (Man United Adidas) , went to my first football match (Glentoran v Linfield at The Oval) and I got my first ever Subbuteo kit.

I got a pitch, but not just any old pitch, an Astropitch, which didn’t need to be ironed before a match. It came with the goalposts and ball, but not just that, a scoreboard.

From then, my mum used to check charity shops for bits and bobs, be it teams of equipment, such as a stand. Yes, I had a stand.

Mind you, this stand only had about 20 people in it. Neither my mum or dad would buy me the boxes of people (Yes, supporters were sold as accessories) required to fill it, so I had to pretend that all my Subbuteo matches were being played at The Oval.

Of course, a football stadium with only one stand looks a bit silly, so I used empty boxes to pretend that they were stands being built, as was quite common at the time as Premier League grounds were being made all seater as a result of the Taylor Report and in preparation for Euro 96.

I had various teams including Manchester United (91/92 home, 92/93 home and away), Norwich City (92/93 home), Aston Villa, Juventus, Feyenoord, West Germany, Holland, Scotland, England, Italy, Soviet Union and Wales.

There was one tragic incident when I accidentally stood on three Aston Villa players. Thankfully, quick thinking and a supply of blutac meant that they were able to resume their table football careers.

When we were playing, we could multiteam, if there were sides with similar colours. For example, Wales v Italy would become Portadown v Linfield, and so forth.

It is, of course a trivia question, but there is a UK Top 10 single which references Subbuteo in it’s lyrics. Just the one mind.

The answer of course, is ‘My Perfect Cousin’ by The Undertones. The artwork to the single is based upon this reference, where a Subbuteo player wearing a red and white striped shirt, the colours of The Undertones hometown club Derry City, with the band’s name on a pitchside advert while the crowd holds up a banner bearing the name of the song.

Of course, if there was a band doing a similar song today, it would probably go “He always beats me at Pro Evo, as he had a cheat code and I didn’t know”

They don’t know what they are missing out on.

STLFTEM UPDATE

Haven’t been doing anything of note lately, hence the lack of blogging, so I just thought i’d keep you up to date with my STLFTEM (or Something To Look Forward to Every Month)

Simple theory really, have something to look forward to every month. I’ve been doing this since January 2010, but can claim to have been doing this subconsciously since the summer of 2009.

The only rule is that it must be something I go to or see, and can’t be a TV event (for example, watching the world cup on TV)

Also, it is possible to have more than one STLFTEM in a month.

So far this year, i’ve had the Linfield v Glentoran game in January (Postponed from December, but, my lifestyle ethos, my rules)

The trip to Barcelona was for February, while football matches in Belfast did for March (Northern Ireland v Slovenia) and April (Crusaders v Linfield)

May was trips to Dublin and Manchester, while June was for 3OH!3 and July was for Linfield’s European Cup tie

August, as ever, was going to the Edinburgh Festival, which I looked forward a lot and enjoyed even more.

Despite only being September 4th, i’ve already had September’s STLFTEM, which turned out to be a disappointment, as Northern Ireland lost 1-0 to Sebia.

October’s will be the live game at The Oval between Linfield and Glentoran, while November will be my trip to Manchester to see United take on Sunderland.

December hasn’t been sorted yet, but i’m sure something will come up.

PEEL

Amidst all the negative news from Belfast this past week, a new mural in tibute to former Radio 1 DJ John Peel has gone un-noticed.

The mural shows John Peel at the beginning of his career, alongside an image of him in his younger years with the text “John Peel 1939-2004″

Alongside the images of Peel is a 45” copy of ‘Teenage Kicks‘ by Derry band The Undertones, a song famously described as Peel’s all-time favourite.

The artist is Mark Ervine, a noted mural painter, who is the son of former PUP leader David Ervine. The image has been done to promote Bigg Life Arts Initiative, a charity which is being set up in the Cathedral Quarter.

There is of course, another tribute to John Peel in Belfast, Graffiti under a bridge near Short Strand which reads “Teenage Dreams, So Hard to Beat”, lyrics from previously mentioned single ‘Teenage Kicks’ by The Undertones.

Meanwhile, I also spotted some new graffiti by ANCO, a prolific graffiti artist in Belfast.

On Friday night, I was at Custom House Square to see Laura Marling perform at the Open House Festival.

It was an enjoyable concert and the support acts were all excellent as well, especially, Louise and The Pins.

Managed to get some photos, not the best though. They can be found here.

Unfortunately, I left early as I was drenched, properly drenched. I had a free ticket, so I didn’t lose out by my early exit.

The reason I had a free ticket was that I won a newspaper competition. It was the first competition i’d won in just under a year.

I’d previously done quite well out of competitions. Nothing major, usually DVDs and CDs, or tickets to local concerts.

The last competition I won was flights to Blackpool, but due to the inconvenience of dates, I didn’t use them.

It was almost as if I was being punished by the “Competition Gods”, if such a thing exists, until this week when I won Laura Marling tickets in two publications. The second publication, I e-mailed to say I wouldn’t need the tickets now and they replied to admire my honesty, so I think i’ve kept the “Competition Gods” onside for now.

Also this week, I was successful in getting tickets to see Manic Street Preachers at itunes Festival.

Unfortunately, the concert is next weekend, and when window shopping for flights, saw that it would cost well over £100 just to get to London. So, I decided not to take up the option of confirming my tickets.

I’d applied a long time ago in the hope that if I was successful, I would have enough notice to get a reasonably priced flight and hotel.

It’s a pity as I love the Manics, they’re one of the best live acts i’ve seen. If you’re going to this concert, you’re in for a treat.

Meanwhile, remember by recent blogs about how many teams that have reached a European Final that I have seen live?

Currently at 28 out of 100, I might be adding Aberdeen to this list, as they face Hearts at Tynecastle when I am in Edinburgh.

I’ve just booked a trip to Edinburgh in August for the third successive summer to take in the Edinburgh Fringe, which is going to be my STLFTEM for August.

I’d decided to wait until the Irish League fixtures were published before booking this trip, and it turned out to be a risk worth taking as the date i’d originally hoped to go sees Linfield face Glentoran at Windsor Park, a game I would have missed.

So far in the six months this year, i’ve had a STLFTEM for them, though I cheated for January, using the (re-arranged from December) game between Linfield and Glentoran.

So far, the STLFTEM’s for 2011 are :

January – Linfield v Glentoran

February – Barcelona trip, Northern Ireland v Scotland

March – Northern Irelannd v Slovenia

April – Crusaders v Linfield, three Linfield v Glentoran clashes, Beady Eye

May – UEFA Cup final, Man United v Blackpool

June – 3OH!3

August – Edinburgh Festival.

Now, I just need to have something to look forward to in July.