SHELBOURNE 0-1 DROGHEDA UNITED 13.7.2018

The last time I visited Tolka Park, I met the incmubent England manager Sven Goran Eriksson. I did keep an eye out for Gareth Southgate, but I couldn’t see him. He must have had other things on his mind.

As it was a Bank Holiday period on a Thursday and Friday, I decided to head to Dublin for an overnight stay on the Friday. Naturally, i’d be doing all the touristy stuff and spotting Street Art, the trip would also include a football match.

I had a choice of two games on the Friday night : Bohs v Sligo Rovers or Shelbourne v Drogheda United.

I plumped for Shelbourne v Drogheda, as it presented me with an opportunity for a potential last visit to Tolka Park, the future of the ground looking uncertain, with Shelbourne planning to move to a redeveloped Dalymount Park.

This would be my only game while I was in Dublin. Shamrock Rovers v AIK wasn’t postponed and needed to be played on the Friday, while there were no friendlies in Dublin on the Saturday, with Oxford United (v UCD) and Newcastle United (v St Patrick’s Athletic) playing in Dublin a few days either side of my visit.

Shelbourne and Drogheda kicked-off a couple of points of the top of the table. During the 00s, both of these teams were challenging at the top of the table, but in the top flight.

They kicked-off in a sandwich, a few points behind UCD who are in the automatic promotion place, while themselves occupying a place in the Play-Offs, with the teams below them looking to take advantage of any points dropped and leap above them.

Getting to the ground was very easy. It did help that I had been there before. Certainly a lot easier than last year trying to get to UCD.

This was my fifth game seeing Drogheda United. The previous four (Linfield in 2006 and 2007, St Patrick’s Athletic in 2013, Bray Wanderers in 2014) had brought two wins and two draws. They were hoping I would continue to bring them good luck.

In the opening minutes of the game, Shelbourne had a glorious chance to score when Drogheda’s keeper was caught in possession, but the Shelbourne attacker dragged his shot wide. Drogheda responded immediately with a low shot that was easily saved.

It was a game where neither side really looked like scoring. There were very few clear goalscoring chances in the game.

With each passing minute, it was looking likely the game was going to finish 0-0. If there was to be a goal, it would more than likely be the only goal of the game.

On 89 minutes, Drogheda had a free-kick in a shooting position just outside the penalty area.

You know when somebody lines up a dead ball, you have a hunch that the ball is going in? This was one of those moments.

And so it proved, Sean Brennan fired home to give Drogheda the lead. Shelbourne still had time to equalise.

They had the ball in Drogheda’s half but never in their penalty area. Drogheda were able to hold out and get the three points.

Someone at Linfield must have been reading this blog, as they’ve just announced an away friendly against Knockbreda on Saturday. A new ground for me to visit. Looking forward to it.

This week, saw Easyjet announce new routes to Salzburg and Prague. That is very tempting. Prague especially. There’s a weekend in March 2019 where Sparta Prague, Dukla Prague and Bohemians Prague are all at home.

Might as well get a football trip to Mainland Europe before Brexit.

Photo Album

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MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MANCHESTER UNITED – SEPTEMBER 1999

Teddy Sheringham dressed as a 1970s Medallion Man is the cover star of Manchester United’s official magazine, as he shows off the medals he won during United’s historic treble season.

In news, there is a report on United’s friendly against Omagh Town which United won 9-0. The game was arranged to raise funds for victims of the bomb in the town the previous year, while Andy Cole has launched a music career with the release of a single called Outstanding.

Cover star Sheringham gets a five page interview as he looks back on a change in fortune after a difficult first year at United which failed to bring a trophy and he got criticism from fans and press.

Mark Bosnich has rejoined United from Aston Villa, and there is a look back at his first spell at the club, and the formative years of his career.

United have just brought out a dark blue away kit, and there is a behind the scenes feature of the promotional campaign and photo shoot for the kit.

An advert for the kit appears a few pages later.

The recently knighted Sir Alex Ferguson uses his monthly column to declare himself an honourary Mancunian.

There is a review of United’s pre-season games, which includes a match against Australia.

DUNDELA 1-4 LINFIELD 7.7.2018

Hasn’t the World Cup been brilliant? In truth, World Cups are like dogs, they’re all brilliant. Some are just better than others.

So, Saturday had arrived, and the big game was here.

All that failure and disappointment since their last title, but their fans were believing this was their year.

While some of you were watching England v Sweden, I was on my way home Wilgar Park, as Linfield began their pre-season preparations.

All the focus is on the opening day of the League season and an away match against Glenavon. Unfortunately, there will be no focus on European football due to the fact that the Irish League decides that UEFA Cup places are to be decided by a lottery rather than merit. Just watch the co-efficient slide.

In order to avoid clashing with the England match, this match was moved to lunchtime. Off the top of my head, I think that was Linfield’s first Saturday lunchtime game since Warrenpoint in 2014.

Since Linfield visited Wilgar Park last summer, the ground has had a bit of work done, with the terracing at one side gone and replaced by a flat standing area.

Everyone has their own wishes when it comes to pre-season friendlies. Some hope to have high profile opposition. Personally, I prefer away trips to smaller grounds, and/or grounds never visited or haven’t been to for a while.

When this year’s pre-season schedule was announced, there were two games that stood out for me – Dundela and PSNI.

I’ll be in Dublin next weekend (more on that later) so won’t be at Bangor. Even if I wasn’t, we’ll be going there twice in the League in 2018/2019. We’ve recently been to Carrick, so i’ll be giving that a miss. If you’re superstitious, you may want me to go. I’ve been to Carrick three times and the matches have ended 3-0, 2-0 and 1-0. Logically, my next visit will be a 0-0 draw. Might as well have it come in a friendly.

Ballyclare would be pushing it fine on a working day.

Since that original list was announced, a new game was added, a home friendly against Waterford.

Not going to lie, if that was an away game, i’d be all over it, giving me a chance to take in Waterford Walls. Trust me, i’ll eventually get my arse into gear and arrange a trip.

There’s no reason why that game can’t be moved to Midgley Park, especially as there’s no women’s game that night. If you think that is a silly suggestion, we have recently played friendlies against Sligo Rovers at Clandeboye Park and The Dub.

Hopefully, they’ll return the favour and give us a visit to Sligo Showgrounds some year.

I was hoping we could sneak in a trip to Scotland, but it was not to be this year. Not going to lie, I was totally jealous that Glenavon got that trip.

I guess my hopes of away games against Knockbreda and Moyola Park will have to wait until the Summer of 2019.

This is a fixture that has become a bit of a tradition in recent years, with Linfield visiting Wilgar Park in 2016 and 2017. There was also a game in 2015, but that was billed as a Linfield XI.

A welcome sight for Linfield fans at the start of this game was the return of two players whose 2017-2018 ended prematurely, in the shape of Jordan Stewart (February) and Jamie Mulgrew (March)

There was also a Trialist from Scotland starting the match at right-back. He was very vocal and not afraid to get stuck in. Mulgrew was joined in midfield by Joe Crowe, who wasn’t as effective as when he usually plays at right-back.

If Linfield fans were hoping that 2017-2018 was behind them, there wasn’t much to suggest that it was, as Dundela were by far the better team.

Lining up in red/red/green, Dundela looked like Portugal. Thankfully, their finishing was more like Helder Postiga than Cristiano Ronaldo.

If their finishing was more like Cristiano Ronaldo, Dundela could have been a couple of goals up by the time they deservedly took the lead midway through the first-half.

The only Linfield player that looked at the game was Andrew Waterworth.

Eventually, Linfield got more into it, with Jordan Stewart getting a lot of the ball down the left, and Jamie Mulgrew getting more of the ball to make things happen.

It was Andrew Waterworth who got the equaliser for Linfield, blasting home after being played through.

A few minutes later, Dundela got a penalty. The award ranged from soft to dodgy. If it was a competitive game, there would have been protests.

It didn’t matter, as Roy Carroll saved the penalty.

In the second-half, Linfield were an entirely different team. Literally. On a day when England were playing in their first World Cup Quarter-Final since 2006, it was a nice tribute to friendlies during Sven Goran Eriksson’s reign as England manager by making eleven substitutions.

Among those introduced were Mark Stafford, Niall Quinn, Andrew Mitchell, Chris Casement, Stephen Fallon, Robert Garrett, and a debut for Joel Cooper, while another former Glenavon player, Daniel Kearns, played as a Trialist.

Dundela were made to rue not taking their chances in the first-half, as Stephen Fallon put Linfield 2-1 up, before Daniel Kearns smashed home from the edge of the box to make it 3-1.

Joel Cooper had an impressive debut, always being available for a pass and making things happen when he got the ball.

As the game neared it’s end, he got a deserved goal when he headed home from a corner, hitting the bar before the ball bounced in. You could hear the thud as the ball hit the bar. It was the sort of goal that Alan Partridge would love.

A winning start to pre-season, but not a convincing one. It’s always hard to judge on the first pre-season friendly, but if that first-half performance is repeated, it’s going to be a long one.

For me, the 2018-2019 season is up and running.

Next for me, i’m off for a short break to Dublin. Naturally, i’ll be hoping to take in some football in amongst the touristy stuff.

I usually visit Dublin once a year, usually a day trip or an overnight stay. I’ll be heading over on Fridayy for an overnight stay. I have a choice of two matches, Bohs v Sligo or Shelbourne v Drogheda United.

As it stands, i’m going for Shelbourne v Drogheda United, just to try and squeeze in one last visit to Tolka Park.

Bad news for Shelbourne fans is that i’ve never seen Drogheda lose, seeing them win and draw (but win on penalties) against Linfield in 2006 and 2007, and then draw with St Patrick’s Athletic in 2013, and then beat Bray in 2014.

I could cross my fingers and hope that Shamrock Rovers v AIK on Thursday is postponed for some reason, and would have to be played on Friday lunchtime.

Talking of football visits to Dublin, the schedule for Euro 2020, which has Dublin as one of the host cities, has been announced.

As you will see, no kick-off times are announced, just dates and venues. 2pm or 5pm in Dublin would mean a day trip, while 8pm means overnight. It would be nice to know so I could make plans in advance, instead of having to participate in a scramble for hotel rooms.

The 2020 European Super Cup Final was awarded to Porto, meaning that Windsor Park misses out on that again.

And finally, the 2026 World Cup will be held in Canada, Mexico and the USA. Yep, what a disaster this is going to be. 32 teams was perfect, 48 will be bloated. Two host countries is tolerable but three makes it a shambles, especially when one is taking on most of the workload.

This means that people will be getting ideas about a UK co-host bid for a future World Cup, and when Northern Ireland is unable to be part of it due to not having a big enough stadium, we’ll have to put up with the Maze Brigade coming out of the woodwork and starting to pipe up again.

During the close season, we’ve seen Politicians embarrass themselves when it comes to football, with Sinn Fein demanding that Northern Ireland postponed their friendly against Israel in September.

I’m not quite sure why they waited until June to make these calls as the game was announced in February. I’m no expert on the Middle East, but I can’t think they were all holding hands and singing at the start of the year.

This was jumping on the bandwagon of Argentina’s decision not to play Israel prior to the World Cup.

Northern Ireland’s fixture schedule will not be dictated by Argentina, or by any MLA. They are free to play whoever they wish. In fact, they can play anybody who isn’t a member of FIFA if they wish. I’d love an away friendly against Yorkshire.

I haven’t got a clue about the Middle East. I don’t know who is right or who is wrong. It’s hard not to be disengaged when this particular matter is a cause celebre for one particular movement in Northern Ireland, one who is hostile to the existence to the Northern Ireland football team.

The irony of all this is, i’m not going to the Israel game. It’s an underwhelming choice of opponent and a team i’ve already seen before. I’ll be giving this game a miss.

Meanwhile, Jolene Bunting, an Independent Councillor in Belfast City Council is wanting to try and establish a Northern Ireland version of the Football Lads Alliance (whatever that is) to protest against bad shit and stuff. The last thing we need is to create our own version of a fuckwit movement.

If England win the World Cup, i’m really looking forward to the DUP absolutely embarrassing themselves by trying to jump on the bandwagon, demanding England flags at Stormont and inviting them to a Civic Reception.

I’m indifferent to the England team, so don’t really care if they win it or not, but them winning it will have some positives, such as culchies having meltdowns, DUP embarrassing themselves, and a possible Bank Holiday.

Fixture lists for the new season have been published. In the Premier League, i’m planning to visit Old Trafford to see United take on Burnley (January) and Cardiff (March), as well as a European Cup group match, hopefully.

In the Irish League, the fixtures were published in late June, far later than they should have been in comparison with England and Scotland. So, i’m going to have a quick analysis.

Glenavon away first will be tough, but they usually make slow starts, so we have to exploit this.

That game will be put back to the Monday night if Glenavon get past Molde in the UEFA Cup. I can’t see that happening. There is no reason why it couldn’t be moved to the Sunday instead.

The first home game is Institute, inconveniently moved to the Friday night as i’ll be at George Ezra. Hopefully, Linfield will be riding shotgun, underneath the hot sun. Whatever that means.

You may remember I wanted us to be away to Institute that day, so I could make a weekend of it by going to Stendahl to see Embrace.

The away game against Institute will be on an international weekend (Northern Ireland are at home the following day) but hopefully it won’t be postponed. The release of Linfield’s new away kit means that they will be playing at The Brandywell wearing red and white. This will be a new ground for me to visit.

The following week will see Linfield travel to Seaview on the same day I go to see The League Of Gentlemen at The Odyssey. I’ll let you insert your own punchline.

How many times do the players have to be told? DO NOT BE AFRAID OF CRUSADERS. DO NOT BE AFRAID OF CRUSADERS. I thought we had put that nonsense behind us in 2016-2017.

If you get a nice book for Christmas, that will be handy, as you’ll be spending a lot of time sitting around Ballysillan Leisure Centre on the Saturday afterwards.

If you’re planning a late night on New Year’s Eve, you won’t have far to travel on the opening day of 2019, as Linfield travel to Ards.

It’ll be a tough opening 33 games, and the 5 games post-split will be tough as well.

Even though it’s a relatively new tradition (2014) it is disappointing that there will be no Charity Shield this season due to being unable to find a date.

Why not have it on weekend of 4th August, and slot in a midweek fixture list somewhere?

It is interesting to note that there are no midweek League games scheduled in 2018-2019, barring Bank Holidays, albeit there are two Friday night games, one for an International on the Saturday afternoon, and the other for the League Cup Final.

On that note, I hope that NIFL already have contingency plans in place for the fixtures scheduled for Saturday 23rd March should Northern Ireland have a home Euro 2020 Qualifier, the draw taking place in late 2018. You can never be too prepared.

Mixing friendly wishes and former player news, Grant McCann is the new manager of Doncaster Rovers. Go on, Summer 2019, a friendly at The Keepmoat, ideally on the weekend of Tramlines in Sheffield.

2018-2019 hasn’t even started and i’m already talking about 2019-2020 pre-season games. On that note, decent headliner at Buncrana Music Festival and Finn Harps at home on the same weekend could give me an idea.

And finally, i’ll be heading to Edinburgh next month to take in the Edinburgh Festival.

The only confirmed match on when i’m there is Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers in the Irn Bru Cup, while there is the possibility of Hibs being at home in Europe on the Thursday night, or a short trip to Glasgow if Rangers have a decent home tie.

2018-2019 is finally here. Hopefully, it’s a lot better than 2017-2018.

Photo Album

Dundela v Linfield 2016

Dundela v Linfield 2017

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 4.12.1982

Liam Brady of Sampdoria is the cover star of this editon of Match as he reveals that he wants to sign for Manchester United, but not until the summer of 1984 when his contract with Sampdoria expires. Ron Atkinson didn’t take him up on the offer.

Spanish football wasn’t all Tiki Taka in 1982 with players who have faced Spanish sides recently and even players playing in Spain complaining that the quality of play is poor due to the volume of fouls.

Meanwhile, Gordon Cowans of Aston Villa says he is back in form and ready to battle for a place in the England team.

One man who isn’t getting in the England team is Glenn Hoddle, who uses his column to bemoan his bad luck with injuries recently.

It’s the Scottish League Cup Final this weekend, and Match interviews Danny McGrain and John McClelland ahead of the game.

Arnold Muhren’s recent winner for Manchester United against Tottenham Hotspur gets the Steve McGarry treatment with a full page sketch.

Gordon Strachan of Aberdeen previews the Scottish League Cup Final in his column, predicting that Charlie Nicholas of Celtic will have a big say in the outcome.

Paul Mariner uses his column to plead with Alan Brazil to stay at Ipswich Town after the striker handed a transfer request.

The magazine ends with a profile of Mike Hazard of Tottenham, who reveals his biggest TV turn-off is the news.

THE UEFA 102 CLUB – 2018 UPDATE

We might be in the middle of the World Cup, but European club football is almost up and running, and it’s time for me to update you as I pursue a pointless list.

What is The 102 Club? Simple. 102 clubs have played in the Final of either the European Cup, European Cup Winners Cup and UEFA Cup, and some people want to go and see them all play live in the flesh.

The membership remained at 102 as no sides reached a first European Final in 2017-2018. Any possibility was extinguished once Red Bull Liepzig went out of the UEFA Cup in the Quarter-Final. Any hope of a new member from the European Cup ended once Basel and Besiktas exited in the Last 16.

I wouldn’t say i’m actively pursuing completion of the list, but i’m going to see how many I can tick off.

During the 2017-2018 season, I added Sampdoria to my list, bringing me up to 36.

You may think that living in Northern Ireland, I wouldn’t get many opportunities to add to the list. You’d be surprised. The early rounds in July offer potential for me to add to my list.

In the European Cup, Crusaders (and Cork City) will be unseeded and could potentially face Celtic, Malmo, Red Star Belgrade (Yes please!! Showing my age by getting giddy at the mention of Red Star Belgrade) and Videoton.

If Crusaders were to draw Celtic, we’ll get to hear about Joe Miller telling the Daily Record about how he was probably attacked by a laser beam when playing at Seaview in the 1990s.

If either of them get through to the Second Round, they could face Dinamo Zagreb.

If either of them were to get to the 3rd or 4th Round, Red Bull Salzburg or PSV Eindhoven could await.

Any team that goes out of the European Cup will automatically enter the UEFA Cup, but can only face fellow European Cup exitees, so the same rules will apply.

When the Group Stages arrive, I may be tempted by a trip to Old Trafford for a game. Possible opponents for United who I haven’t seen include Dynamo Kiev, Standard Liege, Bayern Munich, Juventus, PSG, Schalke, Monaco, CSKA Moscow, Club Brugge and Inter Milan.

Meanwhile in the UEFA Cup, Linfield won’t be playing in it because the Irish League doesn’t believe in European places being decided on merit, and instead prefers Play-Offs which reward mediocrity.

Coleraine, Glenavon and Cliftonville will all be unseeded, as will Shamrock Rovers and Derry City. They could be drawn to face Partizan Belgrade, Slovan Bratislava, Dinamo Tblisi, Gornik Zabre or Rangers.

Having reached the Group Stage of the competition in 2016, it is unsurprising that Dundalk will be seeded. They need not worry about being left out, as they could face Ferencvaros or Ujpest.

Some biggies lie in wait in the 2nd Round, such as Sevilla, AZ Aalkmar, Steau Bucharest, Bordeaux and Aberdeen.

If any of them were to get to the 3rd Round, possible opponents include Zenit St Petersberg, Braga, Feyenoord and Rapid Vienna.

If any of them were to get to the Group Stage, possible opponents include Arsenal, Chelsea, Bayer Leverkusen, Anderlecht, Lazio, Sporting Lisbon, Marseille, Eintracht Frankfurt and AC Milan.

It isn’t just that, as Coleraine, Crusaders, Bray Wanderers and Bohemians will be participating in the Scottish Challenge Cup, with Dundee United being the one you want if you want to add to your list.

And no, Celtic, Rangers or Aberdeen’s Reserve Teams won’t count.

For those based in the Republic of Ireland (or if you fancy a road trip from Northern Ireland), Aberdeen (Cobh Ramblers) and Newcastle United (St Patrick’s Athletic) will be visiting soon for friendlies.

Meanwhile, Lansdowne Road will be hosting friendlies between Arsenal and Chelsea, and Liverpool and Napoli.

So, I shall sign off by providing you with the list to check off who you have. The teams I have are in bold with the year first seen in brackets.

Hope to add some more in 2018-2019

1. FC Lokomotive Leipzig
1. FC Magdeburg
1860 Munich
Aberdeen (2011)
Ajax (2012)

Anderlecht
Arsenal (2003)
AS Monaco
Aston Villa (1993)
Athletic Bilbao
Atlético Madrid (2011)
Austria Wien
AZ Alkmar
Barcelona (2011)
Bastia
Bayer Leverkusen
Bayern Munich
Benfica (2000)
Birmingham City (2010)

Bordeaux
Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Mönchengladbach
Braga (2011)
Carl Zeiss Jena
Casino Salzburg
Celtic (2009)
Chelsea (1997)

Club Brugge
CSKA Moscow
Deportivo Alavés
Dinamo Tbilisi
Dinamo Zagreb (2008)
Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk
Dundee United (2013)
Dynamo Kyiv
Dynamo Moscow
Eintracht Frankfurt
Espanyol (2015)
Everton (2014)

Ferencváros
Feyenoord (1999)
Fiorentina
Fortuna Düsseldorf
Fulham (2001)
Galatasaray
Górnik Zabrze
Hamburg
IFK Göteborg
Internazionale
Ipswich Town
Juventus
Köln
KV Mechelen
Lazio
Leeds United (1999)
Liverpool (1994)

Malmö FF
Manchester City (2000)
Manchester United (1993)
Marseille (1992)

Mechelen
Middlesbrough (1995)
AC Milan
MTK Hungária
Napoli
Newcastle United (1993)
Nottingham Forest (1996)

Panathinaikos
Paris Saint-Germain
Parma
Partizan Belgrade
Porto (2011)
PSV Eindhoven (2015)
Rangers (2002)

Rapid Wien
Real Madrid (2003)
Real Mallorca
Real Zaragoza
Red Star Belgrade
Roma (2007)
Royal Antwerp
Saint-Étienne
Sampdoria (2017)
Schalke 04
Sevilla (2014)
Shakhtar Donetsk
Slovan Bratislava
Sporting CP
Stade de Reims
Standard Liège
Steaua București
Torino
Tottenham Hotspur (2010)
Twente
Újpest
Valencia (2015)
VfB Stuttgart
Videoton
Werder Bremen
West Ham United (1997)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (2010)

Zenit Saint Petersburg

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : GEORGE BEST’S WORLD CUP PREVIEW

Later today, Russia will face Saudi Arabia in the opening game of the 2018 World Cup.

In a special edition of the Magazine Archive, we go back to 1970 when George Best brings out a World Cup preview magazine. You know it’s 1970 because there’s a sombrero on the cover, which means it’s the year that Mexico hosted the World Cup.

As you open the magazine, George Best comments on his jealously of listening to England players talk about looking forward to the World Cup when travelling to away matches with Manchester United. The reason why George Best is jealous, if you don’t know, is because Northern Ireland failed to qualify.

Best doesn’t believe England will retain the trophy, but says they will deserve applause if they do, predicting that Brazil and Italy, the two eventual finalists, were the most likely teams to win it.

Before even starting, the tournament has provided some diplomatic headaches, as El Salvador and Honduras were at war with each other during qualifying matches between the two countries, while Morocco requested not to be drawn against Israel, and Czechoslovakia asked not to play the Soviet Union.

All sixteen teams are profiled, with player biographies, player photos and a list of results of how they qualified.

The magazine ends with a look back at the 1966 World Cup, held in England, and an aerial shot of the Aztec Stadum in Mexico City, the ground that will host the final.

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : 2017-2018

Club football is now over for another season and attention is now turning to the World Cup.

For me, the 2017-2018 season ended a few weeks ago, so I might as well post up my stats from my football watching.

Matches Seen : 51

Goals Seen : 150

Red Cards : 6

Hat-Tricks : 1

Penalties Missed/Saved : 2

Highest Scoring Match : 7 (Linfield 2-5 Crusaders)

Countries Seen Matches In : 4 (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Republic of Ireland)

Teams Seen : 30

AFC Bournemouth (1st time), Ards, Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Carrick Rangers, Celtic, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Czech Republic, Dundela, Dungannon Swifts, Edinburgh City (1st time), Germany, Glenavon, Glentoran, Heart of Midlothian, La Fiorita (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Millwall, Montrose (1st time), Northern Ireland, Rochdale (1st time), Sampdoria (1st time), South Korea (1st time), Spartans (1st time), Switzerland, Warrenpoint Town, Watford (1st time)

Competitions Watched : 8

European Cup, FA Cup (1st time), FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Scottish Challenge Cup, Scottish League Two (1st time), World Cup

Grounds Visited :
16

Ainslie Park (1st time), Ballymena Showgrounds, Clandeboye Park, Colraine Showgrounds, Ferney Park, Lansdowne Road, Milltown, Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Solitude, Stangmore Park, Taylor’s Avenue, The New Den (1st time), The Oval, Wilgar Park, Windsor Park

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 19.5.1984

It’s the FA Cup Final, as Everton and Watford take centre stage on this week’s copy of Match.

There is fighting talk from both teams. Peter Reid states that there is no way Watford will score against Neville Southall, while Mo Johnston is determined to win the cup for suspended captain Wilf Rostrun, and let him lead out the team at Wembley in the following season’s Charity Shield.

Chelsea get a double page feature, having just been promoted to the top flight of English football after an absence of five years.

In foreign news, Juventus have been rocked by the news that Claudio Gentile might be leaving the club in the summer.

Staying in Italy, Luther Blissett of AC Milan tells Match how delighted he is to have been recalled to the England squad.

In preparation of that summer’s European Championship, Match is previewing the teams, with Romania, written down as “Rumania” being this week’s subject.

Graeme Souness uses his column to preview the FA Cup Final, declaring that he can’t see Everton losing.

Andy Gray and George Reilly are profiled, with Gray revealing his favourite singer is Rod Stewart, and that his personal ambition is to have an uneventful private life.

George Reilly’s favourite pop star is Bryan Ferry.

Mark Hughes gets profiled, having broken into Manchester United’s first team this season, revealing that he thought he would have to leave United in order to advance his career.

A team-mate of Hughes in the future will be Gordon Strachan, who is set to join United from Aberdeen, with his last game for the club being the Scottish Cup Final against Celtic, a game Aberdeen will lose according to Hibs goalkeeper Alan Rough, previewing the game for Match.

It had been suggested that Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson has been mellowing, but he told Match that his wife had told him to behave himself.

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2017-2018

I hope you’ve enjoyed the month by month look back at the 2017-2018. The less said about what happened on the pitch, the better.

I took a lot of photos, so i’ve rounded up my favourites.

Feel free to vote for your favourite.

PLATT LANE

This was taken in June last year when The Oval was being used for filming a movie about Bert Trautmann, and was decorated to look like Maine Road. I went to get some photos.

I specifically wanted one with 1950s Maine Road and 2017 Oval both in the same shot, and this was my favourite from that day.

CLANDEBOYE

You have roadworks to thank for this photo.

I was held up heading to Ards v Linfield and missed the first couple of minutes.

This was the scene that greeted me as I entered, a crowd with their eyes fixated on the pitch on a warm summer evening.

GARRETT

I like the composition of this photo.

You may be surprised that Robert Garrett is attacking and not defending, he had just kept the ball in play and was now being surrounded by two Dungannon defenders.

PHOTOGRAPHER

I just like the composition of this shot. Taken during Spartans v Linfield in Scottish Challenge Cup.

RAINBOW

Me being arty farty. I love trying to get pictures of rainbows over football grounds. Taken at half-time during Ballinamallard v Linfield in November. A rare time that afternoon when it wasn’t raining.

HAUGHEY

Same match, everyone huddled in the stand to avoid the rain. I like the composition of this shot.

FLEGS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Switzerland match in November, green and white flags were left out before the game for fans to wave. I decided to take a shot as they were being waved and got lucky.

CELEBRATION

Everything fell into place for this shot, the sky, a well worked goal, and the whole team coming together to celebrate.

GOAL

I like this shot because it captures the emotion of a last minute equaliser as part of a late comeback that never looked like coming.

TIPTON

I was heading to the exit for a quick getaway (in my defence, it was an away game on a weeknight) and stumbled upon this framing as Matthew Tipton looked on as Warrenpoint took on Linfield.

CAMPION

Taken during Cliftonville v Linfield in February, the guy in the red coat makes it makes it with his celebration as Linfield players celebrate in front of their fans.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : APRIL/MAY

April’s football watching began with a trip to Mourneview Park on Easter Tuesday to see Linfield grind out a 3-2 win away to Glenavon.

That was followed on the Saturday afterwards by going to see Linfield beat Ballymena United 2-0.

Good start to the month, but that was as good as it got, as Linfield could only managed one point from their next three games against Crusaders, Coleraine and Cliftonville, which would cause them to eventually miss out on European football.

There was only one match for me in May, a trip to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on Watford.

And that, was the 2017-2018 over for me.

Here’s to more football and photos in 2018-2019.

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester United v Watford

Manchester United v Watford Photo Album