HIT THE NORTH (AKA, NORTH STREET ART SEPTEMBER 2017)

An event so good it has spawned it’s own imitator in it’s own city returned, as Hit The North returned to add a bit of colour to Belfast’s walls.

If you don’t know what Hit The North is, it’s a Street Art event. It depends on which way you take the name. It takes place in Northern Ireland, in North Street, where Belfast City Centre meets North Belfast.

The “imitator” I speak of (Well, it’s more influenced by) was Hit The East, last month as part of Eastside Arts Festival in East Belfast.

Come on Southies and Westies, time to join the party.

It is an event which usually runs alongside Belfast Culture Night. There was a change this year, with it taking place on a Thursday and a Friday instead of a Friday and Saturday. I presume, so that the finished pieces can be done on Culture Night.

However, I was tipped off that some artists would be starting on the Wednesday, so naturally, I went out to investigate.

I saw a cherry picker outside Aether and Echo and got some photos. The artist doing this was called Irony. I had a look at his Twitter and noticed a familiar image on his pinned tweet showcasing his work.

It was of a woman with rainbow coloured hair, a mural I found by accident as I was in Liverpool and had some time to kill (evening flight) and was looking for a mural of Dixie Dean near Goodison Park and found that one by mistake.

I still haven’t found out if that mural I was looking for still exists or if it has been painted over.

Talking of Dixie Dean, he’s one of many figures being suggested for a new mural in Toxteth. I’ll keep an eye out if i’m in Liverpool any time soon.

I also noticed that the Pure Here mural outside The Dirty Onion was being painted over and a new work was beginning, as well as something occurring at the old Belfast Telegraph offices.

On Thursday lunchtime, I went and explored some more, getting updates on those pieces as well as finding pieces on Church Street and spotting Glen Molloy hard at work at the old Belfast Telegraph offices, before getting later updates on these pieces on Thursday evening after work.

There were some areas that were previously used that were out of bounds such as the area between Kent Street and North Street, due to building work, while The Garfield Bar was out of use due to facilities being put up for Culture Night.

On the Friday, I had a half day booked for Culture Night, but as I was already in the City Centre, I thought i’d pop round and have a look at how the pieces were progressing, while continuously checking Social Media for spottings of pieces I hadn’t seen.

As well as doing a piece on Donegall Street, Glen Molloy also touched up his Wall Of Fame on Hill Street, putting labels on the portraits just in case you didn’t know who they were.

Talking of Molloy, during this week, he got a visit from one of the Three Jimmys that he painted recently, Jimmy Nesbitt.

You may have heard the phrase “Raining cats and dogs”, which sums up the weather in Belfast, but this event had “Painting cats and dogs” (Well, it should actually be singular) with a mural of a cat in Donegall Street and a mural of a dog in the alleyway leading up to Hill Street.

I also spotted pieces in the area around the Sunflower Bar (Library Street, Donegall Street), which is generally done at his event, while the entrance to Bullitt also got the Street Art treatment.

One of those in that area got the seal of approval from one of it’s subjects, Rupaul, on Twitter.

I made the most of a football free Saturday by heading out on my bike to get images of the pieces that were getting finished off.

I had difficulties getting photos of the Friz piece at the entrance to the alleyway leading up to Hill Street due to a lack of natural light, and I struggled shooting Bullitt (no pun intended) for the same reason.

On the Sunday morning, I headed out to get the final photos. It was easier on the Sunday with less cars and people about, but it wasn’t perfect, with parked cars on Donegall Street meaning I had to improvise with camera angles getting shots of pieces there.

The pieces on Exchange Street were still being finished, and there was a cherry picker blocking any chance of a decent photo of The Dirty Onion, meaning i’ll have to go back next week to get photos of them, so you’ll have that to look forward to.

Until then, enjoy the new pieces of work which have popped up in Belfast, but maybe not get too attached incase they are replaced at Hit The North 2018.

Photo Album

North Street Art 2016

North Street Art 2015

North Street Art 2014

North Street Art 2013

North Street Art 2012

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CULTURE NIGHT BELFAST 2017

Winter is coming.

I know you’re going to expect this post to go in a Game Of Thrones direction but i’m going to disappoint you. I know this is a Game Of Thrones quote, but I don’t know any more than that. No, this is a statement of fact. Winter, is coming.

How do I know that? The appearance of Belfast Culture Night on the calendar, the last event of the summer, one last chance to enjoy oursleves, and Belfast got to work to ensure they did just that.

As it tradition, more a happy accident but we’ll take it, the weather behaved itself and gave us dry skies. Off to a good start.

Culture Night is one of the highlights of the year but it wasn’t in my schedule in 2016 as I missed it due to being in England that weekend.

Ironically, this year’s event was held a week later than in 2016. If they’d held it on this weekend in 2016, I would have been able to make it.

As it turned out, I was hoping it was held in the same weekend as last year due to Linfield’s match being moved forward to the Friday.

I didn’t want to miss Culture Night two years in a row and Linfield go to Warrenpoint again in January, so I thought to myself that I could give this one a miss. My lucky scarf was in my right hand coat pocket as is now superstition. If I can’t bring them good luck in person, I may as well do it in spirit.

In the first years I started going to this, I arrived in Belfast City Centre just after 7pm. As each year passed, it became clear that I was already missing out on a lot by doing this, so I booked a half day, just as a did in 2015, arriving in the City Centre just after 5pm. However, the earlier arrival does make me lose track of time, wondering why it’s still daylight so late in September, not realising what time it really is.

My first port of call was the Cathedral Quarter, to take in the atmosphere, and to check out some of the Street Art photos I was monitoring over the previous days.

I headed to City Quays which was hosted events but there was nothing which interested me, so it was back to the City Centre and Cathedral Quarter.

I stopped off to St Anne’s Square to take in a wrestling match, there were matches all night. The match I saw (I didn’t picked up what their names were) the guy in the orange leotard beat the guy in the black trunks via a submission despite the guy in the black trunks giving him a hiding throughout.

There was more walking, venturing to University Of Ulster and Buoys Park, and then to the Gay Village in Donegall Street which was hosting live cabaret.

Inbetween that, I managed to check out some fencing and fire displays.

It was then back to Buoys Park to take in some Street Countdown, and that was me or the night, I was knackered and my feet were sore.

I’d like to think I will have recovered by the time Culture Night 2018 comes around

Photo Album

Culture Night 2015

Culture Night 2014

Culture Night 2013

Culture Night 2012

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 15.4.1989

Nottingham Forest are the cover stars of this week’s edition of Match, having won the League Cup. They’re in cup action this week in the FA Cup, facing Liverpool in the Semi-Finals, a match that would sadly be remembered for the tragic events that happened in the Leppings Lane terraces.

That match got a double page preview, with Match columnist Emlyn Hughes predicting a 2-1 win for Liverpool. For the record, when the match was rearranged, Liverpool won 3-1.

Hughes also previews the other Semi-final between Everton and Norwich, predicting a 2-0 win for Everton. Everton won the game 1-0.

It’s also the Scottish Cup Semi-Finals, with Hibs facing Celtic. Hibs new signing Keith Houchen has cup pedigree, albeit in England, where he scored for Coventry in the FA Cup Final just two years earlier..

Celtic had just returned from Dubai, where they faced Liverpool in an unofficial British Championship, as both sides were defending champions, and Match does a joint interview with Andy Walker and Steve McMahon.

For the record, Celtic won that match on penalties after a 1-1 draw.

In ads, you could buy VHS tapes of League Cup Finals over the previous 15 years for just £9.99

Battling it out for the FA Cup, Everton have already won one trophy, with Match voting them Programme Of The Year.

Nottingham Forest’s win over Luton in the League Cup Final gets a double page spread, as well as a double sided poster.

Stuart Munro gets a profile, being a regular in the Rangers team despite being linked with moves for Tony Dorigo, Stuart Pearce and Colin Gibson.

On the verge of promotion to Division One, Chelsea get a full page profile, and interview with Clive Wilson.

As well as winning the League Cup, Nottingham Forest win another trophy, as Match gives them an award for having the best disciplinary record in English football.

LINFIELD 4-0 BALLINAMALLARD UNITED 16.9.2017

Five wins from their opening five games didn’t automatically mean that Linfield would be Champions. By the same analysis, defeat at Seaview on Tuesday didn’t mean that Linfield’s title hopes were over.

Despite that, Ballinamallard’s visit to Windsor Park today was a game they had to win. Firstly, to avoid Tuesday’s result being considered the start of a slump rather than a blip, and most importantly, to keep up with the sides at the top of the League, especially with Coleraine, Crusaders and Glenavon all having home games they were expected to win.

Linfield fans arriving at Windsor Park today won’t be returning there for a Linfield match until 21st October due to a run of six successive away matches, including a first League meeting of the season with Coleraine.

Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of early Linfield pressure, it was Attack v Defence, and Linfield were doing all the attacking.

Louis Rooney dispossessed a defender and cut in, only to have his shot saved by Ballinamallard’s keeper. Chris Casement had a shot saved while Jordan Stewart curled a shot wide. It looked like a matter of time before Linfield scored.

On twelve minutes, Windsor Park got a shock. Not a Ballinamallard goal, but a player being booked in the first fifteen minutes of a game, as Neil Brennan was booked for a cynical foul on Jamie Mulgrew. Apparantly, referees are allowed to do that. Let’s hope it becomes a regular thing when teams try to cyncially foul in the opening minutes of a game.

Ballinamallard did have a chance when a free-kick from a wide angle at the edge of the box which was easily saved by Roy Carroll. That was all they offered in the first-half.

It was then Aaron Burns turn to be frustrated as he dragged his shot wide after being played through.

Burns made up for it soon after by playing in Jordan Stewart, whose shot went through the keeper’s legs to put Linfield 1-0 up.

It wasn’t as lucrative as is last goal against La Fiorita, but it felt just as important, giving Linfield the breakthrough against opposition designed to frustrate.

The pressure from Linfield continued, with Mark Haughey and Louis Rooney missing from close range immei=diately after each other, when one of them should have scored.

As the half neared it’s end, it looked like Linfield were going to get an opportunity to get that second goal they needed when Aaron Burns was brought down, but no penalty was given. It may have only been a slight touch, but it was still a foul. It was the second week in a row Burns had been denied a clear penalty.

With the game still in the balance, Ballinamallard came out and felt confident of getting a point. In the early minutes of the second-half, Ryan Curran got clear of a defender but his shot was saved by Carroll.

Ballinamallard even started doing fancy flicks as they looked for an equaliser. Linfield knew if they got the second goal, that would be the points. While the game was in the balance, Ballinamallard always felt they would get something.

Josh Robinson was lucky to only get a yellow for a foul as a Ballinamallard player raced to goal. The fact the foul was on the halfway line worked in his favour.

Just after the hour, Jordan Stewart put an end to the tension by converting a cross to make it 2-0 and secure the points.

A few minutes later, he was played through and made it 3-0, completing his hat-trick.

With the game won, David Healy turned to his bench, giving gametime to Brandon Adams and Ryan Strain.

Neither of them could get on the scoresheet, but Mark Haughey did, heading home from close range to make it 4-0.

One pointless observation from this match was that this was the first League game that Linfield didn’t do a “Tottenham Corner”.

As mentioned earlier, Windsor Park will be a foreign country to Linfield fans over the next few weeks due to six successive away games coming up.

The first of those is a County Antrim Shield game against Ballyclare on Tuesday before a League trip to Warrenpoint on Friday.

Playing on Friday allows Linfield the opportunity to put pressure on Coleraine ahead of their match on Saturday.

A 2 goal win will put Linfield top while a 4-3 win will have both sides level with identical goals for and goal difference.

After that, a trip to Solitude. Linfield might do mid 90s Tottenham corners, but Cliftonville do mid 90s Tottenham disregard for defending.

I’d be very confident that our eight man midfield can cut off the supply to their four man attack.

Elsewhere today, Coleraine and Glenavon unsurprisingly won, while Crusaders could only draw at home to Ards.

That results lessens the damage of Tuesday’s result, only slightly, as we’ve only lost one point (across two games) this week to Crusaders instead of three.

Next weekend, Coleraine travel to The Oval, while Crusaders do so the following Monday (It’s like on Sky Sports).

Glentoran’s (relatively) good start to the season could be beneficial to Linfield, as they could help derail Linfield’s rivals. Obviously, i’m hoping for draws. Come on, you don’t seriously think i’ll want them to win?

I’m not going to Warrenpoint next Friday as i’m going to Culture Night instead. I missed it last year and I don’t want to miss it two years in a row. We’re at Warrenpoint in January, so I won’t be missing out.

I’ll have my lucky scarf in my right hand pocket as per superstition.

I’m hoping to travel to Tannadice for the match against Dundee United but it’s looking unlikely due to the prices of flights out of Glasgow on the Sunday night.

It’s a pity, as I wanted to see the DC Thomson statues in the City Centre (I always get DC Comics and DC Thompson mixed up. Now that would be a comic book crossover I could get into) as well as seeing Tannadice and Den’s Park so close together in the flesh.

That game allows Linfield the opportunity to play at a ground that has hosted a European Final. However, come Wednesday, Linfield could be playing home matches at a ground which is set to host a European Final.

Windsor Park has applied to host the European Super Cup Final in August 2019. The host venue will be confirmed on Wednesday.

UEFA have published a report of the proposed venues on their website. You can find it here. Skip to page 58.

In short, the report for Windsor Park states :

The IFA proposes a smoke free stadium (Ha ha ha. I’ll believe that when I see it. Trust me, i’d love it, but recent internationals make me cynical)

No free transport from City Centre to Windsor Park for fans

More than the required amount of wheelchair spaces needed.

It meets UEFA’s requirement for supporter-toilet ratio. Yes, such a thing exists.

Food facilities for matchday staff is small.

Any VIP area for May McFetridge and Julian Simmons to hang out with Ruud Gullit and Lothar Mattheus would have to be built outside the ground.

Not enough space for TV studios.

Somebody will have to “have a word” regarding lifting restrictions on late night flights after the game.

Number of hotels for fans and teams are adequate.

Belfast is a “Straightforward city”. UEFA’s words, not mine. I’ve no idea what that means.

Anyway, forget about 2019, let’s just concentrating on racking up points prior to the visit to Coleraine on October 14th, especially being three points behind and not playing in the League on October 7th while Coleraine are in action.

We’ll need every point we can get between now and then.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SMASH HITS – 14.2.1985

The new Duran Duran? asks Smash Hits of their cover stars The Power Station. You may recognise a few Duran Duran faces in the band.

As you open the magazine, there is a poster of Paul King, the lead singer of the band King.

Smash Hits has noticed a recent trend in recent weeks, of stars such as Andrew Ridgeley, Boy George, Steve Strange and Eurythmics all wearing tartan.

Pat Benatar is interviewed as she enters the final weeks of pregnancy.

In Reviews, new singles by Cliff Richard, The Smiths, The Stranglers, Mick Jagger and Kim Carnes are all reviewed.

Phil Collins is interviewed, where he reveals that John Taylor from Duran Duran is a fan of Genesis.

Cover stars The Power Station get a three page feature.

Wham! have recently toured Asia, and Smash Hits covers this with a two page photo feature.

Mick Jagger gets profiled as he gets set to release his debut solo album at the age of 44, lying in bed in a hotel room when Smash Hits came to visit.

Terry Hall gets interviewed as he launches his third band (after The Specials and Fun Boy Three) The Colourfield, with the headline OLD MISERY GUTS IS BACK.

Concert Reviews sees Smash Hits go to see New Order and Chaka Khan in action.

CRUSADERS 2-1 LINFIELD 12.9.2017

Football has a strange way of repeating itself. In 2015, Linfield arrived at Seaview with a perfect record (six wins out of six) and a lead over Crusaders, knowing that a win would open up a gap between them at the top of the League.

In 2017, the same thing happened, although this time, it was five wins out of five for Linfield.

In 2015, Linfield lost that day. They recovered quite well after that, winning their next two matches, scoring nine goals in the process, but it was one of three defeats to Crusaders that cost them the title.

The following season, roles were reversed, with Linfield won the head to heads and the title.

Recent form suggests that whoever wins the head to heads between these two wins the title. However, this season, there’s a third party wanting to muscle in on the title race, with Coleraine looking down on everybody after winning all six of their opening games.

It wasn’t about getting an advantage over the other, Crusaders wanted to keep in touch with Coleraine while Linfield wanted to draw level with them. Linfield knew that a win would open up a six point lead over Crusaders, even at this early stage.

If things had worked out differently over the Summer, Linfield could have been lining up against PSG instead.

There was a change in personnel and formation for Linfield with 451 becoming 442 but not completely more attacking, as Jordan Stewart was sacrificed for Matthew Clarke, while Louis Rooney came in for Kirk Millar.

There seems to be an unwritten rule in Irish League football that players are immune from getting booked in the first fifteen minutes, a rule that Crusaders players were willing to exploit with a series of cynical and tactical fouls with the only cost being a free-kick.

It was no coincidence that the first yellow card came after sixteen minutes, when Louis Rooney was dragged down as he went down the right wing.

Jordan Forsythe and Aaron Burns both fired over in the early minutes as they looked to score spectacularly, an overhead kick and a chip respectively.

Despite the more defensive nature of the starting eleven, Andrew Mitchell and Jamie Mulgrew were making Linfield tick, running at Crusaders defence, both of whom fired wide as Linfield looked to get the breakthrough.

On 25 minutes, Crusaders took the lead when Jordan Forsythe fired home.

On 32 minutes, Crusaders made it 2-0 when a header upfield allowed Paul Heatley to fire home from outside the box.

As good as the finish was, it was a poor goal to concede, route one assist.

Linfield fans were hoping for half-time as Crusaders looked to make it 3-0, with Jordan Owens and Rodney Brown both having chances to do just that.

It was a big half-time talk in the away dressing room but all hope wasn’t lost. You never write off Linfield when they attack their fans. An early goal, and it was game on.

Getting that early goal, as each minute passed, a Linfield comeback was looking less likely.

They were helped by the fact that Crusaders were stepping back, happy to hold what they had.

Linfield’s search for a goal saw Kirk Millar and Brandon Adams introduced from the bench. The most obvious introduction, Jordan Stewart, was made to wait.

With twenty minutes to go, Paul “Not that kind of player” Heatley went in recklessly on Aaron Burns on the halfway line. He knew what he was doing, and he wasn’t going for the ball. The referee bottled it and only showed a yellow card. That’s twice in successive seasons referees have let him away with it.

Within minutes, Linfield pulled a goal back when Aaron Burns crossed for Mark Stafford to put the ball into the empty net.

If there was any justice, Linfield’s search for an equaliser would have been against ten men.

For all there pressure, Linfield couldn’t get an equaliser, as Crusaders held out for the win.

It was a silly spell midway through the second-half that did it, Linfield gave themselves too much to do.

In truth, the performance wasn’t good enough, just like on Saturday. A wake up call. It’s never too early for one.

A sense of perspective is needed though, it was Linfield’s first domestic defeat in eight months. Not only that, Linfield have three more points this season than they did after six games last season.

The next two games against Ballinamallard and Warrenpoint represent an opportunity to amass six points and keep the pressure on at the top.

We’ll need those points with a run of games against Cliftonville, Coleraine and Crusaders to come, as well as a rearranged game against Glenavon to fit in as well.

Talking of rearranged games, the League Cup match against Ballinamallard has been brought forward a week. No idea why, and the away match against Ballymena has been brought forward to the Friday night.

It’ll be some fun if Northern Ireland’s World Cup Play-Off (providing the next two matchdays don’t go wrong) at home is that night. Expect another rearrangement, although, this is Irish League football, don’t expect logic to be followed.

Anyway, that Ballymena game will be postponed because we’ll be playing in the Quarter-Final of the Scottish Challenge Cup. Got to be optimistic.

Up next, Ballinmallard, the first of two meetings in two and a half weeks. The second game, away from home, will be sandwiched inbetween away games against Cliftonville and Dundee United.

It says something that the trip to Cliftonville will be the hardest to get to of those three.

Photo Album

LINFIELD 1-0 GLENTORAN 9.9.2017

There was a throwback to the old days on Saturday as Linfield and Glentoran met, separated only by a point and both unbeaten, with Glentoran knowing that a win would send them above Linfield in the table for the first time since the opening day of the 2014-2015 season.

It was to be a case of the same old, as it was the player who scored the winner the last time Linfield trailed Glentoran in the table did it again on Saturday, to put Linfield four points clear of their rivals, and more importantly, maintain their winning start to the season and keep the pressure on leaders Coleraine.

Early Linfield pressure brought that winning goal when Glentoran couldn’t properly clear a corner and the ball went out the left to Jordan Stewart. Stewart was booed by the away fans every time he touched the ball. However, that booing went silent within seconds when his cross was headed home by Aaron Burns.

It looked like it was going to be a rout for Linfield. Even at this early stage.

Glentoran soon reminded them that there was still a game to be won when Robbie McDaid was played through only for his shot to be saved by Roy Carroll, who got up in time to save Curtis Allen’s rebound. Between Allen and mcDaid, it should have been a goal for Glentoran.

Soon after, Aaron Burns had a chance for Linfield but his shot was saved by Elliott Morris. He couldn’t get enough space to get a clear shot at goal. He would have been better off blindly shooting towards goal when he had the position but not the space.

Burns was involved in Linfield’s next attack of note when Marcus Kane made a great interception in the penalty ares to deny him. That is, if you were playing Basketball. The clearest handball you’ll ever see, and no penalty was given.

Inbetween, Glentoran almost equalised in bizarre fashion when a headed clearance hit Robbie McDaid and went goalwards, only for Roy Carroll to save on the line. When Roy Coyle was Glentoran manager, you can be sure that would have went into the back of the net.

Linfield made a strong start to the second-half but could get a clinching goal, and began to give Glentoran far too much encouragement, with a James Knowles free-kick causing enough concern for Roy Carroll to tip the ball out for a corner.

As Linfield sought that second goal, Louis Rooney came on from the bench in place for Jordan Stewart. It was a surprise for Rooney to start on the bench considering he had scored four goals in one start and one sub appearance and had a lot of early momentum at the start of his Linfield careers.

Linfield were given another moment of worry when a cross come shot had to be cleared off the line.

Ross Clarke was brought on for Kirk Millar, his first League appearance of the season. His main moment of note in Glentoran’s half was keepball at a corner with Aaron Burns. That sort of tactic against Glentoran has bitten us in the arse before. I was sat waiting for the 93rd minute Glentoran equaliser.

Despite all of Glentoran’s possession, Linfield were able to hold out and do just enough to win.

While 451/433 does have it’s advantages, it has one obvious limitation in the shape of stifling attacks.

It may have been a necessity due to injuries a few weeks ago, but two strikers have since been signed, one of whom has gotten off to a goalscoring start.

Unfortunately, we’ll have to get used to it until we have a bad result or an injury crisis in midfield.

In the Scottish Challenge Cup, we’ve been drawn away to Dundee United. Games against Dundee United and Celtic mean this has been a memorable season for those Linfield supporters doing the 102 Club.

I’m hoping to go to Dundee, just to see Tannadice and Den’s Park so close together in the flesh. I would have preferred Stranraer for obvious reasons.

Up next, a trip to Seaview, and a big improvement needed. A 2-0 sends us top. 6-5 puts us joint top with an identical record to Coleraine. A win by any score will do.

Photo Album

RYAN ADAMS – LIVE AT ULSTER HALL 8.9.2017

Load of rubbish. He was on stage for two hours and didn’t play Summer Of 69.

Might as well get that out of the way first. It was Ryan, not Bryan Adams. Curiously, they share the same birthday, fifteen years apart.

Bit of a late one this, only getting a ticket three days before the concert, with tickets being sold out on the first day of sale. Curiously, for an event listed as “Sold out”, there was a lot of space in the venue.

This was supposed to be his first Belfast concert since 2012, except that it was his first Belfast concert since the previous night.

He was bored on Thursday night and was looking for something to do, so via the power of Social Media, he did a quickly arranged gig in McHugh’s, with profits going to Assisi.

If you want, you can view clips from the McHugh’s gig here.

It was 2001 that I first got into Ryan Adams with his album Gold, and singles such as New York New York and Answering Bell.

It was 14 years later and 12 years earlier came the album that turned him into a Panto Villain in the eyes of the internet, which is literally the worst thing you can be due to him causing anger for “Mansplaining” (Not a real word. Anyone who uses it should not be taken seriously) 1989 by Taylor Swift.

There were no Taylor Swift covers, but we were treated to a two hour trip through his back catalogue, and a lot of guitar solos, and then some harmonica solos.

The highlight of which was New York New York.

I would have love to have heard Answering Bell and So Alive, it didn’t matter, Ulster Hall was very much alive.

Photo Album