THE FRIDAY FIVE – WORLD CUP SPECIAL

It’s almost here, only another six days to go.

For some reason, the 2014 World Cup will be starting on a Thursday night instead of a Friday afternoon, which is why i’m jumping on the bandwagon today.

The competing countries have also provided some great music as well as great football, so here, is some songs from acts from those countries. Enjoy.

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS FROM COUNTRIES IN GROUPS A – B

1. Kylie Minogue – I Should Be So Lucky
2. 2 Unlimited – No Limit
3. Baccara – Yes Sir I Can Boogie
4. Rawbau – Tejkitize
5. Santana – Smooth

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS FROM COUNTRIES IN GROUPS C – D

1. The Clash – Train In Vain
2. Giorgio Moroder ft Phil Oakey – Together In Electric Dreams
3. Sabrina – Boys Boys Boys
4. The 5. 6. 7. 8s – Woo Hoo
5. Shakira – Underneath Your Clothes

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS FROM COUNTRIES IN GROUPS E – F

1. Yello – Oh Yeah
2. Desireless – Voyage Voyage
3. Daft Punk – Da Funk
4. Piola Vago – Triki Triki
5. Darius – Kinda Love

FIVE SONGS FROM COUNTRIES IN GROUPS G – H

1. Tatu – All the Things She Said
2. Nena – 99 Red Balloons
3. Katy Perry – Hot n Cold
4. Scala ft Kolacny Brothers – With Or Without You
5. Scorpions – Winds Of Change

FIVE WORLD CUP SONGS

1. Dana – Yer Man
2. Andy Cameron – Ally’s Army
3. England 1970 World Cup Squad – Back Home
4. Del Amitri – Don’t Come Home Too Soon
5. Village People – Far Away In America

FIVE UK TV WORLD CUP THEME TUNES

1. Jeff Wayne – Matador
2. Vusi Mahlasela – When You Come Back
3. Apollo 440 – Rondezvous
4. Silsoe – Aztec Gold
5. Daryl Hall – Gloryland

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PHOTO OF THE SEASON 2013-2014

So, another football season is over, time to look back. It’s taken in four countries and various stadiums, teams and levels. There was a lot of pictures, so here are my favourites. Feel free to vote for yours :

FUGLAFJORDUR

Taken just after the final whistle of Linfield’s match with Fuglafjordur as fans applauded, the composition and framing just works for me which is why I love the photo.

SKODA

Taken before Linfield’s match with Skoda Xanthi, again, the composition and the light works for me, as supporters walk to The Kop, ready for the 90 (well, in this match, it was 120) minutes that await.

JEFFREY

Like the other two, it’s all about the composition, as David Jeffrey observes the action during a pre-season match against Derriaghy CC

RICHMOND

Taken during my trip to Dublin, I took in a St Patrick’s Athletic game. The colours just make this photo for me, as is the fact you came see a rainbow over the stadium.

CAMERAS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Portugal match, the two cameras, focused on the action in sync does it for me, alongside the composition of the players, so small in comparison with their surroundings.

BRISBANE ROAD

I’m a sucker for arty pics of football stadiums. I took this during a trip to London, when I took in a match at Leyton Orient.

THE OVAL

Linfield fans looking on, under the floodlights, as their side has a free-kick against Glentoran at The Oval.

ROONEY

Manchester United fans looking on as Wayne Rooney prepares to take a free-kick against Olympiacos.

SEAVIEW

Linfield fans looking one at a match at Seaview. Seaview is always good for photos.

BLUE

Arty one, take of seats in the South Stand at Linfield’s last game at Windsor Park before redevelopment, which the South Stand will be one of the main areas getting redeveloped.

CLARKE

Taken on the last day of the league season, love the composition, especially of the two players, one with the ball, and one trying to win the ball back,

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : 2013-2014

Barring something amazing, my matchgoing 2013-2014 season is over, time for a statistical analysis.

There were no curiousities to report. Went to some games, saw some goals, visited some new grounds. Standard stuff.

Matches Attended : 47

Goals Seen : 139

Red Cards : 23

Hat-Tricks : 2

Cristiano Ronaldo (Northern Ireland v Portugal)
Robin Van Persie (Manchester United v Olympiacos)

Penalties Missed/Saved : 2

Highest Scoring Match : 7 (Linfield 5-2 Ards, Glenavon 2-5 Linfield)

Countries Seen Matches In : 4

England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland

Teams Seen Play : 31

Ards, Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Cliftonville, Crusaders, Crystal Palace (1st time) Derriaghy CC, Drogheda United, Dundee United (1st time), Dungannon Swifts, Everton (1st time), Glenavon, Glentoran, Hibernian, IF Fuglafjordur (1st time), Leyton Orient (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Peterborough United (1st time) Portadown, Portugal, Russia (1st time) Skoda Xanthi (1st time), St Patrick’s Athletic, Tottenham Hotspur, Warrenpoint Town (1st time)

Competitions Watched : 11

County Antrim Shield, European Cup, FA Premier League, Football League One (1st time), Irish Cup, Irish League, League Of Ireland, Northern Ireland League Cup, Scottish Premier League, UEFA Cup, World Cup,

Stadiums Visited : 18

Ballymena Showgrounds, Brisbane Road (1st time), Coleraine Showgrounds, Dixon Park (1st time), Easter Road, Ferney Park, Milltown (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Richmond Park, Seaview, Seycon Park, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, The Oval, White Hart Lane (1st time), Windsor Park,

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – SEPTEMBER

September began for me with the World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal. Everything looked set for a Northern Ireland win, until Ronaldo turned on his magic, aided by playing against nine men.

The next day, it was back to Irish League action, as I made my first visit to Dixon Park, to see Linfield take on Ards.

The following weekend, I was Old Trafford bound. A trip with a difference, as it was my first visit with David Moyes as United manager, for the game against Crystal Palace.

There was much hype in the build-up about a Belgian on the bench about to make his first appearance for United at Old Trafford. Little did we know, it would be another Belgian on the bench that day we would be falling in love with over the season.

Seven days later, I was on my travels again, to Fermanagh, to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard, getting some nice shots on a sunny day, and watching Linfield win.

To end the month, it was back to Windsor Park for the first time in three weeks, to see Linfield take on Coleraine, which was won by Linfield with an injury time goal.

The sunny days might have been ending, but the football season was in full swing. Time to look forward to the Winter months.

Northern Ireland v Portugal

Northern Ireland v Portugal Photo Album

Ards v Linfield

Manchester United v Crystal Palace

Manchester United v Crystal Palace Photo Album

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – AUGUST

August was when the season properly started. For me, it included matches in three different countries.

My first match of the month was at Richmond Park, to see St Patrick’s Athletic take on Drogheda United. I was in Dublin that weekend, so thought i’d take in a game.

My original choice was Bray Wanderers v Boehmians, but they moved it from the original date, and I wasn’t able to go to it.

The match at Richmond Park, was the same score as my previous visit in 2010 ………. 0-0. I should probably be banned from attending matches there.

The following weekend, it was Shamrock Park, to see Linfield and Portadown draw 1-1. The Irish League season, was finally up and running.

Three days later, was a match that should have been played the previous season, the re-arranged World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Russia.

That weekend, I was in Edinburgh, primarily for the festival, but I always like to take in a game while i’m there.

The SPL Fixture Computer gave me Easter Road for a second successive year, the visitors this time being Dundee United.

My final match of the month saw bottom placed Linfield take on Glentoran, in a 0-0 draw. That is not how I imagined August would end.

St Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United

St Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Russia

Northern Ireland v Russia Photo Album

Hibernian v Dundee United

Hibernian v Dundee United Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

2013 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

The summer might have ended, but that wasn’t the end of my photo adventures.

My first weekend saw me having a football double bill, Northern Ireland’s World Cup Qualifier against Portugal, followed by Linfield’s trip to Ballyclare to take on Ards, my first ever trip to Dixon Park

The following weekend, was another first, my first trip to Old Trafford to see a David Moyes Manchester United game, against Crystal Palace.

The weekend after that, was Culture Night, then a trip to Ballinamallard to see Linfield, then back to Belfast in time for Manic Street Preachers.

The day after the Manics, I was headed to the Cathedral Quarter to see the new Street Art painted as part of Culture Night, now that the dust had settled.

In fact, there was so much Street Art, I missed some, and had to come back the following Saturday. Later that day, I went to see Linfield take on Coleraine.

To end the month, I headed to East Belfast to get some Street Art shots, the Newtownards Road also getting the same treatment as North Street on Culture Night

Northern Ireland v Portugal

Northern Ireland v Portugal Photo Album

Ards v Linfield

The Butcher

Manchester United v Crystal Palace

Manchester United v Crystal Palace Photo Album

Manchester

Culture Night Belfast 2013

Culture Night Belfast 2013 Photo Album

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Manic Street Preachers Live At Ulster Hall

Manic Street Preachers Live At Ulster Hall Photo Album

North Street – A Culture Night Legacy

North Street – A Culture Night Legacy Photo Album

North Street – A Culture Night Legacy Part 2

Linfield v Coleraine

East Belfast Street Art

2013 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August began with a trip to Dublin to see Blur (supported by Bat For Lashes and The Strypes), for the first time, and possibly the only time, which was why I was so desperate to go.

As the concert was a Thursday, I decided to make a weekend of it, having not stayed in Dublin since 2011. While I was there, I saw lots of Street Art photos (I didn’t go in search of them, but I stumbled upon some, so it would have been rude not to get photos.

Also, while I was in Dublin, I went to see St Patrick’s Athletic take on Drogheda United (my original choice of Bray Wanderers v Shelbourne was moved to a later date) which finished 0-0.

It was my second visit to Richmond Park, both of which have finished 0-0. There’s probably a Banning Order against me attending another match there.

Upon my return from Dublin, that wasn’t the end of the fun, as I went to see The Charlatans at Falls Park. Like Blur, this was my first time seeing them, and possibly my only chance to.

The following weekend, the new season started, and I was at Shamrock Park to see Linfield take on Portadown

My next football match, was the rearranged from March game between Northern Ireland and Russia, which Northern Ireland won 1-0.

That weekend, I was travelling again, this time to Edinburgh, for the festival, but I took in a football match, Hibs v Dundee United, and got some Street Art photos.

After returning from Edinburgh, it was all about Belsonic, my only concert of it being Suede. I was already excited about Suede (like Blur and The Charlatans, never seen them, might be my only chance) but James being added as a support (seen them twice, but never in Northern Ireland) was the icing on the cake.

To end an exciting month, I went to see Linfield play Glentoran. It finished 0-0.

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Blur Live At IMMA Dublin

Blur Live At IMMA Dublin Photo Album

Bat For Lashes Photo Album

The Strypes Photo Album

St Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United

St Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United Photo Album

The Charlatans Live At Falls Park

The Charlatans Live At Falls Park Photo Album

Echo Raptors Live At Falls Park Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Russia

Northern Ireland v Russia Photo Album

Hibernian v Dundee United

Hibernian v Dundee United Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Runaway Go Live At Belsonic

Runaway Go Live At Belsonic Photo Album

James Live At Belsonic

James Live At Belsonic Photo Album

Suede Live At Belsonic

Suede Live At Belsonic Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

2013 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March began for me with a trip to Dublin to see Linfield take on Shamrock Rovers in a Setanta Cup game. Unfortunately, I missed the first couple of minutes of the game, as I would have loved to have got the stadium in advance of kick-off to get some shots, and get a good shooting position.

The less said about the match, the better.

Three days later, I was at the Waterfront Hall (amazingly, it has been open since 1997, and this was my first concert attended at it) to see Stereophonics in concert.

Got a good shooting position and some good shots. An excellent concert as well.

That weekend, I went out and got some Street Art photos in Ormeau Park.

The following weekend, I was in Manchester to see United take on Reading. I didn’t know it then, but it would be the last time I would go to a United match managed by Sir Alex Ferguson.

On the Monday, I was at a freezing Seaview to see Linfield lose 3-0 to Crusaders. I should have just stayed in the house and watched it on TV.

The following Friday, I was hoping to go to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Russia. Unfortunately, it was postponed due to snow. In March.

I went out to try and get some snow photos. It wasn’t very photogenic snow. The photos of it weren’t particularly great.

The following Tuesday, I did get to see Northern Ireland play, against Israel, in a 2-0 defeat.

Shamrock Rovers v Linfield

Shamrock Rovers v Linfield Photo Album

Stereophonics Live At Waterfront Hall

Stereophonics Live At Waterfront Hall Photo Album

Anco

Manchester United v Reading

Manchester United v Reading Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Snow

Snow Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Israel

Northern Ireland v Israel Photo Album

Niko

NORTHERN IRELAND 2-4 PORTUGAL 6.9.2013

Where do you start with this one?

For the first time in a long time, there was a feelgood factor about going to Northern Ireland matches. What Michael O’Neill is doing was always going to take a while to bring results, and it did spectacularly against Russia last month.

With Portugal, and Cristiano Ronaldo in town, another major scalp was on offer. It wasn’t his visit to Windsor Park, having played there for Portugal in a friendly in 2005. It’s fair to say he’s a better player now than he was now.

The opening 20 minutes, neither side had a real chance and Northern Ireland held their own, but soon after, Portugal went 1-0 when a clearance from a corner was slotted home by Bruno Alves. From where I was in The Kop, it was a poor goal to concede.

It was a familiar story, holding our own but go 1-0 down to superior opposition. Surely it would now be a matter of how many?

But no, instead of feeling sorry for themselves, Northern Ireland just got on with it and went in at half-time level when Gareth MacAulay headed home from a corner. It got better, as Helder Postiga was sent-off in first-half stoppage time.

Holding our own, at home, against ten men, with the best atmosphere at Windsor Park in ages ….. it was on.

The most notable thing was Cristiano Ronaldo being deep in conversation with Portugal’s bench. He wasn’t having the best of nights. To me, it looked like he was carrying an injury.

The second-half kicked off, and Northern Ireland went in front, when Jamie Ward nudged the ball home from a yard out. There was a delayed celebration in The Kop, as a lot of people thought the goal was going to be disallowed.

The momentum, would swing again, as Chris Brunt was sent-off. You couldn’t argue with any of the red cards on the night. The annoying thing about both Northern Ireland red cards was that the fouls were in positions where Portugal weren’t going to do any damage.

Especially frustrating, was that against Russia, Northern Ireland displayed a new level of street smartness.

I’ve no doubt if Northern Ireland had kept 11 men on the pitch, they would have won. Once the one man advantage had been wiped out, Portugal were always going to go on and win.

From there, it was The Cristiano Ronaldo Show. Panto booed all night, and subjected the ironic cheers for Lionel Messi and Gareth Bale, he responeded by scoring two headers to put Portugal in front.

Soon after, Kyle Lafferty was sent-off. Like Brunt, for a second yellow for a foul in an area where Portugal couldn’t do any damage.

It was already an uphill task. It was now impossible.

When Portugal got a free-kick on the edge of the box, there was an inevitability that he would complete his hat-trick. They were his only three meaningful touches all night.

Having been booed and taunted all night, he eventually got a standing ovation when he was substituted soon after.

At 4-2 behind and a man down, it could have been easy for Northern Ireland to capitulate and lose 5-3 or 6-2. Thankfully, they didn’t. It was pleasing to see Northern Ireland want the ball and not be afraid to go forward with it.

However, the standard has been set, and performances like against Russia and Portugal must become the norm, beginning with Tuesday against Luxembourg.

These last two games, however, have given me so much optimism for Euro 2016, especially with 23 places up for grab instead of 14/15

Ideally for the draw, i’d love Gibraltar, purely to play them at home in the first game, purely to witness a historic first competitive game for them (Not many firsts you can claim in this day and age) and a home nation, preferrably England.

Hoping to go to Cardiff for the 2014 European Super Cup Final, and was at Hampden this year, so it would be nice to see Northern Ireland at Wembley.

I’m seriously considering going to Euro 2016, especially as the host cities are on a clear North/South divid, I could base myself in Paris or Nice and commute to other cities. I’ll have to wait until the tournament schedule is released though.

The next time I see Northern Ireland play at Windsor Park, hopefully, it’ll be a different stadium due to the refurbishment. A defeat last night, but some positivity.

Got some photos of last night’s game, enjoy.

Photo Album

NORTHERN IRELAND 1-0 RUSSIA 14.8.2013

Well, the football season is truly in full swing now, as last night, I attended my first international of the season, albeit, one that should have been played in March.

Despite it being August, in typical Belfast fashion, the weather was only slightly better than when the original game was postponed.

For what it’s worth, if the original game had taken place when scheduled, I think Russia would have won easily. They had a winning run and momentum, but a defeat to Portugal, combined with Portugal and Israel winning while Russia were inactive, meant this was an entirely different game for Russia.

For games like this, you always think about the cliches about wether Russia “Would fancy it”. They conceded a throw-in within 3 seconds. Hmm, wonder if it is one of those nights?

Northern Ireland started well and held their own, but Russia always looked dangerous when they attacked. However, when they get through Northern Ireland’s defence, there always seemed to be another defender ready to cover.

They say, you make your own luck, and if your defenders are in the right place for a set piece, it’s not luck.

About midway through the first-half, I thought to myself that this could be a good night. When Northern Ireland hit the post, and Jamie Ward wasn’t able to put the rebound, I thought it might be one of those nights.

One the verge of half-time, Northern Ireland went 1-0 up when Niall McGinn crossed for Martin Paterson to head in. It showed what Northern Ireland’s performance was about. McGinn didn’t give up when it looked like the ball was going out, and Paterson fought to win that header.

But it wasn’t all about fight, Northern Ireland played some nice football, and weren’t afraid to try new things.

The expected bombardment from Russia never materialised. In fact, Northern Ireland looked more likely to score.

One of the things noticed was a new level of street smart, with players knowing how and where to win cheap free kicks to kill the game or give them a tactical advantage.

Before the kick-off, the atmosphere felt a little flat, but it got better and noisier as the game went on, as the crowd got behind the team throughout the 90 minutes.

Finally, the final whistle went and Northern Ireland got the win. It might not send us to Brazil, but it can be the springboard to moving up the rankings ahead of the Euro 2016 draw.

As disappointing as results have been, Michael O’Neill always had a long-term job to do. With so few games, it was always going to take a while to see the fruits of his labour.

Let’s hope this is a similar springboard to the England win in 2005.

Photo Album