STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2017

My football watching for 2017 is over, so it’s time for a statistical look back at the year.

Games : 56

Goals Seen : 154

Red Cards : 10 (Doesn’t include 1 red card after the final whistle)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 5

Hat-Tricks : 3

Andrew Waterworth (Cliftonville v Linfield)
Andrew Waterworth (Linfield v Coleraine)
Jordan Stewart (Linfield v Ballinamallard United)

Teams Seen : 31

AFC Bournemouth(1st time), Ards, Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Carrick Rangers, Celtic, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crystal Palace, Crusaders, Czech Republic, Dundela, Dungannon Swifts, Edinburgh City (1st time), Germany, Glenavon, Glentoran, Heart of Midlothian, Hull City, Institute, La Fiorita (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Montrose (1st time), Northern Ireland, Norway, Portadown, Sampdoria (1st time), Spartans (1st time), Switzerland, Warrenpoint Town

Stadiums Visited : 16

Ainslie Park (1st time), Ballymena Showgrounds, Clandeboye Park, Coleraine Showgrounds, Drumahoe, Ferney Park, Lansdowne Road, Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Solitude, Stangmore Park, Taylor’s Avenue, The Oval, Wilgar Park, Windsor Park

Competitions : 9

County Antrim Shield, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League, NIFL Cup, Scottish Challenge Cup, Scottish League Two (1st time), World Cup Qualifying,

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MEDIAWATCH : THOSE WE DIDN’T LOSE IN 2017

Usually at this time of year, news outlets will run pieces looking back and mourning the celebrities who have died in the year just past.

Let’s do something different. Let’s look back and celebrate the celebrities who are still alive …….. despite the fact that National Enquirer said they were on the verge of death during 2017.

Val Kilmer

Cher

Angelina Jolie

Yoko Ono

Kurt Russell

William Shatner

Terence Stamp

Kirstie Alley

Lisa Marie Presley

Melanie Griffith

Betty White

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 23.12.2016 (AND SOME MUSICAL THOUGHTS FOR 2017)

1. Robert Goulet – Jingle Bells, Batman Smells
2. The Waitresses – Christmas Wrapping
3. Greg Lake – I Believe In Father Christmas
4. Fountains of Wayne – Alien For Christmas
5. John Lennon – Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

You didn’t think I wouldn’t have any Christmas songs this week? I’m not that much of a Scrooge.

Somebody started a rumour that i’ve cleared my diary to watch Christmas With Daniel O’Donnell on RTE 1 at 9.30pm tomorrow. It might be true, or it might not be true.

This week, saw the first headliners for Belsonic 2017 announced, a lot earlier than usual (recent years have been announced between February and April)

Just the two announced, and they were, well, underwhelming.

If you don’t know, it’s Jess Glynne and Axwell Ingrosso (who sounds like a Swiss footballer)

I know i’m guilty of complaining about bands I don’t like/have never heard of being on the bill when Belsonic headliners are announced, because I should know by now that not every Belsonic concert will appeal to me due to the line-up being so vast and varied.

These concerts will be at Ormeau Park, the third venue in the last three years. It’s slightly concerning that it’s starting to have a nomadic existence like what Tennent’s Vital used to have.

I thought Titanic worked as a venue in my own observations. Spatious, easy to get to and out of. I didn’t experience any real problems, even though Ormeau Park will be very convenient for me.

I really hope they don’t go down the Tennent’s Vital route of having pits. I find the idea that someone could just turn up ten minutes before showtime and get a better view than me, simply because they’re mates of a mate of a mate of a mate of someone who works for a sponsor.

I love Belsonic because it’s not Tennent’s Vital. I really hope it doesn’t go down a road of trying to be Tennent’s Vital.

I would imagine there will be more concerts announced in the new year.

One of the fun things I like to do when announcements are announced is to try and predict who will be performing.

As you can see from the link, my predictions were well off.

Belsonic isn’t the only festival in Belfast/Greater Belfast. There’s also Catherdal Quarter Arts Festival, Feile and Open House Festival (Bangor) which will be staging concerts.

So, i’m going to post my musical hopes for people coming to Belfast. The only 2017 concert I have in my diary is Blossoms. They’re brilliant. You may remember them winning The Sound Of 2015 on this blog. If you want to see how good they are, they’ll be on Top Of The Pops on New Year’s Eve.

You may remember me getting excited about Simple Minds coming to Waterfront Hall in June next year. Well, it’s an all seated gig and I can’t be arsed with that.

So, i’m going to post my hopes for those who I would love to come to Belfast in 2017.

Cast and Embrace will have albums out in 2017, so hopefully they’ll fit in a Belfast gig.

Kaiser Chiefs, Paul Weller, The Kooks, Amy MacDonald, KT Tunstall and Two Door Cinema Club all have 2017 tours announced but no Belfast gig. Hopefully some of them well be adding Belfast to their schedule.

Rose Elinor Dougall is a singer I absolutely adore, a former member of The Pipettes (Remember them? They were brilliant too) who is releasing her first album in six years, so i’m hoping she stops off in Belfast.

This week, Red Hot Chili Peppers were supposed to be doing two concerts in Dublin, but due to Anthony Kiedis being unwell, they have been postponed until September 2017.

Wouldn’t it be great if they snuck in a couple of Odyssey gigs around that.

If you were to sum up 2017 in four words, it would be ………… LIAM. GALLAGHER. SOLO. ALBUM. Which i’m hoping is as entertaining as his Twitter.

It may be brilliant, it may be bad, it won’t be boring. Cannot wait for it. Potato.

Meanwhile, the race for Christmas Number 1 (Usually dominated by X-Factor in the same way Celtic have dominated the SPL over the last few years) is between Rangers and Little Mix, which gives me an excuse to post my favourite Youtube videos, from the time Celtic and Rangers players formed a band with a man in a tiger costume to record a charity single to promote Glasgow as a tourist destination.

Think of it as my seasonal gift to you.

Merry Christmas.

FOOTBALL IN 2017

At this time of year, I usually write about my hopes for football watching over the following year.

In truth, I never really know what is going to happen. As 2015 turned into 2016, I would not have predicted that I would be travelling to Dumfries to see Linfield playing in the Scottish Challenge Cup, or that I would be evacuated from Old Trafford because somebody forgot to remove a dummy bomb.

I’m going to try though, with my football watching hopes for the year ahead.

LINFIELD

Win the League, win the Irish Cup and win the County Antrim Shield. That’s what I want. That would bring European football, with hopefully a run, and some games against clubs in the 102 Club.

As well as playing in Europe, domestic success would also qualify us for the Scottish Challenge Cup. I absolutely loved the trip to Dumfries, so hopefully a trip to somewhere in Dumfries/Galloway or Ayrshire would be great.

Or even the Central Belt, if flights were a decent rate.

Then there is pre-season. The same criteria applies, a ground I haven’t been to, or haven’t been to for a while, and is close to Belfast. So, that criteria would be any of Loughgall, Moyola Park, Knockbreda or Annagh United.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Going to the League match against Hull at the end of January. I’m going Tuesday to Thursday, with the Hull game provisionally scheduled for the Wednesday. On the Tuesday, i’m free. Wigan play Norwich that night, so it could be a chance to see the almost mythical Will Grigg. There are no scheduled games in League One and League Two, that date might be used for rearranged games. I’ll wait until quite late before deciding wether to go to a game that night.

I’m hoping to go to the Crystal Palace game at the end of the season.

Hopefully, United will be back in the European Cup in 2017/2018, and this would allow me to go to a midweek group game. Ideally, in November/December, so I can take Manchester Christmas Market.

IRISH LEAGUE

I’ll be keeping an eye on the Championship table and the promotion race. The way the table is at the moment, it looks like Warrenpoint will be promoted, with Institute, Ballyclare and Larne battling it out for the play-off. If there is a team to be promoted via the play-offs, I wouldn’t mind it being Larne as I haven’t been there since 2005.

February 18th will see the League Cup Final between Ballymena United and Carrick Rangers at a as yet undecided venue. I might see about getting a ticket for this as a neutral. Carrick are at home to Linfield the previous weekend, so there would be a good opportunity for me to get a ticket.

In 2017, Christmas Day will fall on a Monday for the first time since 2006. That year, the Steel and Sons Cup Final was held on Saturday 23rd December as there were no top flight games on that day. I’d be tempted in going in 2017 if there was a similar arrangement.

LEAGUE OF IRELAND

Usually, I take in a day trip to Dublin and take in a League Of Ireland game while i’m there. The fixture list was announced today, and i’m still digesting it.

Bray Wanderers (close to Dublin) used to play on Saturdays (far more convenient) but they’ve now decided to play on Fridays.

There is a full fixture list on Saturday 25th March 2017 due to an international the day before. However, Linfield are away to Ballinamallard that day, so Linfield take priority. If Linfield’s match is postponed due to international call-ups, this would be tempting. The options would be Bray v Limerick, Cabinteely v Cobh, UCD v Longford or St Patrick’s Athletic v Shamrock Rovers.

There may be games moved to Saturday or Sunday due to European games in June/July. I’ll keep an eye out, though there’s no real obvious other date for me to go down.

NORTHERN IRELAND

I can’t say i’d be planning on going to Russia if we reached the World Cup, but it would be great if I could be in a situation where i’m toying with the idea.

SCOTLAND

I didn’t go to the Edinburgh Festival in 2016 but i’m planning to return in 2017. Naturally, that would take in whichever of Hearts is at home, and if I could get a bonus of another game in the Central Belt.

So, that’s my football watching hopes for 2017. I’ll be amazed if any of this goes to plan.