2022 IN PICTURES – APRIL

April began with a football free Saturday, so I headed to Scrabo Country Park, got lucky with the weather and got lots of nice photos.

The rest of the month was all about football, the next two weekends saw me attend Linfield’s matches against Cliftonville and Glentoran.

With two Public Holidays for Easter, I decided to go for walks up Cregagh Glen and then up Cavehill.

That was then followed by Linfield’s matches against Crusaders, Larne and Coleraine.

Just hours after seeing Linfield winning the League against Coleraine, I headed to Custom House Square to see Echo and the Bunnymen, my first concert of 2022.

Scrabo Country Park

Scrabo Country Park Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Cregagh Glen/Lisnabreeny Hill

Cregagh Glen/Lisnabreeny Hill Photo Album

Cavehill

Cavehill Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Larne

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Coleraine Photo Album

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Custom Hosue Square

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Custom House Square Photo Album

SCRABO COUNTRY PARK

The moral of this story is, good things come to those who wait.

So, i’d decided that in 2022, I would visit Scrabo Country Park to see what it was like, and get some photos of Scrabo Tower while I was there as i’d never (to my knowledge) visited before.

The first opportunity I had was a free Saturday morning in February. It was dull so I didn’t get any decent photos.

I did discover that the walk to Scrabo Tower isn’t that demanding. I was expecting an hour long trek to the top like Cavehill. During that visit, I had a ramble through Killynether Wood.

Two months later, with another free Saturday morning, I decided to make a return visit.

While I was making the journey, I was wondering if i’d made the right decision as the rain started to come down as I drove through Dundonald. I’d made a decision and I was going to stick to it.

Curiously, despite the fact I was leaving Belfast, the travel time was around about the same as going to Cavehill or Blackmountain. Geography can be funny sometimes.

Thankfully, the rain stopped by the time I arrived but then it started again. Just a little bit, nothing that would have me running for cover. I’d come this far, I wasn’t going to turn back.

I walked to Scrabo Tower and had a nosey about.

However, this time, I took a different path on my way down. Instead of going to Killynether Wood, I decided to explore Strangford Quarries.

Having been dull and wet, which made me wonder what on earth I was doing, the sun came out, brightening the mood and meaning I was able to get some decent photos.

My visit to Strangford Quarries was going to be timebound so I didn’t deviate too much so that I could come back the way I came. It was one of those trails where I just walked straight ahead and see where it led me.

On my way back up, I headed back to Scrabo Tower and get some better photos now that I had some daylight to work with.

It was a really enjoyable visit. Across my two visits I covered a lot but there is still a lot for me to explore.

That just gives me another excuse to come back.

Remember, it took me quite a lot of visits to properly explore Cavehill.

I definitely plan on coming back at some point before the Summer ends.

Photo Album

2021 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November began with a day trip to Dublin. Naturally, while I was there, I took the opportunity to check out Street Art. Might as well, seeing as it was my first time there in two years.

Later that week, I did something else I hadn’t done for a long time. Not as long, just over eighteen months. I am of course referring to going to a concert, in this case, Lightning Seeds at The Limelight.

That was then followed by two road trips for Linfield away games, to Portadown and Crusaders.

Sandwiched inbetween that was another road trip, this time to Ards to get some Street Art photos, with a recent event having taken place.

It was a month of doing things I hadn’t done for a while. This time, going on a flight.

The destination was Gatwick, but not to go to London, but Brighton instead.

So many photo adventures, where to start?

Street Art in Brighton, of course. Also, a walk along Beachy Head, OMD in concert, and some sunsets while I was in Brighton.

Back home, a return to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Cliftonville.

Two days later, I headed to The Limelight to see The Charlatans in concert.

The month ended with Linfield matches against Glenavon and Carrick Rangers.

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Lightning Seeds live at The Limelight

Lightning Seeds live at The Limelight Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

Ards Street Art

Ards Street Art Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Brighton Street Art

Brighton Street Art Photo Album

Beachy Head

Beachy Head Photo Album

OMD live at Brighton Centre

OMD live at Brighton Centre Photo Album

Brighton Sunset

Brighton Sunset Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

The Charlatans live at The Limelight

The Charlatans live at The Limelight Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

ARDS STREET ART

Anything that Bangor has, Ards has to have. That’s the rules.

Having spent three years at Bangor Tec and attended the 1993 Irish Cup Final, I know what they’re like. They just can’t get along.

So, when Bangor had some Street Art during the Summer, it was only a matter of time before Ards got some Street Art of their own.

Not that i’m complaining about that.

A few weeks ago, Arts held Ards Art Jam, where a group of Artists painted walls in Meeting House Lane in the Town Centre.

Of course, I headed over to get photos as soon as they were finished.

I headed down on the next available Sunday morning. Very simple reasons and very obvious, not many people about. Certainly helps regarding Covid, and not having disruption when taking photos.

I’d never driven to Ards before, but it was easy to find when you follow road signs. Who knew?

After parking, I went for a walkabout, seeing some other murals unrelated to the event, one a montage of Ards lanmarks and people by Mark Ervine.

There was an advertising mural to promote a Beauty Parlour called Feminine Touch.

I’m not a fan of advertising murals, but this was at the side of the shop. If you didn’t turn you head around to see the front of the shop, you wouldn’t know it was an advertising mural.

I went for a walk and found it straight away. Stumbled upon it, if you will. I just got lucky.

From there, I went snap happy and got photos, despite the lack of backlift.

There was one mural in a locked Car Park, so I had to improvise with my angles.

There was even a mural of Steven McQueen to promote a Barbers.

I’m tempted to set up a website dedicated to dead celebrities promoting local business.

There’s a mural of Audrey Hepburn in East Belfast to promote a Nail Bar.

In fact, the last time I was in Ards was in 2009 to get a photo of a mural of George Best that I had been informed about.

It turned out to be an awful advertising mural for a Taxi Firm called Best Taxis.

They were hardly going to paint one of former Bangor manager Nigel Best.

There’s plenty of other available wallspace in Ards, so hopefully there will be plenty more Street Art events in years to come.

Photo Album

2019 IN PICTURES – JANUARY

2019 began for me with a trip to the seaside on the very first day of the year, to Clandeboye Park to see Linfield take on Ards as they aimed for three points in the title race.

Eleven days later, was my first trip of the year to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Warrenpoint Town.

That was then followed a week later by a trip to Seaview to see Linfield beat Crusaders.

A month that was mostly spent watching football saw me return to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Glentoran in a televised game.

The next day, I headed to Manchester. Guess what? It was for a football match, as Manchester United took on Burnley.

While I was there, I got photos of Street Art in Manchester and Salford Quays, while I also snuck in a day trip to Sheffield, where I got more Street Art photos.

While I was in Manchester, it snowed, so I got some photos of that, including snow outside Old Trafford.

Ards v Linfield

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Burnley

Manchester United v Burnley Photo Album

Manchester Snow

Manchester Snow Photo Album

Sheffield Street Art

Sheffield Street Art Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2018-2019

2018-2019 is now over and consigned to history. I hope you’ve enjoyed my month by month look back. I thought i’ll end with a look through some of my favourites. Feel free to vote for yours.

NEWFORGE

Taken during a Pre-Season Friendly, I like arty farty shots in the style of Stuart Roy Clarke, so I unashamedly try to copy him.

MOURNEVIEW

I like this shot because of the way everybody is lined up, and how everybody has their eyes fixed on Kirk Millar, being the man in possession

COLERAINE

This shot came about by fluke, I was hoping to capture a Linfield goal, but again, it’s the fans who make the picture for me, all heads in the one direction.

DUNGANNON

Got some good photos this day due to generous Winter Sun. Dungannon is always good for photos. I like the framing, getting the terraces in alongside the pitch.

JORDAN

Jordan Stewart makes it 4-0 against Crusaders in December. I like being able to capture the celebrations on the pitch and in the stand. Even a Steward joined in.

CLANDEBOYE

That spot at Clandeboye Park is handy for getting photos, as long as something interesting happens at that end during the game. Thankfully, Linfield scored while I was at this end. Not just in terms of phototaking, but the match, as it was looking like a frustrating afternoon against opponents who had already proved tricky earlier in the season.

SNOW TRAFFORD

Having got snow photos of Windsor Park in 2010, I couldn’t believe my luck when Manchester was hit with snow the day after United’s match against Burnley. Staying close to the ground, I was straight out with my camera to get photos.

McCLEAN

An explosion of emotion. 2-0 down and looking to be pegged back in the title race, to 2-2 and being frustrated, then a last minute winner, I managed to capture the reactions, of fans and players both going wild in unison.

RAIN

A weather based photo that just works. Bleurgh, an awful night for weather and football.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : JANUARY

Fifteen hours into 2019, and it was a short trip to the Seaside to see Linfield beat Ards.

More wins came in the month, with Warrenpoint Town, Crusaders and Glentoran all taken care of.

The month ended with a trip to Old Trafford. Unfortunately, the one United match I went to didn’t result in a win, but a draw against Burnley, though I did manage to get some photos of Old Trafford in the snow the next morning.

Ards v Linfield

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Manchester United v Burnley

Manchester United v Burnley Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : OCTOBER

October’s football watching began at The Oval, to see Linfield get a win over Glentoran.

That was then followed by Newry City’s first League visit to Windsor Park since 2011, and we were treated to a hat-trick from Jimmy Callacher.

That was then followed by two road trips, firstly to Clandeboye Park, where Linfield suffered their first defeat of the season, and then to Stangmore Park, where Linfield came from behind to beat Dungannon Swifts.

Glentoran v Linfield

Linfield v Newry City

Ards v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : SEPTEMBER

I didn’t have to wait long for some football action in September, with Linfield taking on Ards on the first day of the month. I would have to wait a while for a first goal of the month, as that match finished 0-0.

The goals flew in during my next match, as Linfield beat Warrenpoint 5-0, before taking in Northern Ireland’s first ever UEFA Nations League match, a 2-1 home defeat to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The month ended taking in three further Linfield matches, home wins against Dungannon Swifts and Ballymena United, as well as a draw at Coleraine.

Linfield v Ards

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

ARDS 0-2 LINFIELD 1.1.2019

New Year’s Day. A new start, and an opportunity to remove any negativity from the year before.

For Linfield, it gave them an opportunity to finally get a win against a team who had been problematic so far this season, managing only one point from the previous two meetings with Ards in front of a bumper Bank Holiday crowd which included Gary Lightbody, as both sides looked for three points to avoide their respective ambitions facing the Final Straw.

Linfield didn’t quite start the game in a new way, making a similar start to the game in October that they lost to Ards.

Ards had opportunities in the opening minutes with Roy Carrroll being forced to save from a Jonah Mitchell shot, before Mark Kelly hit the side netting.

The only positive for Linfield was that they didn’t concede like they did in the early minutes like they did in October.

Jordan Stewart had Linfield’s first attacking moment of note but his shot went just wide.

Every other attacking moment seemed to be lacking. Passes going astray, too short, too long, the run not being made. Ards were quite comfortable when defending against it.

Ards replied with a Kym Nelson free-kick which was saved by Carroll. The important thing for Linfield was not to concede and give Ards something to defend.

Belatedly, Linfield began to put pressure on Ards in the final minutes of the half, but Ards held firm.

Most of the attacks came through Jamie Mulgrew, the only way he could be stopped was by fouling him. It may be a new year, but some things never changes. Kyle Cherry was lucky not to be sent-off for a tackle that was so late, it was in 2020.

0-0 at half-time, but no need to panic, but Linfield needed to step it up.

They did just that in the early minutes of the second-half, with more pressure, but more believable.

A last gasp header denied Andrew Waterworth just as a cross was set to fall to him, before he finally got past Ards defence before firing agonisingly just wide. Nobody in the away support was allowed to think it was going to be one of those days.

Eventually, the goal came, from a familiar source, Jimmy Callacher with his eight of the season, but first away from home.

Linfield still needed a second goal to be safe.

Kirk Millar looked like he was going to get it when he was played through, lifting the ball ove the keeper, but over the bar.

Jimmy Callacher headed home to make it 2-0 to ease the pressure and secure the points.

Andrew Waterworth continued to be denied as a last gasp tackle stopped him just as he was about to fire home.

It didn’t matter, as Linfield began 2019 with a win.

By this point, Glenavon were losing at home to Warrenpoint, to fall eight points behind Linfield.

With Ballymena United facing Crusaders, Linfield were going to take advantage with a win regardless. A draw would have been perfect, but Crusaders late 3-2 win means that Linfield now sit on top of the table.

If you want to look at the Christmas/New Year Period as a four game mini league, only Crusaders got more points than Linfield. Most importantly, four clean sheets. Keeping them out boosts the goal difference, which sits at more than ten better than the next best team.

There are good omens in recent years regarding a change of leadership in the early days of a year, with 3rd January 2015 and 1st January 2018 being dates when Crusaders took leadership and stayed there. There is no reason why Linfield can’t do likewise.

Crusaders might be only three points behind Linfield, but they have a played a game more. Linfield know if they win at Seaview in a few weeks time, they can kill Crusaders in the title race. On the basis of the two meetings this season, Linfield know they can beat Crusaders, and beat them well.

That can wait though. Up next is two cup games.

I don’t usually bother with cup ties at home to Lower League teams so I’ll be giving he home game against Ballyclare a miss. If it was away, I’d be all over it.

That is followed by the County Antrim Shield game against Ballymena. If it is postponed again, that could be problematic, as they’ll try to fit it in the midweek before the Crusaders game, which must be resisted. We have to look after ourselves when it comes to fixture management.

After that, our first home League match of 2019, against Warrenpoint. It’s a game we’ve already slipped up in this season.

However, we started 2019 by making up for a game we had previously slipped up in.

That defeat to Ards in October kicked off Linfield’s shakiest period of the season in terms of results and performances.

Hopefully, the win in January against the same opponents can have the opposite and more positive effect.

Photo Album