4. SEX









11. E4






17. DLA





Let’s face it, Belfast Telegraph is an awful publication these days, and their social media output especially reflects that.

They have three types of stories.

The first, is themmuns and thoseuns, designed to get angry people on the internet angry, so that they can use words like #seo and #interaction to advertisers, when it’s really just the same two people arguing about the same thing they argued about yesterday and the day before and the day before.

It is a change in editorial direction I totally blame on themmuns.

The second, is “inspiration porn”, which is not really inspirational, just people not being a dick, or just getting on with it.

The third, is their obsession with “Viral videos”, which is usually some culchie doing something stupid on a night out or somebody singing in a Chippie.

But there is one area in which the Belfast Telegraph has excelled, that being it’s use of stock photos, used to accompany stories.

So, in honour of this excellence, here’s a countdown of the Top 50 Stock Photos used by Belfast Telegraph in 2015.






46. RATS






The issue of same sex marriage has been in the news a lot in 2014. Belfast Telegraph, like a lot of other news organisations have covered this.

So, you’ve written the story, and it’s ready to go online. Problem is, you need a photo, so what do you do?

The story isn’t about a specific person, so you need to have an image that fully covers the issue of same sex marriage.

Call the Picture Desk, what are your options?

Raid your archive of stories about same sex marriage and find a picture of a couple and use that?

There are gay celebrities, one of them must be in a relationship, why not use a picture of one of those?

Third option, go to the stock library. There’s bound to be a stock image of two male models all dressed up, cutting a cake, drinking champagne.

That’s the option Belfast Telegraph go for. Sort of, as they go for the option of plasticine men on top of a cake.

Nothing says same sex marriage like two plasticine guys on a cake.

These guys must have a good agent, as they were always used to accompany the text everytime Belfast Telegraph’s Facebook page uploaded a story about same sex marriage.

Along comes Ashers, and the “Gay Cake Controversy”

A story that involves homosexuality and cakes. Surely our heroes will be the photo stars to accompany this story.

No. They got snubbed for Bert and Ernie. In true 2014 style. It looked like they were taking a selfie.

As the year ends, same sex marriage is once again in the news agenda, and the Belfast Telegraph responds by bringing our heroes back into the limelight, albeit, with one of them mostly cut out of the shot.

I know what you’re thinking, what about the lesbians?

Relax Lesbians, Belfast Telegraph hasn’t forgotten about you.

Over in Twitterland, Belfast Telegraph tweet a link to a story about a possible court case in 2015 – and manage to get a photo a nice happy, smiley and blonde Lesbian couple to accompany the story.

Guess what? They’re made of plasticine.

Maybe this is some sort of new editorial policy at Belfast Telegraph that all news stories shall be accompanied by a plasticine stock photo?

If so, i’m looking forward to seeing Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness in plasticine form in 2015.


We are now one week into this “Festival of football” which is harder to win than the World Cup, and always guarantees heavyweight clashes in the group stages.

Not only that, it guarantees bullshit punditry. I haven’t watched every game of the competition, but what I have watched hasn’t failed to see me bang my head against the wall at some of the punditry.

In the opening game between Greece and Poland, Mark Bright commented that neither side should provide too much concern to the players of Russia and Czech Republic “Sat in their hotel rooms with their feet up watching this” – Despite the fact that there was less than an hour before kick-off in that game.

As the game meandered to a draw, both commentators spoke about how “The opening games in tournaments are always draws” without any statistical analysis to back it up, suggesting that they were just spouting off cliches as the game entered the stage “When it is all about who wants to win it” and “Both teams will settle for a draw”

During the Poland-Greece game “Sir Chesney” trended on Twitter, in reference to Mark Bright’s pronounciation of Poland’s goalkeeper rather than Chesney Hawkes getting an overdue knighthood. At the end of the game Gary Lineker joked about it. It’s enough to make you want all analysis to be a blank screen with a compilation of tweets appearing on the screen.

The following day was Group B, taking on the role of “The Group Of Death”, though not literally.

BBC’s intro to coverage of Holland v Denmark began with a montage of previous “Groups of Death” which was hopelessly flawed. The montage included England’s Euro 88 group, though possibly because they were shite and lost all three games, and ignored the fact that the other Euro 88 group (Spain, Italy, West Germany, Denmark) was actually tougher.

Other “Groups of Death” ignored were the Euro 92 group with both Euro 88 finalists and the 1990 World Cup winners, and the Euro 2000 group with the Euro 96 finalists competing against the winners of 84, 88 and 92.

If you’re going to do a montage, at least do it right.

The Holland v Denmark game took place in Kharkiv at a stadium, which according to Jonathan Pearce, “Cost 50m Pound Euro to build” – I literally have no fucking idea what that means. Is it some sort of supercurrency he has created?

Denmark ended up getting a surprise 1-0 win, which some commentators seemed to equate with a non-league side winning at Old Trafford in the FA Cup 3rd Round.

Denmark, currently 9th in the FIFA Rankings, have reached the European Championships 7 out of the last 8 times, won it in 1992 and reached the Quarter-Finals as recently as 2004 ……. and yet BBC’s pundits and commentators viewed their win over Holland as a massive shock.

ITV have taken the step of hosting their coverage in the middle of Warsaw, doing their pre-match analysis of Spain v Italy in a cafe. You were kinda hoping the guy in the table behind them would be looking at porn on his laptop. Instead, we got Emiliano from Milano to give his opinions.

When talking about Italy, we are informed that “This is not a great Italian side” and “Italian football in decline” as Italy now appear to take on the Germany role of the footballing giant that pundits lazily declare as in decline with their worst ever team.

Meanwhile, Gordon Strachan’s analysis of Croatia v Republic of Ireland suggested that Republic’s players would be more hungry for this game, having not been in a tournament for ten years, and that Croatia players might be blase at always reaching tournemants. Croatia failed to qualify for the most recent international tournament.

Meanwhile, on Monday night, co-hosts Ukraine beat Sweden 2-1 in a game which, according to Lee Dixon “Had everything – two World Class players on the scoresheet”

Yes, the game that “Had everything” had two players scoring. That was it.

The “Had everything” is of course, a classic Shearerism, and not to be outdone, our hero reeled it out after a timefilling montage of Holland v Germany matches.

According to Shearer, Marco Van Basten “Had everything – pace and power”

Yes, according to Shearer, the player who ‘had everything’ only had two skills, basically running very fast and charging past people.

ITV, based in the centre of Warsaw, quite literally in the thick of the action as Polish and Russian hooligans beat seven bells out of each other nearby meant everytime Gordon Strachan opened his mouth, he was immediately drowned out by police sirens.

Last time there was that number of police sirens blasting out on ITV in the evening was in the glory days of The Bill.

Talking of grudge matches, the BBC weren’t slow in hyping up Holland v Germany. Somehow, nobody told Mark Lawrenson who sounded underwhelmed throughout.

Arjen Robben’s reaction to being subbed brought Lawrenson to life as he managed to fit in a bad pun that doesn’t really work that “There’s no Arjen team” – Geddit?

Amazingly, it got worse, as he morphed into full David Brent mode, proclaiming that TEAM means “Together Everyone Achieves More”

If the match lasted ten minutes longer, he would have started dancing to Disco Inferno and started singing ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’ by Harold Melvin

Mark Lawrenson : Friend first, Entertainer second, probably a Football Commentator third

Talking of bad puns, Tuesday’s Daily Mirror (There was a copy lying about in the cafe I was having my lunch) backpage headline led with “KINGS OF JOLOEN” in reference to England’s draw with France.

I’m just as confused as you are

Talking of bollocks in the written press, today’s Belfast Telegraph led with a story about shameless bandwagon jumper Gary Lightbody being “attacked online” for cheering on the Republic of Ireland in Euro 2012.

The report had no examples of this ‘Abuse’ nor did they quote any of this ‘Abuse’

Typing ‘Gary Lightbody’ and ‘@garysnowpatrol’ into Twitter doesn’t bring up any abuse. Strange that.

It’s almost as if they pre-empted a story which didn’t happen. Pretty fucking pathetic if you ask me.


What do you mean, who are Belfast United FC?

You know, the promotion chasing FA Cup giantkillers. Well they are in some parrallel universe dreamt up by Belfast Telegraph columnist Gail Walker in her latest column this week.

You see, according to her, Belfast isn’t a proper city because we don’t have a football team in the English League.

Football is a subject that you don’t have to follow to be an expert. Columnists queue up to tell us how spoilt, overpaid footballers are eroding Britain’s moral fibre, in an article filed and stored away, for an appropriate opportunity to publish.

Northern Ireland, of course, isn’t immune to this, as people who don’t watch or follow the game are quick to tell us what we are doing wrong, and demonise us for following the game we love.

As bad as the Northern Ireland media can be at it, the English media can be just as bad, as recent stories in The Guardian and website “Who Ate All The Pies?” have proved.

Protestants. Tick. Catholics. Tick. Bombs. Tick. Shootings. Tick. Sex it up. Tick. File, then sit back smugly at your literary genius.

What about Northern Ireland’s youngsters being tapped up by the FAI, or Irish League teams having to play rearranged games and cup replays on Monday nights because UEFA won’t allow games on European nights?

Not sexy enough, needs more bombings and shootings.

It’s almost as if journalists do word association before writing their stories. “Ahhh Northern Ireland, the troubles. That was really shitty to watch on TV, but bloody great to sex up a story”

The most shocking thing about “The Water Crisis” wasn’t the hardship suffered, or the incompetence of NI Water, it was the fact that a story from Northern Ireland that doesn’t include a bombing or a shooting made the UK national weather.

Gail Walker has displayed form in terms expert opinions on football. In 2008, after an incident in Belfast City Centre got blamed on football fans, she stormed in to the debate crying that the 2008 Irish Cup Final must be cancelled because of this.

She even managed to namecheck Newry Town. It’s a pity nobody bothered to tell her that Newry Town changed their name to Newry City in 2004.

Seemingly, this utopian vision of Belfast United FC popped into her head upon hearing the news of government money being given to the three main sports to improve their facilities.

Instead of local football using the money to better itself, it should use the money to just rip up it’s history and start again, because that is the answer to everything isn’t it, rebranding?

“Look around you” she cries, “men and women wearing Liverpool, Man United, Rangers and Celtic tops whilst listening to Five Live and Talksport”

Perhaps if she ever ventured around Belfast, she would notice that people wear Linfield and Glentoran tops as well.

In fact, you can walk into JJB or Athletic Stores and purchase a Linfield or Glentoran top. You can’t miss them, they’re hung up on the wall alongside those of the big English and European sides.

Our local sides can hold their own in the shirt purchasing sales. Getting people through the turnstiles however, is an entirely different issue.

“There’s something profoundly wrong when this level of passion doesn’t get it’s proper expression – a football team of it’s own to support. It’s just weird” she argues, obviously ignoring the fact that we have our own clubs in this city, for this footballing passion to get an outlet for expression.

In Gail Walker’s world, if the middle-classes look down on it or sneer at it, then it doesn’t exist.

According to her, “We have much in common with the cities and towns of Northern England, which provide the backbone to League One and League Two in England”, which might come as a shock to supporters of clubs such as Brighton, Southampton, Charlton, Bristol Rovers and Oxford, who participate in these two leagues, and most definately don’t come from “Ooop narf”

Before adding “Why can’t we be part of the fun?”

Does it really need spelling out? Possibly, we can’t be “Part of the fun” because we are not in England.

If the FA won’t allow established big names like Rangers and Celtic into their league, what chance does a newly formed franchise team like Belfast United have?

Never mind the issue that they have to start at the very bottom. Not League Two, but the very bottom of the English football pyramid. Let’s be honest, the Northern Ireland footballing public are not going to rush out in their droves to watch a team playing in the Evo Stick League.

Does she seriously believe that Belfast United would be fast-tracked into the football league? Does she believe a chairman of a club relegated or denied promotion to accomodate this team will shrug “Ah well, if it stops the Paddies from beating the shit out of each other ……”?

Gail Walker then uses her knowledge of Northern Ireland’s business community to suggest that there may be a successful businessman mad enough to fund this venture.

If there is, i’ll get in touch with him to secure a grant for chocolate teapots.

Belfast United won’t be able to challenge Arsenal, United or Liverpool, but Gillingham or Rochdale shouldn’t hold too many fears apparantly.

That’s it then. We should set up a football team with the sole ambition of being better than Rochdale and Gillingham. Don’t set your ambitions too high.

I’m sure there’s a mad businessman out there willing to pour money into a football club which aspires to be better than Gillingham and Rochdale out of the goodness of his heart.

She then goes on to re-emphasise her point that Belfast isn’t a football city. Perhaps if she ventures to Northern Ireland’s match against Slovenia, or Linfield’s triple-header v Glentoran in April, or even the match at Seaview next week, she will see that Belfast is very much a football city.

Belfast can host big sporting events apparantly, using the Belfast Harlequins as an example of a recent success story.

Really? If you asked anyone to name a Rugby team in Belfast, every respondant would say “Ulster”

“Football plays a huge part in how a city sees itself, and as a city, we needs something to rally around” she says. On this theory, London isn’t a proper football city because there isn’t a London United FC.

She then goes on to say suggest that Belfast people don’t feel any allegiance to their local area than their home city. That is not a Belfast phenomenon, that is something that applies to every city in the UK, in fact, even the world.

If someone asked me wherabouts in Northern Ireland i’m from, the reply would be “Belfast”, it wouldn’t even be “South Belfast”, it would be “Ormeau Road”

Ask someone from Manchester the same question, and you would get responses such as “Didsbury”, “Salford” and “Chatterton” before people would say Manchester.

“But not one team speaks for Belfast” she argues, obviously neglecting that major UK cities such as Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Birmingham have more than one football club.

“There’s no obvious reason to say that supporting an Irish League club won’t stop you from supporting Belfast United” – Yes there is, it’s blatantly obvious. If you can’t work it out, you clearly don’t understand football.

She then argues that “We always want to show our talents on the biggest possible arena”

Shouldbody should point out that there is a team based in Belfast, which takes on foreign opposition on a competitive basis, it’s called the Northern Ireland football team.

Even a select few of our own Irish League clubs take on foreign opposition in UEFA competitions.

The utopian notion that “We can all get behind this” then gets a mention, as always gets mentioned when the idea of an All Ireland football team pops up on a slow news day.

Seemingly, we are at our most united and peace loving when we are taking on the world and beating them, before using Jack Charlton’s Republic Of Ireland team as an example of this.

Really? She really is living in a delusional world if she thinks everybody in Northern Ireland was cheering on the Repblic of Ireland team in 1990 and 1994, or joining on the grief bandwagon after Thierry Henry’s handball.

“We have some great indivudual sportsmen and women” namechecking George Best and Eddie Irvine, who participate in team sports before adding “But isn’t there something magical about team games” implying that only team sports matter, and are better than every other sport.

“Just imagine what this city would be like on big match days, promotion encounters, relegation battles and FA Cup ties against giants”

Streets covered in litter and people openly drinking and urinating after drinking too much, much like Saturday at 3am in Botanic, or the streets surrounding a football ground on matchday in England.

Or maybe this utopian football team turns us all into a well behaved society that doesn’t litter, only drinks in designated areas and holds it in if we need a pee.

“The fact that we don’t have a Belfast team says a lot about ourselves”

The fact that Gail Walker doesn’t acknowledge that Belfast has many football teams says a lot about her ignorance.

“We may go through the motions, but we’re not a ‘real’ city like Sheffield, Bradford, Nottingham or Bolton”

It seems bizarre to do an article about how Belfast needs it’s own football team to represent everyone in the city, and then using two cities (Sheffield and Nottingham) which have two senior football teams, representing different parts of that city as something to aspire to.

Will either of them cities be hosting the MTV Awards this year?

Will any of them cities be hosting International Football this year?

Will any of them cities be hosting European Rugby this year?

Will any of them cities be hosting events like Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival or Belfast Fashion Week?

Instead of complaining about who we aren’t, and what we don’t have, why not be proud of who we are, and what we do have?

It might not be perfect, but I enjoy living in Belfast. There are many things which will improve Belfast, a plastic soul-less franchised football club with no history isn’t one of them.