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.

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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

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

2018 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

I had to wait until the 8th of the month for a photo adventure, heading to The Oval to see Linfield take on Glentoran.

That was then followed up by a trip to Windsor Park the following Saturday to see Linfield take on Newry City.

Another weekend, another football match, as I then headed to the Seaside to see Linfield take on Ards.

The following weekend, began with Rugby, as I headed to Ravenhill to see Ulster take on Dragons.

It was back to football the following day as I headed to Stangmore Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

The month ended with a trip to The Odyssey to see U2 in concert.

Glentoran v Linfield

Linfield v Newry City

Ards v Linfield

Ulster v Dragons

Ulster v Dragons Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

U2 live at The Odyssey

U2 live at The Odyssey Photo Album

2018 IN PICTURES – FEBRUARY

February 2018 began with a trip to The Limelight, a first proper concert of the year, to see Shed Seven supported by John Power.

That was followed the following midweek by a trip to Warrenpoint to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint Town.

The following Saturday, was Linfield’s 0-0 draw with Dungannon Swifts.

The following week was very busy, with Paul Weller at Ulster Hall followed by Ulster v Edinburgh and then Cliftonville v Linfield.

The weekend after that was a trip to the seaside, to see Linfield take on Ards.

That was then followed by a midweek trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose to Glenavon.

Around that time, it was getting cold. So cold, there was the possibility of snow. That didn’t come until March 1st, so you’ll have to wait until next month’s round-up to see that.

John Power live at The Limelight

John Power live at The Limelight Photo Album

Shed Seven live at The Limelight

Shed Seven live at The Limelight Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Ulster v Edinburgh

Ulster v Edinburgh Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

Ards v Linfield

Linfield v Glenavon

ARDS 2-1 LINFIELD 20.10.2018

Having played everybody once, Linfield would be on the road for matchday twelve, the start of the second stage of matches, to face Ards, the side that they endured the most frustrating game in the first stage of games.

That game against Ards, was the only dropped points at Windsor Park, but trips to Clandeboye Park have been kind to Linfield in recent years, with three wins out of three and three clean sheets since Ards were promoted in 2016.

It was the second of four successive games against teams in the bottom five, representing a great opportunity to get some points on the board and some winning momentum, especially as they and Glenavon have pulled away from everybody else, and that Glenavon have a similar run of games.

It was a slow start for Linfield, never really getting going or penning Ards into their own half, and it was Ards who took the lead when a cross was headed home by Mark Kelly. If Linfield needed to be told to up their game, they certainly had to now.

During the 0-0 draw in September, Ards grew in confidence with each passing minute as they had something to hold on to. Now they had something better than a 0-0 draw to hold on to.

The response from Linfield wasn’t immediate. It didn’t come until the midway point of the first-half, with Robert Garrett having a shot deflected wide for a corner, before Josh Robinson thought he had headed home an equaliser, only to be denied by the offside flag.

Linfield now needed to step it up to get that equalising goal. It looked like Michael O’Connor was going to get it but he couldn’t get his leg on the end of a cross which flashed across the penalty area.

1-0 down, there was no need to panic at half-time, but the second-half performance needed to be so much better.

You got the feeling that if Linfield could pull it back to 1-1, especially early in the second-half, it would be a platform to go on and win the game.

Joel Cooper had a shot saved while Michael O’Connor couldn’t get a header on target as Linfield chased that equaliser.

Now midway through the second-half, David Healy turned to his subs bench, making a double substitution, with Andrew Waterworth and Niall Quinn coming on for Robert Garrett and Kirk Millar.

Waterworth was straight into the action, firing a shot over with his first touches.

A goal came soon after from one of the subs, but not the one you would be thinking, as Niall Quinn got to the ball just before Sam Johnston to put the ball into the net.

Linfield had the goal they craved, and there was still enough time to go on and win the game.

It was Ards who responded better to that goal, with Kym Nelson hitting the post from a long range shot, before Mark Kelly cut inside to stun Linfield and put Ards 2-1 up.

The opportunity came about from Jimmy Callacher jumping in to try and make a tackle, but there was no need to as Kelly was going nowhere.

With Callacher now on the ground, Kelly exploited the space that was now finish to make it 2-1. It was such a bad goal to concede, and at such a bad time. Linfield would now have to get back into the game all over again.

Unsurprisingly, Linfield had most of the ball but never looked like creating anything with it. It was all too predictable, long balls forward that David Elebert was easily heading away.

By this point, Jordan Stewart had come on as a substitute for Andrew Mitchell, his main moment was having a shot palmed away by Sam Johnston.

It looked like Linfield were going to get a penalty for handball, but a free-kick was given. From the resulting free-kick, it looked like Andrew Waterworth was fouled. The referee wasn’t interested. He also wasn’t interested when Linfield appealed after penalty box grappling every time Linfield had a set piece.

It just looked like one of those days, where it was going to be Ards day. Linfield started off poor, never got into a rhythm, gave Ards something to hold on to, and never took advantage of the momentum they had in the one moment when the game swung in their favour.

It had been so long since Linfield lost away to Ards, it was at Castlereagh Park. 1997 to be precise. I’m not sure of the last time Linfield lost at Clandeboye Park, but i’m guessing it was the early 1990s or the 1980s, though they did lost a friendly there in 2014.

Elsewhere, Glenavon took advantage with a win at The Oval against eight (yes, eight) man Glentoran, the first time Glentoran had three players sent-off in a match since March 1998. That afternoon certainly brings back a lot more fonder memories.

That will mean Glentoran will be three players down for Tuesday night’s game in the County Antrim Shield, though that might not be a good thing considering Linfield’s record against teams missing players.

Regardless of today’s result, i’d make changes and give some fringe players game time. We’ll need them at some point over the season.

Hopefully, Glentoran’s defending will be as statuesque on Tuesday as it was for Glenavon’s two goals today.

Obviously, with a few big names on the bench just in case. We should still be going out to win it, as we don’t want to go into next Saturday’s game on the back of two defeats.

Traditionally, Linfield have been rubbish in October so today’s result shouldn’t have been a shock. But still, we’re now needing to win to keep in touch with Glenavon instead of winning to put the pressure on them to keep in touch with us.

Glenavon’s match at home to Newry is a 5pm kick-off, so the trip to Dungannon is an opportunity to put pressure on Glenavon before they kick off. We simply have to. We can’t afford to let Glenavon get any further in front.

Photo Album

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2017-2018

I hope you’ve enjoyed the month by month look back at the 2017-2018. The less said about what happened on the pitch, the better.

I took a lot of photos, so i’ve rounded up my favourites.

Feel free to vote for your favourite.

PLATT LANE

This was taken in June last year when The Oval was being used for filming a movie about Bert Trautmann, and was decorated to look like Maine Road. I went to get some photos.

I specifically wanted one with 1950s Maine Road and 2017 Oval both in the same shot, and this was my favourite from that day.

CLANDEBOYE

You have roadworks to thank for this photo.

I was held up heading to Ards v Linfield and missed the first couple of minutes.

This was the scene that greeted me as I entered, a crowd with their eyes fixated on the pitch on a warm summer evening.

GARRETT

I like the composition of this photo.

You may be surprised that Robert Garrett is attacking and not defending, he had just kept the ball in play and was now being surrounded by two Dungannon defenders.

PHOTOGRAPHER

I just like the composition of this shot. Taken during Spartans v Linfield in Scottish Challenge Cup.

RAINBOW

Me being arty farty. I love trying to get pictures of rainbows over football grounds. Taken at half-time during Ballinamallard v Linfield in November. A rare time that afternoon when it wasn’t raining.

HAUGHEY

Same match, everyone huddled in the stand to avoid the rain. I like the composition of this shot.

FLEGS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Switzerland match in November, green and white flags were left out before the game for fans to wave. I decided to take a shot as they were being waved and got lucky.

CELEBRATION

Everything fell into place for this shot, the sky, a well worked goal, and the whole team coming together to celebrate.

GOAL

I like this shot because it captures the emotion of a last minute equaliser as part of a late comeback that never looked like coming.

TIPTON

I was heading to the exit for a quick getaway (in my defence, it was an away game on a weeknight) and stumbled upon this framing as Matthew Tipton looked on as Warrenpoint took on Linfield.

CAMPION

Taken during Cliftonville v Linfield in February, the guy in the red coat makes it makes it with his celebration as Linfield players celebrate in front of their fans.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : FEBRUARY

February’s football watching began for me with a midweek trip to Warrenpoint to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint Town.

That was followed four days later by Linfield’s 0-0 draw with Dungannon Swifts.

Two away games followed for Linfield on the following weekends, against Cliftonville and Ards, before finishing the month with a midweek home match against Glenavon.

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Cliftonville v Linfield

Ards v Linfield

Linfield v Glenavon

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

August’s football watching began at Wilgar Park to see Linfield take on Dundela in a friendly. The following day, was another Pre-Season Friendly, but in different surroundings, as Manchester United took on Sampdoria at Lansdowne Road.

That weekend, I was in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Festival. While there, I make an effort to attend a game, and I saw Edinburgh City v Montrose while I was there.

Upon my return, was the start of the Irish League season, and I was out for Linfield’s opening week of matches against Carrick, Ards and Dungannon.

My football watching for the month ended by seeing Linfield take on Ballymena at Windsor Park.

Dundela v Linfield

Manchester United v Sampdoria

Manchester United v Sampdoria Photo Album

Edinburgh City v Montrose

Edinburgh City v Montrose Photo Album

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Ards v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United