2017 IN PICTURES – FEBRUARY

February 2017 began for me in Manchester, heading over to see United take on Hull City, while also getting some Street Art photos.

Back in Northern Ireland, I was on the road to Drumahoe to see Linfield take on Institute in the Irish Cup.

The next day, I was out on my bike for my biannual (usually February and August) visit to Belfast Peace Wall to get some photos of the Wall Art on the walls.

The following Saturday, another road trip, to Carrickfergus to see Linfield at Taylor’s Avenue

The following weekend, it was back to Windsor Park for Linfield, and a disappointing draw against Portadown.

The morning after, I was out on my bike to get photos of a Jamie Dornan mural in Belfast City Centre.

Later that day, it was another cup final, the NIFL Cup Final between Ballymena and Carrick.

The following weekend, I was Oval bound to see Linfield get a 1-0 win against Glentoran.

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Hull City

Manchester United v Hull City Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Belfast Peace Wall Art

Belfast Peace Wall Art Photo Album

County Antrim Shield Final

County Antrim Shield Final Photo Album

Carrick Rangers v Linfield

Linfield v Portadown

Be My Valentine

Be My Valentine Photo Album

NIFL Cup Final

NIFL Cup Final Photo Album

Glentoran v Linfield

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PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : FEBRUARY

February’s football watching began for me at Old Trafford on the first day of the month, to see Manchester United held to a 0-0 draw by Hull City.

Three days later came the first in a trilogy of road trips, first to Drumahoe to see Linfield take on Institute, then to Ballymena to see Linfield win the County Antrim Shield, and then to Carrick to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed by a visit to Windsor Park to see Linfield held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Portadown.

The following day, I was Seaview bound to see Ballymena United take on Carrick Rangers in the NIFL Cup Final.

The football watching for the month ended with a trip to The Oval to see Linfield get a 1-0 win against Glentoran.

Manchester United v Hull City

Manchester United v Hull City Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

County Antrim Shield Final

County Antrim Shield Final Photo Album

Carrick Rangers v Linfield

Linfield v Portadown

NIFL Cup Final

NIFL Cup Final Photo Album

Glentoran v Linfield

INSTITUTE 0-2 LINFIELD 4.2.2017

It was the Irish Cup for Linfield today, and a trip to Drumahoe to face Institute, with a place in the Quarter-Finals up for grabs.

Having successfully negotiated lunch at Applegreen without children holding up the queue, I found roadworks to be a much bigger obstacle, causing me to miss the opening ten or so minutes.

As I walked down the hill towards the ground, I could see an Institute player on the ground and the referee blowing his whistle. I feared a penalty. The referee said it was a dive. TV replays proved it to be a correct decision.

Linfield then began to dominate the first-half, Stephen Lowry having a shot saved from the penalty spot, Cameron Stewart having an attempt at goal just wide before setting up Andrew Waterworth, whose shot was saved when he really should have scored.

It wasn’t all one way traffic, as Chris Casment was forced into a block to deny Institute on one of their rare attacks.

Not even a succession of corners late in the half could bring a Linfield goal, as they had to make do with a half-time score of 0-0.

There wasn’t long to wait for a goal in the second-half, as a quick free-kick from Lowry found Niall Quinn in acres of space, his cross was deflected goalwards, Institute’s keeper palming it away, but only to Cameron Stewart who made sure from close range.

It was Stewart’s second goal for Linfield, coming from a combined distance of one yard out. It doesn’t matter how and how far they go in, as long as they go in.

Linfield were finding it out the hard way as they failed to get a second goal that would kill the tie, Institute knowing that while there was one goal in it, the tie was still very much alive.

A header from a free-kick appeared to level the scores for Stute, until their players started to surround the referee, the crowd only realising that the goal was disallowed.

I was at the other end of the pitch and couldn’t see why it was disallowed. TV replays showed it to be for a push. Soft, but the correct decision.

Aaron Harkin took his protests too far and got a second yellow card.

Chris Casement had a free-kick well saved as Linfield looked to take advantage of their extra man. There wasn’t long to wait as Andrew Waterworth was played through and made it 2-0.

It was job done. A lot later than hoped, but job done, despite Institute having some attempts at goal in the final minutes.

The only concern was Jimmy Callacher going off injured ahead of the County Antrim Shield Final on Tuesday.

Talking of Cup Finals, there is one which might be taking place at Windsor Park in 2019. It appears to have snuck under the radar of the Northern Ireland Media, but Windsor Park has submitted a bid to host the European Super Cup Final.

This has come as no surprise as it was previously reported that a bid would be made as soon as the redevelopment was complete.

That would be fantastic. I went to the European Super Cup Final in Cardiff, and really hope this event comes to Belfast.

It’s a game UEFA want to bring to “smaller” stadiums. Capacity isn’t an issue. Windsor Park is only sightly smaller than Eden Arena which hosted the final in 2013.

The competition comes in the form of Tirana, Toulouse, Budapest, Haifa, Astana, Gdansk, Warsaw, Glasgow and Istanbul.

The first six cities have never hosted a European final, so they have that as a USP, though Tolouse hosted Euro 2016 and Budapest will host Euro 2020 games. That may count against them.

One of the Polish bids will have to be withdrawn, while Glasgow, Istanbul and Astana may withdraw to apply for the UEFA Cup Final or the Women’s European Cup Final.

Suddenly, the shortlist could be very short.

Hampden Park is also in the running for that year’s UEFA Cup Final. Sounds like a good excuse for a trip to Glasgow.

If Hampden Park hosts the 2019 European Super Cup, I could console myself by basing my trip to the Edinburgh Festival around being in Glasgow in this day.

Bids have to be submitted by 6th June and the winning bids will be known in September 2017.

Forget about 2019, it’s 2017 that matters, and up next is the County Antrim Shield Final against Crusaders. The past three meetings this season have shown that Linfield have nothing to be afraid of (well, apart from Raymond Crangle influencing the game from 4th Official) and if they play like they have in those three games, they’ll get their rewards.

There won’t be long to wait for the next meeting against Crusaders, with the sides being drawn together in the Irish Cup Quarter-Finals. Linfield fans have good memories of Irish Cup Quarter-Finals in North Belfast, and a packed crowd willing their team on just as they did at Solitude last year gives us more than a chance.

Hopefully, by then, there’ll be nine more points on the board from wins against Carrick, Ards and Glentoran, as well as the County Antrim Shield.

If there is, the final months of the season could be very interesting indeed.

Photo Album

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2015

My football watching for 2015 is now over, so, it’s time for a statistical look back at the football I watched.

Games : 54

Goals Seen : 143

Red Cards : 10 (Doesn’t include Caoimhin Bonner being sent-off in the tunnel after the game)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 6

Hat-Tricks : 2 (Andrew Waterworth, Linfield v Dungannon Swifts. Andrew Waterworth, Linfield v Warrenpoint Town)

Teams Seen : 40

Arsenal, Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Bray Wanderers, Carrick Rangers, CE Europa (1st time), Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Dundee (1st time), Dunfermline Athletic (1st time), Dungannon Swifts, Espanyol (1st time), Finland, Glenavon, Glentoran, Greece (1st time), Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Hungary, Institute, Latvia (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Masnau, Northern Ireland, NSI Runavik (1st time), Partick Thistle (1st time), Portadown, PSNI, PSV Eindhoven (1st time), Qatar (1st time), Rangers, Romania (1st time) Scotland, Sligo Rovers, Spartak Trnava (1st time), Tobermore United, Valencia (1st time), Warrenpoint Town

Stadiums Visited : 23

Ballymena Showgrounds, Carlisle Grounds, Drumahoe, East End Park (1st time), Estadi Cornella y Prat (1st time), Ferney Park, Fortwilliam Park (1st time), Gresty Road (1st time), Hampden Park, Ibrox, Milltown, Mourneview Park, Newforge (1st time), Nou Sardenya (1st time), Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, Taylor’s Avenue (1st time), The Oval, Tynecastle, Windsor Park

Competitions : 13

European Championship, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship, La Liga, League of Ireland, Scottish Championship, Scottish League Cup (1st time), Scottish Premier League, Tercera Division (1st time), UEFA Cup

Curiousities :

No real curiousities, other than a match with kick-off delayed for an hour due to the weather

UEFA 102 Club : Espanyol, PSV Eindhoven, Valencia (now at 35 clubs)

2015 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March began on a musical theme with concerts taking up two of the first three evenings of the month, The Kooks at Mandela Hall and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at The Odyssey.

The following Saturday, it was back to football, as Linfield took on Warrenpoint Town at Windsor Park.

The Saturday after that was a road trip to see Linfield take on Institute at Drumahoe.

Some new Street Art appeared in Belfast during the month, a tribute to the recently deceased Leonard Nimoy and a reappearance of the Teenage Kicks mural

There was more Street Art later in the month, when I headed to Glasgow to see Northern Ireland take on Scotland in a friendly, and took advantage of a clear day and some art on show.

From Glasgow, to Glenavon (well, Lurgan) for another football trip the Saturday after. The same result, a 1-0 defeat, but a more damaging than the one in Glasgow.

The day after, more football, as Northern Ireland took on Finland in a European Championship Qualifier. Managed to get some photos of the redevelopment of Windsor Park, which seemed to be going so well at that point.

Little did I know then, It would be my last time in The Kop before it got demolished.

The Kooks Live At Mandela Hall

The Kooks Live At Mandela Hall Photo Album

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Live At The Odyssey

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Live At The Odyssey Photo Album 1

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds Live At The Odyssey Photo Album 2

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Institute v Linfield

Spock’s Teenage Dreams

Glasgow Street Art

Glasgow Street Art Photos

Scotland v Northern Ireland

Scotland v Northern Ireland Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Finland

Northern Ireland v Finland Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MARCH

After ending February with Irish Cup disappointment for Linfield, it was the league that concerned them in March, and began well with an easy home win over Warrenpoint Town.

The following week, it was off to Drumahoe to see Linfield grind out a win against Institute.

A blank Saturday was followed by a trip to Scotland to see Northern Ireland play at Hampden Park.

The football kept coming, as the following Saturday, I was headed to Mourneview Park to see Linfield lose 1-0 to Glenavon.

The following day, it was off to Windsor Park for a bit of Sunday football to see Northern Ireland take on Finland, and get some photos of the redevelopment of Windsor Park, which was going so well at that point.

Little did I know then, but it would be my last time in The Kop before it was demolished

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Institute v Linfield

Scotland v Northern Ireland

Scotland v Nothern Ireland Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Finland

Northern Ireland v Finland Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

The 2014-2015 football season began domestically in August, with a trip to Portadown, for Linfield’s first domestic game under Warren Feeney.

The optimism was soon gone within 90 minutes as Portadown ran out 3-0 winners.

A few days later, I was in Cardiff for the European Super Cup Final between Real Madrid and Sevilla. It was a fantastic trip and great to visit another stadium for the first time. Was very impressed with the facilities there.

24 hours later, I was headed to The Oval to see Linfield get their first domestic win under Warren Feeney, a comeback win from 2-0 down.

That weekend, I was in Edinburgh, and took in a game, Hearts v Hibs at Tynecastle.

With Windsor Park being redeveloped, Linfield had a run of seven successive away games, so road trips became a regular feature of the opening weeks of the season, with trips to Institute (first time there), Ballyclare Comrades and Dungannon Swifts finishing off August.

Portadown v Linfield

Real Madrid v Sevilla

Real Madrid v Sevilla Photo Album

Glentoran v Linfield

Hearts v Hibs

Hearts v Hibs Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Ballyclare Comrades v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

INSTITUTE 0-1 LINFIELD 14.3.2015

As the split approaches, Linfield arrived at Drumahoe looking for three points to try and keep the pressure on Crusaders at the top of the table. Institute were desperate for points in order to ensure they would be playing Linfield and Crusaders in the league next season. An interesting afternoon awaited.

Linfield’s previous visit to Drumahoe in August feels a long way off. Both teams had made promising starts three games in and had high hopes for the season ahead. The seven months since probably hasn’t went how either team has hoped. In both team’s situation, the season was still retrievable.

The game started slow, but then Linfield began to dominate possession and had some attempts on goal. They were usually fired wide or over, or an easy save for Institute’s goalkeeper.

The tempo seemed to drift from on extreme to the other, with Linfield having lots of pressure, to Linfield not doing much with the ball.

Institute were set up to counter attack, and that’s where their best moments came from.

Most of Linfield’s play came from Ross Clarke, looking for him to run and defenders and get crosses in.

Ironically, for all Linfiled’s build-up play, it looked like they were going to take the lead from Stephen Lowry running on to the ball from his own tackle. That was, until Andrew Waterworth showed a striker’s instinct to get the ball and finish. Unfortunately, he was in an offside position when doing so.

With half-time approaching, Linfield built down their left, with an overhit pass looking like it was going out for a goal kick, before Matthew Clarke didn’t give up on it and won a corner

The resulting corner was headed home by Aaron Burns. It was a goal that Linfield needed just to settle the nerves.

The start of the second-half mirrored the first-half, with Linfield having a lot of possession in Institute’s half. Again, most of the play came through Ross Clarke.

Linfield were desperate for a second goal but just couldn’t get it. Sammy Morrow was the most frustrated of all, having a shot blocked over the bar, a header go over, then a shot save by Institute’s goalkeeper.

Institute have some play in Linfield’s half, but it didn’t amount to much. Their best moment was a free-kik easily saved by Tuffey. They had some crosses easily cleared. They didn’t really look like scoring, but this is a Linfield team that can concede a goal at any time. That thought was always in the back of your head.

If Linfield had kept a lot more clean sheets this season, you would have felt a lot more confident with a 1-0 lead going into the final minutes. Especially as the game had taken on a similar pattern to the game in August with Linfield failing to kill Institute off when 1-0 up, and being made to pay for it with a late equaliser.

No such problems for Linfield, as they held out for the win. Unfortunately, they walked off the pitch in the same situation as they walked onto it, six points behind Crusaders, after Crusaders won 3-1 at Ballymena.

Below Linfield, results went for Linfield with both Portadown and Cliftonville dropping points, meaning that Linfield are ten points clear of a guaranteed place in Europe next season.

That race has suddenly taken a twist, with Glenavon and Glentoran now having a sniff of 4th place, which could be enough for a UEFA Cup place, dependent on the results of the Irish Cup Semi-Finals next weekend.

It’s Glenavon next for Linfield, in two weeks time. No match next week, we only have ourselves to blame for that.

Mourneview Park has been a kind ground to Linfield. It has to remain that way in a fortnight if Linfield are going to have something to battle for when Crusaders come to Windsor Park

You never know, Coleraine might do us a favour in two weeks time. Favours are what we’re hoping for over the coming weeks. The important thing is, that we help ourselves.

Photo Album

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2014

So, my football watching is over for 2014. Time to look back at the year just gone. And what better way to do it than with a load of stats.

Games : 54

Goals Seen : 164

Red Cards : 17 (includes Rhys Marshall getting sent-off after the final whistle, but not Gary Hamilton being sent-off as a substitute before he entered the field)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 4

Hat-Tricks : 1 (Robin Van Persie, Manchester United v Olympiacos)

Teams Seen : 37

Accrington Stanley (1st time), AIK Solna (1st time), Ards, B36 Torshavn, Ballinamallard United, Ballyclare Comrades (1st time), Ballymena United, Bangor, Bray Wanderers (1st time), Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Cowdenbeath (1st time), Crusaders, Drogheda United, Dungannon Swifts, Everton (1st time), Exeter City (1st time), Faroe Islands, Glenavon, Glentoran, Harland and Wolff Welders, Heart Of Midlothian, Hibernian, Hull City (1st time), Institute, Leyton Orient (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Olympiacos (1st time), Peterborough United (1st time), Portadown, Real Madrid, Sevilla (1st time), Tottenham Hotspur, Warrenpoint Town,

Stadiums Visited : 19

Ballymena Showgrounds, Brisbane Road (1st time), Cardiff City Stadium (1st time), Carlisle Grounds (1st time), Coleraine Showgrounds, Crown Ground (1st time), Drumahoe (1st time), Ferney Park, Milltown (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, The Oval, Tynecastle, White Hart Lane (1st time), Windsor Park

Competitions : 15

County Antrim Shield, European Championship, European Cup, European Super Cup (1st time), FA Premier League, Football League One (1st time), Football League Two (1st time), Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship, League Of Ireland, Northern Ireland League Cup, Scottish Championship (1st time), Steel and Sons Cup, UEFA Cup

Curiousities :

No real curiosities this year. There were two twins on opposing sides, but i’d already seen it. Other than that, a player setting up a goal with no boots. It was a poor year for curiousities.

UEFA 100 Club : Everton, Sevilla (now at 32 clubs)

2014 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

It took a while for August to get going, but when it did, it was rather good.

My first photo adventure came on the second weekend, when I headed to Portadown to see a new era begin, Linfield’s first domestic game with Warren Feeney as manager. The less said of the result, the better.

Late that night, I headed to Falls Park to see Kaiser Chiefs in concert.

The following day, I was off to Wales for a few days, specifically to see the European Super Cup Final between Real Madrid and Sevilla.

I took the opportunity to explore Cardiff, go to Bristol for a day, and spend some time in Bath. Loved the Street Art in Bristol. Would have loved to have gone on the official tour, but it wasn’t on the day I was there.

Back in Belfast, it was off to The Oval to see Linfield come from 2-0 down to beat Glentoran.

I wasn’t back in Belfast long, as it was time to head to Edinburgh, mostly for the Festival, but I did take in some football, Hearts v Hibs. I also managed to get some Street Art photos when in Edinbugh.

Not long back in Belfast, it was time for Tennent’s Vital to see Bastille and The Killers on the same bill.

Two days later, it was on the road to see Linfield, a theme through the opening weeks of the season. This time, it was to Institute, my first time there.

Two days after that, was a trip to see Linfield go out of the League Cup to Ballyclare. The less said of that, the better.

One more road trip, to Dungannon, to see Linfield get a 1-0 win. At least the month ended on a winning note.

Portadown v Linfield

Kaiser Chiefs Live At Falls Park

Kaiser Chiefs Live At Falls Park Photo Album

Bristol Street Art

Bristol Street Art Photo Album

Cardiff/Bristol/Bath

Cardiff

Cardiff Street Art

Cardiff Street Art Photo Album

Real Madrid v Sevilla

Real Madrid v Sevilla Photo album

Glentoran v Linfield

Hearts v Hibs

Hearts v Hibs Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Bastille Live At Tennent’s Vital

Bastille Live At Tennent’s Vital Photo Album

The Killers Live At Tennent’s Vital

The Killers Live At Tennent’s Vital Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Ballyclare Comrades v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield