If seven was the number last week, five was the number this week.

Five goals, five games to go, and the gap at the top reduced to five points.

There was one change to Linfield’s starting eleven, with Ethan Devine coming in for Kyle Lafferty.

Linfield’s substitutes bench had some unfamiliar names on it.

Rhys Annett, recently signed from Dundela, and 15 year old Braiden Graham were the names looking to make their debuts.

The start to the match was mostly even. Dungannon had the first strike on goal just over a minute in, when Ben Cushnie dragged a shot just wide of the post.

As well as creating chances for themselves, you felt that Dungannon might accidentally create some chances for Linfield with the way they were passing it out from the back.

Linfield didn’t need any assistance from Dungannon to take the lead, they did it themselves.

The ball made it’s way to Chris McKee after a Dungannon defender challenged Ethan Devine, and he made no mistake from close range despite being under pressure from another Dungannon defender.

A good start but the points were far from in the bag, Dungannon weren’t going to give it up. More goals were needed from Linfield.

It almost came when Ethan Devine volleyed on the stretch, but the ball went agonisingly just wide of the post.

The move deserved a goal, but it wasn’t to be.

That frustration was forgotten within a minute when Devine was played in by Kirk Millar, and he made no mistake, smashing the ball through the goalkeepers legs to make it 2-0.

Not quite points in the bag, but a commanding lead.

It was going to take a spectacular comeback or capitulation for Linfield not to leave Stangmore Park with three points.

Dungannon responded with a cross/shot easily held by Chris Johns, before he was forced into a save with his legs, as Linfield were having to work to make sure they went in at half-time 2-0 up.

Which is what they did.

A satisfactory half for Linfield. A two goal lead without being dominant. Dungannon had shown enough in the first-half that they weren’t going down without a fight. Linfield needed to start the second-half strongly, and ideally get a third which would kill the game off.

To say they made sure of the points in the opening minutes of the second-half would be a bit of an understatement.

Joel Cooper got the ball out wide on the right, and drilled the ball low into the back of the net, to the shock of a lot of people.

It wasn’t quite a cross, it wasn’t quite a shot. Whatever it was, it ended up in the back of the net, and surely secured the points for Linfield.

What it also meant was that they could rest players and give others minutes, which was handy even if the next match is two weeks away.

Remember in 2020 when Linfield scored within seconds of the game restarting after conceding a goal against Dungannon?

Well, this time, they scored within seconds of the game restarting against Dungannon, except it was after one of their own goals.

An attempted interception fell perfectly to Ethan Devine who once again finished, firing through the goalkeeper to make it 4-0.

Just as you were about to say “My word, this is a jolly good start to the second-half from Linfield”, it got even better.

Kirk Millar picked up possession, cut inside and fired home from outside the box. It was the second successive season that he had scored a long range strike at Stangmore Park.

Having kicked off 2-0 up, within five minutes they were 5-0 up. If Linfield kept this ratio up, they would win this 29-0.

That would be a nice boost to the goal difference.

In all seriousness, this and the win against Newry had wiped out Larne’s advantage over Linfield in this regard, and the combination of results where the title would be decided by this would only see Linfield get a further boost.

Jimmy Callacher had a chance to make it six when a flick on from a corner fell to him, but he got his feet all wrong and the ball went well wide.

Thankfully, it wasn’t costly.

Kirk Millar was next to be frustrated as he was played in but his effort hit the post.

With the points long in the bag, Linfield made some substitutions. One of those coming on was 15 year old Braiden Graham.

Jamie Mulgrew was in his third season as a Linfield player when he was born.

Even though he now wasn’t many saves to make, Chris Johns was still keeping himself busy stopping soft throw-ins and corners being conceded. He was desperate for a sixth successive clean sheet.

He would be leaving the pitch with a clean sheet, as it finished 5-0.

The following day, Larne drew 0-0 away to Coleraine, meaning their lead at the top was cut to five points. Things just got interesting.

Five wins for Linfield and they need Larne to fail to win just one match.

Easier said than done.

The following day, the post split fixtures were announced.

Frustratingly for Linfield, they have to play three more matches before facing Larne.

Ideally, that would have been the first game, to try and get the points to cut that lead and really put the pressure on.

We’ve had 33 games to try and get to the top of the table.

There’s still 5 games to try and fix it.

Photo Album


December began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed by a tip to Telegraph Building to see Blossoms in concert.

A spell of frost descended on Belfast, but now snow. I was all psyched up for snow photos, for nothing.

There was then a football free weekend for me, with Linfield in Scotland.

The following weekend, I headed to Ulster Hall to see Ash in concert, followed by Linfield’s home match against Dungannon Swifts.

As you will have noticed, there is still a week of the month left.

What I have planned is Bangor v Dunmurry Rec, Glentoran v Linfield, a walk up Cavehill and possibly Lisnabreeny Hill.

Here’s to more phototaking in 2023 and beyond.

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Blossoms live at Telegraph Building

Blossoms live at Telegraph Building Photo Album

Ash live at Ulster Hall

Ash live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts


Things are going so well for Linfield at the moment, they moved up a place in the League without playing the previous weekend.

Even though they went out of the Scottish Challenge Cup, which was annoying as they would have had a trip to Dumfries in the next round, if you had to lose one cup tie that week, that would have been it. Even the bumps aren’t that bumpy.

Two Cup Finals to look forward to in 2023, Linfield needed to keep on winning to ensure they would start 2023 still in the title race that they looked out of in mid October.

They were handed an accidental boost by the weather, with Larne, Glentoran, Coleraine and Crusaders all having their matches postponed, giving Linfield a chance to get points on the board while others are inactive, a role reversal from the previous week.

Straight on the attack from kick-off, Linfield were looking to make the most of the opportunity to gain points on their rivals.

They looked like they might get a penalty in the opening minute for a foul on Joel Cooper but nothing was given.

Eetu Vertainen then had a shot blocked, the sting taken out of it to take it out for a corner.

It felt like a matter of time before Linfield scored.

Six minutes was the answer, as Eetu Vertainen was played in out right and his cross was perfect for Chris McKee to finish from close range.

From where I was sat, I and those around me could see him unmarked and onside. You were celebrating a goal before the cross even came in.

A much needed start in a game like this. You don’t want to give the opposition something to hold on to.

Linfield didn’t really kick on as hoped after that, and were a bit sloppy in defence, although Dungannon never looked like taking advantage of any sloppy passes going their way.

Eventually, Linfield got themselves back on track and were soon 2-0 up when Eetu Vertainen made space for himself in the box and smashed home. Even at this early stage, it was game over unless Linfield did something stupid.

It was Linfield who were almost gifted a goal when Joel Cooper capitalised on a loose ball but Dungannon’s keeper was able to get out quickly to make himself big and deny him.

Sam Roscoe was then frustrated as his flick goalwards didn’t have enough power to trouble the keeper as they had to settle for a commanding but not decisive 2-0 lead.

A third goal would have done the job for Linfield and there wasn’t long to wait in the second-half for it, just three minutes in fact.

Joel Cooper played in Chris McKee in a wide position, under pressure from Dungannon’s keeper. No problem, just backheel it for Cameron Palmer to put it into the empty net.

Palmer got a knock for his troubles but was able to continue.

He was one of those who would be substituted with the game won. No need to take risks.

Amongst those coming on was Jordan Stewart, making a long awaited return after injury. He would be joined by Liam McStravick, getting more minutes under his belt.

The rest of the game then meandered without incident, until the final five minutes.

Matthew Clarke went on a run and found himself running through on goal before being pulled back by Caolan Marron, who was sent-off

You could argue that was harsh as there was Dungannon defenders putting pressure on Clarke (something they probably should have done many yards earlier), but, Chris Johns was harshly sent-off at Stangmore Park in October in a game where Marron was lucky not to be sent-off.

It was a bit of a stupid thing to do, as the game was gone as far as Dungannon were concered, i’m not sure if was worth the sacrifice. It’s not as if they were holding on for a win or a draw.

The respite was almost temporary as Kyle McClean’s free-kick hit the bar before being headed in by Jordan Stewart, who was flagged offside.

Looking at replays of the incident, the offside call was correct but it looked like the ball might have been just over the line.

It wouldn’t be long before Linfield made it 4-0, and it was more frustration for Jordan Stewart as his shot hit the post but fell for Ethan Devine to set up Liam McStravick to put it into the back of the net.

If it’s not going to be your day, might as well be continually frustrated in your attempts to make it 4-0. That’s a good kind of bad day.

It was great to see him back in action, at a time when numbers will be needed.

Attention for Linfield now turned to the trip to The Oval on Boxing Day.

Although, there were other things occupying their mind recently.

They drew Warrenpoint at home in the Irish Cup. A bit meh, would have loved it if it was away.

Curiously, if they win the Irish Cup this season, their last three wins in the competition, all in the last decade, will have been on a Friday, Saturday and a Sunday.

Glentoran can also achieve this rather unique treble, but let’s not think about that.

A Sunday Final is handy for me as i’m planning to go to United v Wolves on the following weekend, so there is no awkward clash for me.

Let’s hope Linfield get there in the first place.

Also coming to Windsor Park is Michael O’Neill. A pleasantly surprising development. I didn’t think he’d take the Northern Ireland job as he’d be holding out for an English Championship post (he has enough credit in the bank in terms of reputation from his time at Stoke) so this is a bit of a coup.

A welcome mood boost ahead of the Euro 2024 Qualifiers, just as much as Denmark’s performances at the World Cup.

More good Euro news in the shape of new air routes to Frankfurt and Budapest being announced from Belfast. Possible trips with football thrown in to be explored.

Before my visit to The Oval will be a trip to Seaview for the Steel and Sons Cup Final as it’s on the rather more convenient date of Christmas Eve.

Might as well make the most of it as it won’t be on that date until 2033.

So i’ll sign off by wishing you all a Merry Christmas, even to Glentoran supporters.

Although, I hope they have a shitty day on the 26th.

Photo Album


October was a busy month, right from the very start, heading to Dungannon on the first day of the month to see Linfield get a win at Stangmore Park.

That was followed a few days later by another away day, to a very wet Wilgar Park to see Linfield grind out a 1-0 win over Dundela.

The following night, it was the Ulster Hall to see Beabadoobee in concert.

Back on the road the following Saturday to see Linfield draw with Coleraine.

Then it was back to Ulster Hall to see Paul Weller.

Two days after that, it was Linfield v Glentoran, the less said of that the better.

The following day was a lot more enjoyable, making the most of a football free Saturday to check out Murlough Bay.

Over the next seven days came two Linfield home matches, against Glenavon and Larne.

The following week, I was off to Manchester, my first visit to see Erik Ten Hag’s United in the flesh, against Sheriff Tiraspol.

While I was there, I got some photos from a stroll along a canal, some Street Art (of course) and a walk up Hartshead Pike.

The month ended with a trip to Newry to see Linfield get some much needed three points.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Dundela v Linfield

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield v Larne

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester Canal Walk

Manchester Canal Walk Photo Album

Manchester United v Sheriff Tiraspol

Manchester Untied v Sheriff Tiraspol Photo Album

Hartshead Pike

Hartshead Pike Photo Album

Newry City v Linfield


The first weekend of March 2022 saw me visit Carrick to see Linfield win a rearranged game, then the following morning, head up Cavehill.

Then the rest of the month was Linfield matches, against Ballymena United, Crusaders, Dungannon Swifts and Warrenpoint Town.

With the match against Warrenpoint Town being a lunchtime kick-off and the weather being nice, I decided to head to Warrenpoint Beach for some photos. I also headed to Carlingford, but I didn’t get any photos there though.

The month ended with my first Northern Ireland match in over two years, the friendly at home to Hungary.

Carrick Rangers v Linfield


Cavehill Photo Album

Ballymena United v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Costa Del Warrenpoint/Costa Del Carlingford

Costa Del Warrenpoint/Costa Del Carlingford Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Hungary

Northern Ireland v Hungary Photo Album


2022 began with a trip to Dungannon on New Year’s Day to see Linfield win 6-1 at Stangmore Park.

On the Bank Holiday Monday that followed, I could have had a lie-in, but I decided to head up Cavehill instead.

I then visited a new football stadium for the first time, very exciting, going to see Harland and Wolff Welders take on Annagh United at Blanchflower Park, which had opened a few months earlier, this was my first chance to visit this ground.

The rest of the month, was Linfield matches, against Larne, Ballymena United, Glenavon, Cliftonville and Coleraine.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield


Cavehill Photo Album

Harland and Wolff Welders v Annagh United

Harland and Wolff Welders v Annagh United Photo Album

Larne v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Linfield v Glenavon

Cliftonville v Linfield

Coleraine v Linfield


Linfield’s stop-start domestic season got back off to another start, just about getting over the line at Stangmore Park. It was a win that didn’t move them anywhere in the table, but a weekend where more dropped points would have seen them falling further and further behind those ahead of them.

They couldn’t even overtake Carrick Rangers for crying out loud.

It was advisable not to turn up late for this one.

The previous matchday saw Dungannon Swifts go 1-0 inside the first minute against Portadown at Stangmore Park, while the previous meeting between the two sides at Stangmore Park was 1-1 after three minutes. And that match kicked off three minutes early.

When it became obvious that there would be a change of ends, Linfield attacking their fans in the first-half instead of the second-half, I had to scurry to the opposite end, so I was hoping there wouldn’t be an early goal while I was in motion.

There wasn’t, but I was in position to see Robbie McDaid get in behind Dungannon’s defence, but his low shot from a wide angle was well saved.

Dungannon responded with a low shot that went well wide.

They then had a few moments that caused worry for Linfield, an effort which went agonisingly across the six yard box and a shot which hit the side netting.

Despite having a lot of the ball, Linfield weren’t creating a lot of opportunities in open play. It never felt like Dungannon were under so much pressure that a goal for Linfield was only a matter of time.

In fact, Linfield’s best opportunity came when Dungannon lost possession in their final third, the ball falling to Robbie McDaid, who set himself up but fired over when he really should have scored.

A voice from the crowd said “You can’t afford to miss those McDaid”. Whoever he was, he was right.

On a day when Linfield were creating so few clear opportunities to score, they had to make the most of anything that came their way.

There was more frustration for Linfield when Daniel Finlayson headed wide from a corner.

By this point, there was a torrential rainstorm, which saw fans quickly vacate the open terracing for the sheltered areas.

As the pitch at Dungannon is 4G, there was no danger of an abandonment like there was at The Oval the previous evening, as tempting as that was feeling, to have the opportunity to go home and start again.

Within a few minutes, an abandonment was the last thing that Linfield fans were thinking of as Robbie McDaid put them 1-0 up, chesting the ball into the empty net from a few yards out after a cross from Stephen Fallon.

Just as it looked like Linfield were going to kick on and secure a comfortable victory, there was a dramatic change to the momentum as Chris Johns was sent-off for a professional foul.

Except, he wasn’t the last man, and it wasn’t even a foul.

I was stood behind the goal at the opposite and thought it was a foul in real time.

When you are watching a football match, you will know when one of your team’s players is in trouble.

Not once when the Referee approached Chris Johns did I fear that a red card would be coming next.

There were plenty of defenders tracking back in a position to try and challenge the Dungannon attacker if he bore down on goal.

After all that, TV replays suggested that any contact was minimal.

I had expected a midfielder to be sacrificed, but surprisingly, it was Mike Newberry who made way for David Walsh.

Not quite experienced, but far from a novice, you could trust that Walsh would not be overawed.

Thankfully, there wasn’t long left in the half. See that out, and use the break to clear heads and work towards getting the three points.

At least there was a lead to defend rather than a lead to seek out.

The second-half saw some Linfield pressure in the opening moments as they looked for a much needed second goal, which unfortunately didn’t come.

To counter that, Linfield were comfortable in defence, but a one goal lead is far from secure, regardless of who you are and who you are playing.

Robbie McDaid thought he had secured that much needed second when he finished after following-up an effort which hit the bar, only to be denied by an offside flag.

McDaid was further frustrated when he created space for himself in the penalty area, only to fire into the side netting when he really should have scored.

Despite the clock running down and playing with ten men, David Healy was reluctant to turn to his bench.

It seemed too obvious to bring on an attacker for Robbie McDaid or Cameron Palmer to add some freshness in midfield.

Eventually, there was a substitution, with Niall Quinn coming on for Robbie McDaid, with Joel Cooper playing up front on his own.

That was not a move I was anticipating.

Dungannon then hit the top of the crossbar from a header, a reminder to Linfield that 1-0 is a precarious lead.

With each passing minute, the 1-1 draw at Stangmore Park in 2012 began to enter the memory bank, when a comfortable afternoon because two dropped points and two players banned from the next game.

Joel Cooper would be involved in the main action in the final minutes when his shot from the left went to the wrong side of the near post.

Then, he got pushed over by a Dungannon defender when the game had stopped. No card.

Dare I suggest that a Linfield player would have got a card if the roles were reversed?

I wasn’t screaming for a red card as others might have been doing. A yellow would have sufficed. Even that was lacking.

Thankfully, Linfield were able to hold on and get a crucial win, even though it didn’t help them climb the table, it did keep them in touch with teams above them.

Up next, a trip to Dundela in the League Cup, then a trip to Coleraine in the League.

In the build-up to this game, the draw for the County Antrim Shield was done, where Linfield will face Cliftonville.

Away from home of course, another away game.

Photo Album


March’s football watching began with a trip to see Linfield labour to a narrow win over Carrick Rangers.

The following weekend, that was followed by another laboured win, this time at home to Crusaders with a dramatic injury time winner.

That was followed by a more comfortable home win, against Dungannon Swifts.

Then is was a road trip on a beautiful sunny. The weather didn’t match the football, but Linfield did manage to scrape a late win away to Warrenpoint.

The month saw me make a return to watching Northern Ireland, in a new location in the Railway Stand, for the friendly against Hungary.

Carrick Rangers v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Hungary

Northern Ireland v Hungary Photo Album


January 2022 began with a trip to a very wet Stangmore Park to see Linfield put six past Dungannon Swifts.

I then treated myself the following week with a trip to a match as a neutral, and to a ground I had never visited before.

Blanchflower Park was the destination, my first opportunity to check it out since it opened, to see Harland and Wolff Welders take on Annagh United in the Irish Cup.

Three days after that, it was off to Seaview for the County Antrim Shield Final between Linfield and Larne.

It was back to Windsor Park on the next two Saturdays for Linfield’s home matches against Ballymena United and Glenavon.

The month finished with two away trips for Linfield, to Cliftonville and Coleraine.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Harland and Wolff Welders v Annagh United

Harland and Wolff Welders v Annagh United Photo Album

Larne v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Linfield v Glenavon

Cliftonville v Linfield

Coleraine v Linfield


October’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Cliftonville on the very first day of the month.

I was back at Windsor Park the following Saturday to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed by two road trips, to Warrenpoint and Larne for two Linfield matches.

The month ended where it began, at Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Larne v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts