PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

August began for me with the opening game of the 2018-2019 season, as Linfield travelled to Mourneview Park to take on Glenavon.

My next match was in the Scottish Challenge Cup, taking in Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers during a short break to Edinburgh.

Upon my return, it was back to Irish League football for me, with successive trips to North Belfast for Linfield, against Crusaders and Cliftonville.

Glenavon v Linfield

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Cliftonville v Linfield

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2018 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August 2018 was a busy month, and it began at Mourneview Park for the start of the 2018-2019 season as Linfield beat Glenavon 1-0.

The following weekend, I headed to Custom House Square to see George Ezra in concert. That was followed by a day trip to Bangor where I squeezed in some Street Art photos, including a mural of John Lydon.

It was then back to the football as I went to see Edinburgh City take on Albion Rovers in the Scottish Challenge Cup while on a short break in Edinburgh. I also managed to get some Street Art photos while in Edinburgh.

Upon my return to Belfast, was a trip to Seaview to see Linfield take on Crusaders.

The next few days were spent at Custom House Square, seeing Kasabian, Turin Brakes and Travis in concert.

The following Saturday was a trip to Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville.

Glenavon v Linfield

George Ezra live at Custom House Square

George Ezra live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Bangor Street Art

Bangor Street Art Photo Album

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers

Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Kasabian live at Custom House Square

Kasabian live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Turin Brakes live at Custom House Square

Turin Brakes live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Travis live at Custom House Square

Travis live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

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

EDINBURGH STREET ART – AUGUST 2018

Even though it is renowned as an arty city, Edinburgh isn’t really a hotbed for Street Art.

On my recent visits, I have headed to New Street, where there is permanently building work, meaning there are canvasses for Street Artists to work with, but there was nothing whenever I visited.

I covered quite a lot of the city but didn’t see a lot in terms of Street Art.

I spotted some pieces at The Meadows, but the first real spot of note came in the University Area, with some new pieces as part of a Community Project called Southside Murals, done by Kate George.

Not getting into any debate about boundaries, but I also spotted some pieces when I visited Leith.

Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art 2017

Edinburgh Street Art 2015

Edinburgh Street Art 2014

Edinburgh Street Art 2013

EDINBURGH CITY 3-1 ALBION ROVERS 14.8.2018

Linfield might not be in the Irn Bru Cup this season, but that didn’t stop me taking in a game in this season’s competition.

As you will know, I like to visit Edinburgh every August. It’s not a football trip, but it would be rude not to take in a match while i’m there.

I was visiting Monday to Friday, but there were midweek matches on offer for me, as this was the week of the 1st Round of the Irn Bru Cup.

There was also European football the week I was there. Unfortunately, Hibs were away to Molde on Thursday.

Glasgow is only an hour away from Edinburgh, so if Rangers were at home, that would be handy if I wanted to go to it. They were away on the Thursday night.

If, for some reason, I wanted to watch Celtic, guess what? They were away too.

So, all I had was the Irn Bru Cup. There are a lot of towns with football teams commutable to Edinburgh, so my options wouldn’t be limited to the capital.

My options were Cowdenbeath v East Fife and Edinburgh City v Albion Rovers, while Hearts Under 20s were also at home, but that was never going to be considered.

I went with this game as it was a ground I have been to, having been there twice in the space of four weeks last Summer, taking in Edinburgh City’s game against Montrose while at the Edinburgh Fringe, and then returning in early September for Linfield’s Irn Bru Cup game against Spartans.

If you don’t already know, Edinburgh City groundshare with Spartans.

There was also the bonus that this game was half price admission if you had a Fringe ticket.

And, the bar was open pre-match, so I had a nosey around. There was a canvass print on the wall of Rod Stewart when he visited the ground, while somebody else killed time by watching AEK Athens v Celtic on their phone.

This ground was familiar to Albion Rovers, having lost 4-0 there in a League Two match just ten days earlier.

This could, and possibly should, have been me seeing Albion Rovers for the second successive season, as Albion eliminated Spartans from last season’s competition but fielded an unregistered player, meaning it was Spartans who hosted Linfield instead.

There were a lot of fiesty tackles going in during the early minutes, but it was Edinburgh City who came closest to scoring when a speculative effort hit the top of the bar.

However, it was Rovers who took the lead on 15 minutes when John Cunningham got clear and fired home, to give them a 1-0 lead they held until half-time.

As the second-half started, a Rovers fans urged his team on, yelling “COME ON ROVERS!! I’M MISSING RIVER CITY FOR THIS!!”

It didn’t have the desired effect, as City went 2-1 up with a quick double from Scott Shepherd and Blair Henderson, before Henderson clinched the game late on with a penalty.

With the game being decided on the night, I wasn’t too unhappy with the game being decided within 90 minutes.

The draw for the next round gave City and away tie against East Kilbride, who eliminated Spartans on penalties. It could easily have been an away game at their ground.

Photo Album

THE EDINBURGH CELEB SPOTTING BLOG 2018

As you will have gathered by my previous post, I was recently in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh in August is usually filled with people from the telly ranging from A List all the way down to Z List.

Here is a list of people I recently spotted on my visit to Edinburgh.

Tuesday 14th August

Nish Kumar – Doing some filming on George Street

Wednesday 15th August

Robert Bathurst – Waiting at traffic lights on Nicholson Square.

Joel Dommett – Loitering in Pleasance and looking at his phone.

Thursday 16th August

Hal Cruttenden – Walking through Pleasance and talking on his phone.

Edinburgh Celeb Spotting 2017

Edinburgh Celeb Spotting 2015

Edinburgh Celeb Spotting 2014

Edinburgh Celeb Spotting 2013

Edinburgh Celeb Spotting 2012

Edinburgh Celeb Spotting 2011

EDINBLOG 2018

A milestone trip for me, as it was my tenth trip to the Edinburgh Fringe. My first time was in 2003 when I won a place on a Workshop, but I only saw a bit of the Fringe.

My first proper trip wasn’t until 2009, and it sort of came about by fluke.

I was waiting for a bus and had a lot of time to kill. I was wondering through HMV and saw a programme for the event. Having read through it on that bus journey to Dublin, I decided to book a trip. The rest is history, and i’ve been back every year since, apart from 2016 when I went to the European Championship instead.

I have travelled over at all stages of the month long festival. There’s no bad time to visit, but if you had to choose, definitely go in the middle. At the start, things are warming up. At the end, they are winding down. In the middle, is just perfect.

My choice of dates were more influenced by convenience, as I had other plans in Belfast in August that meant the middle of the month was the only time I would be available for a sustained trip.

When I go to Edinburgh, I usually have a weekend as part of my time there, but this time was different, as I stayed from Monday to Friday.

One advantage of being in Edinburgh on a Monday or Tuesday is that a lot of the shows have discounted ticket prices on those days.

The one downside of arriving in the middle of the event is, that some performers usually have a day or two days off during the middle week, so people you might want to see aren’t actually performing.

It’s not essential, but it is helpful if you get a copy of the programme (They are usually free in Waterstones) and have a plan, even if it is provisional, of what you want to see.

I might sound like i’m very organised, but the truth is I only finalised my list less then twelve hours before I flew out.

Upon arrival, I headed straight to the main Ticket Office in the Royal Mile, and got everything I wanted bar one, unable to get a ticket for Dylan Moran on Wednesday, or any other day unfortunately. I still had two days to get something sorted.

If you did arrive undecided about what to see, there are plenty of people and listings guides that are more than willing to help you decide what to see.

When you arrive at Edinburgh Airport, they have complimentary newspapers at Arrivals, including the Scottish Edition of The Times, which has a free pull-out. Of the papers you have to buy, The Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News also have listings guides.

If you buy a copy of The Scotsman at a venue, you get a free goodie bag.

When I got mine on the Monday, it had a poncho in it, which was useful, unlike the free Suncream I got last year. We are in Scotland for crying out loud.

Another newspaper worth getting is the Scottish Edition of Metro, which is also free and comes with a section dedicated to the Edinburgh Festival.

Metro is also worth picking up for Rush Hour Crush, to laugh at the absolute oddballs who submit to it. I really wish we had Metro in Northern Ireland.

Each venue also has their own listings guide as well. Basically, there is plenty of reading material if you still haven’t decided what to see.

Earlier, when I referred to getting ready, that meant practicing my apologetic “I’m fine, thanks” to Flyerers, as you will be offered a lot of flyers during your stay.

As I arrived in Edinburgh, the weather was what would be described by locals as pishing doon, that’s rain to you and me. It would be that way for most of the week.

Thankfully, I had paid for early check-in. It wasn’t the weather for killing time, so I chanced it by seeing if I could check-in earlier than my early check-in, and my room was ready.

So, I unloaded my baggage and had a quick change into drier clothes, and my Edinburgh 2018 was ready to go.

My accommodation was in Cowgate, a brilliant location. Royal Mile, Waverley Station, Pleasance and Edinburgh University are all within a ten minute walk. I would make the most of this during the week.

Being a regular visitor to Edinburgh, I know how to navigate my way around the city. My first port of call was to Edinburgh University, where Assembly and Guilded Balloon were based, having a walk around the venue. There wasn’t a lot of people about, not that unsurprising due to the weather.

Monday was never going to be a busy day, but in late afternoon, I went to my first show, Battle Of The Superheroes, where four Comedians put their point across as to why their favourite Superhero is the best.

There seemed to be crossed wires as a lot of children turned up for the show, only to be told that it wasn’t really appropriate for kids.

You don’t have to be massively into comic books to enjoy the show. I don’t know the difference between DC and DC Thomson, nevermind DC and Marvel, and I still enjoyed.

The winner of this one was Mr Freeze (yes, you read that right) where it was argued that a lot of trouble could be avoided if Bruce Wayne just employed him to do Medical Research.

My main show on the Monday was Reginald D Hunter at EICC, a venue which is a bit remote from the main Fringe venues. This was acknowledged by Hunter during his set, saying that he keeps getting further away with his venues, his Edinburgh show next year will be in Glasgow.

Hunter is a big fan of the MF Word and a lot of other words you can’t say on TV. He was very funny, talking about how living in the UK for twenty years has made him appreciate irony around some of the events that happen when he visits his family in America.

On Tuesday morning, I went for a walk around George Street and Rose Street. It is good to escape from the Fringe for a while and see as much of the city as possible.

I also visited the site of Edinburgh Book Festival at Charlotte Square. Unfortunately, the events I wanted to see at it were taking place before or after my stay in Edinburgh. I had wanted to see Archie MacPherson do a talk, but ironically, it clashed with a football match I wanted to see.

What amused me was that Brian May was doing a talk about the history of photography. He was joined by a Professor called Roger Taylor. Yes, actually.

Another event which takes place at the same time is Fringe By The Sea, in North Berwick, a seaside town half an hour away by train which hosts concerts and shows. Unfortunately, the event had finished by the time I arrived, but i’ll be keeping an eye out for listings in future years in case our paths cross.

After escaping from the rain, it was time for my first show of the day, Hello Georgie Goodbye Best, a play about George Best’s lost weekend with Sinead Cusack in 1971.

Appropriately, for a show about football, it started at 3pm, although this was on a Tuesday afternoon, it was a show that will have spent a lot of it’s budget replacing smashed cutlery and dead fish.

Football was very much the theme of Tuesday, as in the evening I headed to Ainslie Park to see Edinburgh City take on Albion Rovers in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Wednesday morning was spent in the University Area, hunting for bargains in the Charity Shops and Independent Shops in that area, as well as checking out some new murals that have appeared as part of a Community Project.

As it had just started raining, I decided to head to a free show, What Has The News Ever Done For Me?, where Comedian passionately argue why their favourite news story is the most important story in the world.

Problem was, I went to the venue it was held in last year, and it had moved.

I decided to cut my losses and go elsewhere, unaware that the venue it was in was across the street. Doh.

With a six hour gap in my schedule, I was looking for a show for late afternoon or early evening. I narrowed my choices down to Angela Barnes or Lucy Porter.

I decided to use the most foolproof model and let the people decide, and a Twitter Poll went in Lucy Porter’s favour.

Wednesday afternoon was spent at a recording of Matt Forde’s Political Party Podcast, the guest in this edition was John Swinney.

Going to see Lucy Porter represented my first visit to visit Pleasance, my favourite Fringe venue.

I’m trying to avoid sounding like a pompous wanker who uses words like “Vibe”, but there is a great vibe about Pleasance.

I’d seen Lucy Porter before, on my first proper visit in 2009, and she was once again very funny, focusing on the, um, joys and agony of middle age.

Wednesday night was spent seeing Tape Face, formerly known as The Boy With Tape On His Face, who I had seen before.

As with the times before, I was crying with laughter, and even dancing to The Twist, like the rest of the audience.

Thursday morning was spent having a stroll along Leith Walk, checking out some of the Independent Shops, before going to see What Has The News Ever Done For Me?, this time making it to the right venue.

Thursday afternoon was spent at Paul Merton’s Impro Chums.

As the title suggests, you don’t quite know what is going to happen, and I don’t think anyone was expecting to be, um, treated to Merton taking his top off for their, um, pleasure.

On Thursday night, I went to see Brendon Burns. I only knew of him due to a video clip of him taking the piss out of Scousers.

He entered the stage ridiculously happy, as he had to cancel his previous shows due to Tonsillitis. He came in carrying an energy drink, who he approached to sponsor his podcast, but they declined due to suggested jingles.

He was rude, sweary, obnoxious and offensive. I loved every minute of it.

Friday morning was spent chilling at the BBC Base, now at George Heriot’s School having moved from Potterow. As there is now a building where their Potterow base was, it looks like they will be at George Heriot’s from now on.

There are usually free events and recordings taking place there, if you are stuck for something to do.

Even though I was heading home that night, there was still time for one last show, Super Sonic 90s Kid, a 90s nostalgiafest hosted by Sooz Kempner.

It had it’s moments, but not a lot of them. I would have been better signing off with Brendon Burns.

It was another trip to Edinburgh for me where I didn’t visit Arthur’s Seat. I promise i’ll try to trek up it in 2019.

Unless you go for the full month, you will always miss something you want to see. The night I left, Paloma Faith did a concert in Princes Street Gardens, which I would have loved to have gone to.

It wasn’t all perfect as the city suffered from overcrowding. In recent years it has been suggested to extend the dates of it, or to spread it around the city.

All the venues being so close to each other is why the event is so convenient. If it was spread out around the city, the problem is, Edinburgh doesn’t really have the public transport infrastructure to accommodate.

It doesn’t really help matters that people are thick as shit.

Remember when you started school? What was the first thing you learnt? Walk on the left, it’s surprisingly effective.

People seemed to be genuinely horrified that I was not prepared to walk on the road when cars were driving past just to accommodate them.

The problem was even worse during Commuter O’Clock when people were coming home from work.

Of the acts I didn’t see, it felt sacrilegious to go to Edinburgh and not see David O’Doherty. I had Kieran Hodgson on my To See List, but didn’t get a ticket. Judging by the reviews and the buzz around him, I really regretted it.

Despite his poster being plastered all over Edinburgh, it wasn’t until I read an interview with him in Metro that I realised he is Gordon from Two Doors Down.

If you haven’t seen Two Doors Down, you should get into it.

My return to Belfast didn’t see the end of the comedy, as I headed to The Odyssey to see The League Of Gentlemen. Every bit as good as the TV show, I was crying laughing at times.

So, that was Edinburgh over for me for another year. All being well, i’ll be back in 2019.

Edinblog 2017

Edinblog 2015

Edinblog 2014

Edinblog 2013

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

ULSTER 16-17 EDINBURGH 16.2.2018

This was a nice wee freebie for me, I won a competition online to win free tickets for this game. I usually only go to one game a season, usually in Europe, so this was a nice bonus for me having been to the match against Wasps in October.

This was the second successive home game for Ulster, having scored a routine 59-10 win over Southern Kings last week. Edinburgh also won last weekend, but it was a lot harder, securing a Bonus Point 29-24 win over Leinster in the last minute.

Little did we know it would be a warning.

My tickets were in the Grandstand. It was my first time in there since it was rebuilt. I’d always said to myself that i’d want to see what it was like there for a change.

I was seated towards The Aquinas End and I had a slightly obstructed view when the ball was at the other end of the field. If I was to go seated at Ravenhill again, i’d like to try behind one of the goals. Hey, the tickets were free, I shouldn’t be complaining.

Ulster made a positive start to the game and had Edinburgh pinned into their own half in the opening minutes. It was no surprise when Ulster took the lead through a John Cooney try, which was then converted to give Ulster a 7-0 lead.

You know when you’re watching a football match, and the home team scores in the opening minutes and you expect them to storm to victory but they don’t?

Yep, this was the Rugby equivalent.

Ulster couldn’t build on it, and never really looked like adding to their try count. It was very dull for long periods.

Edinburgh were the better team, and it was no surprise when Edinburgh got a try from Jason Harries, which was converted to make it 7-7, which stayed the score at half-time.

Early in the second-half, Ulster went 10-7 up through a John Cooney penalty. So early in fact, that I missed it as I was making my way back to my seat.

Another Cooney penalty made it 13-7, and it looked like Ulster now had the foundation for victory.

With only a six point lead, Ulster knew that a converted try would put Edinburgh into the lead.

Their fears were confirmed when a Lewis Carmichael try was converted to put Edinburgh 14-13 in front.

Soon after, Ulster were back in front, Cooney again, another penalty. 16-14. There was no margin for error now.

Ulster couldn’t get any further scores that could give them more breathing space. Even a drop goal or a penalty would have meant Edinburgh would need a converted try to win the game.

Unable to kill off Edinburgh, Ulster were now hanging on. The aim now was to hold on to the ball until the clock hit 80 minutes.

The crowd at Ravenhill had been quiet and subdued for most of the game. In the final minutes, they burst into life, trying to cheer their side to see them through the final minutes.

Edinburgh were able to get upfield for one last attack.

Ulster just couldn’t get the ball away, they just couldn’t get the ball to kick it out of play.

As Edinburgh, were attacking The Aquinas End, I had a perfect view of it all. You could see what was going to happen.

Edinburgh were able to get possession in a shooting position, as Duncan Weir was able to hit a drop goal to win the game 17-16 in injury time.

That was it, game over. Ravenhill fell silent.

Photo Album

2017 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September 2017 began with a road trip, and a long one at that, to Edinburgh, to see Linfield take on Spartans in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Two days later, it was another football match with an international feel, an actual international, as Northern Ireland took on Czech Republic at Windsor Park.

The following weekend was busy, taking in Ryan Adams at Ulster Hall and then Linfield’s match against Glentoran.

There was more football to follow, taking in Linfield’s matches against Crusaders and Ballinamallard.

The following weekend was football free but not photo free, as I was out capturing Culture Night, and Street Art painted as part of Hit The North.

The month ended with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville. The less said about which, the better.

Spartans v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic Photo Album

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Linfield v Glentoran

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Culture Night 2017

Culture Night 2017 Photo Album

Hit The North 2017

Hit The North 2017 Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

2017 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August began for me at Wilgar Park, seeing Linfield take on Dundela in a Friendly.

The following night, was another Pre-Season Friendly, as I was on the road to see Manchester United take on Sampdoria at Lansdowne Road.

That weekend, I was travelling some more, heading to Edinburgh for a weekend away, getting some Street Art photos and taking in Edinburgh City v Montrose.

When I returned home, I was out getting some Street Art photos, the aftermath of Hit The East Festival in Eats Belfast.

The following weekend, the Irish League season started, with Linfield taking on Carrick Rangers at Windsor Park, followed by a midweek trip to Ards and a trip to Dungannon Swifts.

As soon as the final whistle blew at Stangmore Park, I was straight back to Belfast to see Amy MacDonald perform at Custom House Square.

A few days later, I was back at Custom House Square to see Blossoms warm up for Kasabian, or so I thought, as Kasabian pulled out at the last minute.

A few days after that, I was back at Custom House Square, to see Ocean Colour Scene in concert.

The following day, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Ballymena United.

My photo adventures for August ended by getting snaps of murals of Jimmy Cricket, Jimmy Nesbitt, Jimmy Young and Carl Cox.

Dundela v Linfield

Manchester United v Sampdoria

Manchester United v Sampdoria Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Edinburgh City v Montrose

Edinburgh City v Montrose Photo Album

East Belfast Street Art

East Belfast Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Ards v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Amy MacDonald live at Custom House Square

Amy MacDonald live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Blossoms live at Custom House Square

Blossoms live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Ocean Colour Scene live at Custom House Square

Ocean Colour Scene live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Linfield v Ballymena United

The Three Jimmys and Carl Cox

The Three Jimmys Photo Album

Carl Cox Photo Album