PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MAY/JUNE

As the season was winding down, the matches were less frequent, now a fortnightly thing.

I began May with the Irish Cup Final in the Portadown end, getting drenched, having to park at The Odyssey and the barrier eating my ticket, and to compound the misery – Glentoran won the cup.

Two weeks later was my second trip of the season to Old Trafford, with Arsenal being the visitors in a game that finished 1-1.

Two weeks later, I was back in the North-West of England, to see Northern Ireland take on Qatar in Crewe. Most of the appeal of the game was the opportunity to visit another ground for the first time.

Near to a train station and with a programme shop, Crewe gets a thumbs up from me.

The next day was spent in Liverpool. I had some spare time on my hands, and headed to Goodison Park, in search of a mural of Dixie Dean i’d read about, but doesn’t appear to be there anymore.

Undeterred by this, I decided to get some photos of the exterior of the ground.

Two weeks later, one last game, Northern Ireland’s European Championship Qualifier against Romania, and an opportunity to experience the new Railway Stand at Windsor Park for he first time.

It was the only 0-0 draw I saw all season.

Glentoran v Portadown

Glentoran v Portadown Photo Album

Manchester United v Arsenal

Manchester United v Arsenal Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Qatar

Northern Ireland v Qatar Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Romania

Northern Ireland v Romania Photo album

LIVERPOOL STREET ART

In the North-West of England earlier this week, I took the opportunity to visit Liverpool. As with any city I visit, I like to keep an eye out for Street Art, and Liverpool was no different.

It was my third time in Liverpool, visiting at a rate of every 4 to 5 years (2006, 2010 and now 2015)

The only thing I found on those visits was this Beatles inspired piece.

On the morning I arrived in Liverpool, I embarked on the Seecret Liverpool tour which focused on the hidden parts of the city worth visiting. It wasn’t a dedicated Street Art tour, but it took in some pieces, so naturally, I headed to get some snaps.

When the tour finished, I also managed to stumble onto some pieces, as well as returning to some things I noticed when doing the tour.

When having lunch, I had a sudden brainwave, remembering hearing about a mural of Dixie Dean near Goodison Park.

With time on my hands due to a late evening flight, I headed over but couldn’t find it. While there, I managed to find a shop face with a woman with rainbow coloured hair, and got some snaps, so it wasn’t a wasted trip.

Remember to check back in 2019 or 2020 for my next scheduled (by my current rate of visits) visit to Liverpool when i’ll probably have some new pieces.

Photo Album

NORTHERN IRELAND 1-1 QATAR 31.5.2015

It might have been the last day in May, but my football season was still ongoing, as I headed to Crewe (a first time visit) to see Northern Ireland take on Qatar in an international friendly.

It was Qatar’s home game, and they chose Crewe as the venue as they are having a training camp in England. Both teams are working towards vital qualifiers in June – Qatar in the World Cup and Northern Ireland in the European Championship.

I had eyes on the rumoured friendly away to Wales, but as that didn’t happen, I decided to head to this one. Easy to get to and cheap to get to as well.

I flew in to Liverpool and met a friend at Lime Street and got the train to Crewe, 30 minutes away. The ground was near the train station. Not that surprising considering that Crewe Alexandra are known as The Railwaymen.

As we headed to the ground and picked up our tickets, we saw a programme shop and a bar. Near a train station, with a programme shop and a bar. This ground is almost perfect.

Our seats were in the upper end of the main stand, the only stand in operation for this game. Sadly, the Whitby Morrison Ice Cream Van Stand wasn’t in use.

The first noticed was the pitch. It wasn’t in the best of condition. I had some spare time on the Monday morning before my train to Liverpool so headed to have another look at the ground, and the pitch was being torn up and relaid.

The Football League season ended on May 2nd, four weeks prior to this game. With the number of Northern Ireland players playing at this level, there was a danger some players could be doing into the game against Romania without a game in six weeks. That’s why this game was so important, even if the result was not.

Unsurprisingly, it was a much changed team from that which faced Finland at the end of March. Of those that were on the pitch, Niall McGinn, Conor McLeaughlin and Stuart Dallas were getting a lot of joy out wide.

Northern Ireland were dominant and Qatar didn’t have an attacking threat. Qatar’s keeper was worked but not overworked. Unfortunately, Northern Ireland couldn’t get the goal that reflected their dominance.

They didn’t have to wait long in the second-half to get that goal, as Stuart Dallas fired home in the opening minutes of the second-half. Northern Ireland looked set for victory.

Patrick McNair, in his second cap, took the opportunity to get forward, firing a few shots on goal.

Qatar got more into the game and had a short period of pressure. During this period, they got a goal, with a long range strike.

As with any friendly, substitutions in the final twenty minutes disrupted the rhythm of the game and the game fizzled out into a draw.

With a lack of footballing entertainment, Northern Ireland fans taunted their opponents over recent scandals at FIFA, asking “How much did you pay, for the FIFA World Cup?” and taunting their own Jim Boyce over watches he received with “Boycie Boycie, what’s the time?” before some local Crewe fans managed to start “We hate Port Vale, we hate Port Vale”

Overall, a good trip, and always nice to visit a stadium for the first time. If i’m ever in the North-West of England and at a loose end, I wouldn’t be adverse to making a return visit to Crewe.

The result wasn’t important, it was all about getting match fitness for Romania. Still would have liked to have won. Should have won. Qatar are not a good team and have a lot to do in order to just be competitive for the 2022 World Cup, that they are due (situation changing every day) to host.

So, i’ve travelled to see Northern Ireland at Millennium Stadium, Old Trafford, Hampden Park, Lansdowne Road, Amsterdam Arena and now Gresty Road.

Hopefully, the next one will be in Paris, Lille or Lens next summer.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : NOVEMBER

November’s football began for me on the first day of the month, with a road trip to Lurgan to see Linfield take on Glenavon, hoping to end a run of three successive defeats, which they did, on a very wet day.

The following weekend, I was at Windsor Park to see Linfield get a routine win over Dungannon Swifts.

The Saturday after, I was back at Windsor Park to see Linfield throw away two points in a 2-2 draw against Glentoran.

Back on the road the following weekend, to Warrenpoint, to see Linfield pull off a late escape to record a dramatic 2-1 win.

November ended with a trip to the North-West of England, primarily to go to Old Trafford to see United take on Hull, but I also managed to squeeze in a trip to Accrington Stanley for their match against Exeter City.

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Linfield v Glentoran

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Accrington Stanley v Exeter City

Accrington Stanley v Exeter City Photo Album

Manchester United v Hull City

Manchester United v Hull City Photo Album

MANCHESTER UNITED 1-1 ARSENAL 17.5.2015

For the second time this season, I was Old Trafford bound. This time, it was to see United take on Arsenal as they aimed to secure a Top 3 finish and automatic qualification for the Champions League group stage.

After last season, it wouldn’t take a lot to improve on it, so a jump of 3 places isn’t to be sniffed at. Hopefully, the same will happen next season.

It is particularly frustrating though, to hit a brick wall after some of the best performances of the season which means they will more than likely finish 4th, and face a Qualifier to reach the Champions League.

It’s not a new experience, having reached the groups by this method in 1998, 2004 and 2005. Thankfully, unlike in 2004 and 2005, it won’t cause postponement of Premier League games, meaning United fall behind at a time when teams are jostling for position.

Thankfully, Liverpool let United away with a poor run of form by only claiming one point from trips to West Brom and Hull, meaning United secured a Top 4 finish with two games to go.

It was my third time seeing United take on Arsenal, both the previous games finishing 0-0 draws. I was really putting my record of not seeing a 0-0 draw this season on the line.

Arsenal had a few early attacks but nothing that caused panic, as Untied grew into the game and were the stringer team.

Phil Jones almost scored an own goal by attempting a backpass from too close to De Gea, whose outstretch clearance set up an attack. It was classic Phil Jones.

Alongside him in defence, Chris Smalling, captain for the day, had a fine game.

United’s best player was Ashley Young, being at the centre of all attacking play, most often cutting onto his right foot and playing a dangerous cross.

The one time he crossed with his left foot resulted in United going 1-0 up as his cross went beyond Arsenal’s defence for Ander Herrera to volley home. It was a deserved lead.

Falcao was given a start. It didn’t happen for him. The effort was there, but the goal wasn’t.

Arsenal came out in the second-half a changed team, offering more in attack in the early moments than they did in the whole of the first-half.

United needed a second goal, they weren’t able to get it.

The second-half was in danger of becoming De Gea v Arsenal. The one time Arsenal got past him, Marcos Rojo was there to win the ball inside his own six yard box.

De Gea was injured in that incident, and was replaced by Victor Valdes, who made a long awaited debut for United.

By this point, Robin Van Persie was on for Falcao, as United chased a second goal.

It was Arsenal who got the second goal of the game, to square it at 1-1 with an unfortunate own goal from Tyler Blackett. I was at the side of the pitch where he scored and thought he squeezed it in from a tight angle. TV footage would prove me wrong, that it was an own goal instead.

After that, Arsenal were the mostly to score, the best chance coming when Mesut Ozil hit the side netting.

Robin Van Persie fired over with United’s best chance in the final moments, as it finished 1-1.

A missed opportunity to put some pressure on Arsenal in the race for 4th.

The media have been full of scare stories of the sides that United could face in August. Looking at the sides English clubs have faced (Celtic, Young Boys, Udinese, Fenerbache, Besiktas) at this stage since the format was amended in 2009, they are sides pundits lazily describe as “no mugs” but United should have enough to beat over two legs.

The tournament format will be changed from next season with the Champions of the top eight leagues being top seeds instead of the top eight ranked sides. It is good news for the likes of Benfica, PSV Eindhoven and Zenit St Petersburg.

Amazingly, if United get through, indications are that they will be second seeds, which is impressive for a side that missed out a whole season of European football.

However, the 2010-2011 run to the final will soon drop off, meaning United will need a very good run in Europe next season to have a decent ranking in 2016-2017. Or they could just win the Premier League or the Champions League.

When the fixture list comes out, i’ll have a look and deliberate over what games to go to. What i’m thinking of at the moment, is one fly to, one bus to and a there and back European game. If I fly over for a weekend, i’m hoping it’s a Sunday game and I can get a chance to take in a game at FC United’s soon to be opened Broadhurst Park.

New players to come in, and Adidas kits to come (my first United top was an Adidas one) – it’s all change at Old Trafford. Already looking forward to experiencing some of it in the flesh.

Photo Album

MANCHESTER STREET ART MAY 2015

Had a brief visit to Manchester over the weekend and took the opportunity to get some Street Art pictures. My schedule only allowed me an afternoon in the City Centre, so I headed straight to the Northern Quarter.

The pieces I snapped on my last visit in November are now gone and replaced by new pieces.

When I was in Manchester in November last year, I got some pictures from along Salford Quays. I didn’t get the opportunity due to a lack of time.

Staying in the North-West of England, i’m heading to Northern Ireland v Qatar in Crewe at the end of the month, before spending a day in Liverpool, where I hope to be getting some Scouse Street Art when i’m over there.

Photo Album

See Also

Manchester Street Art November 2014

Manchester Street Art November 2014 Photo Album 1

Manchester Street Art November 2014 Photo Album 2

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 15.9.1979

The 1970s are almost over, but the focus is already on the first international tournament of the 1980s, Euro 80 in Italy, as Kevin Keegan, in action for England against Denmark, is the cover star of Shoot, ahead of the return qualifier between the two at Wembley.

England manager Ron Greenwood vows his side will attack Denmark, complimenting the Danes as England’s main rivals for qualification (only the group winners went to Italy), a point echoed by Northern Ireland manager Danny Blanchflower, whose side were also in the group.

Trevor Brooking was also wary of Denmark, stating that “Denmark’s breaks and power shooting a worry”

Newly appointed Denmark manager Sepp Piontek is interviewed for the game, stating that Denmark are aiming to use these qualifiers to boost their ranking for the 1982 World Cup Qualifiers, stating that Kevin Keegan was “World Class”, that he had a lot of knowledge of the England team, especially the two West Germany based players, Kevin Keegan and David Watson.

England won the match 1-0 and qualified for Euro 1980, going out in the group stage, while Denmark finished bottom of their qualifying group.

Denmark would have their revenge four years later when they would qualify for Euro 84 at the expense of England.

England were the only home nation in competitive action as Scotland and Wales had friendlies.

Scotland faced Peru, a side who had beaten them 3-1 in the previous year’s World Cup. Teofilio Cubillas, Peru’s talisman predicts a win for Scotland, as Peru had declined since the previous summer. Cubillas wasn’t able to confirm if he would be appearing at Hampden Park due to commitments with his club Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Wales were in action in a friendly against Republic Of Ireland at Vetch Field, only the second meeting between the two sides, with Wales buoyed by Robbie James and Peter Nicholas scoring their first international goals that summer. Wales won the game 2-1.

Viv Anderson, now a columnist for Shoot, talks about the secret of Nottingham Forest’s success, having just been crowned European Champions. The secret, was Brian Clough’s man management. We probably knew that anyway.

In ads, there is an advert for a new football magazine called Top Soccer, with the headline “At last! Super NEW mag for young soccer fans” with Kevin Keegan on the cover of the first edition.

There is literally nothing about this magazine online, but i’d presume it was an IPC publication, seeing as it had been given an advertising platform in Shoot.

There was a free pull-out in this edition of Shoot, part of a series called “The Captains”, profiling captains of clubs in England and Scotland.

In letters, Ray Wilkins recent transfer to Manchester United has divided opinion, with Joseph Stanger wishing him good luck at Old Trafford, while David Ash from Catford expresses his disappointment that he didn’t stay to help Chelsea get promoted to Division One, pointing out that Trevor Brooking’s England career hasn’t suffered as a result of playing in the Second Tier.

Gregory Watts from Winkworth wants football matches extended to 120 minutes, while William Cook from Hoylake bemoans the fact that Liverpool have had their shirts sponsored by Hitachi.

Shoot give a double page spread to Rodney March’s retirement and the uncertainty as to where George Best’s next club will be.

Brighton, newly promoted to Division One get a club profile, where club Chairman Mike Bamber is dreaming of European football coming to Sussex.

Despite having made improvements to the Goldstone Ground, Bamber is planning to move the club away from the Goldstone Ground to a new stadium at a site in Waterhall at an estimated cost of £7m

It took 32 years for Brighton to get a new stadium, in Falmer, after a spell at an athletics stadium in Withdean, and a 2 year exile in Gillingham.

In international news, Shoot catches up with Lawrie Cunningham, recently signed for Real Madrid who face Valencia in their opening game. It was Valencia who face West Bromwich Albion in Europe the previous season , where Cunningham caught the eye of Real Madrid.

Meanwhile in Brazil, Garrincha has recently had a spell in hospital with health problems.

In Hertfordshire, Graham Taylor is trying to manage expectations of Watford, newly promoted to Division Two, after successive promotions, and the presence of a pop star chairman, in the shape of Elton John.

Panini took out an advert to announce that Football 1980 stickers would be given away by Shoot in January.

Danny McGrain writes that Celtic are going into the unknown ahead of their European Cup tie against Tirana. McGrain also argues that managers should have a transfer fee, following a rejected approach by Athletic Bilbao for Ipswich manager Bobby Robson.

On the back cover, was a team photo of Burnley.

2014 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November began for me with a road trip to Lurgan, to Mourneview Park, to see Linfield take on Glenavon in what could be described as an eventful game.

The following week, it was back to Windsor Park, for the home game against Dungannon Swifts.

The week after that, it was Windsor Park again, for the visit or Glentoran.

Back on the road the week after, to Warrenpoint, to see Linfield do their standard go behind but win it late thing they do up there.

It wasn’t all Linfield though, on the final weekend of the month, I headed to Manchester for a short break, where I got loads of Street Art photos, went to two football matches and two concerts.

That, was my November.

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Linfield v Glentoran

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Manchester

Manchester Photo Album

Accrington Stanley v Exeter Stanley

Accrington Stanley v Exeter City Photo Album

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album 1

Manchester Street Art Photo Album 2

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Hull City

Manchester United v Hull City Photo Album

Ting Tings Live At The Deaf Institute

Ting Tings Live At The Deaf Institute Photo Album

Erasure – Live At Manchester Apollo

Erasure – Live At Manchester Apollo Photo Album

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

ERASURE – LIVE AT MANCHESTER APOLLO 30.11.2014

I’d always liked Erasure, it was only when I was researching for 50 Years Of Top Of The Pops that I realised how much I liked them. They’re just a constant hit machine.

I’d tried to get a ticket for their Belfast gig at the start of November, but it was sold out within 90 minutes (I know this because I called at the Ulster Hall at 10.30am on the day they went on sale) so I couldn’t believe my luck when Erasure were playing on the Sunday night of the weekend I was in Manchester, it was too good an opportunity to turn down.

They entered the stage with Vince Clarke playing the opening bars to Oh L’amour. You could hear Andy Bell’s vocals but couldn’t see him.

Eventually, you saw him, dressed in a sparkly t-shirt, sparkly hat and sparkly leather trousers. He was very, um, sparkly.

Dancing his way through Oh L’amour, the dancing soon stopped afterwards, as he declared himself to be “Stuffed” after eating a Yorkshire Pudding.

The Manchester crowd, long over the War Of The Roses, didn’t boo the reference to their neighboring county.

They weren’t solely plugging their hits, there was new stuff, such as new single Elevation.

Vince Clarke spent most of the gig in the background, pulling the strings. Or rather, pushing the buttons, but sometimes plucking the strings, venturing out to play guitar on songs such as Stop! and A Little Respect.

Clarke got some more attention, as Andy Bell introduced him as “The most beautiful man in the world” before giving him a big kiss.

By this point, Bell had a change of outfit, now wearing a pair of silver hotpants. Guess what? They were sparkly.

More hits followed – Victim Of Love, Love To Hate You and Chorus.

They left to cheers but came back for an encore, featuring two more of their biggest hits – Sometimes and Always, with someone in the crowd throwing a teddy bear at Andy Bell.

The venue is a bit away from the City Centre, so I got a bus back to Picadilly. The 203 to Picadilly became an unofficial Party Bus, with fans singing Erasure songs. When one man wanted to get of he shouted “DRIVER!!! STOP!!!” and then sings the chorus to the Erasure song Stop!, with everybody else on the bus joining in.

I think that’s what you call a good night.

Photo Album