PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2016-2017

So, the 2016-2017 season is over for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed my photographic look back at the season just gone.

I’ve selected some of my favourites, so feel free to vote for the one you like the best.

POLSKA

Taken back in June 2016 at Northern Ireland v Poland, I like the composition, how everyone is fixated on the action at the other end of the pitch, and the colour co-ordination of both sets of fans.



WILGAR

Taken at a pre-season game between Linfield and Dundela, it captures the joys of going to football matches in pre-season, sunshine and relaxation ahead of the hard slog ahead.



SEAVIEW

I like the framing of this, as the crowd is in position, awaiting kick-off in a big match.



CELEBRATION

Linfield fans celebrating Jimmy Callacher’s winner against Glentoran in October. I just like this for some reason other than the obvious.

PALMERSTON

There’s just something about the architecture of old football grounds that does it for me. This is out of use turnstiles at Palmerston Park, home of Queen of the South.

APPEAL

Linfield fans appeal in unison, all making the same hand gestures, for a goal to be allowed. The goal was disallowed for a foul.



ELF

Taken at the Steel and Sons Cup Final. Some people like getting dressed up for Christmas.

GAYNOR

I like the composition of this, from Ross Gaynor’s posture, to substitutes chatting to each other while the game goes on.

UNITED

I like the composition of this, all eyes fixated on the penalty area and the incoming corner.

SPOT THE BALL

I like the composition of this shot, it looks like a Spot The Ball image, except that the ball is in the shot, with two players getting ready for an aerial tussle.



COLERAINE

I love the framing and seeing players in the background running to join the celebrations.

WATERWORTH

Celebrations after Andrew Waterworth’s second goal against Cliftonville, capturing the joy of the event and the achievement just about to happen.

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MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 20.10.1979

Allan Hunter and Mick Mills of Ipswich Town, dressed in their respective national kits, are the cover stars of this edition of Shoot. That can only mean one thing, England are playing Northern Ireland. It’s not a Home International game, but on a continent wide scale, a European Championsip Qualifier at Windsor Park.

Mills and Hunter get a joint interview in Shoot’s preview.

Shoot do a feature on soldiers in Belfast who’ll be guarding the England team.

The feature reveals that, despite a lot of them being football fanatics, they’re not allowed to attend Irish League games when in civilian clothes due to security fears.

As well as England and Northern Ireland, there are also previews of Republic Of Ireland, Wales and Scotland’s European Championship Qualifiers.

Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson expressed his frustration at a League Cup defeat away to Arbroath. Fortunately for them, a comfortable first leg win saw them go through.

As well as winning the European Cup on the field, Nottingham Forest were celebrating after being voted European Team Of The Year by France Football magazine.

Wolves get a profile by Shoot, with the headline “Wolves Are Biting Again”, and so it briefly proved, as they won the League Cup that season. The rest of the decade wasn’t as good for Wolves.

In Northern Ireland, Portadown defender Herbie Pearson fears his career could be over, while QPR saw off competition from Manchester United and Everton to sign Northern Ireland Schoolboy international Alan McDonald, while Bobby Carlisle has signed for Newry Town, who have ambitions of joining Northern Ireland’s top flight.

Gordon McQueen uses his column to describe Scotland’s European Championship Qualifier against Austria as “Win or bust”

The draw for the 1982 World Cup is coming up soon, and Shoot previews this and how it will be decided, as this is the first 24 team World Cup. Shoot writes that there is a possibility of two UK teams being paired together, and so it proved, when Scotland and Northern Ireland were paired in the same group.

In ads, Phil Neal is advertising Gola.

Derek Johnstone uses his column to deny he had a punch-up with Scotland manager Ally McLeod.

Meanwhile, teenage defender Tommy Caton is juggling playing for Manchester City with his studies. He is interviewed by Shoot and says he is yet to face his biggest footballing examination, a match against Joe Jordan.

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2015-2016

I hope you’ve enjoyed the month by month look at the 2015-2016 season just past. The 2016-2017 is only a matter of days away. Scary, I know.

Before I wrap up the 2015-2016, it’s time for my favourite photos. Hopefully, you’ll agree. Feel free to vote for your favourite.

BRAY

Taken at my very first game, back on 27th June 2015, I like the composition and framing of this.

TAYLOR’S

Taken on my first visit to Taylor’s Avenue, I love how everyone is focused on the player with the ball (I think it’s Guy Bates)



FANS

Taken at Ballinamallard in September. I don’t know why I love this photo, I just do.

ENCOURAGEMENT

I was taking a photo of the corner, but this guy just got up and started to encourage Linfield players, which made the photo for me.

A photo of just the corner kick would actually have been boring.



GREECE

Taken on that famous night against Greece just after Davis first goal, and trying to capture what it meant.

RED SKY

No filtering or magic tricks, that’s what the sky was like when Linfield travelled to Ballymena in December. Just had to get a snap.

CELEBRATIONS

Taken after the Irish Cup tie at Solitude in March, what it means to win at a ground you haven’t won for four years, and to do so in a convincing manner.

TERRACES

Taken at Dalymount Park, terracing that isn’t used anymore, other than to hang flags on. I like the composition of this.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – SEPTEMBER

My football watching for September began in sunny Fermanagh, watching Linfield get a 1-0 win away to Ballinamallard, to keep up their 100% start to the season.

Two days later, it was Windsor Park to see if Northern Ireland could get the win they needed to reach Euro 2016. They didn’t get it, but a late 1-1 draw sent the crowd home more than happy.

The following Saturday, I went to Seaview to see Linfield lose their 100% start to the season with a 3-0 defeat.

Thankfully, Linfield were able to return to winning ways over the next two Saturdays, getting wins against Warrenpoint Town and Glenavon at home over the following two Saturdays.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Hungary

Northern Ireland v Hungary Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Glenavon

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 3.5.1980

The first tournament of the 1980s is approaching, Euro 80, and Shoot is attempting to do Ron Greenwood’s job for him by picking the England squad for this tournament.

Shoot gives a double page spread to this, with their selection, and the reasons for their selection.

While England’s players are heading to Italy, Ipswich Town’s players are heading to Hungary to appear in a film called Escape To Victory

In other news, Billy Humphries was considering making a comeback for Ards at the age of 42, while Aston Villa were keen on signing Mick Ferguson from Coventry.

In letters, Stephen Cochrane from Hartlepool writes in to suggest his local side will be a top flight club by 1987.

Scotland are also in international action, and Derek Johnstone uses his column to write about his hopes for an international. With Scotland not going to the European Championship, he can’t resist a dig at England by writing that this is how they must have felt sitting at home watching Scotland at the 1974 and 1978 World Cups.

Shoot interviews Manchester born pop star Andy Gibb about his love of Manchester United, saying that George Best was his hero. He supports United, but wants City to do well. In the interview, he says he doesn’t get to Old Trafford often, but visits Vicarage Road to see his local team Watford.

Gibb also reveals he has football matches in his local park with his three elder brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin (That’s the Bee Gees, by the way) who he describes as “Soccer mad”, which are videotaped, then they watch back when they get home.

West Germany captain Bernard Dietz gets a double page interview, where he states that England can win the competition. They were eliminated in the group stage while West Germany won the competition.

A possible future domestic opponent of Bernard Dietz is Liverpool midfielder Terry McDermott, who tells Shoot he is considering a move to a West German club.

Terry Venables uses his column to declare that players who do cynical fouls will never prosper in football.

As part of their build-up to Euro 80, Shoot looks at previous European Championships. This week, they look back at Euro 72.

In ads, Admiral take out a full page for their England kit and tracksuit range. One of the tracksuits is modelled by Trevor Francis. It’s unknown if it was purchased in Shepherd’s Bush.

Alan Hansen gets a full page profile where he reveals his favourite music is Billy Joel, and The Commodores, while his favourite other team is Manchester United.

In transfer news, Aston Villa manager Ron Saunders was fuming after Everton hijacked their bid to sign Dumbarton’s striker Graeme Sharp after they had agreed a fee with the Scottish club.

Shoot does a feature on Grimsby winger Mike Brolly, complete with a picture of him holding a brolly.

In other ads, there is an advert for a free Euro 80 sticker album, but not in Shoot, in two other publications – Roy Of The Rovers, and Tiger.

There is a poster of Celtic players and manager Billy McNeill celebrating winning the 1980 league title. They would soon look stupid as it was Aberdeen who claimed the trophy that season.

In international news, Bobby Robson is wanted by Barcelona to be their new manager. It would eventually take him 16 years to get the job. Meanwhile, one Spanish newspaper had a leftfield candidate for the post, Ian Paisley. It was a printing error as they got him confused with Liverpool manager Bob Paisley.

Andy Gray uses his column to suggest that there should be full-time referees in football.

The magazine ends on the back page with a poster of John Toshack in his Wales kit.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 17.12.1983

Jesper Olsen, in an Ajax kit doing keep-uppeys, is the cover star of this edition of Shoot. Despite wearing an Ajax kit, he’s very much a Manchester United player, having just signed for the club.

The headline desribes him as “United’s new George Best” – No pressure there.

United’s purchase of Olsen, in the week that Notts County couldn’t afford to sign Glenn Roeder is used as evidence in an editorial that a breakaway Super League of England’s top club beckons.

Olsen helped Denmark reach Euro 84 at the expense of England. 1966 World Cup winner Alan Ball speaks to Shoot about what England can do to win the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, suggesting that England should start throwing young players into international games.

Olsen wouldn’t be wearing a United shirt until the summer of 1984, as he’d be seeing out the season at Ajax, with Bryan Robson using his column to compare him to George Best, and urging United fans to keep a close eye on him when Denmark are playing in the European Championship in France.

England might not be heading to the finals in France, but Wales have a chance, and their qualifier against Yugoslavia is previewed. A win for Wales would send them to France.

The match finished 1-1, which meant they had to hope Yugoslavia fail to beat Bulgaria, but the Yugoslavs won it with an injury time winner.

If Wales were dreaming of France, Scotland weren’t, with a dismal campaign which saw them finish bottom of a group containing Belgium, East Germany and Switzerland.

Scotland were now looking to the 1986 World Cup Qualifiers, and that began with a British Championship game at Windsor Park against Northern Ireland, a side who Jock Stein has failed to beat as Scotland manager.

In competitions, Shoot were giving away a trip to the European Championship in France. The Subbutteo European Championship that is.

In club football, Dennis Mortimer speaks to Shoot about his return to the Aston Villa team, and how it has given him a new lease of life.

Paul Mariner is interviewed by Shoot, telling them that he fears he is played his last England game, having just turned 30, and how he revels on the verbal abuse he receives from oppositions fans.

It’s not just the 1986 World Cup that people are looking forward to, as England have submitted a bid to host the 1990 World Cup. They fear they have been upstage by Italy, who sent a delegation to FIFA HQ, while Greece sent a Telex, and Soviet Union hand delivered theirs.

Paolo Rossi has been fined £1,400 by authorities in Italy for the crime of wearing the national shirt without permission, after wearing it in an advert for sunglasses.

Another star with money problems was Diego Maradona, who had to pay £4,000 on excess baggage on a flight back home to Buenos Aires.

Raymond Goethels, manager of Standard Liege, predicts that Dundee United will win the European Cup in 1984.

Staying with Scottish teams, Rangers defender John McClelland is a guest columnist, and he declares that Mark McGhee is his toughest opponent.

Gary Mabbutt is another guest columnist, and he praises his young Tottenham team-mate Ally Dick.

Kenny Dalglish’s column focuses on Scotland’s visit to Windsor Park, saddened that this is the last season of the British Championship.

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 – SEPTEMBER

September began for me on the road to Fermanagh, to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard, and get a 1-0 win on a lovely sunny day.

From the road to Fermanagh to the road to France. My next football match came two days later when I saw Northern Ireland take on Hungary in a Euro 2016 Qualifier, knowing that a win sound them to France.

They didn’t get the win they wanted, but a late draw kept them on course to qualify.

Inbetween those two football matches was some graffiti spotting around Belfast.

Two days after that, I was at The Odyssey, now renamed The SSE Arena, to see Florence and the Machine perform the first concert at the newly renovated venue.

Back to Irish League action the following Saturday, a trip to Seaview to see Linfield take on Crusaders, the less said about, the better.

The following Friday, was the highlight of the year in Belfast, Culture Night, and I was out with my camera snapping the action.

I recovered from Culture Night in time the following day to head to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint.

The following day, I undertook a post Culture Night tradition by checking out the newly painted Street Art on North Street and the surrounding areas.

The final weekend of the month saw me head to Windsor Park to see Linfield edge past Glenavon 4-3.

Like the previous weekend, I headed to North Street to get a look at the Street Art painted for Culture Night, as some pieces were still being worked on when I went down the previous week.

I also headed to City Quays Walk for the first time, to see some Street Art that had been painted there.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Belfast Street Art

Northern Ireland v Hungary

Northern Ireland v Hungary Photo Album

Florence and the Machine Live At The Odyssey

Florence and the Machine Live At The Odyssey Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Culture Night

Culture Night Photo Album

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

North Street Art

North Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

North Street Art Part 2

North Street Art Photo Album Volume 2

City Quays Walk Street Art

2015 IN PICTURES – JUNE

June 2015 began in Crewe, but only briefly, as I was on an 8.35am train bound for Liverpool, to spend a day in the city having been at Northern Ireland’s match at Gresty Road the day before.

While in Liverpool, I managed to spot some Street Art and get some photos.

In the middle of the month, my last football match of 2014-2015, as Northern Ireland took on Romania in a European Championship Qualifier, my first game in the newly rebuilt Railway Stand at Windsor Park, which was fast tracked to be open for that game due to problems with The Kop

The month ended with a day trip to Dublin. Naturally, there were Street Art photos.

While there, I also took in Bray Wanderers match against Sligo Rovers, my first match of 2015-2016, just two weeks after my last game of 2014-2015.

That, was my photo adventures for June.

Liverpool Street Art

Liverpool Street Art Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Romania

Northern Ireland v Romania Photo Album

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers

Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers Photo Album

NORTHERN IRELAND 3-1 GREECE 8.10.2015

YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!

Do you really want to read a match report? Oh, alright then.

It had been a month long wait for Northern Ireland fans since Kyle Lafferty’s dramatic late equaliser against Hungary. It wasn’t a goal that gained a point for Northern Ireland, it was much more than that.

Even if Northern Ireland had lost 1-0 to Hungary, they still would have went into this double header with their destiny in their hands, and with a better head to head record on away goals. It would have meant they would have needed to win both of their final games. Now they only needed to win one.

Not only that, there was the issue of momentum, Hungary on an upward spiral, Northern Ireland deflated. The 1-1 draw meant that Northern Ireland were one win away from their first ever European Championship.

There are those who feel that it should be their third at least, or even fourth. You see, messing up European Championship Qualifiers is what Northern Ireland do best.

In 1983, like 2015, France was the destination Northern Ireland were dreaming of, but were derailed by a 1-0 defeat in Turkey, and missed out on goal difference, despite beating reigning champions and World Cup finalists West Germany home and away.

Twelve years later, a home defeat to Latvia cost Northern Ireland dearly, when even a draw would have set up a play-off against Holland at Anfield, despite being unbeaten away from home in the campaign.

It was Latvia again, alongside Iceland, in September 2007, which cost Northern Ireland a trip to Austria and/or Switzerland the following summer, despite beating Spain, Denmark and Sweden at Windsor Park, and coming home from both Scandinavian trips with a draw.

Those that believe in football going full circle will have been positive going into this game. In 1979, England celebrated qualification for a tournament at Windsor Park, before Northern Ireland got to celebrate qualification for a tournament six years later, the 1986 World Cup, the last time Northern Ireland were at a major finals.

In 2003, Northern Ireland travelled to Greece, with the home side needing a win to qualify. They got it. So surely it was now Northern Ireland’s turn?

If only football was that simple. The conundrum was further complicated by four key absences going into this game – Chris Baird, Kyle Lafferty and Conor McLaughlin through suspension, and Jonny Evans through injury. Evans West Brom teammate Gareth McAuley was passed fit to play, the crowd singing his name at every set piece, his two goals against Faroe Islands last month raising expectations every time he goes forward.

The absence of Lafferty created a vacancy up front, with Northern Ireland’s strikers hitting a run of form for their clubs. In reality, it was either Josh Magennis or Liam Boyce. It was Magennis who got the nod.

Magennis was straight into the thick of the action, looking set to score when the ball was flicked on to him, only for a Greek defender to get a block in.

He was later denied again by a Greek block when midway through the half when the ball fell to him. Without the block, it would have been a goal.

A free-kick aimed at McAuley didn’t quite work, but the ball fell to Oliver Norwood, and his shot just went wide.

It’s an age old cliche that when you play away from home, you keep possession early on and quiten the crowd. Greece were keeping possesion, but the crowd was still noisy, even more so when Northern Ireland were putting pressure on the Greek goal.

Within minutes, Northern Ireland fans were celebrating a goal, but it was a goal that was scored 1556 miles away in Ujpest, as Faroe Islands took a shock 1-0 lead away to Hungary.

If that score stood, Northern Ireland would be going to France, regardless of the score at Windsor Park.

While Northern Ireland fans were celebrating, Greece had an attack which caused problems for Northern Ireland’s defence. A reminder, that all concentration should be on events in Belfast rather than Ujpest.

Jamie Ward headed wide from a free-kick, while Greece had a corner that caused concern in Northern Ireland’s defence, before the breakthrough came, when Corry Evans played in Stuart Dallas, whose low cross was finished by Steven Davis from close range.

It was similar, albeit from a different side, to a goal he score for Rangers against Celtic in May 2009. I don’t think anybody really cared if it was similar to another goal in his goals archive.

The final action of the half was a reminder that the game was far from won, as Kostas Mitroglou hit the post. As the ball was in the air, it felt like time stood still. The ball came out, and landed right at the feet of a Northern Ireland defender, who cleared it out of play for a throw-in.

The throw-in was in a dangerous position. Before Greece had a chance to keep the pressure on, the half-time whistle blew. When something like that happens, you get the feeling that it might just be your night.

Within minutes of the second-half starting, Northern Ireland got breathing space when Josh Magennis headed from from a corner. As the ball looped up in the air, like when Mitroglou hit the post, it felt like time stood still. Magennis was the first Northern Ireland player to score at the Railway End, not that he cared about that little statistic.

Within ten minutes, it was 3-0, when a Greek header clear fell to Steven Davis on the edge of the box, who headed it back into the box, and it went straight in.

Everything was falling into place for Northern Ireland. The fans in Windsor Park believed it was job done, though i’m sure there were seasoned campaigners who still felt Greece would come back and win 4-3.

With five minutes to go, Greece pulled a goal back. Here we go, a dramatic and heartbreaking 3-3 draw awaits. The final minutes weren’t allowed to be relaxing, it’s not the Northern Ireland Way.

Thankfully, they saw the game out and won 3-1, the long 30 year wait was over.

Elsewhere in the group, Hungary were to be denied by a late equaliser for the second matchday running, as Romania secured a late draw against Finland to give them a one point lead over Hungary going into the last matchday.

Romania went on to beat Faroe Islands 3-0 to qualify, rendering Hungary’s 4-3 defeat away to Greece irrelevent.

Hungary are now waiting and hoping that Ukraine fail to beat Spain at home in order to secure qualification as the best 3rd place team.

It would make this achievement greater, to qualify by winning a group, facing off competition from the best 3rd placed team.

Nobody in Windsor Park cared about the race between Romania and Hungary, they were too busy cheering their heroes as they did a lap of honour.

A new generation of fans will no longer have to hear about Israel in 1981. They have their own qualification moment that they witnessed.

The players left the pitch but the fans remained, singing and chanting as the PA System blasted out party songs by the likes of Queen, Tony Christie and Black Eyed Peas, before the players came out to do a second lap of honour.

They deserved it.

Photo Album