NORTHERN IRELAND 0-2 GERMANY 9.9.2019

You could say that Northern Ireland’s qualifying campaign for Euro 2020 has been a bit like a video game.

Estonia and Belarus, Level 1, negotiated with maximum points. Now for Level 2, Germany and Holland. It’ll be a bit tougher, but we’ll have four lives to use. If we can get a high enough score, we will progress to Level 3 – Euro 2020.

When you look through the instruction manual, Germany and Holland both have weaknesses – They both came into this campaign on the back of two major failures.

For Holland, it was failing to reach the last two major tournaments, not even reaching the Play-Offs.

Germany’s recent failure is a bit more relative. 2018 was ein annus horribulus for them, with relegation in the UEFA Nations League coming on the back of elimination at the Group Stage at the World Cup in Russia.

A lot of countries can only dream of being that rubbish.

If 2018 was ein annus horribilus for Germany, the early games of 2019 were ein annus bouncenbachken, with three wins out of three going into the September games, including an 8-0 win over Estonia.

That winning run came to an end on the Friday before that with a 4-2 home defeat by Holland, a result that generated as many groans in Belfast as it did in Berlin.

The theory being, with Germany already winning in Holland, it would be better for them to win this game. At worst, it would essentially set up a two legged Play-Off between Northern Ireland and Holland for the other qualifying place.

Northern Ireland prepared for this game with a dull friendly win over Luxembourg. It wasn’t ideal to have a match before this game, but UEFA rules stated they had to play a friendly when they weren’t in group action.

You’ve heard the phrase “Fixture fulfilment” in relation to end of season League matches, Northern Ireland’s match against Luxembourg literally was that. I gave it a miss, though I did enter competitions for a free ticket though.

I can’t help it, I like free things, but I don’t want to join the DUP in order to get them.

Within ten seconds of the kick-off, Germany already had Northern Ireland stretched, a long punt from kick-off causing some concern for Northern Ireland’s defence.

They managed to see it out, managing a better start than they managed the last time Germany visited Windsor Park, and found themselves 1-0 up just over a minute into the game.

In fact, it was Northern Ireland who had the first chance of the game with six minutes on the clock, when a stray German pass played Conor Washington through on goal.

A poor first touch allowed Manuel Neuer to get out and make himself big and block the shot. He should have scored. On an evening when clear opportunities could be rare, you have to take them.

If Northern Ireland had went 1-0 up early on, who knows how the rest of the evening would go.

It was clear early on that Germany’s players were unsettled by the atmosphere, and the fact that Northern Ireland players were first to every loose ball.

It looked the sort of night that could have been perfect for Paul Smyth to come on as an impact sub late on if the game was in the balance, but frustratingly, he was missing through injury.

Germany’s first attacking moment of note saw Craig Cathcart slice over his own crossbar after Jonny Evans lost possession. For a brief moment, there was a worry it was going in. Northern Ireland were able to easily clear the German corner.

Who got to the ball first? Craig Cathcart.

Germany’s next moment of frustration saw a long range shot blocked by George Saville full on right in the face. Ouch.

Right at the end of the half, it looked like Northern Ireland were going to have the lead when Neuer parried a cross to Washington, who couldn’t get his feet into position to put it into the empty net, before a combination of defender and keeper cleared the danger for Germany.

Immediately on the counter, Timo Werner was denied by a point blank save from Bailey Peacock-Farrell.

Even though Northern Ireland were holding their own, and could justify their claim to be at least level at half-time, Peacock-Farrell was still having work to do.

Not as much work as Michael McGovern had to do when the sides met at Euro 2016 though.

Unfortunately, it all unravelled within two minutes at the start of the second-half, when Marcel Hastenberg spectacularly fired home to put Germany 1-0 up, undoing all of Northern Ireland’s good work in the first-half.

The goal deflated Northern Ireland, both on the pitch and in the stands.

Michael O’Neill responded by bringing on Gavin Whyte for Niall McGinn. It almost brought it’s reward when he got past a couple of defenders to cross for fellow Crusaders old boy Stuart Dallas, who fired agonisingly wide.

He probably should have passed it to Gary McCutcheon or Timmy Adamson instead.

Michael O’Neill made two further subs as his side looked for an equaliser, bringing on Josh Magennis and Shayne Lavery.

It’s not often that Northern Ireland can bring on one of the top 20 goalscorers in that season’s UEFA Cup from the bench.

The biggest thing that gave Northern Ireland fans hope as the game entered the final minutes was that they had scored late in their previous four games to either clinch or win the game.

Unfortunately, the late goal came for Germany, when Serge Gnabry squeezed home from a tight angle.

Within seconds, the game was over officially, having been over theoretically.

Northern Ireland pushed Germany all the way to the very end, but it’s points they need, not plaudits.

By getting points on the board early on, it meant Northern Ireland set down a challenge to Holland.

Holland responded with a win in Estonia, with Estonia unable to repeat their 2-2 draw against Holland in a World Cup Qualifier in 2013.

Now we are pinning our hopes on Belarus repeating their 1-0 home win over Holland in a European Championship Qualifier in 1995.

Of course, we can help ourselves in the double header against Holland in October and November.

Normally, finishing 3rd would be good enough for a Play-Off, but that is not guaranteed due to the UEFA Nations League.

I have a horrible feeling we are going to be royally screwed over by this nonsense. Yet, there are idiots in our support who told us it would help us qualify.

In order to avoid this, we need lots of countries in Pot 1 and Pot 2 to qualify automatically. That is happening in most groups, thankfully.

This might not be the only time I see Germany play in Euro 2020. I’ve booked a few days in Bray to base myself for the Last 16 match at Lansdowne Road. That will be the winner of the group based in England and Scotland v the runner-up of the group in Germany and Hungary.

The night before that is the Green Day/Weezer/Fall Out Boy concert at the RDS, so could be a double header if you’re that way inclined. Might charge a Green Day fan to sleep on my hotel room floor.

When i’m there, I plan on walking up Bray Head on the Tuesday before going to the football. All I need is a ticket for the football.

I’ve booked a few days break in November for Vilnius in Lithuania. I was looking for a (early) Monday to (late) Wednesday getaway or a (early) Wednesday to (late) Friday trip. There were no routes from Belfast that offered these times.

I narrowed it down to Vilnius or Waterford, but for £160, Vilnius was too good to turn down. Don’t worry Waterford, i’ll still have you in my mind to visit you again.

I was hoping to go in October and take in the Euro 2020 Qualifier between Lithuania and Serbia. Unfortunately, the dates of the flights didn’t suit.

I don’t think there’ll be any football on while i’m there, but you don’t need football to enjoy somewhere though it does help.

The options from Belfast are now reduced with Ryanair and Aer Lingus pulling some flights. What’s the point in shiny blue passports if there is nowhere to go?

Funnily enough, I was looking at Malaga as a short visit/football trip.

It is worth pointing out that Brexit won’t restrict our travel opportunities, mainly because there’s fuck all options out there anyway from Belfast.

At least the bridge from Northern Ireland to Balamory will be handy for the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers Cup if Linfield decide to play in it again.

Linfield could have been playing Raith Rovers, could have had a short stay in Edinburgh for that and walked up Arthur’s Seat.

And finally, Linfield’s away match against Institute has been moved to a 1pm kick-off. Not too unhappy with that, means there’ll be less of a rush to get back for Northern Ireland v Holland that night.

Before then, is the away game against Holland in Rotterdam, where due to it’s close proximity to Amsterdam, Northern Ireland will have a decent sized support.

The match could be in Rotterdam or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome. When we go to Rotterdam, we’ll need to bring three points home.

Photo Album

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MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WORLD SOCCER – NOVEMBER 1986

Nery Pumpido is the cover star of World Soccer as he aims to win a unique double of World Cup for both club and country in the same year, as River Plate are getting ready for the World Club Cup Final.

Kier Radnedge’s editorial focuses on the perilous state of defending continental champions France, Steau Bucharest and Argentinos Juniors, as they try to defend their trophies.

APOEL of Cyprus have been banned for European competition for two years after failing to turn up for their European Cup tie against Besiktas.

Also facing a possible European ban were Feyenoord, after crowd trouble at a UEFA Cup tie in Germany.

Juventus face Real Madrid in the 2nd Round of the European Cup, prompting Juventus President Giampiero Bonipierti calling for a seeding system in the European Cup.

There are Club Focuses on Sion, Anderlecht and IFK Gothenborg. The Swedish side recently won their league title, securing a place in the 1987-1988 European Cup, a competition they would go into as holders of the UEFA Cup, beating Dundee United 2-1 on aggregate.

There are four pages dedicated to the results of the early rounds of the three European competitions.

In their round-up from England, Manchester United are looking for a new manager, but only due to a printing error as it says Billy McNeill left Manchester United (It was actually Manchester City) for Aston Villa.

That month, United would actually have a managerial vacancy due to the sacking of Ron Atkinson, being replaced by Alex Ferguson.

Paolo Maldini has just been called into the Italy Under 21 squad for the first time, his dad Cesare being the Chief Scout for the Under 21s.

Branko Elsner offered his resignation as Austria manager after a 4-0 defeat to Romania, their biggest competitive defeat since 1978, while across the border in Switzerland, the national team lost their opening Euro 88 Qualifier, 2-0 to Sweden.

The magazine ends with a full round-up of results and fixtures of the Euro 88 Qualifiers.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MARCH

I had to wait a while for March’s football watching, but it wasn’t really worth the wait as Linfield slumped to a League defeat at Glenavon then lost the County Antrim Shield Final to Crusaders.

Thankfully, the month got a bit better when Linfield defeated Institute 2-0 at Windsor Park.

The month ended with a flurry of games, three in four days, with Linfield’s trip to Dungannon Swifts being sandwiched inbetween Northern Ireland’s opening two Euro 2020 Qualifiers, both at home, against Estonia and Belarus.

Glenavon v Linfield

County Antrim Shield Final

County Antrim Shield Final Photo Album

Linfield v Institute

Northern Ireland v Estonia

Northern Ireland v Estonia Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Belarus

Northern Ireland v Belarus Photo Album

NORTHERN IRELAND 2-1 BELARUS 24.3.2019

If Estonia’s last visit to Windsor Park was one of Northern Ireland’s lowest points in recent years, Belarus only previous visit to South Belfast was one of the highest points.

It was a gloriously warm Friday night in late May 2016. We didn’t know if the heat was because of the sunshine or because of Will Grigg. We were seeing the team off in their last home game before heading to the European Championship in France, we were on an unbeaten run, we were going to win it.

If you hadn’t seen such riches, you could live with being poor.

We loved the experience of going to a major tournament, and all the little spin-offs such as sticker books, send-off home matches and newspaper pull-outs, we want to do it all again in Euro 2020.

It will be tough though, with Northern Ireland in Pot 3 behind two former European Champions and two heavyweights. However, Germany and Holland are two heavyweights trying to rebuild their reputation after humiliating failures in recent years.

However, 3rd place may not be enough for Northern Ireland to secure a Play-Off place thanks to the farce that is the Nations League.

If the group goes to form based on the seedings, Northern Ireland finish 3rd and Belarus 5th, Northern Ireland won’t be guaranteed a Play-Off whole Belarus will be on the basis of winning their group in League D.

There were idiots in our support who kept saying the UEFA Nations League was a great opportunity to help Northern Ireland qualify. How? It is nothing more than a reward for mediocrity.

There will be a 3rd place team who misses out to a team who finishes 5th or 6th in their group. This will blow up in a big way in November.

Northern Ireland would be guaranteed a Play-Off if Bosnia-Herzegovina and Austria qualify automatically. Bosnia-Herzegovina blew a 2-0 lead at home to one of their main rivals, while Austria have lost their opening two games in the weakest group. Useless showers.

Northern Ireland can only help themselves, and they found themselves camped in the Belarus half in the opening minutes of the game, but the best they could offer was a Paddy McNair shot saved by the keeper.

Kyle Lafferty had a shot turned around for a corner, a corner which brought Northern Ireland their opening goal when Jonny Evans found himself free in the box to head home from close range.

Pointless stat, but it was Northern Ireland’s first goal in the first-half of a competitive game since Chris Brunt scored against Czech Republic in 2017, nine games ago.

All the clichés about not giving Belarus something to defend and the floodgates opening for Northern Ireland were soon wiped out within a couple of minutes when a shot from Ihar Stasevich was deflected and looped up and over Bailey Peacock-Farrell. It was like a recreation of Andreas Brehme’s goal against England at the 1990 World Cup.

I was behind the goal it was scored in, and you knew what was going to happen as soon as the ball looped up. Windsor Park fell silent, apart from a small pocket of Belarus fans in the corner of North Stand and Railway Stand.

This was a game that Northern Ireland had to win, and the best way of making that happen looked like it was going to come down the left hand side with the duo of Jamal Lewis and Jordan Jones, where most of Northern Ireland’s play was going to.

Jones looked like he was going to set up a second for Northern Ireland but his cross went agonisingly across the box but nobody was able to get on the end of it.

Paddy McNair had a shot blocked as Northern Ireland’s pressure continued in search of a second goal that would not come.

As each minute passed, it became inevitable that Northern Ireland would turn to their bench.

First up, was Josh Magennis for Niall McGinn, then it was Liam Boyce for Kyle Lafferty.

You might say i’m being biased, but I was hoping that the third sub would be Paul Smyth.

It wasn’t, as Shane Ferguson came on for Jordan Jones. It was a sub that made sense though, as Jones was getting into good position out the left but the final ball was missing. If Ferguson could get into the same position, his left foot could provide a final ball that could be productive for Northern Ireland.

A small section of supporters in the quadrant between The Kop and North Stand began singing “Kop Stand Kop Stand, sing us a song”, to which The Kop responded “Who are ya? Who are ya?

Good point actually, who are they? Are they Kop? Are they North Stand? What stand are they in?

It looked like the winner was never going to come.

With just minutes remaining, the ball fell to Josh Magennis. It was set up for him to shoot but he couldn’t get a clear strike on goal.

He ended up passing it, and within seconds, was on the end of a cross, finding that elusive space to turn the ball home. Windsor Park erupted in celebration.

He doesn’t score many, but when he does, it’s vital. That second goal against Greece, breaking the deadlock on a frustrating night in San Marino.

Even his consolation goal against Germany felt important at the time.

The common consensus, would that this would be enough for Northern Ireland, but it almost wasn’t.

With less than a minute of injury time remaining, Bailey Peacock-Farrell had to save at the feet of a Belarus striker who looked set to score from a few yards out.

Northern Ireland held on and got the win, making it two wins out of two.

They were two games they were expected to win, but they still had to go out there and get the win.

Elsewhere in the group, Germany beat Holland 3-2.

It’s hard what to want when Germany meet Holland. Logically, a draw wouldn’t be bad, but it might not be a bad thing if Germany win both games.

That means that if Northern Ireland win away to Belarus and Estonia, and even if they lose home and away to Germany, they will effectively be in a Play-Off with Holland.

Given the choice, you’d rather be in that situation with Holland than Germany.

Even though Holland and Germany are both trying to rebuild their reputations after humiliating failures in recent years, it is Holland who have had the greater fall, and failure to reach the last two tournaments will still be on their mind until they get over the line in this one.

Due to their involvement in the UEFA Nations League, Holland won’t be playing any qualifiers in June while Northern Ireland play twice. This makes them even more of a must-win set of games than they already are.

If we do, we’ll have a nine point advantage over the Dutch, and put all the pressure on them come September.

For once, the UEFA Nonsense League will be doing Northern Ireland a favour.

Northern Ireland v Belarus 2016

Photo Album

 

NORTHERN IRELAND 2-0 ESTONIA 21.3.2019

The last time Estonia visited Windsor Park, it was one of Northern Ireland’s lowest points in recent history.

It was October 2011, nearing the end of Nigel Worthington’s second full campaign as manager, both of which saw group favourites (Czech Republic/Poland in 2010, and Serbia in 2012) fail to qualify and minnows take advantage of it, but we weren’t the minnows taking advantage.

If Slovenia can reach a World Cup, why can’t we? If Estonia can reach a European Championship Play-Off, why can’t we?

It was grim, we couldn’t win a game, it felt like we would never win another game, and nobody wanted to play for us.

Unsurprisingly, Nigel Worthington’s time as manager was up, a new man was needed to take us forward.

That man, was Michael O’Neill, but it wasn’t instant. A poor qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup saw Northern Ireland be in Pot five for the expanded Euro 2016.

Suddenly, it all clicked, Northern Ireland won their group and went to France. They almost went to Russia. Now, they were wanting to head to, um, any one of thirteen countries co-hosting Euro 2020, for their second successive European Championship.

It would be tough though, as Northern Ireland, now in Pot three for Euro 2020, found themselves in a group with Germany and Holland.

Oh well, but even if we finish third, we’ll have a shot at the Play-Offs.

Well, no, that’s not guaranteed, thanks to the sham that is the UEFA Nations League.

Northern Ireland’s first foray into that competition wasn’t exactly glorious, losing all four games and being relegated. Quite how, I don’t know, Northern Ireland had enough chances to win all four games.

That frustration was worse when you saw Austria’s group – Poland, Latvia, Macedonia, Slovenia and Israel. If Northern Ireland had that group, we’d be very confident of qualifying automatically from that.

Northern Ireland had a chance with just over a minute on the clock, with Niall McGinn dragging a shot just wide, failing to emulate Ivan Sproule scoring an early goal against Estonia at Windsor Park.

Paddy McNair then had Northern Ireland’s first really chance of note when he headed over from close range when he really should have scored. Craig Cathcart had a header easily saved before Jordan Jones dragged a shot just wide, as Northern Ireland went in search of the opening goal they so desperately needed.

If Northern Ireland could get it, they could charge on and win this game comfortably. If Estonia got it, it could be a long night against a team set up to defend, now with something to defend.

The most curious thing about Estonia’s play in the first-half, was their goalkeeper always kicking out wide from goal kicks, usually conceding throws or possession.

All that Estonia could offer as an attacking force in the first-half was a couple of corners that were easily cleared.

If the first-half was a false start, the second literally was as Estonia had to kick off three times before they got it right. That third time was to ironic cheers. Hopefully, Northern Ireland fans would be cheering at some point for real as Estonia are kicking off, this time after a goal.

Northern Ireland began the second-half a lot quicker, outing more pressure on Estonia’s goal. That pressure was rewarded on 55 minutes when an attacking move which saw Northern Ireland seem to always have one more player and were a pass ahead get rewarded when Niall McGinn finish into The Kop.

Despite being 1-0 up, Northern Ireland still needed a second goal just to be sure.

They got a reminder of that when Estonia got in behind Northern Ireland’s defence, only for Bailey Peacock-Farrell to make himself big and deny Henri Anier.

Any nerves that may have been in Windsor Park were soon gone when Goerge Savile won possession (I originally though it was going to get pulled back for a high foot by him) before launching an attack which resulted in him being fouled for a penalty.

Steven Davis made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-0, and secure the Northern Ireland the points.

They could have secured them by a bigger margin, but Josh Magennis, now on as a substitute, enduring a frustrating evening, hitting everything except the back of the net, but he never hid when he got the ball next time. Thankfully, the misses weren’t costly.

With a Play-Off spot being determined by UEFA Nations League placings, 3rd place won’t be enough for Northern Ireland. It would only be enough if Austria and Bosnia qualify automatically.

Austria lost their opening game, but no need to panic, it was against the team who is Pot one in their group, while Bosnia won.

Northern Ireland can only help themselves, they simply had to get twelve points on the board before facing Holland and Germany. They have three of them.

On to Belarus, arriving at Windsor Park three days later.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 19.10.1991

Bryan Robson, in action against Notts County, is the cover star, with the headline “Robbo’s Back”, as he is interviewed in this edition.

As you open the magazine, there is a double page feature on Wales European Championship Qualifier in Germany, where Wales need a draw to virtually qualify for the finals in Sweden.

Jimmy Greaves assesses the two teams and predicts a win for Germany, and so it proved, with Germany winning 4-1.

Bryan Robson’s interview is part of Shoot’s preview of England’s European Championship Qualifier against Turkey. Turkey had been good opponents for Robson, with 5 goals in his 3 previous appearances against them.

England’s previous game against Turkey saw Robson left out of the squad, and he thought his international career was over at the age of 34, but his recent form for Manchester United saw him earn a recall.

As it turned out, the game against Turkey was Robson’s last cap for England.

Another player making an England comeback was Stuart Pearce, who explains that he was left out of the squad for the recent friendly against Germany as he was serving a domestic suspension.

Elsewhere in the group, Republic Of Ireland face a crunch game in Poland, and Shoot interviews Mick McCarthy in preparation of this.

In news, Charlie Nicholas had all his medals stolen after a burglary at his house, while Celtic have had a bid rejected for Terry Phelan, while Chelsea are planning a move to sign Matt Le Tissier.

Also in Scotland, John Robertson of Hearts gets a double page interview where he says that Hearts are determined to bounce back after defeat against Celtic, their first of the season. Robertson also gives Shoot the lowdown on his Hearts team-mates.

Peter Ndlovu of Coventry City gets interviewed s he adjusts to life in England, telling Shoot that he mostly listens to the radio and watched TV.

Also adjusting to life in a new country is David Platt, who tells Shoot he is enjoying life in Italy, despite Bari not winning a game and their manager resigning.

Talking of English players in Italy, former AC Milan striker Mark Hately rubbishes former Bari striker Paul Rideout’s claim that no English striker has come back from Italy a better player.

I wonder did they discuss the matter a few months later in the dressing room when Rideout signed for Rangers?

Talking of Rangers, a reader writes to Jimmy Greaves to say that Rangers will continue to be minnows on a European stage due to a lack of competition in Scotland, while another reader asks about the possibility of Leeds winning the league, and Greaves says they need Lee Chapman to start scoring in order for that to happen.

In competitions, you could win a pair of Quaser boots, and get to meet Gary Lineker, Matt Le Tisser or Charlie Nicholas at one of their respective team’s home games.

Tony Cottee gets a profile, revealing that if he wasn’t a footballer, he would be a Fireman, or work for his dad as an Insurance Broker.

In ads, there was an advert for a teen mag called Look-In (possibly an IPC publication, I can’t verify) which had Rik Mayall as it’s cover star, talking about his role in Drop Dead Fred.

Alongside that, is an advert for the following week’s edition of Shoot, which comes with free Pro Set cards.

The magazine ends with a double page feature on Scotland’s European Championship Qualifier in Bucharest where a win would virtually guarantee qualification to the finals.

They lost, but other results went their way which meant they made it to Sweden.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 6.2.1971

Action from a match between Stoke City and Manchester City is the cover image as the the 1970-1971 season approaches it’s final stages, with Shoot asking if Leeds or Arsenal will be Champions.

Shoot does a double page spread where they interview players such as Nobby Stiles, Glyn Pardoe, John Sissons, Bobby Gould and Mark Lazarus about what it is like to score at Wembley.

Even though he is a defender, Bobby Moore uses his column to declare that matches are won in midfield, and commenting on who his favourite midfieldes are.

Joe McBride of Dunfermline Athletic answers questions submitted by Shoot readers, with Shoot giving a list of upcoming interviewees, including Peter Shilton, Johnny Giles and Steve Perryman.

Peter Shilton gets given a full page by Shoot to explain how he manages to kick the ball so far up the field.

There is a poster of Sunderland defender Colin Todd.

Scotland are in action against Belgium in a European Championship Qualifier, with Shoot noting that history was on Scotland’s side, as they had a better record in head to head meetings between the two sides.

Belgium won the match 3-0. Scotland and Belgium would see a lot of each other over the next 16 years, being paired together in Qualification for 1980, 1984 and 1988, as well as 1972.

England were also in European Championship action, away to Malta, with Shoot’s preview pointing out that Malta have the ability to hold out against England. England won the match 1-0.

Shoot previews the title run-in between Leeds and Arsenal, listing their remaining fixtures but sitting on the fence with regards to who will win it.

Arsenal won the league that season, finishing 1 point clear of 2nd place Leeds, and then added the FA Cup, becoming the 2nd side in the 20th Century to win the League and FA Cup double.

John Hollins is interviewed, stating that he studies Bobby Charltopn and Billy Bremner in an attempt to be a better player, stating that he wants to be part of England’s squad for the 1974 World Cup.

Dick Staite of Clyde is interviewed, and he states that the person he would like to meet most is Alexander Dubcek, former Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia.

Alan Ball uses his column to state that stay away fans are affecting team morales, as players find it difficult to play in front of empty stands.

Peter Simpson previews Arsenal’s trip to Anfield, claiming that his side feel unbeatable.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WHEN SATURDAY COMES – DECEMBER 2002

Having just broken into the Everton team, teenage sensation Wayne Rooney give an interview to When Saturday Comes. Well, sort of.

A blank speech bubble represents the fact that Everton manager David Moyes has blocked media requests to interview his young player.

The editorial focuses on racism in football, most notably at the European Championship Qualifier between Slovakia and England, but warns that football authorities in England need to address concerns closer to home.

There is a profile of former Belgium goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff, now forging a new career as a Reality TV star in a Flemish version of The Osbournes.

There is a feature on four clubs at differing ends of the football pyramid who are looking to move out of their current ground to a new one – Wimbledon, Chelsea, York City and Brentford.

In Scotland, there is a feature on the race for one of the more invisible honours, 3rd place, aka The Best Of The Rest after Rangers and Celtic, looking at those clubs aiming for that spot.

A more curious phenomenon in recent years was Masters Football, which WSC likened to ageing rock stars only playing hits from 20 years previously.

There is a feature on “lost footballers”, big money signings on high wages. The poster boy of this feature is Mark Bosnich, earning £40,000 in Chelsea’s reserves.

This edition focuses on young players, with a look at the number of French coaches at underage level in England.

Cover star Wayne Rooney is part of a feature looking at the history of hype of young players in English football.

There is also a feature on club football in Czech Republic, due to improved perfomances in Europe this season, with many teams boosted by Euro 96 stars coming home to play their club football.

Yeovil Town get a feature, so long a famous Non League giantkiller, and now on the verge of joining the giants they used to kill.

The rivalry between Cardiff City and Swansea City gets a feature, being described as becoming a poisonous affair in recent years.

The magazine ends with a brief look at the history of Cheltenham Town’s highlights and lowlights.

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.

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.