There’s probably no better place to spend a Heatwave than somewhere where there is a lot of fans. Sorry.

Some of them were wearing scarves through, very inappropriate for this kind of weather.

This was unchartered territory for Linfield, having got past the 1st Round of the European Cup for the first time since 1993 (although it was the first time they won a 1st Round tie since 1984).

Bodo/Glimt would represent a much tougher challenge.

They are 3rd in the All Time Euro Conference table (ok, it has only been going for one season) having reached the Quarter-Finals after beating Celtic home and away, as well as beating proper teams like AZ Alkmaar and AS Roma.

Bodo struck an early psychological blow when there was a change in the usual attacking ends with Linfield attacking the Railway Stand in the first-half instead of the second-half.

That mean I had to walk from one end of Windsor Park to the other as I like to sit where Linfield are attacking.

I wasn’t the only one. I spotted one of the Sit Where We Attack Crowd as I was walking back and let them know of the change of ends.

Despite that, Linfield weren’t unsettled by this, having an early chance when Robbie McDaid was denied by a last ditch tackle just when it looked like he was going to finish.

The resulting corner saw Kirk Millar hit an effort into the side netting.

Linfield were holding their own, and getting a lot of joy from snapping at Bodo players as they tried to play the ball out from the back, denying them getting anywhere and creating opportunities of their own.

Joel Cooper would have enjoyed playing against this opposition, if he wasn’t injured.

Despite having Linfield players snapping at them, Bodo looked comfortable on the ball. Linfield knew they would have to be “on it” if they wanted to keep the tie alive by the time they went to Norway.

Kirk Millar was most definitely “on it”, a vast improvement on the previous week’s performance.
Bodo had a couple of attempts at goal, but nothing to worry Linfield. As long as they didn’t do anything stupid defensively, they would be ok.

As well as Linfield were restricting Bodo in terms of clear cut opportunities, Bodo were restricting Linfield just as well.

It did feel that Linfield were having to do more work to deny Bodo than Bodo were to deny Linfield.

Linfield’s other best moment in the first came from a low Kirk Millar cross that Bodo’s keeper was able to grab in time just as Stephen Fallon was trying to stretch out a leg to poke the ball home.

0-0 at half-time, you would definitely have taken that.

Linfield were holding their own in the second-half while being wary of the threat that Bodo had, with a shot from outside the box going just wide while Chris Shields had to get in the way of a shot to divert it behind for a corner.

Ben Hall was then next to deny Bodo at the expense of a corner, making a block after a neat passing move looked to have created the scoring opportunity that would give them the lead.

David Healy turned to the bench, bringing on Kyle McClean (I thought he would have went with Cameron Palmer) for Jamie Mulgrew and Eetu Vertainen for Robbie McDaid.

Straight away, Eetu had a set-to with a couple of Bodo players. Nordic rivalry alive and well in South Belfast.

It looked like Jordan Stewart was going to get the breakthrough for Linfield when the ball fell to him after a free-kick was cleared, but his shot was blocked at the expense of a corner.

Chris Shields was next to be frustrated as his header went just wide. Linfield were getting a sense that they could win this.

They had to be careful at the other end though, with Stephen Fallon forced to stretch out a leg on the line to block a goalbound shot to keep the score 0-0.

You got the feeling that Bodo might score when they got into Linfield’s final third, but never that a goal was imminent. Linfield just had to not do anything stupid and they would keep the tie competitive when the second leg kicked off in Norway.

Whenever Linfield got into Bodo’s final third, they got an energy boost from the crowd, who sensed that just one moment of magic could give them an advantage to take to Norway.

It didn’t come from Daniel Finlayson, who shot over from the edge of the box. Thankfully, no Club Directors were harmed when the ball landed.

Just when it looked like being an honourable 0-0 draw, Linfield got the breakthrough, which came from a mistake followed by a moment of magic.

A Bodo defender overran the ball, giving Kirk Millar a sniff that he didn’t turn down, finding himself through on goal.

I was expecting him to smash it goalwards, but he went for a chip from an angle.

From where I was sat, in the South Stand level with the six yard box, it looked like it was going wide.

Before you could scream “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING???” the ball dropped down into the back of the net, and Linfield were 1-0 up.

That probably explains why Kirk Millar is a Professional Footballer and I am not.

Was it greedy to wonder if Linfield could get a second in the ten minutes that remained?

David Healy wasn’t taking any chances, bringing on Niall Quinn for Jordan Stewart.

They were able to hold out for a 1-0 win to take to Norway.

Sadly, i’m pessimistic when it comes to European games, and all I could think about was the narrow aggregate defeat to AIK in 2014.

This win leaves Linfield just 90 minutes from securing Group Stage Football of some description.

That would see them play at least 57 games this season.

A couple of cup runs could take that to near 70.

The price of success I guess.

Photo Album


Having already taken over Northern Ireland, Ethan Devine has his eyes on taking over Europe. He’s already taken over Shropshire.

When the draw was made, The New Saints were seen as winnable, despite them beating Cliftonville and Glentoran in Europe in the past decade.

Even despite a 1-0 first leg defeat, the tie was still winnable.

I didn’t go to the game. If i’d known how close Oswestry was to Liverpool, I probably would have. Lesson learnt for future reference.

Radio Shropshire it was for me, albeit only for the last twenty minutes, and it seemed to be Attack v Defence, with Linfield doing all of the attacking.

That continued in the early minutes of the game, with Linfield being camped in TNS half. You felt like they might get an early goal. If they did, it would be so vital.

Kirk Millar had an inswinging free-kick that was easily saved by the TNS keeper, while he almost accidentally set up an opener when his low cross going straight to the keeper was slashed over the bar by a TNS defender, narrowly missing his own goal.

When it’s your night, that gets smashed right into the back of the net.

It wasn’t a great night for Millar. As well as poor delivery of set pieces, there were two instances of him collecting the ball when he was off the pitch. It seemed like it would be a matter of time before Jordan Stewart would be introduced.

Spoiler Alert – Things got a lot better for Millar in the next home game.

Daniel Finlayson was just unable to get his head on the end of a cross, before he eventually did, but his effort was easily saved by TNS keeper.

Finlyson then had another header where he made a cleaner connection, forcing TNS keeper into a save.

It was Linfield’s best attacking moment of the game, but it was another moment where they would be frustrated.

Robbie McDaid was next to be frustrated, this time with a header.

The cross was too high for a shot and too low for a header, but he had to pick one. He picked the header and the keeper made the save.

Chris Johns was also adept at saving headers, making a great one midway through the second-half to deny TNS from going 1-0 up on the night.

Even though there was still plenty of time left in the match, it was hard to see where Linfield were going to get the two goals to take it to extra-time, nevermind the three to win it. It was a huge save.

TNS did have occasional moments in Linfield’s attacking third, but nothing too troublesome. Well, apart from the big save that Johns had to make.

Jordan Stewart came on for Kirk Millar as Linfield continued to chase the goal that would at least bring extra-time.

They didn’t help themselves by being wasteful at set pieces.

A lot of them were straight to the keeper. Any that were of a decent height, were usually cleared by a defender.

Frustratingly, there was no deviation. It was inswingers every time. A big of variety would have been nice when it was clear this wasn’t working.

There was even more frustration when Jordan Stewart chipped an effort narrowly wide.

That sense of it being one of those night got even worse when Ethan Devine hit the top of the bar in the opening seconds of injury time.

If he can’t save Linfield, who can?

There would be six minutes of that injury time, which perked up the crowd.

Linfield still had time to at least take the tie to extra-time.

Halfway through that injury time, Linfield got the goal they craved, from an unlikely source.

Chris Johns had come up for a corner kick, but it wasn’t him who scored it.

The corner was cleared to Jamie Mulgrew, who smashed home from 25 yards out.

Windsor Park erupted in celebration.

Jamie Mulgrew usually makes things happen, but not that. Not that anybody in Windsor Park cared.

The momentum was all with Linfield now, it now felt there was only going to be one winner.

There was still enough time for it to come without the need for extra-time.

However, they couldn’t get a goal in the three minutes that remained, which meant they would have an extra thirty minutes to do so.

Just a few minutes into extra-time, Linfield went in front for the first time in the tie when Chris McKee kept in a through ball on the touchline, and played it back to Ethan Devine to finish from a few yards out.

Even though the Away Goals Rule has been scrapped, there was still a lot of anxiety amongst the crowd. What if TNS pull one back and level the tie?

That anxiety wasn’t helped when Joel Cooper went down injured when tracking back. You could hear a collective groan go around Windsor Park.

With all six permitted subs made, Linfield would be finishing the match with ten men.

As if the nervousness and anxiety inside Windsor Park couldn’t get any worse.

Thankfully, Linfield would see out the game and the tie, getting to the Second Qualifying Round of the European Cup for the first time, guaranteeing at least six more European games this season.

The difficulty setting would go up a level, with Euro Conference Quarter-Finalists Bodo/Glimt due in Belfast just six days after this game, meaning there would be little time to dwell on or celebrate this result.

Photo Album


My 2021-2022 should have been beginning at the end of June 2021. Well, as long as I could blag a ticket for Winner Group C v Runner-Up Group F

In the Summer of 2019, I booked a trip to Bray for a few days (Then rebooked for June 2021 when Euro 2020 got put back a year) to base myself there to head to Lansdowne Road to try and blag a ticket for a European Championship Last 16 game which turned out to be England v Germany.

As you know now, that match ended up being moved to Wembley.

Eventually, my season began how I normally hope to begin it, with Linfield in the European Cup, but the result I wanted to start the season with, a 2-1 defeat to Zalgiris Vilnius, 5-2 on aggregate.

Even more frustratingly, if it wasn’t for the Travel Restrictions at the time, I would have been tempted to go to Vilnius for the first leg having visited the city in 2019.

That result meant that Linfield dropped into the Euro Conference League, the first ever season, so naturally I was back at Windsor Park for the first leg of the tie against Borac Banja Luka.

Linfield v Zalgiris Vilnius

Linfield v Borac Banja Luka


July’s first Photo Adventure began with a trip to Cavehill over the July Holidays. I should have been in London, but with it still being a free for all regarding Covid. I decided to put that back to later in the year, so I had to make do with exploring what Northern Ireland had to offer.

I then went to a football match. By this point, going to a football match was still a novelty. It was one of two matches I took in this month, Linfield’s European matches against Zalgiris Vilnius and Borac Banja Luka.

Sandwiched inbetween those two football matches was a walk up Cregagh Glen and Lisnabreeny Hill.

Still using up Annual Leave, I then headed back to Blackhead Path at the end of the month, having visited there in late June.

The month ended with a trip to Bangor to check out some newly painted Street Art in the town.


Cavehill Photo Album

Linfield v Zalgiris Vilnius

Cregagh Glen/Lisnabreeny Hill

Cregagh Glen/Lisnabreeny Hill Photo Album

Linfield v Borac Banja Luka

Blackhead Path

Blackhead Path Photo Album

Bangor Street Art

Bangor Street Art Photo Album


Breakout star of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the cover star of Manchester United’s official magazine in a month where United are hoping to win a second successive title.

The magazine reports on organisational problems at United’s away European Cup game against Porto, with a series of questions that the club believe need answered.

The second leg against Porto gets reviewed, with matters on and off the pitch being covered, as well as a preview of the Semi-Final against Borussia Dortmund.

United’s other games in March get reviewed, League matches against Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday and Everton.

We even get a rare treat in this edition, a Paul Scholes interview.

The magazine ends with a Q and A with Chris Casper.


We go back to the end of the 1960s this week, to Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly, which is set to preview the last FA Cup Final of the decade.

There is a four page feature on Leeds United, who are described as “Champions elect”, which turned out to be an accurate description.

There is also an article on the organisation of the FA Cup Final. Manchester City were in the final, having defeated the previous season’s finalists Everton in the Semi-Final.

They would meet either Leicester City or holders West Bromwich Albion. Leicester won that match, meaning both the previous season’s finalists lost in the Semi-Final.

There is a double page feature on British teams in Europe, with Manchester United (European Cup) and Newcastle United and Rangers (UEFA Cup) advancing to the Semi-Finals, but there were Quarter-Final exits for Celtic (European Cup) and Leeds United (UEFA Cup)

Elsewhere, there is a photo special on Benfica’s exit to Ajax in the Quarter-Finals.

Celebrating silverware was Swindon Town, and their win over Arsenal in the League Cup Final gets a double page profile.

Dunfermline Athletic get a feature, dubbed “THE PROUD PROVINCIALS” after winning the Scottish Cup and then reachign the Semi-Finals of the European Cup Winners Cup, and have ambitions to go even higher.

Dunfermline’s replacement as Scottish Cup winners will be Rangers or Celtic, who meet in the final, which gets previewed.

Hungarian referee Istvan Zsolt gets interviewed, where he reveals that he is a fan of British football.

There are adverts in this magazine for other publications such as Goal and Melody Maker.


Football didn’t come home, but Linfield fans did, ending a near seven month wait to see their side playing at Windsor Park in the flesh, when they arrived to see their team take on Zalgiris Vilnius in the European Cup.

To be playing in the European Cup in 2021-2022 seemed like a long shot the last time they entered Windsor Park, with Larne unbeaten and racing into a four point lead.

Having overtaken that deficit, Linfield fans were hoping that would be an omen for them, as they were looking to overcome a deficit in this game, being 3-1 down from the first leg.

Normally, you’d be focusing on the goal scored as a positive, “The vital away goal” as pundits would call it. Not any more, with the Away Goals Rule being scrapped.

Part of me was hoping that Linfield would win this match 4-2, with half the crowd leaving as they thought Linfield were out, and then missing their team going through 5-2 in extra-time.

There has been a lot going on, not just since Linfield fans were last at Windsor Park, but since most attended a game. For those who were last at the Irish Cup Final in May, they were glad to see they finished off the job a few days later by winning the League at Coleraine.

As with any Summer, there are always ins and outs. For Linfield, this Summer is a big one that needs to be done right.

The move to full-time meant that some of the older players wouldn’t be able to commit left, such as Andrew Waterworth, Mark Haughey and Mark Stafford.

Joel Cooper returned to Oxford United while Shayne Lavery secured a move to Blackpool. That is a gap of five 40+ game a season players that would need filled.

That work has already started, with Chris Shields joining from Dundalk. A midfielder was high on the priority list due to a long-term injury to Kyle McClean, as well as an extra body giving the opportunity to rest Jamie Mulgrew through the season.

Not featuring in this game, but also joining were Ahmed Salam and Billy Chadwick signed on loan from Hull City.

A new striker is a key priority, but it’s important to remember that there are still six weeks until the start of the domestic season.

Frustratingly, in Pre-Covid Times, Vilnius would have been a great away trip, having made a visit there in 2019.

If this was normal times, I would have seriously considered heading to the away leg.

There are a lot of new things people have to get used to, one of those was squad numbers, with Kirk Millar wearing number 7. I probably wasn’t the only one wondering why Andrew Waterworth was spending so much of the game out wide.

Also having a new number was Trai Hume, back after a loan spell at Ballymena and wearing number 8.

Both teams made solid starts to this game.

Linfield’s first attack saw Christy Manzinga do a rabona into the box, but nobody could get on the end of it. Zalgiris responded with a low shot that easily saved by Chris Johns.

Zalgiris next opportunity, was a lot closer, when a cross from the byline fell perfectly to one of their attackers, who could only direct an instinctive shot over the bar.

It felt like every Linfield cross was agonisingly evading attackers rushing in. It seemed like the theme of the night.

Just as they did in the first leg, Zalgiris made Linfield pay with clinical finishing. A corner was only cleared to the edge of the box, and a low shot went into the back of the net to make it 1-0.

Chris Johns appealed for offside against a striker blocking his view. Unfortunately, TV replays showed that he was onside.

Just as in the first leg, Zalgiris made it 2-0 in the final minutes of the first-half after a neat passing move resulted in a shot from outside the area hitting the back of the net.

Before I could even shout to watch for the shot, the ball was in the back of the net. Such are the fine lines at this level.

At half-time, Jordan Stewart came on for Matthew Clarke. He was instantly on the ball and giving Linfield more of an attacking threat.

Trai Hume headed over as Linfield went in search of a goal, getting a golden opportunity when a Jimmy Callacher header was handled just underneath the crossbar by a Vilnius defender.

Sometimes, when you see a ball flying in the box and hands raised, you claim for it even if you’re not sure.

The guilty look and apologetic shrug towards his own goalkeeper as he was getting sent-off suggested that the correct decision had been made.

Chris Shields stepped up to reduce the deficit to 2-1. He obviously didn’t get the memo that Linfield players have to be rubbish penalties.

In the olden days, the two away goals conceded would have made it impossible for Linfield, but a 4-2 win for Linfield would have taken the game to extra-time. Though, where would they get those three goals from?

It looked like it might come when Niall Quinn flicked on a cross with his left foot, only to be denied by a spectacular save from the goalkeeper.

Despite the introductions of Cameron Palmer and Navid Nasseri and another red card for Zalgiris, Linfield couldn’t get an equaliser.

It wouldn’t have made much difference to the tie, but it would have helped with the co-efficient.

Even though they won, the two red cards made it a costly night for Zalgiris.

In the past two years, Linfield dropped into the UEFA Cup after exiting the European Cup, but this year will be different as they drop into the Euro Conference, a tertiary competition starting this season.

On Thursday night, they will face Borac Banja Luka of Bosnia, who took CFR Cluj to extra-time. They would have won the tie if the Away Goal Rule was still in place.

A tough tie, but to give some perspective, Coleraine held their own across two legs against Velez Mostar, also from Bosnia.

This year’s Final will be in Tirana, at a 22,000 capacity venue. That is the sort of venues that will be hosting it.

2023 will be in Crete. Now, if Hearts or Hibs could put in a bid to host the 2024 Final, that would be great. Two trips to Edinburgh in three months would make up for not going in 2020 or (most likely) 2021.

Talking of European Finals in 2024, Lansdowne Road has been confirmed as the venue for the 2024 UEFA Cup Final. Will definitely be heading down to that to try and get a ticket. I was there in 2011 when it hosted the UEFA Cup Final.

Having not been able to go to Euro 2020, then Euro 2021, i’m going to look at Euro 2024.

Looking at the host cities, there’s a cluster of cities within an hour of each other (Cologne, Dusseldorf, Gelsenkirchen, Dortmund) with Cologne and Dusseldorf having flights from Dublin.

Of course they don’t have flights from Belfast. Belfast doesn’t have any decent flights to Mainland Europe.

Just waiting for the tournament schedule to be announced so I can plan further.

I did plan on going to London for the weekend of the Euro 2021 Final.

I ended up rescheduling (as my flights were for Gatwick, i’m going to Brighton instead) because London has just given up with Covid. They don’t give a shit.

It says something staying in Belfast in mid July is a better option.

I think I got a lucky escape with all the public disorder on Sunday, then the flooding on Monday.

Last week saw the publishing of the Irish League Fixture Lists. I was hoping for Linfield to be away to Carrick early on, so I could go to Blackhead Path in the morning, then on to the match in the afternoon.

And also, I wanted Coleraine away in mid December rather than early December, so I could spend the train journey circling what I want to watch in Christmas Radio Times.

I’m hoping that Linfield’s opening match, at home to Crusaders, is moved to the Friday night so I can go to Harland and Wolff Welders home game to check out their new stadium, all being well.

With the Irish League season starting a bit later, i’m planning on heading to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on Leeds United on 14 August. I’d thought that 2021 was going to be the first year since 1992 that I wouldn’t visit Old Trafford.

I was hoping to see United play Chelsea on 11 August, but for flip sake, let’s not talk about Gdansk.

So, 2021-2022 football watching is underway. I’ve no idea how many games i’ll get to go to.

Folks, can we just behave ourselves and get through this final straight?

I really don’t want to spend another Saturday afternoon in the house listening to Radio Ulster.

Photo Album


Simone and Pippo Inzaghi are the cover stars of this edition of Football Italia, a spin-off magazine of Channel 4’s coverage of Italian football.

In news, Juventus will have a new manager in the summer, with Carlo Ancelotti being picked to succeed Marcello Lippi.

Italy beat a Rest Of The World XI 6-2 in a friendly to mark the 100th anniversary of the FIGC.

There are reviews of the draws for the Quarter-Finals of the three European competitions, the highlight being Inter Milan’s European Cup tie against Manchester United, while the UEFA Cup draw presents the opportunity for an all Italian final.

There is a report on the first leg of the Coppa Italia Quarter-Finals, with Juventus on the brink of elimination after a 2-1 home defeat to Bologna.

The two Inzaghi brothers get a six page profile, which also features some of the famous brothers to have played in Serie A.

Parma are the subject of a club profile, including a two page profile of Hernan Crespo.

Sampdoria also get a profile, under new manager David Platt and new signing Lee Sharpe.

There is also reviews of recent matches and previews of upcoming matches.

The magazine ends with a preview of the next edition, which will feature Lazio, as they aim to win their first title since the 1970s.


Alan Shearer is the cover star of Football Europe as Europe’s three main competitions are set to return from Winter hibernation.

Fabrizio Ravanelli gets a four page profile as he aims to get into Italy’s World Cup squad.

The Quarter-Finals of the three main European competitions get previewed, with England being represented by a team in each competition.

The preview for Aston Villa’s tie against Atletico Madrid billed it as Brian Little’s toughest test in Europe as Villa manager. By the time of the first leg, he had resigned as Villa manager and was replaced by John Gregory.

Hoping to win the UEFA Cup, Lazio get a three page profile as they hope their big spending will be rewarded with trophies.

Off the pitch, figures at UEFA are fearful that Joao Havelange is planning to hold onto power at FIFA, despite announcing his retirement.

In Scotland, Alex McLeish has been appointed manager of struggling Hibernian, while Barcelona manager Louis Van Gaal has hit back at critics who say he is trying to turn Barcelona into Ajax.

Another Dutch manager outside his homeland will be Dick Advocaat, who has announced he will be leaving PSV Eindhoen to join Rangers next season.

As the countdown to the World Cup continues, Ciro Ferrera (Italy) and Juninho (Brazil) are facing a race against the clock to be fit for France.


“NEW YORKE” is the headline of this cover, but it’s nothing to do with America, it’s new Manchester United signing Dwight Yorke, who is also the cover star.

The early pages of the magazine is dominated by players staying at United – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying he wants to stay and fight for his place, and David Beckham signing a contract to stay with United until 2003.

Around this time, Paul Hayward was a columnist in the magazine, and he uses his column to comment on the number of clubs who are quick to sack their manager.

One United player with a keen interest in the European Cup group stage draw was Jordi Cruyff, who will be facing former club Barcelona.

United are a club who are constantly linked with players, with Andy Mitten writing a full page on the wonderful world of transfer rumours.

Dwight Yorke gets a five page feature, with an Aston Villa fanzine editor contributing his analysis of the player.

There is a look at United’s upcoming European Cup group games, with Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Brondby getting a full page preview each.

Eric Cantona gets three pages as he makes his final appearance at Old Trafford in a friendly to commemorate forty years since the Munich Air Disaster.

Jaap Stam debuts as a columnist for the magazine, expressing his surprise that Patrick Kluivert didn’t sign for United.

If you’re going to a game at Old Trafford, there is a review of pubs in the city for you.

There are reviews of United’s early season games, while the magazine ends with a quiz between Ryan Giggs and Nicky Butt, with Giggs winning by 5 to 4.