PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2017-2018

I hope you’ve enjoyed the month by month look back at the 2017-2018. The less said about what happened on the pitch, the better.

I took a lot of photos, so i’ve rounded up my favourites.

Feel free to vote for your favourite.

PLATT LANE

This was taken in June last year when The Oval was being used for filming a movie about Bert Trautmann, and was decorated to look like Maine Road. I went to get some photos.

I specifically wanted one with 1950s Maine Road and 2017 Oval both in the same shot, and this was my favourite from that day.

CLANDEBOYE

You have roadworks to thank for this photo.

I was held up heading to Ards v Linfield and missed the first couple of minutes.

This was the scene that greeted me as I entered, a crowd with their eyes fixated on the pitch on a warm summer evening.

GARRETT

I like the composition of this photo.

You may be surprised that Robert Garrett is attacking and not defending, he had just kept the ball in play and was now being surrounded by two Dungannon defenders.

PHOTOGRAPHER

I just like the composition of this shot. Taken during Spartans v Linfield in Scottish Challenge Cup.

RAINBOW

Me being arty farty. I love trying to get pictures of rainbows over football grounds. Taken at half-time during Ballinamallard v Linfield in November. A rare time that afternoon when it wasn’t raining.

HAUGHEY

Same match, everyone huddled in the stand to avoid the rain. I like the composition of this shot.

FLEGS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Switzerland match in November, green and white flags were left out before the game for fans to wave. I decided to take a shot as they were being waved and got lucky.

CELEBRATION

Everything fell into place for this shot, the sky, a well worked goal, and the whole team coming together to celebrate.

GOAL

I like this shot because it captures the emotion of a last minute equaliser as part of a late comeback that never looked like coming.

TIPTON

I was heading to the exit for a quick getaway (in my defence, it was an away game on a weeknight) and stumbled upon this framing as Matthew Tipton looked on as Warrenpoint took on Linfield.

CAMPION

Taken during Cliftonville v Linfield in February, the guy in the red coat makes it makes it with his celebration as Linfield players celebrate in front of their fans.

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BALLINAMALLARD UNITED 0-6 LINFIELD 4.11.2017

Linfield were looking to bounce back after ……

Wait a minute, that was last week’s script. After returning to winning ways against Ards last weekend, Linfield returned to losing ways 48 hours later, against Ards in the County Antrim Shield.

It kinda took the Shheeeeeyyyyyyinnnnne off the evening, when I saw the final score inbetween songs at the Liam Gallagher concert.

Once again, Linfield were looking to bounce back after losing their last game. Ballinamallard have doing that all season. 11 defeats out of 13 suggests they haven’t done it very well.

Linfield fans will have been glad to wake up on Wednesday morning to discover that it was no longer October. It’s been an awful month in recent years, which has all been noted here. A stat as to how grim it is appeared on Twitter regarding the number of points lost and cup competitions exited.

Things are so bad for Linfield at the moment, they arrived in Fermanagh and weren’t met by the usual sunshine that greets them when they play at Ballinamallard.

Both teams were in a similar situation. They may have points to make up on those immediately above them, but the situation is retrievable. Neither side could let the gap get any bigger.

There was one ray of sunshine for Linfield fans arriving at Ferney Park, not in the sky but on the teamsheet, as Linfield lined-up 442 and with only two centre midfielders. Finally, the unsuccessful and restrictive 451/433 had been binned.

It was immediately effective, with Linfield straight on the attack and putting pressure on the Ballinamallard goal. Crosses were coming in and players were almost getting on the end of it. You could tell that a goal was coming.

That goal did come when a quick free-kick saw Jordan Stewart and Matthew Clarke going up against one Ballinamallard full-back, with Clarke being played in to cross for Mark Haughey to head home from close range. Linfield had the early goal they desired.

The two previous meetings between the two sides this season have seen 4-0 and 3-0 wins for Linfield. However, the half-time score in both those games have been 1-0 and 0-0. Linfield have had to wait until the second-half to secure the win. They needed to get a second goal.

The pressure on the Ballinamallard goal continued, and the second goal came when Kirk Millar’s header from a Jordan Stewart cross looped in. I was behind the goal and muttered “Unlucky” to myself, as I thought it was going over.

There were more chances for Linfield, and a third goal came when Andrew Waterworth headed home from close range after a Josh Robinson shot was saved.

It was to be Robinson’s last involvement in the game as he was sent-off for kicking out in a melee in the goal caused by Jason McCartney rugby tackled him on the goalline. Robinson could have no complaints, McCartney was very lucky to only receive a yellow card.

No matter how the game has gone so far, when an opposition player is sent-off, you always fancy your chances of getting something.

Ballinamallard had a chance from close range that went over as the half neared it’s end. Linfield were able to see out the half and go in at 3-0 up.

David Healy reacted to the red card by bringing on Andrew Mitchell for Louis Rooney.

I know i’ve complained about Healy being too defensive in recent weeks, but the situation justified it. Linfield didn’t needed to score and they didn’t want to concede an early second-half goal and give Ballinamallard any encouragement that they could get something from this game.

In truth, Mitchell probably did more in the first-half than when he was on the pitch in the second-half.

Linfield started the second-half on the attack, you wouldn’t have noticed they were down to ten men.

Just like in the first-half, there was an early header from Mark Haughey, this time to make it 4-0. If there was any doubt about the result, it had now gone, the points were going to Windsor Park, Linfield’s first away win since September 22nd, and (specific statistic alert) first away League win on a Saturday since August 19th.

By now, Linfield fans were huddled into the Vilage Stand, or any other form of shelter they could find as the rain became torrential. There was never any danger of the match being abandoned as the pitch was holding up well. The match, metaphorically, was already over.

Chris Casement and Mark Stafford were both denied as Linfield looked to make it 5-0. Mark Haughey slid in while trying to get on the end of a low cross. He ended up in the back of the net. The ball did not. Today would not be his day for a hat-trick.

Jordan Stewart would be the man to make it 5-0, firing home from close range after a Kirk Millar cross.

That would be his last involvement in the game, as he was substituted, with Brandon Adams coming on.

By this point, Jamie Mulgrew had already been replaced by Stephen Lowry as a precaution.

Roy Carroll made a save from a Ciaran Martyn header as Linfield aimed to secure a first ever winning clean sheet in the League at Ballinamallard.

After recent defensive calamities, it was important to start keeping clean sheets. It is the first part of the recovery process of Linfield’s season.

There was time for one more goal for Linfield as Andrew Waterworth made it 6-0. Today was his first League goals of the season. Hopefully, the first and second of many. We’ll need it to be.

As well as the thee points, this was also a timely boost for Linfield’s goal difference. Coleraine, Glenavon and Crusaders have a goal difference of 22 in comparison to Linfield’s 19. The priority is clawing back the points deficit, but having goal difference as a back-up won’t hurt.

Elsewhere today, Cliftonville won, so they are still breathing down our necks, while Crusaders won, meaning they are just slightly above us.

There was points droppage further ahead as Glenavon and Coleraine drew with each other.

As a result, Linfield are now 11 points off the top but with a game in hand, and only 3 points behind Glenavon.

Next weekend, Coleraine and Crusaders aren’t in League action. The following Saturday, Coleraine travel to Windsor Park. The incentive is there, win the next two League matches and the gap from the top is only five points. There would still be a lot of work to do, but suddenly Coleraine would be feeling a lot of pressure.

Elsewhere, in the Steel and Sons Cup, Linfield Swifts advanced to Semi-Finals. I’m slightly worried we might get to the final, on Christmas Day.

I’m keeping an eye on FA Cup 1st Round games this weekend. Why? 2nd Round replays are scheduled for the Tuesday night I am in Manchester to see United take on Bournemouth on the Wednesday.

Of the North-West/Greater Manchester teams, Nantwich and Oldham went out while Rochdale, Crewe and Wigan went through. Bury play tomorrow. I’m hoping for away draws for North-West teams and they go to a replay.

Next up for me, is Northern Ireland v Switzerland, and hopefully a mood of national celebration by the time Linfield head to Ballymena on Friday night.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : SEPTEMBER

September’s first football watching didn’t begin until the middle of the month, when Linfield took on Warrenpoint Town.

A home match against Warrenpoint doesn’t usually generate much excitement, but it did on this occasion, as it was Linfield’s first home match of the season, and a first chance to see the ongoing redevelopment work at Windsor Park.

The following weekend, I was Windsor bound to see Linfield take on Glenavon.

As the month ended, it was Fermanagh for me to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard.

The final match of the month, was at Seaview, to see Linfield take on Crusaders in a rearranged Monday night game.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Glenavon

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Crusaders v Linfield

2014 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

It took a while for anything to happen in September, almost two weeks in fact.

In the middle of the month, Linfield faced Warrenpoint Town. Such a match was not usually exciting, but it was Linfield’s first home match of the season, and a chance to see in person, the ongoing redevelopment at Windsor Park.

The following Friday, was Culture Night, some great photo opportunities and an excellent evening’s entertainment.

The next day, I was Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Glenavon.

On the Sunday, I headed down to North Street to survey the aftermath of Culture Night, and the new Street Art that had appeared.

From North, I headed West the following Saturday, to Fermanagh, to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard United.

Two days later, I was Seaview bound to see Linfield take on Crusaders in a rearranged game to end the month.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Culture Night 2014

Culture Night 2014 Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

North Street Art

North Street Art Photo Album

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Crusaders v Linfield

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED 1-3 LINFIELD 27.9.2014

After getting nice and comfy in the North Stand at Windsor Park, it was a road trip to Fermanagh for Linfield, as they looked to recover some momentum lost by last week’s defeat to Glenavon.

It wasn’t the most exciting of games, but that was no bad thing. When you’re facing a side that started the day second bottom, the last thing you want is excitement. You just want to get the win, and wrapped up as soon as possible.

In truth, this game was won inside the first 15 minutes as Linfield raced into a 2-0 lead with goals from Lowry (his first for the club) and Burns.

What was pleasing was that the first time in a while, Linfield looked like scoring every time they attacked.

Ross Clarke, back in the starting line-up, was superb, creating chance after chance. I’m a big fan of his, but he was shocking against Ballyclare, and it’s great to see him back in the team and back in form.

The ever frustrating Ivan Sproule played well too, creating chances and causing problems for Ballinamallard.

Peter Thompson and Andrew Waterworth, who’ve rarely played together, linked up well, but couldn’t get the goal they deserved.

Watching Linfield, one of the most nervous situations to be in is 2-0 up, especially away from home, when you always have that horrible feeling that the opposition will get two quickfire goals.

Though Ballinamallard had an early half-chance in the second-half, another goal from Aaron Burns put the game beyond doubt.

At 3-0, that was the cue to make some substitutions with a game against Crusaders coming up on Monday night, a rest for Andrew Waterworth, and a chance to give Jamie Mulgrew some minutes as he returns from injury.

The only disappointment was a late consolation goal for Ballinamallard. I like clean sheets, and runs of clean sheets, and it ruined a possible run of 5 clean sheets in 6 games.

A bonus from this game was results elsewhere, with Glenavon, Portadown, Cliftonville and Ballymena all dropping points. Just a pity Institute couldn’t have got something at Seaview on Friday night.

All the attention now is on Seaview, and the clash against Crusaders, where a win will send Linfield top for the first time this season.

If that happens, it won’t automatically see Linfield declared champions, just as last week’s defeat to Glenavon didn’t see Linfield condemned to a season of being also-rans.

It’s early days, but there have been positive signs (and to balance it out, some not so positive signs either)

But tomorrow is a crucial game for both clubs, as a win will send a statement of intent.

Just imagine how demoralising it will be for the rest of the league to see Linfield go top as we approach the stage of the season when everybody is playing each other for the second time.

Especially with Linfield having a run of home games until the end of 2014.

To end, some self promotion, one of my photos from the game against AIK was featured in a photo gallery on The Guardian’s website, titled “This Is My Football Team”

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – SEPTEMBER

September began for me with the World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal. Everything looked set for a Northern Ireland win, until Ronaldo turned on his magic, aided by playing against nine men.

The next day, it was back to Irish League action, as I made my first visit to Dixon Park, to see Linfield take on Ards.

The following weekend, I was Old Trafford bound. A trip with a difference, as it was my first visit with David Moyes as United manager, for the game against Crystal Palace.

There was much hype in the build-up about a Belgian on the bench about to make his first appearance for United at Old Trafford. Little did we know, it would be another Belgian on the bench that day we would be falling in love with over the season.

Seven days later, I was on my travels again, to Fermanagh, to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard, getting some nice shots on a sunny day, and watching Linfield win.

To end the month, it was back to Windsor Park for the first time in three weeks, to see Linfield take on Coleraine, which was won by Linfield with an injury time goal.

The sunny days might have been ending, but the football season was in full swing. Time to look forward to the Winter months.

Northern Ireland v Portugal

Northern Ireland v Portugal Photo Album

Ards v Linfield

Manchester United v Crystal Palace

Manchester United v Crystal Palace Photo Album

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

2013 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

The summer might have ended, but that wasn’t the end of my photo adventures.

My first weekend saw me having a football double bill, Northern Ireland’s World Cup Qualifier against Portugal, followed by Linfield’s trip to Ballyclare to take on Ards, my first ever trip to Dixon Park

The following weekend, was another first, my first trip to Old Trafford to see a David Moyes Manchester United game, against Crystal Palace.

The weekend after that, was Culture Night, then a trip to Ballinamallard to see Linfield, then back to Belfast in time for Manic Street Preachers.

The day after the Manics, I was headed to the Cathedral Quarter to see the new Street Art painted as part of Culture Night, now that the dust had settled.

In fact, there was so much Street Art, I missed some, and had to come back the following Saturday. Later that day, I went to see Linfield take on Coleraine.

To end the month, I headed to East Belfast to get some Street Art shots, the Newtownards Road also getting the same treatment as North Street on Culture Night

Northern Ireland v Portugal

Northern Ireland v Portugal Photo Album

Ards v Linfield

The Butcher

Manchester United v Crystal Palace

Manchester United v Crystal Palace Photo Album

Manchester

Culture Night Belfast 2013

Culture Night Belfast 2013 Photo Album

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Manic Street Preachers Live At Ulster Hall

Manic Street Preachers Live At Ulster Hall Photo Album

North Street – A Culture Night Legacy

North Street – A Culture Night Legacy Photo Album

North Street – A Culture Night Legacy Part 2

Linfield v Coleraine

East Belfast Street Art

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – DECEMBER

December is a month that is traditionally cold, dark and miserable, and how appropriate that I should spend the first day of the month at Ballyskeagh, watching Linfield put in a performance that was, well ……..cold, dark and miserable.

The following Saturday, I was off to watch a football match in Fermanagh for the first time, as I travelled to Ferney Park to see Linfield’s first visit to Ballinamallard.

I made a day of it, had some lunch in the town, and saw Linfield win. Overall, a very good day out. Managed to get some nice shots in a ground friendly for amateur photography.

My next game, was Linfield v Dungannon Swifts, a nervy 2-1 win.

On the Saturday before Christmas, it was Seaview, for an entertaining (and frustrating) 2-2 draw between Crusaders and Linfield.

I managed to get a lot of good shots at this game, my favourite being a crowd shot as Linfield have a set piece.

Then, followed Boxing Day. I didn’t get many good photos, but that didn’t matter ……. because Linfield won.

Three days later, I was Lurgan bound for the trip to Glenavon. I’d previously considered giving the game a miss, but the two games before it really fired up my enthusiasm, and a 3-0 win made the journey worthwhile.

On top of that, I got some good photos at a ground which is always photofriendly.

Lisburn Distillery v Linfield

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Crusaders v Linfield

Glenavon v Linfield

2012 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR)

The year might have been winding down to an end, but I was still out and about in my camera.

On the very first day of the month, I found myself at Ballyskeagh, a venue not known for being kind to amateur photography, and so it proved, as I got pictures as dull and uninspiring as Linfield’s performance that day.

The following Saturday, was a wee adventure to somewhere i’d never been before, Ballinamallard, for Linfield’s first (competitive) visit there.

Made a whole day of it, and managed to get some good photos from a ground which is very friendly to amateur photography.

The following Saturday, I did a Football/Rugby double header, as I went to a Linfield match at 3pm, then over to Ravenhill for 6pm

The Ulster match against Northampton was my annual Winter trip for a European game. I’d got the tickets in September, which turned out to be a good decision, as the game sold out well in advance.

My previous four visits saw Ulster win. Unfortunately, that run came to an end.

On Saturday, I was at Seaview for Linfield’s visit to Crusaders, and managed to get some good shots at a ground which is usually friendly to amateur photography.

So, that’s my round-up of my photo adventures in 2012 over. Here’s to more in 2013.

Lisburn Distillery v Linfield

Ballinamallard v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Ulster v Northampton

Ulster v Northampton Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED 1-3 LINFIELD 8.12.2012

I’ve seen football in seven different countries, but today, I attended a match in County Fermanagh for the first time, as Linfield visited Ferney Park, home of Ballinamallard United.

It was an early start, travelling by supporters bus and arriving in the town just after noon, having lunch in a local bar before heading to the ground just before half two.

The locals were more than welcoming, a representative from the club even coming down to welcome supporters having lunch in the town.

Ferney Park is a nice wee ground, the ideal Irish League ground, with all the right features for the perfect away trip. There was no segregation, with supporters having the option of sitting in one of the three stands, or standing.

All the seats were taken by the time I arrived, but I wasn’t that bothered, as I prefer to stand behind the goal where Linfield are attacking.

Got a good view in both halves, the phototaking was a mixed bag. Got some good ones, but a lot of awful ones.

Linfield played well (ish) and won, which was nice. Even created chances. The second goal came from a well worked free-kick. It’s almost as if they are planning tactics and set pieces in training.

Knowing the route, I may travel independently next time when Linfield are scheduled to be in Ballinamallard in March, the day after Northern Ireland face Russia. In comparison to the travelling done by the Russians that weekend, a wee jaunt to Fermanagh isn’t that bad.

Photo Album