At the mid point of a busy December period, Linfield travelled to Warrenpoint, a ground they had won on all their previous visits to face a side they had beaten 7-0 in October.

However, this would be more difficult than those stats suggested, with some of those previous visits having some wobbly moments for Linfield, most notably both their visits in 2014. Add into that the fact that Warrenpoint have improved recently, sending Coleraine and Ballymena home from Milltown without a single point between them.

Kirk Millar’s red card last week presented an opportunity for Jordan Stewart to come into the starting eleven, while Andrew Waterworth came in for Bastien Hery, as Linfield look to rest him ahead of a busy Christmas period.

Just as significant, was the appearance of Mark Haughey and Daniel Kearns on the bench after long injury lay-offs. The sight of Haughey, even though he’s a defender, would have been a worrying sight for Warrenpoint, given his goalscoring record against them.

Even in the opening minute, Warrenpoint looked nervous, not properly dealing with some clearances.

One of those clearances not dealt with fell perfectly for Andrew Waterworth, who made the most of the space, the opportunity to strike at goal, and the fact that Warrenpoint’s keeper was slightly off his line to fire over him to put Linfield 1-0 up with just 48 seconds on the clock.

Remarkably, this wasn’t the first time that Waterworth has scored for Linfield inside the first minute, as this goal felt like injury time compared with the 18 seconds he took to score against Portadown in 2014.

An early goal was essential in a match like this, so that Warrenpoint wouldn’t have something to hold on to.

More Linfield pressure followed, usually Crossfield balls to Chris Casement or Joel Cooper, who were usually able to get in behind Warrenpoint’s defence.

Their crosses were usually dealt with by Warrenpoint somehow, or they were a cross which evaded everyone.

Stephen Fallon looked like he was going to score when a clearance fell to him, but his low shot was deflected wide.

In the last minute of the half, a cross fell to Jimmy Callacher, but he couldn’t bundle the ball in when he really should have scored.

Linfield really needed a second goal. The longer it stayed 1-0, the longer that Warrenpoint will have felt that they could sneak something from the game, all they needed was one chance to fall their way.

The grim reality was, that Linfield only had one shot on target in a half that they totally dominated.

It was obvious that Linfield players were told to step it up at half-time, judging by the increased urgency in the opening minutes of the second-half.

The best moment that pressure brought saw Shayne Lavery stretch for a header a few yards out, but it went over.

Andrew Waterworth and Chris Casement got onto the end of a Joel Cooper cross, but similar to the Callacher chance in the first-half, neither of them could divert the ball in.

Every time Linfield got the ball, the plan was simple, give the ball to Joel Cooper, who glided past Warrenpoint players every time he got it.

Jordan Stewart was next to be frustrated as his free-kick hit the side netting.

The longer it stayed 1-0, the more you feared that Warrenpoint would sneak something late on.

What was surprising, was that there were no substitutions for Linfield. The options were there, with Daniel Kearns and Bastien Hery both available to come on and offer something different in the attacking third.

Eventually, in injury time, the second goal came for Linfield when a long kick upfield from Rohan Ferguson saw Shayne Lavery get in behind Warrenpoint’s defence, the ball falling perfectly for him to finish from a few yards out.

For some reason, Matthew Shevlin came on for Shayne Lavery. A pointless substitution, he only got seconds on the pitch.

It was frustrating that the second goal didn’t come earlier, as Mark Haughey or Daniel Kearns could have been brought on to get some much needed game time.

As fans left Milltown, scores were filtering through from other grounds, and it was all good news for Linfield, with Coleraine drawing with Larne, and Glentoran and Crusaders drawing with each other. Those results meant that Linfield now have an outright lead of two points.

With the table so tight, it was a strange quirk that in a four week period between November 30th and December 28th, the top five all play each other with the exception of Coleraine not playing Crusaders.

Linfield have already played one of those teams, and the next three are against teams in the top five. They are games Linfield really can’t afford to lose, even though they have points and games in their favour.

Now if they could win them, we could kill off four rivals in one productive month and storm through a crowd, just as Cliftonville did in November and December 2012, racking up the wins while those around them were dropping points.

The first of those games is against Crusaders. There is nothing to be afraid of. Too many times in recent years we have been afraid of Crusaders. We proved we’re a better team three times last season, two of them when they were hoping to breathe down our necks in Winter.

Take our chances and don’t let them have speculative long range shots. It’s really that simple.

The games don’t stop after the busy Christmas/New Year period, with the Irish Cup starting on 4th January.

It’s a dream draw for me, a lower league team away from home, and it’s at a ground I’ve never been to. Queen’s University at The Dub. Not a bad way for my first Saturday football match of 2020.

Tickets have been a topic of conversation this week. Belfast Telegraph managed to fill some column inches by reporting the non story that Republic of Ireland will have only 5% (around 900) of tickets for a Euro 2020 Play-Off at Windsor Park.

Earlier that day, Scotland announced tickets prices for their match against Israel, so i’m guessing there was some sort of meeting or a deadline to confirm arrangements.

I presume the IFA have made arrangements with their Slovakian counterparts, just as the FAI have been given arrangements by their Bosnian counterparts.

But I guess neither of those stories are glamourous enough.

The more you talk about Northern Ireland v Republic of Ireland, the more it’s not going to happen.

I’m not sure i’m in the mood to tolerate idiots phoning up Nolan to demand the game be moved to Lansdowne Road because Windsor Park isn’t big enough. Or even better, demand that Northern Ireland builds a 60,000 capacity stadium at 5 days notice.

I’ve got my tickets for Boxing Day and Coleraine. Credit to the club for having evening sales on Wednesday past, it is really convenient for fans hindered by not being able to get out of work to get to Windsor Park.

My point still stands that has been raised in the past, that any match which is ticketed should have tickets on sale four weeks before the game. That should actually be a formal rule.

For some reason, the Steel and Sons Cup Final is all ticket, which is a ridiculous decision which will vastly reduce the gate, as a lot or people, myself included, will probably decide to attend that morning if they are going to the match.

Usually around this time of year, League Of Ireland fixtures are released, so i’ll keep an eye out for them.

Hopefully, a Monday night fixture list when i’m staying in Bray in late June with Bray at home.

Finally, this match, as with every other match in Northern Ireland this weekend, had a minute silence before in memory of Carrick Rangers player Jerry Thompson.

I was out on Tuesday night so I was late to the news. I had originally thought it had happened during a match like Marc Vivien Foe, as Carrick were playing Glenavon, when I saw the news flash up on my ipad.

I don’t know why, but when a footballer or active manager dies, it just takes you aback with a big massive shock, like Justin Edinburgh, Emiliano Sala, Gary Speed or Phil O’Donnell. Though not managing anyone at the time, you can include Tommy Breslin in that list.

Unsurprisingly, Carrick’s match against Cliftonville was postponed. It seems a bit crass to call it a game in hand given the circumstances of the postponement, i’ll refer to it as “Game they have to play” when referring to Cliftonville’s place in the table in relation to the title race.

Such sad news, there’s nothing I can add to what has already been written, said and tweeted about it.

Photo Album


July 2019 took a while to get going. It took ten days to have a photo adventure, then I couldn’t stop.

July 10th marked the start of the 2019-2020 football season, seeing Linfield take on Rosenborg in the European Cup.

The following day, I headed to Dublin for a short break, getting loads of Street Art photos, and seeing two football matches – St Patrick’s Athletic v IFK Norrkoping and Bray Wanderers v Limerick.

While I was in Bray, I made a start on Bray Head. I’ll be back in 2020 to finish it.

The following weekend, I headed to Wilgar Park to see Linfield continue their pre-season preparation against Dundela.

Linfield v Rosenborg

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

St Patrick’s Athletic v IFK Norrkoping

St Patrick’s Athletic v IFK Norrkoping Photo Album

Bray Head

Bray Head Photo Album

Bray Wanderers v Limerick

Bray Wanderers v Limerick Photo Album

Dundela v Linfield


What appears to be Santa Claus on this week’s edition of Goal is actually Terry Neill of Arsenal, visiting Great Ormond Street Hospital in his role as Chairman of the PFA.

Bobby Charlton uses his column to discuss onfield violence, stating that football is not too violent.

Another Bob is featured, Stokoe, who has hit out after being sacked as manager of Charlton Athletic.

Derby County have discovered they have a growing fanbase across the world, with supporters emerging in Baghdad.

Frank O’Farrell, new manager of Leicester City, has claimed that Leicester can win the title. He would be proved right, albeit 47 years later.

With it being nearly Christmas, naturally, Goal asks some footballers what they want this year. Alan Ball, just wants Everton to beat Man City on Boxing Day.

The tie of the round in the European Cup Quarter-Finals is AC Milan v Celtic, with writer Leslie Vernon expecting the Italian side to win the tie and the competition. He would be proved right.

This week’s Girl Behind The Man goes to Scotland, to meet Anne Gemmell, wife of Celtic star Tommy Gemmell.

There is a look at gates in England, with the most notable figure being that Nottingham Forest have lost 123,000 fans over two seasons.


May 2019 began with a busy Bank Holiday Weekend, starting off by going to see Echo and the Bunnymen at Custom House Square, Ulster v Connacht at Ravenhill, and then checking out Street Art as part of Hit The North.

The following weekend, I headed to Manchester to see United take on Cardiff City. The less said about that match the better.

On the plus side, I did manage to get some Street Art photos from the city.

That was it. The first two weekends of the month were busy, the second two not so much.

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Custom House Square

Echo and the Bunnymen live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Ulster v Connacht

Ulster v Connacht Photo Album

Hit The North

Hit The North Photo Album – Sunday 5th May 2019

Hit The North Photo Album – Monday 7th May 2019

Hit The North Photo Album – Aftermath

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Cardiff City

Manchester United v Cardiff City Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album


April 2019 began for me with a trip to Ballymena to see Linfield beat Ballymena United 1-0 to all but secure the Irish League title.

The next day, I made the most of a football free Saturday by heading to East Belfast to get some photos of some newly painted Street Art.

The following Saturday, I was back on the football trail, seeing Linfield secure the point they needed, against Crusaders, to become Champions.

The week after, came the trophy presentation, following a forgettable 4-0 defeat against Glenavon.

My last Linfield game of the season was a lot better, a 5-1 win over Cliftonville on Easter Tuesday.

April ended with a trip to Lisburn to Island Arts Centre for an art event where murals were painted live.

Ballymena United v Linfield

East Belfast Street Art

East Belfast Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Crusaders

Linfield Title Celebrations

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield Title Presentations

Linfield v Cliftonville

Lisburn Street Art

Lisburn Street Art Photo Album


It doesn’t quite make up for the fact i’ll be spending my birthday in Ballymena, but it’s a start.

Two trophies already gone, Linfield weren’t in the mood to let a third slip away. Defeat today wouldn’t have been a fatal blow in the title race, but it would be a setback Linfield could do without.

Kicking off in 4th, just two points off the top, every time Linfield have got close to the top, a defeat to a rival has seen them fall further away. With matches against the Top 5 before 2019 is over, this habit of losing big games was something that needed to be kicked. A new year’s resolution before the new year has started.

A win could see Linfield jump up to top spot, but that would need two results to go in their favour. That would be nice, but they needed to help themselves. If they did, they would be 3rd at least.

Today’s fixture list would guarantee a result going in Linfield’s favour as 2nd place Coleraine faced 5th place Glentoran. A draw would be perfect, but you could live with a winner, as you would pull closer to Coleraine, or further away from Glentoran.

That, would be on the condition of Linfield winning.

They would be playing a Cliftonville who have hit a slump in form in their last two games, a draw with Larne and a defeat to Glentoran. You could argue that it was not unexpected, as their winning run coincided with a run of games against Bottom 6 teams.

They were there for the taking, although the only teams that Glenavon and Coleraine have beaten recently have been Linfield. We don’t do well against teams who are on bad runs of form recently.

That was not the case against Cliftonville last season, with wins in November and December coming against a Cliftonville side who were on the back of successive defeats. Linfield were ruthless on those days. They had to be just as ruthless in this match.

There was an extra pressure on Linfield as I was going to this over the Ulster match. I usually do one of Ulster’s group matches, but they’ve all been arranged for the same time as Linfield matches. It was never going to be a contest, but I was hoping they would make it worth not considering the Rugby, unlike when I was at the Glenavon match a few weeks back.

Linfield’s starting eleven saw a return to four at the back, hallelujah, and a return to the starting eleven for Bastien Hery.

In the early minutes of the game, Linfield had a lot of the ball but couldn’t make much of it. Cliftonville looked like they were going to have the first chance of the game when Joe Gormley looked like he was getting in behind Linfield’s defence, only to be denied by a hooked clearance from Matthew Clarke, with Jimmy Callacher’s header back to Rohan Ferguson mopping up any danger.

It was a first-half dominated by overzealous refereeing, not playing advantages when a team was on the attack, or awarding free-kicks for the most minimal of physical contact.

Shayne Lavery’s presence in their defensive third was enough to cause concern for Cliftonville, especially at set pieces. On one such occasion, his presence in the six yard box caused Richard Brush to drop a cross, but was first to react to his own error, managing to grab the ball immediately.

It was Cliftonville who had the first clear opportunity on goal when Jimmy Callacher lost possession to Rory Donnelly, who ran through on goal. Thankfully, Josh Robinson was on the scene to put pressure on him, forcing him into a rushed shot which was saved by Rohan Ferguson.

As the half neared it’s end, Linfield began to show themselves as an attacking force, being camped in Cliftonville’s half. A neat passing move saw a Kirk Millar cross just evade Joel Cooper as he set himself up for a bicycle kick.

By this point, Cooper and Millar had switched wings. Cooper was getting a lot of joy cutting inside and running with the ball, causing panic in Cliftonville’s defence.

Despite that, Linfield couldn’t get a goal before half-time.

As the teams left the pitch, fans were digesting scores from elsewhere, as Crusaders were drawing 0-0 with Ballymena United and Coleraine were 2-0 down to Glentoran. It was set up to be a great day for Glentoran. Linfield and Cliftonville knew that if the scores stayed as they were, a win would see them go top of the League.

The second-half began with more Linfield pressure, again being camped in Cliftonville’s half. The best moment came when Richard Brush missed a free-kick, but Jimmy Callacher headed onto the top of the bar.

On 56 minutes, Liam Bagnall got sent-off for a second yellow for a foul on Jamie Mulgrew as Linfield attacked, with no advantage played as the ball broke to a Linfield player and a promising attack was about to start.

Linfield fans had sensed the game was now swinging in their favour. Cliftonville had been struggling to get out of their half and a Linfield goal looked inevitable. Now they had to push on and show no mercy.

The pressure continued, and eventually a goal, when a cross was missed by Brush, and fell perfectly for Chris Casement, the ball hitting him and going in, a replica of Josh Robinson’s goal against Larne the previous week.

Brush had a few hairy moments, no pun intended, from crosses during the game, especially in crowded penalty areas, and Linfield made one of them count.

Just like when Conor Devlin struggled with the presence of Mark Stafford last week, Linfield saw a weakness and ruthlessly exploited it. They had also made their extra man count.

Linfield needed a second goal, just to be sure. Matthew Clarke had a low shot blocked and Bastien Hery hit the post as Linfield went in search of it.

They were given a reminder that they needed a second goal when Rory Donnelly pulled clear but hit the top of the crossbar.

Andrew Waterworth came on for Shayne Lavery, on a yellow card and starting to be targeted by Cliftonville players desperate for the numbers to be evened up.

A repeat of his hat-trick last season would have been nice, but Waterworth has a habit in recent years of scoring against Cliftonville when they visit Windsor Park in Winter, having scored against them in November 2015, November 2016, December 2017 and November 2018.

With no Jordan Stewart available, Waterworth would be the only attacking option available from the bench for Linfield. If he was available, bringing him on for Millar or Cooper would have been an option.

Kirk Millar would be leaving the pitch early, but not through choice, as he was sent-off for a late tackle. After scoring in two of Cliftonville’s last three visits to Windsor Park, maybe he was due a downturn in fortunes in this fixture.

What it means is, as punishment, he will be spending the next two Saturdays and Boxing Day in the stands. Could be worse, he could be out shopping on those days. Now that would be a punishment.

Of more immediate concern, was the loss of Linfield’s one man advantage, and a gap down the right that Cliftonville could exploit.

That was immediately rectified with the introduction of Trai Hume for Stephen Fallon.

Despite a narrow lead and a reduced playing personnel, there was no real need for Linfield fans to be nervous, as their side were able to hold out. Cliftonville were struggling to get the ball out of their defensive third.

When they were able to, it was Jimmy Callacher who cleared the danger, with two headed clearances to keep the ball away from Linfield’s defensive third, to keep Cliftonville from getting any ideas that they could score.

It was probably appropriate that he had the last kick of the game, booting the ball back where it came from. Having given Rory Donnelly a Christmas gift in the first-half, Linfield’s defence were now taking the role of Scrooge. Like an Inn in Bethlehem in Christmas Eve, Cliftonville weren’t getting in.

It’s a stat that I never noticed until it was mentioned by Nicola McCarthy in the introduction to the NIFL Highlights, that Linfield have won six home League matches in a row, keeping five clean sheets. Make that seven home League wins in a row and six clean sheets. You know how much I love clean sheet stats.

Elsewhere, the scores in the two other games of interest to Linfield took a dramatic turn, with Coleraine coming from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Glentoran, a reversal of the game at The Oval in August.

As is tradition at Windsor Park, scores from other games were announced at full-time. Usually done in alphabetical order, announcing the score of Dungannon Swifts and no mention of Crusaders suggested something was up.

The final score announced was “Crusaders 0”, it could only be good news, and “Ballymena 1” was the icing on the cake.

This combination of results meant that Linfield were top of the League, on goal difference from Coleraine and a point clear of Crusaders and Cliftonville. Linfield have two games in hand though.

Those two games have yet to be rearranged, but there is no rush. December is already busy enough, there’s no need to make it busier. It’s a bit of a risk if we have games postponed during December/January due to weather that will necessitate further games needing arranged in the new year, but it is a risk worth taking.

This was the fourth successive weekend that leadership of the table has changed hands. Hopefully, Linfield will break that run next weekend and stay top.

Being out of action at the start of the season and playing catch up meant that the road to the top of the table was going to be long for Linfield. To get there before Christmas is probably ahead of schedule.

A traffic jam at the top is always welcome when you’re chasing, but there comes a point when you have to charge ahead, like Crusaders did in 2015.

With games coming up against Crusaders, Glentoran and Coleraine before the new year, Linfield can pull clear.

It was their form in December and January (well, after the defeat to Ballymena United on 1st December) that won the League for Linfield last season, a run of big games as well, including Cliftonville, Glentoran and Crusaders home and away.

Before this match, tickets for Boxing Day tickets went on sale. Well, some of them.

The first batch did, to Members only. Season Ticket holders will get their opportunity next Saturday, before they go on General Sale on 21st December.

I’ve no issue with the order of sales, and the club have to give people time to purchase, hence the week long window.

I’ve said it before, if a match is all ticket, there should be a rule that tickets should be on sale four weeks in advance.

It is inconveniencing a lot of people that they won’t know until five days before the match if they have a ticket.

If the tickets were put on sale last week (as they would have been under a Four Week Rule), Members could have purchased at the Larne and Coleraine matches, Season Ticket holders at this match, then General Sale from 14th December, which allows people purchasing under General Sale twelve days to get a ticket.

Boxing Day is still a long way off, it’s all about Warrenpoint.

Going off course with some TV recommendations for you, and RTE have two decent looking documentaries on Monday 9th December. Unfortunately, they’re on at the same time.

At 9.35pm on RTE1, there is a look back at a combined Bohs/St Patrick’s Athletic team playing in Libya, called In League with Gaddafi. While on RTE2 at 10.10pm is Wonder Walls, nothing to do with Oasis, but a look at Irish Street Art, where i’ll keep an eye out for places in Dublin and Waterford that I recognise.

I’ll record both and watch them at some point during the week.

As said earlier, up next for Linfield is a trip to Warrenpoint next Saturday. Hopefully, the most awkward part of the day is negotiating through traffic in Newry City Centre on the way home.

Photo Album


March began with a first concert at Elmwood Hall for me, to see KT Tunstall.

A few days later was my first football match of the month, as I travelled to Mourneview Park to see Linfield lose to Glenavon.

The football didn’t get much better, as I headed to Seaview to see Linfield lose the County Antrim Shield Final to Crusaders.

Thankfully, things got a bit better as Linfield beat Institute 2-0.

There was a flurry of football as the month ended, with three games in four days, with Linfield’s trip to Dungannon Swifts being sandwiched inbetween Northern Ireland’s opening Euro 2020 Qualifiers, at home to Estonia and Belarus.

KT Tunstall live at Elmwood Hall

KT Tunstall live at Elmwood Hall Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Crusaders v Linfield

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


Lee Sharpe and Andrei Kanchelskis, dressed as Santa, are the cover stars of Manchester United’s official magazine as Christmas 1994 approaches.

Sharpe is the subject of a news item where he is the subject of a big deal, not for another club, but a boot deal with Pony.

Elsewhere in news, United have denied that they are leaving Old Trafford to play at a new stadium proposed to be built by Manchester City Council.

Naturally, there are reviews of the month just gone and the month ahead, a run of games for United in October 1994 that saw top of the table clashes and big cup games in Europe and domestically.

Eric Cantona is the subject of a five page interview, where he talks about his love of English football.

In competitions, you can win a signed photo of a United player. You don’t know who, you have to guess who he is based on pictures of his house.

There is a four page Fans Forum where supporters (most of them called Barton) discuss United’s youngsters and the sale of Dion Dublin.

With Christmas approaching, the magazine looks at present ideas, with an official United interactive CD-Rom which costs £34.99 being reviewed.


February didn’t get off to the best start, as I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield exit the Irish Cup against Crusaders.

Things got better the following Saturday as Linfield came from 2-0 down to score a last minute winner against Coleraine.

It got a lot better the following Saturday as Linfield beat Ballymena United to win the NIFL Cup.

Finally, it was time for my first concerts of the year, going to see Chvrches at Ulster Hall, then Razorlight at The Limelight the following evening.

That was followed by some more football, as Linfield took on Ballymena United again, this time in the League, and then a midweek trip to Newry to see Linfield grind out a 1-0 win.

Linfield v Crusaders

Linfield v Coleraine

NIFL Cup Final

NIFL Cup Final Photo Album

Chvrches live at Ulster Hall

Chvrches live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Razorlight live at The Limelight

Razorlight live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Ballymena United

Newry City v Linfield


2019 began for me with a trip to the seaside on the very first day of the year, to Clandeboye Park to see Linfield take on Ards as they aimed for three points in the title race.

Eleven days later, was my first trip of the year to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Warrenpoint Town.

That was then followed a week later by a trip to Seaview to see Linfield beat Crusaders.

A month that was mostly spent watching football saw me return to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Glentoran in a televised game.

The next day, I headed to Manchester. Guess what? It was for a football match, as Manchester United took on Burnley.

While I was there, I got photos of Street Art in Manchester and Salford Quays, while I also snuck in a day trip to Sheffield, where I got more Street Art photos.

While I was in Manchester, it snowed, so I got some photos of that, including snow outside Old Trafford.

Ards v Linfield

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Burnley

Manchester United v Burnley Photo Album

Manchester Snow

Manchester Snow Photo Album

Sheffield Street Art

Sheffield Street Art Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album