MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WHEN SATURDAY COMES – AUGUST 2012

Joined by Juan Mata, Fernando Torres is the cover star of this month’s When Saturday Comes, looking back in a horrendous season for him that saw him become a European champion for club and country, top scorer in Euro 2012 and an FA Cup winner.

Euro 2012 dominates this edition, with a day by day diary of the competition, looking back at every game, including a photographic look at how fans watched the tournament in the UK, while there was a feature on those who did travel to Poland and Ukraine, where the welcome for travelling fans wasn’t as bad as feared.

There is a look bad at some of the tournament’s failures, with group stage exiters Holland and Russia getting full page features on their failure.

Underdogs get profiles, with Republic of Ireland and Greece getting a full page looking back at their respective fortunes, as did both finalists Spain and Italy.

There is a look forward to Euro 2016, with sceptical analysis on the decision to increase the tournament from 16 teams to 24 teams.

In club football, there is a look at Harry Redknapp’s sacking as Tottenham Hotspur manager, and the polarising nature of the reaction to his departure from fans and media.

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2015-2016

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

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

BRAY

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

TAYLOR’S

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



FANS

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

ENCOURAGEMENT

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

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



GREECE

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

RED SKY

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

CELEBRATIONS

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

TERRACES

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

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – OCTOBER

October began with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield and Cliftonville draw 3-3, amidst unceratinty over the future of Linfield manager Warren Feeney.

Five days later, I was at Windsor Park to witness Northern Ireland get the win they needed against Greece to send them to Euro 2016.

The party continued for a few days, but the Irish League was back to work, as Linfield faced Glentoran at Windsor Park less than 48 hours later.

By now, Warren Feeney was gone, and it was apt that it was Warren(point) where his successor David Healy took charge of his first game in charge.

The final two games of the month saw Linfield take on Carrick Rangers and Dungannon Swifts.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Greece

Northern Ireland v Greece Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2015

My football watching for 2015 is now over, so, it’s time for a statistical look back at the football I watched.

Games : 54

Goals Seen : 143

Red Cards : 10 (Doesn’t include Caoimhin Bonner being sent-off in the tunnel after the game)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 6

Hat-Tricks : 2 (Andrew Waterworth, Linfield v Dungannon Swifts. Andrew Waterworth, Linfield v Warrenpoint Town)

Teams Seen : 40

Arsenal, Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Bray Wanderers, Carrick Rangers, CE Europa (1st time), Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Dundee (1st time), Dunfermline Athletic (1st time), Dungannon Swifts, Espanyol (1st time), Finland, Glenavon, Glentoran, Greece (1st time), Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Hungary, Institute, Latvia (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Masnau, Northern Ireland, NSI Runavik (1st time), Partick Thistle (1st time), Portadown, PSNI, PSV Eindhoven (1st time), Qatar (1st time), Rangers, Romania (1st time) Scotland, Sligo Rovers, Spartak Trnava (1st time), Tobermore United, Valencia (1st time), Warrenpoint Town

Stadiums Visited : 23

Ballymena Showgrounds, Carlisle Grounds, Drumahoe, East End Park (1st time), Estadi Cornella y Prat (1st time), Ferney Park, Fortwilliam Park (1st time), Gresty Road (1st time), Hampden Park, Ibrox, Milltown, Mourneview Park, Newforge (1st time), Nou Sardenya (1st time), Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, Taylor’s Avenue (1st time), The Oval, Tynecastle, Windsor Park

Competitions : 13

European Championship, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship, La Liga, League of Ireland, Scottish Championship, Scottish League Cup (1st time), Scottish Premier League, Tercera Division (1st time), UEFA Cup

Curiousities :

No real curiousities, other than a match with kick-off delayed for an hour due to the weather

UEFA 102 Club : Espanyol, PSV Eindhoven, Valencia (now at 35 clubs)

2015 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

October began for me with a trip to Solitude, to see Linfield and Cliftonville play out an entertaining 3-3 draw, as uncertainty reigned about the future of Linfield manager Warren Feeney.

The following week was very busy, beginning with Weird Al Yankovic at The Limelight.

The next night, it was Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Greece knowing that a win would take them to Euro 2016. They got that win, and a party soon followed.

Back to The Limelight 24 hours later, for Cast.

And from music, back to football, to see Linfield take on Glentoran, with Warren Feeney gone and Andy Todd in temporary charge.

Later in the month, work took me to Stroke City. On my lunch, I spotted some Street Art, so I naturally headed out to get some snaps.

Back to football, it it was to Warrenpoint, as Linfield had their 3rd manager of the month, with David Healy now in permanent charge having his first game in charge.

I went back on the trail of Street Art, this time in Belfast. mopping up some pieces I missed on Culture Night the previous night.

The month ended with two football matches, to see Linfield taking on Carrick and Dungannon.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Weird Al Yankovic Live At The Limelight

Weird Al Yankovic Live At The Limelight Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Greece

Northern Ireland v Greece Photo Album

Cast Live At The Limelight

Cast Live At The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Stroke City Street Art

Stroke City Street Art Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

North Street Art October 2015

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

NORTHERN IRELAND 3-1 GREECE 8.10.2015

YESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They deserved it.

Photo Album

FOOTBALL IN 2015

Another year of football watching is over, and it’s all about looking forward to 2015. But what, realistically, are my hopes for 2015?

Well, these are my football watching hopes for 2015.

LINFIELD

Well, stating the obvious, I obviously want Linfield to win the Irish League and the Irish Cup.

This season’s Irish Cup draw has already given a treat in the form of an away game against Tobermore United – another new ground to visit.

In terms of pre-season, it’s the usual wishlist of Dundela, PSNI or Stranraer away. Seeing as we invited Cowdenbeath over for a friendly in the summer of 2014, would it be too much to ask for them to return the favour in the summer of 2015?

In terms of promotion, i’m hoping Carrick Rangers go up as i’ve never been there. So again, a new ground to visit. If there is to be another team promoted, hopefully it will be Ards or Bangor, with an away game early in the season on a sunny day.

Of course, there is also the ongoing redevelopment work at Windsor Park. It is expected for this to be completed by November.

Obviously, i’d be getting use of the South Stand, but hopefully, i’ll get an opportunity to sit in the Railway Stand just to see what it’s like. I’m guessing it might have to be used for a Linfield match before it is passed for a Northern Ireland match, in the same way Wembley had to stage an underage international with a restricted attendance before being allowed to host full events.

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Obviously, i’m hoping for Linfield to be in the European Cup, but i’m hoping that the other Irish League sides get fallen giants who are part of the 101 Club, that I can tick off my list.

The closest an Irish League side got in 2014 was when Crusaders got duffed by a Swedish team who went on to play Torino.

Seeing as Glenavon are best mates with PSV Eindhoven, if they want to invite them over for a friendly, that would be great.

MANCHESTER UNITED

I’m hoping to get to Old Trafford before the end of the season. I’ve nothing booked yet, but i’m eyeing either Tottenham in March or Arsenal in May.

Hopefully, there’s be European Cup football returning in September 2015. I might be tempted to a there and back group game. Just have to wait until the 2015-2016 fixture list comes out.

NORTHERN IRELAND

I’m planning to be at four Northern Ireland games in 2015 – the home games against Finland, Romania, Hungary and Greece. I bought a Block Booking for the first time ever for this campaign. The downside is, i’m going to go to hell for attending the Finland game, which is on a Sunday night.

Tempted by the Scotland friendly in March. Haven’t booked anything yet, but a quick there and back for an away friendly is very tempting.

EURO 2016

Whatever the fate of Northern Ireland’s qualification campaign, i’m planning to be in France in the summer of 2016. The reason i’m posting it with reference to 2015 is, the flights will probably go on sale in August/September 2015, and i’m planning to be straight in with my booking. The plan is to go out for the first four days of the tournament and be based in Paris, with two games there, one in Lille (one hour away) and Lens (one hour away)

BIRMINGHAM

Toying with the idea of heading to Birmingham in September for the Rugby World Cup, as Australia and South Africa play on successive days at Villa Park. If I was to do this, i’d be planning to try and take in a football match taking place in the city (if feasible) at either Birmingham City or Walsall. Nothing definite in this idea though.

BARCELONA

Going to Barcelona for a weekend in February. Espanyol are at home to Valencia that weekend, so i’m hoping to take in that match. I’m also looking at lower league sides in the area to try and catch more than one game. The most likely bet is CE Europa, who play in Spain’s 4th tier. Frustratingly, Barcelona B (in Spain’s second tier) are away that weekend, to Real Zaragoza, a 101 Club member.

LEAGUE OF IRELAND

I don’t plan to go to a League Of Ireland game every year, but there’s usually something that takes me to Dublin, so I end up taking in a game. If I do end up taking in a game in Dublin, hopefully, it will be UCD, as the Bellefield Bowl is the only football ground in Dublin I haven’t been to.

SCOTLAND

As well as the previously mentioned international i’m tempted by, i’m planning to head to Edinburgh in August for the festival. Obviously, there’ll be Hibs and Hearts, but i’m hoping they’ll be at home on a Sunday, leaving the Saturday free to see Spartans or Edinburgh City, hopefully by now promoted to League Two (4th tier)

Of the two, Edinburgh City look the most likely. The downside is, they play at an athletics stadium.

MOROCCO

One place i’m definitely not visiting in 2015 is Morocco. I was tempted as they were the host of the 2015 African Cup Of Nations. It turned out I made the right decision by not making plans, as they were stripped of hosting rights, which were given to Equatorial Guinea, which is a bit harder to get to.