PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON: JUNE/JULY

For me, the 2017-2018 football season began at Maine Road in the 1950s. I know what you’re thinking. Did I build a time machine?

Not quite. The Oval was being used to film scenes for a film about Bert Trautmann, and I went down to have a look at it being dressed up as Maine Road.

I then reverted back to the present day, to see Linfield take on La Fiorita in the European Cup.

The football became less competitive, as I ventured to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Hearts in a friendly.

The following Friday, it was back to the European Cup for Linfield, but more Scottish opposition in the shape of Celtic.

Maine Oval

Maine Oval Photo Album

Linfield v La Fiorita

Linfield v Hearts

Linfield v Celtic

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MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT 29.3.1986

Mark Wright is the cover star of Shoot as he wants to be part of the England squad that goes to Mexico 86 after being dropped for England’s recent friendly in Israel.

His determination to reach Mexico was in vain, as a broken leg sustained playing for Southampton would rule him out, though he would get to play for England in the 1990 World Cup.

The countdown to Mexico is in full swing, as Northern Ireland face fellow finalists Denmark in a friendly at Windsor Park, with Shoot doing a feature on 40 year old goalkeeper Pat Jennings, as Northern Ireland aim to keep a 7th successive clean sheet.

They wouldn’t get it as the match finished a 1-1 draw.

Another veteran hoping to go to Mexico was Kenny Dalglish, now player-manager at Liverpool, on the verge of winning his 100th cap in Scotland in the friendly against Romania. However, like the cover star Mark Wright, he would have the action at home after missing out through injury.

Not to be left out, Wales get a feature, as their recent friendly saw a changing on the guard, as Joey Jones retired as joint most capped player, while Malcolm Allen made his debut, and was already compared to Mark Hughes.

Wales are in Dublin for a friendly as the opposition in Jack Charlton’s first game as Republic of Ireland manager, and Charlton gets a full page feature.

BBC pundit Bob Wilson gets a double page column, where he states that Bruce Grobbelaar is the best goalkeeper in England.

Another Scotsman writing for Shoot is Charlie Nicholas, writing about his boyhood idol Kenny Dalglish, who scored six goals for Celtic against Kilmarnock in the first game Nicholas went to, and urges Alex Ferguson to select him for Scotland’s World Cup squad.

Bryan Robson uses his column to hit back at Kevin Keegan, who suggested that he should be playing a Sweeper role for England, stating that his best position is as an attacking midfielder.

This edition is all about the World Cup, as Hungary get a full page feature, looking at their chances in Mexico.

Hearts, billed as “The club that shocked Scottish soccer” get a double page spread looking at their success under Wallace Mercer.

1986 was an agonising year for them, as they lost the league on the last day, then lost the Scottish Cup Final the following week.

Staying in Scotland, Dundee United manager Jim McLean hits out at stayaway fans, fearing that a lack of gate revenue will force the club to sell stars such as Maurice Malpas and Richard Gough.

Transfer Deadline Day isn’t a modern phenomenon, as Shoot features Colin West, who signed for Watford on Deadline Day the previous year, and Shoot looked at the changes he had to cope with, moving clubs at short notice.

One player who moved more recently was Peter Davenport, who left Nottingham Forest for Manchester United, tells Shoot that he had joined his dream club, having stood on the Stretford End as a lad.

It was the continent where English players might be moving to in the future, with PFA chief Gordon Taylor warning that English football could be losing it’s star players to clubs from Italy and Spain.

It’s derby say in Birmingham as Villa and City go head to head as both clubs are desperate for points to avoid relegation, with Andy Gray of Villa and Wayne Clarke of Birmingham both interviewed.

Going back to the World Cup, Chris Waddle tells Shoot that he fears getting axed from the England squad due to his poor form.

On the back page, there is a profile of Liam Brady.

LINFIELD 1-4 HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN 8.7.2017

2017 has been a year for Scottish visitors coming to Windsor Park, with Ice Hockey and Rugby fans having already taking in some football this year while following their respective teams in Belfast, as Linfield welcomed the first of two Scottish visitors to Windsor Park this week.

With Hearts visiting Windsor Park today, it gave Celtic scouts the opportunity to look at two upcoming opponents, with Hearts set to visit Celtic on the opening day of the season in a few weeks time.

Tartan visitors to Windsor Park won’t end on Friday, with Linfield set to be given a home tie when they enter the Scottish Challenge Cup in September.

I don’t usually bother with home friendlies, but three Northern Ireland players in the Hearts side made this match a bit more appealing, as fans at Windsor Park were treated to the sight of Kyle Lafferty in club action, a rare sight over the past three years.

For Hearts, it was the second game in a short tour of Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland, having lost 1-0 to St Patrick’s Athletic on Wednesday.

If you were a Hearts fan travelling over for the two games, the trip presented some great groundhopping opportunities.

You could have flown into Dublin on Wednesday, gone to your side’s match against St PAtrick’s Athletic, and then stayed in Dublin, taking in Shamrock Rovers v Stjarnan on Thursday, and then gone to either Cabinteely or UCD’s home match on Friday, before travelling up to Belfast for this one.

I did hear one Hearts fan on my way in saying he was at a Second Division game (I couldn’t work out which game he went to) but he did describe it as “Absolute fucking murder”

There wasn’t a dramatic change to Linfield’s team but there were starting opportunities for Andrew Mitchell, Jordan Stewart, Robert Garrett and Kirk Millar, as Linfield prepared for the game against Celtic in a 4-5-1 (4-3-3 when attacking) formation.

The absence of Jimmy Callacher, rested in the two games against La Fiorita due to injury concerns, suggests that he is still a doubt for the Celtic game.

Hearts made a good start to the game, with Kyle Lafferty missing a glorious opportunity after an attack started by a misplaced Robert Garrett pass, when his shot hit the sidenetting when he should have scored. The Windsor Park crowd weren’t as sympathetic as they would have been if he was wearing the green of Northern Ireland.

Jamie Walker had a shot go wide during this early spell of pressure.

It was Linfield who took the lead when a poor defensive header was seized on by Jamie Mulgrew, who fired home from the edge of the box.

On 26 minutes, Hearts equalised when a shot from outside the box from Harry Cochrane beat Roy Carroll.

As half-time approached, a header from Jamie Walker put Hearts 2-1 up, a lead they took into the break.

Linfield made a good start to the second-half, having a lot of pressure on Hearts goal, getting a lot of joy down their right and forcing Hearts defenders into blocks and clearances.

Linfield almost equalised by accident when a Paul Smyth cross almost went straight in, with Hearts keeper being forced into an acrobatic save at the expense of a corner.

Against the run of play, Esmael Goncalves was able to hold off his man and get enough space to make it 3-1 and secure the win for Hearts.

By this stage, Linfield had utilised their bench, giving much needed game time to players who didn’t play against La Fiorita.

Most pleasing was the appearance of Paul Smyth, who went off injured in San Marino.

A free-kick hit the wall but fell perfectly for Cole Stockton to finish from close range to give Hearts a flattering 4-1 lead.

Regular readers will know I go to Edinburgh every August and try to take in as many games as possible.

I won’t be at Tynecastle with Hearts playing their opening games away from home due to a new Main Stand being built.

The old Main Stand was the only stand at Tynecastle I haven’t been in. Hopefully, when I do go to Tynecastle again, i’ll take in a match in the new stand.

The matches while i’m there are Hibs v Partick and Edinburgh City v Montrose.

I was hoping Sky or BT would help me out and enable me to see two matches, but i’ve got a choice to make. At the moment, i’m leaning towards Edinburgh City as it will give me a new ground to visit.

The rearrangement of the Linfield v Celtic match meant I had to cancel my day trip to Dublin. Thankfully, my hotel has accommodated me changing to 28th July.

I’ll be doing the usual Street Art and Football combo, and the match i’m planning to go to is UCD v Cabinteely, meaning that the only Dublin ground I haven’t been to is Cabinteely’s.

And now, to Celtic.

Linfield were competitive today and held their own, despite the score.

Being competitive against Hearts and being competitive against Celtic are two totally different things.

It will be a challenge, and we’ll have to rise it.

However, Linfield had to rise to a challenge just to be in this season’s European Cup.

Photo Album

Hearts v Aberdeen 2011

Hearts v Tottenham Hotspur 2011

Hibs v Hearts 2012

Hearts v Hibs 2014

Hearts v Partick Thistle 2015

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 1.3.1986

Celtic and Manchester United are on the cover of this week’s edition of Shoot as they prepare to face each other in a mid-season friendly, with the headline “Soccer on trial”.

The headline refers to the fact that it was the first high profile away game by an English club since the previous season’s European Cup Final, which resulted in English clubs being banned from Europe.

As you open the magazine, Danny Wallace fires a message to John Barnes and Chris Waddle that he is after their World Cup place following an impressive England debut in a recent friendly away to Egypt.

The friendly at Parkhead that featured on the cover gets a double page spread, with the game billed as an unofficial British Cup Winners Cup Final, after both teams won their respective national cup competitions in 1985.

Paul McStay of Celtic suggests that a former Rangers player might have a keen interest in this game, as Scotland manager Alex Ferguson might take the opportunity to spy on Jesper Olsen of United, with Denmark being a group opponent of Scotland in the forthcoming World Cup.

In ads, you can buy The Official FA Cup Game for just Ā£7.75 on Spectrum, Commodore or Armstrad.

Talking of adverts, England’s squad has agreed a sponsorship deal with the Health Education Council to front an anti-smoking campaign.

Bryan Robson uses his column to praise Peter Beardsley, who recently made his international debut during that recent friendly in Egypt.

Northern Ireland are also in international action, with an away friendly against France, with the game getting a double page feature, with John McClelland being interviewed.

Shoot looks at the options for Scotland’s squad, and they urge Alex Ferguson to find a place for Pat Nevin in the 22.

Staying in Scotland, Hibs youngster Gordon Hunter gets praised by his manager John Blackley.

Phil Thompson is interviewed, where he states that if he could lead Sheffield United into the top flight, it would be as big a thrill as all the trophies he won with Liverpool.

Across Sheffield, Wednesday striker Carl Shutt gets a full page profile.

Jimmy Greaves awards his Wally Of The Week Award to Nick Gregory from Banbury, who states that Oxford United are the best team in England.

In Spain, Terry Venables is eyeing up a move to Tottenham Hotspur, but he could be replaced at Barcelona by another British manager, John Toshack of Real Sociedad.

Andy King is interviewed where he expresses his frustration at not getting much action at Luton Town.

Jack Charlton, newly appointed Republic Of Ireland manager, has a big decision to make, as he might have to drop 30 year olds Liam Brady, Frank Stapleton and Tony Grealish.

Charlton has faced some resentment for his appointment due to not being Irish, but also shock that he got the job ahead of Bob Paisley.

Much loved referee Clive Thomas comments on the number of penalties missed in recent years, pointing the finger at his fellow referees for allowing keepers to steal yards.

Craig Levein of Hearts gets a profile as he dreams of a World Cup place, just a few years after almost quitting football to work in an Electronics Factory.

The upcoming Merseyside Derby gets a double page feature, with contributions from Peter Reid and Steve McMahon.

The magazine ends with a profile of Mike Channon. His favourite music is Paul McCartney, Elton John and Rod Stewart.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – AUGUST

After League Of Ireland and UEFA Cup football during June and July, the domestic season began for me in August, when Linfield welcomed Ballymena United to Windsor Park on the opening day of the season.

Four days later, I visited Taylor’s Avenue for the first time, as Linfield travelled to newly promoted Carrick Rangers.

To round off a busy week, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

The following weekend, I was in Scotland for my annual trip to the Edinburgh Festival, and made the most of it by taking in matches at Hearts, Rangers and Dunfermline.

Upon my return from Scotland, it was back to Windsor Park, my third time this month, to see Linfield take on Portadown, and get a win that continued their perfect start to the season.

Linfield v Ballymena United

Carrick Rangers v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Heart of Midlothian v Partick Thistle

Heart Of Midlothian v Partick Thistle Photo Album

Rangers v Hibernian

Rangers v Hibernian Photo Album

Dunfermline Athletic v Dundee

Dunfermline Athletic v Dundee Photo Album

Linfield v Portadown

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 – AUGUST

August is usually a busy month, but it was a bit slow to get going. My first event came on the 8th of the month, when I went to see Linfield start the new Irish League season, against Ballymena United.

Four days later, I was visiting Taylor’s Avenue for the first time, as Linfield travelled to newly promoted Carrick Rangers.

Three days later, I was back at Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

The next day, I headed to the Peace Wall in Belfast to get some snaps.

Belsonic then began in Belfast, and I attended two of these concerts, Paloma Faith and Stereophonics.

The day after that Stereophonics gig, I was Edinburgh bound for my annual trip to the Edinburgh Festival.

While there, I went to see some football, as Hearts took on Partick Thistle at Tynecastle.

It wasn’t all football, as I managed to get some photos of Street Art in Edinburgh.

A couple of football trips within Scotland, first to Glasgow to see Rangers take on Hibs, and then Dunfermline to see Dunfermline take on Dundee.

There was also some music to fit in while in Scotland, as I headed to Princes Street Gardens to see James in concert.

Upon my return from Scotland, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Portadown and pull clear at the top of the league.

Linfield v Ballymena United

Carrick Rangers v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Belfast Peace Wall Art

Belfast Peace Wall Art Photo Album

Paloma Faith Live At Custom House Square

Paloma Faith Live At Custom House Square Photo Album

Stereophonics Live At Custom House Square

Stereophonics Live At Custom House Square Photo Album

Heart Of Midlothian v Partick Thistle

Heart Of Midlothian v Partick Thistle Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Rangers v Hibernian

Rangers v Hibernian Photo Album

Dunfermline Athletic v Dundee

Dunfermline Athletic v Dundee Photo Album

James Live At Princes Street Gardens

James Live At Princes Street Gardens Photo Album

Linfield v Portadown

HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN 3-0 PARTICK THISTLE 22.8.2015

I was in Edinburgh recently, so decided to take in a match. Like last season, the fixture computer dealt me a trip to Tynecastle. I’m guessing in 2016, i’ll be due a trip to Easter Road.

I got my ticket a few weeks in advance of this match, which was a good decision, as the match was a sell-out, with Hearts enjoying a winning start in their opening four matches.

I might have been there, but disappointingly, Kingsley, Partick Thistle’s new mascot, wasn’t.

Hearts woke up top of the league, but kicked-off in second, due to Celtic’s lunchtime win over Dundee United. The mission today was to get the win that would send them back to the top.

Partick had the better of the early exchanges, but it was Hearts who had the first major moment, with a penalty appeal turned down.

After a shaky start, Hearts came into it more, with their players being ridiculously comfortable on the ball.

The player who looked the most comfortable was Sam Nicholson. Hearts endeavored to get him on the ball as much as possible. Last year, when I saw them play Hibs, he was at the centre of all their attacks and scored the opening goal as Hearts won the match. He was in a similar mood against Partick.

Hearts pressure grew and grew and a goal was becoming inevitable.

Just before the half hour, Hearts got that breakthrough when Osman Sow fired home inside the six yard box after a corner.

The tannoy blasted out Magic by Pilot. Even though they were a local band, it was the line “Oh oh oh it’s magic, you know, you’ll never believe it’s not so(w)”

A rare case of a terrace chant that doesn’t need it’s original lyrics changed.

The second-half started slowly, but then Hearts began to gradually take control. Sam Nicholson had a great chance to score whenever he was put through on goal, but he put it wide.

Hearts pressure increased, and they had a chance to wrap the game up when they were awarded a penalty.

Juanma had his shot saved, but Sam Nicholson was quick to react and fire home the rebound.

Soon afterwards, it was 3-0, as Juanma got in behind Partick’s defence to knock the ball over the keeper.

Partick had their best spell afterwards in terms of possession, but never looked like scoring what would have only been a consolation goal.

Gavin Reilly went close for Hearts near the end, but his shot was well save by Partick’s keeper.

Hearts keep up their winning start to the season as they look to go from second tier to champions in two years.

That took a blow the following Saturday when they were knocked off the top of the table with a 3-2 defeat away to Hamilton.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

The 2014-2015 football season began domestically in August, with a trip to Portadown, for Linfield’s first domestic game under Warren Feeney.

The optimism was soon gone within 90 minutes as Portadown ran out 3-0 winners.

A few days later, I was in Cardiff for the European Super Cup Final between Real Madrid and Sevilla. It was a fantastic trip and great to visit another stadium for the first time. Was very impressed with the facilities there.

24 hours later, I was headed to The Oval to see Linfield get their first domestic win under Warren Feeney, a comeback win from 2-0 down.

That weekend, I was in Edinburgh, and took in a game, Hearts v Hibs at Tynecastle.

With Windsor Park being redeveloped, Linfield had a run of seven successive away games, so road trips became a regular feature of the opening weeks of the season, with trips to Institute (first time there), Ballyclare Comrades and Dungannon Swifts finishing off August.

Portadown v Linfield

Real Madrid v Sevilla

Real Madrid v Sevilla Photo Album

Glentoran v Linfield

Hearts v Hibs

Hearts v Hibs Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Ballyclare Comrades v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2014

So, my football watching is over for 2014. Time to look back at the year just gone. And what better way to do it than with a load of stats.

Games : 54

Goals Seen : 164

Red Cards : 17 (includes Rhys Marshall getting sent-off after the final whistle, but not Gary Hamilton being sent-off as a substitute before he entered the field)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 4

Hat-Tricks : 1 (Robin Van Persie, Manchester United v Olympiacos)

Teams Seen : 37

Accrington Stanley (1st time), AIK Solna (1st time), Ards, B36 Torshavn, Ballinamallard United, Ballyclare Comrades (1st time), Ballymena United, Bangor, Bray Wanderers (1st time), Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Cowdenbeath (1st time), Crusaders, Drogheda United, Dungannon Swifts, Everton (1st time), Exeter City (1st time), Faroe Islands, Glenavon, Glentoran, Harland and Wolff Welders, Heart Of Midlothian, Hibernian, Hull City (1st time), Institute, Leyton Orient (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Olympiacos (1st time), Peterborough United (1st time), Portadown, Real Madrid, Sevilla (1st time), Tottenham Hotspur, Warrenpoint Town,

Stadiums Visited : 19

Ballymena Showgrounds, Brisbane Road (1st time), Cardiff City Stadium (1st time), Carlisle Grounds (1st time), Coleraine Showgrounds, Crown Ground (1st time), Drumahoe (1st time), Ferney Park, Milltown (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, The Oval, Tynecastle, White Hart Lane (1st time), Windsor Park

Competitions : 15

County Antrim Shield, European Championship, European Cup, European Super Cup (1st time), FA Premier League, Football League One (1st time), Football League Two (1st time), Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship, League Of Ireland, Northern Ireland League Cup, Scottish Championship (1st time), Steel and Sons Cup, UEFA Cup

Curiousities :

No real curiosities this year. There were two twins on opposing sides, but i’d already seen it. Other than that, a player setting up a goal with no boots. It was a poor year for curiousities.

UEFA 100 Club : Everton, Sevilla (now at 32 clubs)