MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 8.9.1984

Glenn Hoddle is the main cover star of Match, alongside a British player abroad, Graeme Souness, and a British player with aspirations of playing abroad, Luther Blissett.

As you open the magazine, there is a double page feature on Gordon Cowans, who has ambitions of going to Mexico. Not to play in the Mexican League, but the 1986 World Cup. His feature had the headline “Memo to Bobby Robson, save a World Cup place for Gordon Cowans”

He didn’t go to Mexico.

Having just rejoined Watford for AC Milan, Luther Blissett has stated that he wants to play abroad again. Before Watford fans paniced, he clarified that it was European competition for the Vicarage Road side that he was wanting to play abroad.

Staying with Watford, manager Graham Taylor had put a £2m fee on Maurice Johnston, who has handed in a transfer request.

In Scotland, Hibs and George Best were in trouble with the SFA after Best played for Hibs in Jackie McNamara’s Testimonial, but was unregistered.

Craig Johnston had missed the start of the season for Liverpool in order to be with his wife and soon to born child, his wife having insisted that the child be born in Australia.

Manchester United’s three new signings Jesper Olsen, Gordon Strachan and Alan Brazil are part of a centre page poster, as United look to win the league for the first time since 1967.

As you turn the page, there is a double page feature on Strachan, where he reveals he supports Hibs, and turned down the chance to sign for United in 1971, having already given his word to Dundee.

Staying in Scotland, new Rangers signing Cammy Fraser was introduced to life at Ibrox by manager Jock Wallace ordering to shave off his moustache.

Peter Shreeves, new manager of Tottenham Hotspur, gets a double page spread, insisting he isn’t afraid of the challenge of succeeding Keith Burkinshaw.

Shoot uses star signs to try and predict the future for footballers such as Neville Southall, Kenny Sansom, Glenn Hoddle and Andy Gray.

QPR get a full page feature, with Ian Stewart giving the lowdown on the club.

In news, Mark McGhee begins his career at Hamburg with a suspension, having been sent-off in a pre-season friendly.

Jimmy Greaves received a letter in support of a Great Britain football team. Greaves replies that he agrees with the idea, but that football shouldn’t be in the Olympics.

The highlight of this edition comes in the form of a double page photo of Trevor Francis and Graeme Souness enjoying their new life in Italy, at Sampdoria, out on a boat trip together, all oiled up and dressed in nothing but Speedos. It is an image that cannot be unseen.

Wilf Rostron of Watford tells Shoot who his favourite wingers are : Pat Nevin, John Barnes and Mark Chamberlain.

Ian Rush uses his column to declare that England can be successful by learning from Liverpool, and that Graeme Souness is better than Michel Platini, and will show it in Serie A.

Beside Rush’s column, is a full page report on the recent Charity Shield, where Everton beat Liverpool 2-0, with the headline “Revenge!”, after Liverpool had beaten Everton in the previous season’s League Cup Final.

Bryan Robson uses his column to praise attackers that have recently been on the move – Joe Jordan of Southampton and the Spurs duo of Clive Allen and John Chiedozie.

Charlie Nicholas is prominent towards the end of this issue, telling Shoot he is happy at Arsenal, then appearing in an advert for Nike alongside Glenn Hoddle and Ian Rush.

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 £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

RANGERS 1-0 HIBERNIAN 23.8.2015

When Rangers were demoted to League Two back in the summer of 2012, August 2015 was supposed to be back when they were back in the SPL, launching a title challenge, and everything was back to normal, the previous four years forgotten about as if they’d never happened.

Trying to go up from The Championship at the second time of asking was not what they had in mind for August 2015.

When Hibs were trying to climb out of the bottom half as 2013 turned into 2014, spending August 2015 trying to get out of The Championship at the second time of asking was not what they had in mind either.

That was the situation both clubs found themselves in, mainly due to Hearts fantastic form last season.

As I was in Edinburgh last weekend, I decided to spend an afternoon in Glasgow. After spending some time in my favourite shops in Glasgow, I headed to Ibrox for part two of the weekend’s Glasgow v Edinburgh double header, with Rangers hoping it would be a double win for the teams that started the weekend top, rather than a double win for Edinburgh, after I witnessed Hearts beat Partick the day before.

It was the fourth venue I have seen Hibs play at. People will be starting to talk. They don’t have an impressive record in my presence, with just one win in the five previous games I saw them play.

Part of the reason for Hearts success last season was scoring wins over Rangers and Hibs in their first two games of last season. They opened up a lead early on, and then pulled away, then got out of sight.

When the fixture list had this as the third game of the season, it was expected that this would be a match between two sides with six points out of six, trying to get an early advantage.

Hibs opening defeat away to Dumbarton meant they were now needing to win this game just to stop Rangers pulling away from them.

Hibs had won three of the four league meetings against Rangers last season (or four out of six if you include the Play-Offs) but it was Rangers who had the upper hand this season, with a 6-2 win at Easter Road in the Petrofact Cup.

Rangers fans were so enthused by their side’s start to the season under new manager Mark Warburton that this game was a sell-out, as Rangers sought the win that would see them return to the top of the table, replacing morning leaders Queen Of The South.

Hibs had the first moment of note in the game, when a Jason Cummings free-kick went over the bar.

Rangers first big moment came when Martyn Waghorn chased down a backpass that Hibs keeper Mark Oxley took his time clearing it upfield, winning possession, but Barrie McKay was unable to get a shot on goal.

Waghorn was involved again soon after, heading over from a corner.

Rangers goalkeeper Wes Foderingham emulated his Hibs counterpart Oxley by having a shaky moment with a stray pass out, but his defence were able to block the shot and clear the danger.

Hibs were giving Rangers some nervous moments when they went forward. It was a tense game that looked like it would only finish 1-0. There was not a lot in it.

Everytime that Rangers went forward, the ball always seemed to fall to Kenny Miller, who seemed to miskick and toepoke everything that came his way.

Rangers then introduced Nathan Oduwa to the action, bringing the Ibrox crowd to their feet. The player had recently caused a scandal in Scotland by doing a fancy flick in a game.

Hibs soon had Cummings and Liam Henderson through on goal against one defender. Henderson fired over.

Within minutes, Rangers were 1-0 up. You could say it was Classic Hibs.

The goal came from a free-kick by James Tavernier. I was at the other end of the ground and thought he had overhit it. Nobody seemed to care, Rangers were 1-0 up.

It wasn’t Liam Henderson’s day, as he fired another shot wide. Rangers were giving Hibs so many chances, surely Hibs couldn’t be awful in front of goal all day long.

Rangers seemed to be dealing with Hibs threats as the game wore on. Hibs only chance to the end was a free-kick that went over.

Rangers got the win and went back to the top of the league, pulling six points clear of Hibs, and strike a decisive blow in the race to return to the Scottish Premier League.

Photo Album

EDINBLOG 2015

August is my favourite month of the year, for the simple reason that it’s the month that I visit the Edinburgh Festival. If I could, i’d go there for the whole month.

I actually went later in the month than I usually do. The latest i’ve been since I first visited in 2009.

This year, for the first time, I bought my tickets in advance rather than waiting to purchase when I arrived. I got everything I wanted, barring having to rearranging my Saturday night and Monday night choices.

All I had to do when I arrived at the ticket office was to swipe my Debit Card, and my tickets printed off. It wasn’t totally problem free, as the printer ran out of paper when printing off my tickets. Only a minor hitch in an otherwise efficient system.

I flew out on the Saturday morning, and after getting my tickets and getting checked in, Saturday afternoon was all about football, as I headed to Tynecastle to watch Hearts take on Partick Thistle.

Despite being an Edinburgh veteran, I managed to get lost en route by not paying attention at Haymarket Station and taking a wrong turn.

I managed to make it to the ground in plenty of time for kick-off regardless, and saw Hearts maintain their lead at the top of the SPL with a 3-0 win.

I only went to one show on the Saturday, Stewart Francis at Assembly George Square. You will recognise him from various panel shows, specialising in bad puns. Groans and laughter were plentiful in equal measure.

On the Sunday, I decided to head to Glasgow for a few hours, while taking in Rangers v Hibs. Before I set off for Glasgow, I got some photos of Street Art in Edinburgh, near Waverley Station.

Every year that i’ve visited Edinburgh, i’ve always wanted to visit another city or town in Scotland, just to escape for a few years.

I have in my head to visit Stirling some time. Maybe next year?

I was a bit delayed getting out of Glasgow, I missed the start of John Lloyd’s show. That, and the fact I got lost en route to the venue. I am an Edinburgh veteran, trust me. It’s just that there are so many venues called Assembly.

Turns out it was Assembley opposite Hotel Du Vin rather than the one at Potterrow.

You probably know more about John Lloyd than you think you do mostly famed for his work behind the scenes on Spitting Image and creating QI. His show was an entertaining look at trivia and knowledge.

Later on Sunday, I headed to Pleasance to see James Acaster. I’d previously seen him do a slot at a charity gig in London a few years ago, so I was looking forward to seeing him.

His humour is very deadpan and surreal. This year, he has made a breakthrough into panel shows. This show focused on him sharing celebrity gossip about the Chilean Miners, and his experiences on jury duty.

One more show followed on the Sunday, and I managed to go to the wrong venue. Again, a case of two many venues called Assembly.

That show, was a live recording of Josh Widdecombe’s XFM Show. I’m a big fan of Widdecombe, and actually listen to the show when i’m getting ready on a Saturday morning.

As a bonus, James Acaster was on it. Double Acaster in the one night.

There was one bonus of my getting lost, as I found out where Roxburgh Hotel was. On the Monday morning, I headed there for a Record Fair. I didn’t get anything, but if I didn’t go, I knew I would have been annoyed at myself for not going, and thinking that i’d missed out on something.

I spend Monday morning wandering around the West End and visiting my two favourite shops in Edinburgh – Fopp and Football Nation.

One of the best things about Edinburgh is, that you can escape from the Fringe for a few hours if you wish, and you don’t have to go very far to do so.

One year, I spent so much time in Cowgate, Potterrow and Pleasance, I didn’t even spend a minute in Princes Street/George Street, so it’s good to get a nice mix of Edinburgh.

My first show on the Monday was to see Mark Watson do a show called Work In Progress, which as the title suggests, was to try out new material.

I’d seen him previously, as well as him hosting the Comedywealth Games last year. It was classic Watson, moving from one topic to another in rapid time.

I’ll be keeping an eye out if he does a full proper show next year.

From there, I quickly legged it from The Stand to Pleasance to see Batfan, about one performer and his obsession with Batman, and his quest to create the perfect Batman film. He’s not a fan of Joel Schumacher.

Not enough 60s Batman in it for me, but it was still enjoyable, especially some of the obscure/forgotten/unknown references. You didn’t need to be a massive fan of Batman in order to enjoy it.

I’d wanted to spend Monday night seeing FFS in concert, but unfortunately, all the tickets were sold out. I didn’t want to spend the evening at the venue in the hope that some tickets become available, so I decided to just go to a comedy show instead.

Quite literally, a case of FFS.

If you don’t know, FFS are a supergroup comprising of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. They are rather good. Looks like i’ll have to cross my fingers for a Belfast gig.

So what would fill my FFS void? Aisling Bea. You may have seen her on various panel shows. She was very good. The audience got a bit of a fright when they entered to room, to see her dancing in a morph suit.

Tuesday morning was spent walking around Princes Street Markets and Rose Street, before going to see The Man Called Monkhouse, set in the mid 1990s around the time of the theft of his joke book and the 20th anniversary of the death of his writing partner, Dennis Goodwin, sees Monkhouse looking back at his life to that point.

The voice was good but not perfect, but the look was. It looked like Monkhouse was in the room. As a bonus, we got some classic Monkhouse one-liners as well.

That was my only show on Tuesday, as Tuesday night was spent watching football, making a short train journey to see Dunfermline Athletic take on Dundee.

On Wednesday morning, I was curious and went for a walk around York Place and ended up in Leith. Even though this was the seventh year I had visited, it’s always good to explore new parts of the city I haven’t seen before.

One part of Edinburgh i’d love to visit is Arthur’s Seat, a hill which offers some spectacular views over Edinburgh. I’d planned on going on the Thursday morning, but the weather had started to turn. I didn’t quite fancy a hill walk in the rain. Maybe next year.

It was great though to have a trip to Edinburgh without having to wear a raincoat for the first four days. There were short periods of rain in my last two days.

My only show on Wednesday was to see Matt Forde. He specialises in Political Comedy, but he’s not a preachy type of comic, instead focusing on funny things in politics and amusing observations.

I’d previously seen him on Rory Bremner’s Election Report, and was not disappointed. He began by saying that he supported Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to be Labour Leader, not for political reasons, but for the material it will offer.

Wednesday night was spent at Princes Street Gardens to see James in concert. James doing a gig was part of the reason why I chose this particular week to go to Edinburgh.

Thurdsay was my last day, where I went to Edinburgh University to browse through the various charity shops for possible bargains.

Thursday lunchtime saw one last show, Pippa Evans celebrating the guilty pleasures of life, through the medium of song, even briefly bringing back her character of Loretta Maine, who I saw make a guest appearance on MacAulay and Co a few years ago.

Talking of MacAulay and Co, it wasn’t on this year. It was cancelled by Radio Scotland, and they didn’t even bring it back for the Edinburgh Festival.

In it’s place, was Kaye Adams. I’d love to be able to tell you if it was any good, but I slept in each morning I had a ticket having stayed up too late the night before. Maybe next year.

After Pippa Evans, a wee brief stroll around Princes Street, before getting the bus back to the airport.

That was it, that was my Edinburgh adventure for 2015. I didn’t see an awful show, which is almost disappointing. Already looking forward to 2016.

Edinblog 2014

Edinblog 2013

Edinblog 2012

Edinblog 2011

Edinblog 2010

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)

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.