Was at Windsor Park on Tuesday night for the Euro 2012 Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Slovenia, which was won by Italy, as the draw here, and Estonia has put them halfway towards the finals without kicking a ball.

Sometimes, you just know a game is going to finish 0-0. This, was one of those games.

On the positive side, I did manage to get some photos, and I got a free poncho.

Photo Album


Take a half day off work and spend £37 to watch a pub team. Oh joy.

Was in Dublin on Wednesday night to watch Northern Ireland take on Scotland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in their opening match of the Carling Nations Cup.

It was an impressive stadium, though you should expect all newbuild stadiums to be, but the seats I was in had a shocking view, especially with stewards blocking my view.

Thankfully, there was enough space to go and sit elsewhere and take in the game.

The game itself wasn’t much to write about as Northern Ireland made Scotland look like worldbeaters and never even looked like scoring.

Hopefully, things improve in Serbia next month.


Photo Album






Was at Windsor Park for the Euro 2012 Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Italy.

It was Northern Ireland’s first home game of the campaign following a 1-0 win over Slovenia in the opening game.

Windsor Park had two temporary stands put in for the game to meet demand for tickets.

My ticket was in the Viewing Lounge, which offered an excellent view of the game, albiet with no real opportunity for good match shots.

Managed to get some good portrait shots of the stadium, and I managed to get temporary access to the bottom tier of the South Stand for some shots.

Was quite happy with some of the shots I got, and the result especially, which finished 0-0, albiet an entertaining 0-0.

If Northern Ireland had won, it wouldn’t have been a Smash and Grab. However, if Italy had won, you wouldn’t have denied it to them.

When Northern Ireland attacked, you hoped they would score, when Italy attack, you feared they would score.

There were some hairy moments, not helped by unenforced errors giving possession away too frequently for my liking.

But, we got the result, and hopefully, it will be followed by a win against group minnow Faroe Islands, ahead of the game in Serbia.

Recent form suggest that Serbia will either win the group, or finish third.

Their opening two results, a draw with Slovenia and a defeat to Estonia, suggests that they may not be as good as people think they are, although it does suggest that Estonia are a lot better than people think they are.

So hopefully, we can get positive results in Faroe Islands and Serbia, to set things up nicely for another memorable Windsor occasion against Slovenia in March.

Until then, why not enjoy some photos from last night?



As the build-up to the first international date of 2010 nears, inevitably, there will be much interest into the names of those who get call-ups. It is a World Cup year after all.

Sadly for Northern Ireland, the focus is not on South Africa, but Poland and Ukraine, and the qualifiers for Euro 2012.

But sadder than that, is that the attention is not on who is in the squad for next week’s friendly against Albania, but rather, who isn’t in it.

Shane Duffy of Everton and Marc Wilson of Portsmouth would have been expected to in the squad, if it wasn’t for the fact that they have declared to play for the Republic of Ireland, despite representing Northern Ireland at various underage levels.

So, it appears this agreement in 2007 which the IFA said at the time was “A satisfactory agreement”

Satisfactory? Really?

Is it satisfactory that over two years later, the Northern Ireland national team is still getting shafted in terms of players?

This is a massive test for the IFA, and one that they dare not fail. Having already descended the Irish Cup into farce with their inability to promptly deal with the Newry v Larne violence in an appropriate timeframe, which could see a team paired against Coleraine or Loughgall or Newry or Larne in the Semi-Final draw.

If the IFA roll over on this issue, they will lose the respect and confidence of every football fan in Northern Ireland.

It’s sad that all the work the IFA has done at community level is being undone by the FAI, no doubt taking advantage of Northern Ireland’s troubled history.

Put simply, the FAI are acting like vultures over this issue. Call me cynical, but I seriously doubt the sales pitch they use to impressionable youngsters is that if they work hard and be dedicated, they could one day play on the same team as Sean St Ledger.

There is a massive difference between this and Jack Charlton’s Plastic Paddy’s in the 80s and 90s. The players he picked were all in the mid 20s, and deemed not good enough for the country they were born in. The likes of Wilson, Duffy and Darron Gibson were all wanted by Northern Ireland, yet the FAI just decided to take what they weren’t entitled to.

You would understand players defecting if the Republic of Ireland were serial qualifiers, they’re not. Slovenia, a country with only a couple of hundred thousand people more than Northern Ireland have qualified for three times as many tournaments since 1994 than the Republic of Ireland have.

It’s not as if it’s a case of ‘give and take’ with the player issue, it’s a total imbalance in favour of the Republic. Let’s be realistic here, no youngster from the Republic is going to ever declare for Northern Ireland.

The IFA must stand up to the FAI, nothing more than a bunch of school bullies, who think they can just steal what they like from a smaller kid.

And like any school bully, they are quite good at playing the victim and crying when they get a dose of their own medicine, like in Paris in November.

Feeling hard done after Thierry Henry’s handball in the build-up to William Gallas winning goal, FAI President John Delaney told anyone who would listen that the game should be replayed “For the sake of the integrity of football”

The French response was to shrug their shoulders and ignore the request. After trying to enlist the help of FIFA, they got told that there was nothing they could do.

After begging to get a wildcard entry, the FAI were then subject to worldwide ridicule when Sepp Blatter let the cat out of the bag. It wasn’t a nice feeling.

Well, thats how Northern Ireland fans feel everytime a player switched allegiance.

You would think being shat on from a great height by a bigger nation and finding that those who uphold the rules don’t want to know, the FAI would have some sort of empathy with their Northern counterparts.

Evidently not, they just carry on as they did before, with disregard for the IFA, brushing them aside arrogantly as if Northern Ireland is some sort of footballing non-entity who don’t deserve to have Premier League players play for them.

Put simply, if the IFA want to maintain the credibility of football in Northern Ireland, and their crediblity within football in Northern Ireland, they must stand up to the FAI and ensure this biased injustice and vulture culture is put to an immediate end.