PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – NOVEMBER

The early weeks of November 2015 were spent at Windsor Park, taking in Linfield’s matches against Crusaders and Cliftonville, as well as Northern Ireland’s match against Latvia

The final two Saturdays of the month were on the road to Mid-Ulster, but no upturn in fortune for Linfield

Sandwiched inbetween those two trips to Mid-Ulster was my first trip of the season to Old Trafford to see United play out a drab and ultimately costly draw against PSV Eindhoven.

It’s a good job I went to that Northern Ireland match, otherwise it would have been a totally awful month of football watching.

Linfield v Crusaders

Northern Ireland v Latvia

Northern Ireland v Latvia Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Glenavon v Linfield

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

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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 – NOVEMBER

November took a while to get going, my first adventure being on the 7th, to see Linfield take on Crusaders. I would be spending a lot of time at Windsor Park in the opening fortnight of the month.

Windsor Park is where I would be based in the opening two weekends of the month, taking in Northern Ireland’s friendly against Latvia, then Linfield’s match against Cliftonville the next day.

The following midweek was all about music, as Paul Weller and U2 came to Belfast.

The busy month continued when I took in my annual Ulster European game, a defeat to Saracens.

The final two Saturdays of the month saw me on the road, to see Linfield lose in Mid-Ulster against Glenavon and Portadown.

Sandwiched inbetween that, was a trip to Manchester to see United take on PSV Eindhoven, where I also took the opportunity to get some Street Art photos.

Linfield v Crusaders

Northern Ireland v Latvia

Northern Ireland v Latvia Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Paul Weller live at Waterfront Hall

Paul Weller live at Waterfront Hall Photo Album

U2 live at The Odyssey

U2 live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Ulster v Saracens

Ulster v Saracens Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Manchester Street Art November 2015

Manchester Street Art November 2015 Photo Album

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

NORTHERN IRELAND 1-0 LATVIA 13.11.2015

Northern Ireland’s preparation for Euro 2016 got underway on Friday night, showing contempt for superstition by playing on Friday 13th, and even more morbidly, playing the side who help to deny them qualification for two previous finals.

After the events against Greece the previous month, this was always going to be a comedown, especially against unglamourous opposition. Northern Ireland fans are always fond of a moan about friendlies. They moan if the opposition are rubbish, and moan if the opposition are too good. Given that Northern Ireland haven’t won a friendly since 2008, they’ve had a lot to moan about after friendly games.

Talking of moans, the new kit for Euro 2016 has generated a lot of controversy this week. I’m not a fan of it, though to be fair, it didn’t look as bad in the flesh as it did in the promo photos. The problem is, it has to be either navy blue sleeves or a stripe, not both.

Admission prices were set at £10.06 for children and £20.16 for adults, to spell out 10th June 2016, the date that Euro 2016.

It’s a good job the IFA didn’t operate a similar pricing structure for their warm-up games to the 1986 World Cup, as they would have had to charge children £31.05 as the tournament started on 31st May that year.

It wasn’t a great match, friendlies never are. In truth, it was a training exercise. The two drills were – how to break teams down and how to avoid getting caught on the counter attack.

That was Latvia’s plan, to try and catch Northern Ireland on the counter attack, and they gave their hosts some nervous moments in the first-half.

Northern Ireland got the ball out wide a lot and fired in some crosses that were agonisingly just missed landing perfectly for the attacker. Jamie Ward had one of the best early moments when his shot was palmed wide for a corner, while Kyle Lafferty got in behind Latvia’s defence only to drag his shot wide.

The inevitible substitutions came early in the second-half with Carroll, Corry Evans and Magennis all entering the field. Within ten minutes, Northern Ireland got the goal they deserved when a Corry Evans ball in behind the defence came to Steven Davis, who finished after his original header was saved.

Evans had minutes earlier had a shot from the edge of the area by Latvia’s goalkeeper. Northern Ireland had chances to make it 2-0 but weren’t able to take them. The result was never in doubt as Latvia never threatened an equaliser.

A win – Good, which means that Northern Ireland are now unbeaten in 8 games, or 9 if you include the behind closed doors friendly against the Republic of Ireland, and they took the opportunity to try out players ahead of the finals.

Not a great game, but a good night.

Indications are that there will be home friendlies in March and May next year that have not yet been arranged.

This was Northern Ireland’s last game of 2015, and what a year it has been. Hopefully, 2016 will be even more memorable.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 6th MAY 1995

This edition sees us visit the end of the 94/95 season with Matt Le Tissier the cover star, as a campaign for him to be included in the England team gets into full swing.

The headline “TAKE MATT” is a pun on the popular mid 90s beat combo, Take That, who were riding high in the hit parade.

Meanwhile, Southampton defender Jason Dodd is featured in a player profile, where he declares that his dream babe is Teri Hatcher, and that he tapes The New Adventures Of Superman just to see her in it.

In competitions, you could win a pair of Mitre boots endorsed by John ‘The Hart’ Hartson. No, that nickname never really caught on.

In rumours that look silly now : Sheffield Wednesday want Bryan Robson to be their manager, Bournemouth will appoint Harry Redknapp if he gets sacked by West Ham, Celtic want to sign Marc Degryse and Gary McAllister is set to join Rangers.

The results section includes reports on Euro 96 Qualifiers where Northern Ireland beat Latvia, Wales drew with Germany and Scotland beat San Marino.

Matt Le Tissier gets a double page spread where stars such as Gary Flitcroft, David Linighan, Ian Bishop and David Howells plead his case. For some reason, Terry Venables ignored their calls.

Greavsies letters page is it’s usual brilliance.

Imagine if Twitter existed back then and Jimmy Greaves had an account?

Nathan Amery of Colchester suggests QPR would struggle if they sold Les Ferdinand. He joined Newcasle United that summer, and QPR were relegated in 1996.

Jeremy Dwyer of Birmingham, possibly an Aston Villa supporter says that Birmingham City would never get back into the top flight. For seven years, he looked right.

James Franey of Worcester says that if Blackburn Rovers get into the Champions League, they would struggle. He was right.

David Spencer of High Wycombe suggests that Tim Flowers should be England’s first choice keeper ahead of David Seaman. Hmmm.

Rangers seventh successive league title gets a full page, with captain Richard gough putting it down to regular boozing sessions. Innocent times.