BRAY WANDERERS 1-0 LIMERICK 12.7.2019

Things had changed a bit since I was last at Bray in 2015.

Back then, they were an established top flight club but never really challenging the top, just keeping their head above water most seasons, but still remaining a top flight club.

Since then, the club have been in the headlines for happenings off the pitch usually a financial crisis of some sort, players not being paid, they were inevitably relegated in 2018.

There is a term in business called “Seagull Managers“, people who turn up, leave a mess and then fly away. That is probably the most apt way to describe the last few years at Bray, especially as their nickname is The Seagulls.

Entering the Carlisle Grounds, Don’t Go Breaking My Heart by Elton John and Kiki Dee was on the tannoy. I don’t know if that is aimed at their players. It could be, looking at how their attempts at promotion at the first time of asking has gone so far.

For most of the season, there was a traffic jam at the top of the table, but a run of four defeats in five games have seen Bray be cut adrift of leaders Shelbourne, now hoping to get a Play-Off spot. Even that looks a big ask/

Limerick, like Bray, have also suffered financial troubles and were also relegated in 2018.

Just like Bray, it looks like an automatic return to the top flight will be beyond them, and a Play-Off is now the goal for them, kicking off four points clear of Bray.

Due to matches being rearranged due to European competition, there were no top flight games in Dublin.

My choice was either Shelbourne v Cabinteely or Bray Wanderers v Limerick. Having been to Tolka Park last year and not being in Bray since 2015, Bray would be my choice.

Frustratingly, there would be no friendlies for English clubs (well, apart from Chelsea) during my stay, frustratingly missing out on the option of Bristol Rovers or Portsmouth playing friendlies the night before I arrived.

The first-half saw Bray all over Limerick. Limerick couldn’t get out of their own half, with their keeper having to stretch to make a save after a neat passing move by Bray, before Dylan McGlade hit the post.

McGlade, with his socks rolled down like Jack Grealish (probably a swear word in the Republic of Ireland) was dictating things for Bray, usually involved in all of their good attacking play, being fouled in injury time to win a penalty for Bray.

Paul Keegan stepped up to take it. It was obvious he was going to blast it. The only question was where. The answer, was into the back of the net to give Bray a deserved lead.

Bray were still on top in the second-half, but suffered a blow when Killian Cantwell was sent-off for a professional foul on the edge of the box, just as Limerick were going to have their first attempt on goal.

Hugh Douglas thought he had headed home to make it 2-0 but the goal was disallowed. I couldn’t actually see what it was disallowed for.

Bray couldn’t get the goal they needed to secure the points, but were able to keep Limerick at bay.

Naturally, with only one goal in it, Limerick enjoyed more of the ball in the final minutes as they had the greater need, creating some nervous moments for Bray.

One of those moments was a shot being lined up from the edge of the penalty area which was deflected out for a corner.

Much to Limerick’s annoyance, the full-time whistle blew before they could take it. Their keeper was so incensed he ran the length of the pitch to protest to the Referee.

With the match kicking off a few minutes late, and a total of seven minutes injury time in the game, fans wanting to get the 9.45pm DART only had a few minutes (the ground is a one minute walk from the station) to spare, with a thirty minute wait until the next one.

A corner kick which doesn’t get properly cleared could leave fans with very little room for error.

It’s good to see decision makers taking football fans into consideration.

Those that weren’t in a rush to get the DART stayed to celebrate a vital win.

Photo Album

Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers 2015

Bray Wanderers v Drogheda United 2014

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2018 IN PICTURES – JULY

My first photo adventure of July came on the weekend of the Quarter-Finals of the World Cup.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t in Russia, it was closer to home, at Wilgar Park as Linfield began their pre-season preparations.

The following weekend, I headed to Dublin over the July Holiday, got some Street Art Photos, and went to see Shelbourne take on Drogheda United.

The month ended with two more pre-season friendlies for Linfield, away to Knockbreda and PSNI.

Dundela v Linfield

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Shelbourne v Drogheda United

Shelbourne v Drogheda United Photo Album

Knockbreda v Linfield

PSNI v Linfield

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : FOOTBALL MONTHLY – SEPTEMBER 1992

Steve McManaman is mocked up as a superhero called McMana Man for the cover image, as he is described as English football’s superhero for the 1990s.

Ian Wright is interviewed and has modest ambitions for 92/93 – to get in the England team and to win the Premier League and FA Cup with Arsenal, predicting that he can make the most of the new backpass rule which stops goalkeepers picking the ball up from a backpass.

Steve McManaman is the subject of a double page feature, predicting he will become Liverpool’s greatest ever player, as well as tributes from the likes of Alan Hansen, Bruce Grobbelaar and Bradley Allen.

Don Howe is the subject of a profile, having just joined Chelsea as a coach, and his happy to be in that role rather than being a manager.

In world news, Marseille’s new signing Rudi Voeller believes that he can score the goals to win the European Cup for the French club.

Meanwhile, Manchester United have rejected a bid from Derby County to sign Bryan Robson, with the Rams hoping he would have had the same effect on them in the 90s as a similarly aged Dave Mackay did in the 1970s.

The forthcoming Premier League season is previewed, with all the Football Monthly journalists predicting that Arsenal will be champions in 1993.

Leeds United get a four page profile as they get set to defend their league title, looking at their success over the past four years under Howard Wilkinson.

The new Non League season is previewed, with Wycombe Wanderers being predicted to win promotion to the Football League.

Manchester City manager Peter Reid is interviewed, stating he stands by all his decisions, with City hoping to launch a title bid having come 5th in 1992.

In Scotland, the return of Trevor Steven to Rangers makes them favourites to win the title in 1993.

In competitions, you could win with Hummel, but you had a choice of a pair of boots or a replica shirt of either Benfica, Denmark or Real Madrid.

The preview of the new Irish League season predicts Glentoran to pip Linfield to the title and Ards to win the Irish Cup. Ards lost the Final while Linfield won the league.

In Republic of Ireland, there are concerns that easier access could affect attendances at domestic games, while Bohemians are predicted to win the league.

SHELBOURNE 0-1 DROGHEDA UNITED 13.7.2018

The last time I visited Tolka Park, I met the incmubent England manager Sven Goran Eriksson. I did keep an eye out for Gareth Southgate, but I couldn’t see him. He must have had other things on his mind.

As it was a Bank Holiday period on a Thursday and Friday, I decided to head to Dublin for an overnight stay on the Friday. Naturally, i’d be doing all the touristy stuff and spotting Street Art, the trip would also include a football match.

I had a choice of two games on the Friday night : Bohs v Sligo Rovers or Shelbourne v Drogheda United.

I plumped for Shelbourne v Drogheda, as it presented me with an opportunity for a potential last visit to Tolka Park, the future of the ground looking uncertain, with Shelbourne planning to move to a redeveloped Dalymount Park.

This would be my only game while I was in Dublin. Shamrock Rovers v AIK wasn’t postponed and needed to be played on the Friday, while there were no friendlies in Dublin on the Saturday, with Oxford United (v UCD) and Newcastle United (v St Patrick’s Athletic) playing in Dublin a few days either side of my visit.

Shelbourne and Drogheda kicked-off a couple of points of the top of the table. During the 00s, both of these teams were challenging at the top of the table, but in the top flight.

They kicked-off in a sandwich, a few points behind UCD who are in the automatic promotion place, while themselves occupying a place in the Play-Offs, with the teams below them looking to take advantage of any points dropped and leap above them.

Getting to the ground was very easy. It did help that I had been there before. Certainly a lot easier than last year trying to get to UCD.

This was my fifth game seeing Drogheda United. The previous four (Linfield in 2006 and 2007, St Patrick’s Athletic in 2013, Bray Wanderers in 2014) had brought two wins and two draws. They were hoping I would continue to bring them good luck.

In the opening minutes of the game, Shelbourne had a glorious chance to score when Drogheda’s keeper was caught in possession, but the Shelbourne attacker dragged his shot wide. Drogheda responded immediately with a low shot that was easily saved.

It was a game where neither side really looked like scoring. There were very few clear goalscoring chances in the game.

With each passing minute, it was looking likely the game was going to finish 0-0. If there was to be a goal, it would more than likely be the only goal of the game.

On 89 minutes, Drogheda had a free-kick in a shooting position just outside the penalty area.

You know when somebody lines up a dead ball, you have a hunch that the ball is going in? This was one of those moments.

And so it proved, Sean Brennan fired home to give Drogheda the lead. Shelbourne still had time to equalise.

They had the ball in Drogheda’s half but never in their penalty area. Drogheda were able to hold out and get the three points.

Someone at Linfield must have been reading this blog, as they’ve just announced an away friendly against Knockbreda on Saturday. A new ground for me to visit. Looking forward to it.

This week, saw Easyjet announce new routes to Salzburg and Prague. That is very tempting. Prague especially. There’s a weekend in March 2019 where Sparta Prague, Dukla Prague and Bohemians Prague are all at home.

Might as well get a football trip to Mainland Europe before Brexit.

Photo Album

FOOTBALL IN 2017

At this time of year, I usually write about my hopes for football watching over the following year.

In truth, I never really know what is going to happen. As 2015 turned into 2016, I would not have predicted that I would be travelling to Dumfries to see Linfield playing in the Scottish Challenge Cup, or that I would be evacuated from Old Trafford because somebody forgot to remove a dummy bomb.

I’m going to try though, with my football watching hopes for the year ahead.

LINFIELD

Win the League, win the Irish Cup and win the County Antrim Shield. That’s what I want. That would bring European football, with hopefully a run, and some games against clubs in the 102 Club.

As well as playing in Europe, domestic success would also qualify us for the Scottish Challenge Cup. I absolutely loved the trip to Dumfries, so hopefully a trip to somewhere in Dumfries/Galloway or Ayrshire would be great.

Or even the Central Belt, if flights were a decent rate.

Then there is pre-season. The same criteria applies, a ground I haven’t been to, or haven’t been to for a while, and is close to Belfast. So, that criteria would be any of Loughgall, Moyola Park, Knockbreda or Annagh United.

MANCHESTER UNITED

Going to the League match against Hull at the end of January. I’m going Tuesday to Thursday, with the Hull game provisionally scheduled for the Wednesday. On the Tuesday, i’m free. Wigan play Norwich that night, so it could be a chance to see the almost mythical Will Grigg. There are no scheduled games in League One and League Two, that date might be used for rearranged games. I’ll wait until quite late before deciding wether to go to a game that night.

I’m hoping to go to the Crystal Palace game at the end of the season.

Hopefully, United will be back in the European Cup in 2017/2018, and this would allow me to go to a midweek group game. Ideally, in November/December, so I can take Manchester Christmas Market.

IRISH LEAGUE

I’ll be keeping an eye on the Championship table and the promotion race. The way the table is at the moment, it looks like Warrenpoint will be promoted, with Institute, Ballyclare and Larne battling it out for the play-off. If there is a team to be promoted via the play-offs, I wouldn’t mind it being Larne as I haven’t been there since 2005.

February 18th will see the League Cup Final between Ballymena United and Carrick Rangers at a as yet undecided venue. I might see about getting a ticket for this as a neutral. Carrick are at home to Linfield the previous weekend, so there would be a good opportunity for me to get a ticket.

In 2017, Christmas Day will fall on a Monday for the first time since 2006. That year, the Steel and Sons Cup Final was held on Saturday 23rd December as there were no top flight games on that day. I’d be tempted in going in 2017 if there was a similar arrangement.

LEAGUE OF IRELAND

Usually, I take in a day trip to Dublin and take in a League Of Ireland game while i’m there. The fixture list was announced today, and i’m still digesting it.

Bray Wanderers (close to Dublin) used to play on Saturdays (far more convenient) but they’ve now decided to play on Fridays.

There is a full fixture list on Saturday 25th March 2017 due to an international the day before. However, Linfield are away to Ballinamallard that day, so Linfield take priority. If Linfield’s match is postponed due to international call-ups, this would be tempting. The options would be Bray v Limerick, Cabinteely v Cobh, UCD v Longford or St Patrick’s Athletic v Shamrock Rovers.

There may be games moved to Saturday or Sunday due to European games in June/July. I’ll keep an eye out, though there’s no real obvious other date for me to go down.

NORTHERN IRELAND

I can’t say i’d be planning on going to Russia if we reached the World Cup, but it would be great if I could be in a situation where i’m toying with the idea.

SCOTLAND

I didn’t go to the Edinburgh Festival in 2016 but i’m planning to return in 2017. Naturally, that would take in whichever of Hearts is at home, and if I could get a bonus of another game in the Central Belt.

So, that’s my football watching hopes for 2017. I’ll be amazed if any of this goes to plan.

2016 IN PICTURES – MAY

May 2016 began for me by going to see Space. Not the planet, but the band, doing a gig at The Empire.

The following day, was the Irish Cup Final between Linfield and Glenavon, the less said about that game, the better.

The following weekend, I was in Manchester and managed to get some Street Art photos, including one of a mural of David Bowie in the Northern Quarter.

It certainly made up for not seeing any football, after the Manchester United v Bournemouth match that I travelled over for was postponed.

Towards the end of the month, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Belarus in their final home game before heading to Euro 2016.

Two days later, I headed to Dublin on a day trip, taking lots of Street Art photos and going to see Bohs take on St Patrick’s Athletic, my first visit to Dalymount Park in six years.

Space live at The Empire

Space live at The Empire Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield v Glenavon Photo Album

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Belarus

Northern Ireland v Belarus Photo Album

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Bohemian FC v St Patrick’s Athletic

Bohemian FC v St Patrick’s Athletic Photo Album

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 – MAY

And so to May, the final month of the season.

My football watching for the month began with the Irish Cup Final, as Linfield disappointingly lost 2-0 to Glenavon.

The following weekend, I was inside Old Trafford, getting ready to watch Manchester United v Bournemouth, until a forgetful security guard put paid to that.

That meant that it was three weeks until my next game, Northern Ireland v Belarus.

Two days after that, I took advantage of there being a full League Of Ireland fixture list on a Sunday of a Bank Holiday weekend, by heading on a day trip to Dublin, and taking in Bohs v St Patrick’s Athletic, my final game of the 2015-2016 season.

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield v Glenavon Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Belarus

Northern Ireland v Belarus Photo Album

Bohs v St Patrick’s Athletic

Bohs v St Patrick’s Athletic Photo Album

BOHEMIAN FC 5-1 ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC 29.5.2016

Once a year, I like to do a day trip to Dublin, and while there, take in a League Of Ireland game.

Due to an international match being played on the League Of Ireland’s traditional Friday night slot, this round of games were moved to a Sunday afternoon, and on a Bank Holiday Weekend, made this round a no brainer for me.

I had my choice of matches. Shamrock Rovers were at home to Finn Harps. In the First Division, Shelbourne were at home to Limerick, while Cabinteely were at home to Drogheda United.

Shelbourne was tempting, but Tolka Park is relatively close to Croke Park, and with Springsteen in town, getting there and back was potentially problematic.

I’ve never been to Cabinteely, one of two senior football grounds in Dublin I haven’t been to (the other being UCD’s ground) and this was tempting. Unfortunately, I was only doing a day trip and didn’t have time to waste trying to find the ground.

Part of the reason for only doing a day trip, especially being off work on the Monday, was that I faffed about for so long booking a hotel, Springsteen announced a gig that day, and the prices soon drove up.

This match at Dalymount had it’s own special appeal to me. It had been six years since my last visit there, and it might be the last chance I have to visit there in it’s current form ahead of a proposed redevelopment, assuming they don’t take as long faffing about with stadium redevelopments in Republic Of Ireland as they do in Northern Ireland.

My only two visits to Dalymount Park have seen wins for Bohs, and their fans were hoping it would be a hat-trick for me, with their side 10th in a 12 team league, just 4 points clear of the relegation zone, against a St Patrick’s Athletic side not where they wanted to be, on the wrong side of a 4 point gap, as they chase European football.

Bohs went straight on the attack, with the confidence of a team higher up the league, and found themselves 1-0 up after 2 minutes with the ball was pulled back to Roberto Lopes, who scored from close range.

The tannoy blasted out Gold by Spandau Ballet, with the fans singing along, but changing “Gold” to “Bohs”. It was a sound we would hear quite a lot of times through the afternoon.

Just 2 minutes later, St Pat’s gifted the ball to Ishmail Akinade, who made it 2-0. Bohs fans were equally as stunned as the St Pat’s fans, and they were loving it.

St Pat’s were a mess in defence, and were lucky to get a goal kick when their keeper was charged down trying to clear the ball away. Given the start Bohs had made, it was surprising that the ball didn’t end up in the net.

The ball was in the net soon after, when Jake Kelly was played through and finished. It was too easy for Bohs.

St Pat’s actually reacted well to going 3-0 down. They had chances and pressure, usually blocked on the line, or just not getting the bounce.

At both ends of the pitch, everything was going Bohs way.

If you’re 3-0 up, it can’t be all luck, but bad finishing by Bohs and better by Pat’s would have seen the match narrative dramatically changed, that Pat’s had rode their luck earlier on to get a 1-0 lead without playing well.

Just as looked like St Pat’s might be getting a goal back to give them some hope in the second-half, Bohs made it 4-0 when Jake Kelly scored from close range.

The factfile of St Patrick’s Athletic in the match programme, listed the club’s record defeat as a 7-0 defeat at Dalymount Park in 1974. On the basis of the half just witnessed, that being equalled or beaten looked like a realistic possibility.

As the second-half started, it was Bohs who had the best chance when Akinade fired wide after being gifted possession.

St Pat’s had possession, but never looked like scoring.

That was, until Ian Bermingham headed home with just over 10 minutes to go. It was celebrated like a consolation goal rather than the beginning of a dramatic comeback.

If St Pat’s were hoping to launch a late rally, that hope was soon extinguished, when Sean Hoare was sent-off for a professional foul, coming about after Pat’s had again gifted away possession in their defensive third.

From the resulting penalty, Kurtis Byrne made it 5-1.

St Pat’s were able to avoid conceding any more with 10 men on the pitch, the damage was done in the first-half, specifically, the opening 12 minutes.

As the final whistle blew, Bohs fans naturally celebrated the win, cheering their team off the pitch. For me, that was the end of my 2015-2016 season.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – JUNE/JULY

There was only two weeks between the end of 2014-2015 and the start of 2015-2016. It was a horrible two weeks.

This season, like last season, began in Bray.

I was on a day trip to Dublin in late June, so I took advantage of the teatime kick-off and close location.

It was a bottom of the table clash, and it was unsurprisingly tense, as Bray managed to dig out a 1-0 win.

Towards the end of the following week, was my first Linfield match of the season, a UEFA Cup tie against NSI Runavik.

I’d have to wait three weeks for my next Linfield match, the 2nd leg of the 2nd Round tie against Spartak Trnava, which Linfield lost 3-1, and 5-2 on aggregate.

Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers

Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers Photo Album

Linfield v NSI Runavik

Linfield v Spartak Trnava