ARDS 0-2 LINFIELD 15.8.2017

With three games in seven days, there isn’t much time to relax at the start of the Irish League season, as Linfield made it two wins out of two in the North Down sunshine, beating Ards 2-0, the three points being secured before the sun went down.

The only worry for some away fans was getting into the ground, as roadworks at Ballyrobert made it a one hour journey for me.

As I arrived, there was a massive queue of people in front of me, and soon afterwards behind me. Would it really have been too much effort to delay the kick-off by five or ten minutes for those who were held up?

I ended up getting my first experience of the NIFL’s new £11 admission fee, due to the increase in handing back change in coins instead of the nice round £10 fee.

I only missed about a minute of action, and thankfully, Linfield weren’t quick off the blocks.

They weren’t slow either, building up pressure and being camped in Ards half. It was a matter of time until Linfield scored. That came when Mark Haughey was able to flick a loose ball over a defender in the box, and smash the ball home from close ranger after 18 minutes.

On 28 minutes, a Paul Smyth cross found Kirk Millar to head home and make it 2-0.

The pressure continued but Ards held out to keep the score to 2-0 at half-time.

A commanding position but not a definitive lead.

You know all those cliches about 2-0 being a dangerous lead? Linfield almost found out in the early minutes of the second-half when Scott Davidson was played through and hit the post.

You know that pundit speak of “He hit it too well”? It applies here. If he scuffed it, he would have scored, he struck it perfectly and hit the post, and straight to a Linfield defender to clear.

That was Ards big moment, as Linfield went in search of that third goal to put the match beyond all doubt.

Paul Smyth and Aaron Burns came closest for Linfield.

The third goal didn’t come for Linfield, but it wasn’t needed.

Burns, alongside Stephen Lowry were substitutes in the only change to the squad from Saturday after a one game suspension.

With Cliftonville, Glentoran and Crusaders waiting in September as well as the League Cup, County Antrim Shield and Scottish Challenge Cup between now and then, strength in reserve will be key to Linfield, even if it wasn’t needed here.

Results elsewhere meant that Linfield were one of five teams with six points out of six.

It is peak modern day Glentoran that they have actually had their best start to the season in eight years …… and find themselves 5th in the table.

Linfield are tucked away in 4th.

With two of the teams above them, Coleraine and Crusaders, playing each other, Linfield travel to Dungannon on Saturday knowing that a win will propel them into the top three at least.

The reason why Linfield are 4th is due to goal difference. It could have been so much better across these two games.

Goal difference was the thing that put life in Linfield’s title challenge last season when all looked lost. Linfield knew they didn’t need to overtake Crusaders, they just had to pull level with them and let the goal difference do the work.

There’s still 36 games to make up four goals.

Whilst the goals for column could be better, there’s no complaints about goals against, two clean sheets. Defensive records usually win you titles.

Linfield only needed two goals to be sure of beating Ards, Cliftonville needed to score six just to be sure. I know what position i’d rather be in.

Thursday sees the draw for the Scottish Challenge Cup, where Linfield will face an away tie. Stranraer away please.

I was amused to see that the scorer of Elgin City’s winner was Steve Bronsky. I’ve no idea where in Scotland he’s from so I don’t know if he’s a Smalltown Boy.

That’s enough 80s pop jokes.

Unless Kris Lowe of Dungannon is thinking “What Have I Done To Deserve This?” as Linfield score another goal on Saturday.

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LINFIELD 2-0 CARRICK RANGERS 12.8.2017

After Crusaders win on Friday night, Linfield were already playing catch-up as they kicked-off their opening match of the season, just as they did for 37 out of 38 matches last season.

As Carrick Rangers arrived at Windsor Park, they would face a Linfield side with five changes from their last domestic game, last season’s Irish Cup Final due to injury (Waterworth, Callacher, Clarke) and suspension (Burns, Lowry)

A team who usually struggles on the opening day, with five players missing and facing a team with ten men behind the ball. This had the potential of being a difficult afternoon for Linfield.

While Carrick were winning a lot of headers in the air, Linfield found other routes to get at their goal with low crosses, short corners and balls on the ground. Carrick could handle it, and it looked like a goal was coming.

Niall Quinn had a shot saved while Jordan Stewart fired over, before a low Niall Quinn shot hit the back of the net to put Linfield 1-0 up.

With only 15 minutes on the clock, it was the early goal Linfield needed to avoid getting frustrated.

Andrew Mitchell fired over as Linfield looked for a second goal, while a Jamie Mulgrew cross agonisingly evaded both Paul Smyth and Jordan Stewart when just a touch would have delivered a goal.

As half-time approached, Linfield got a second goal when Kirk Millar headed home from a Niall Quinn cross. That was surely the three points secured.

The second-half was attack against defence again, as Linfield aimed for a 3rd goal that would kill off the game, even though Carrick’s lack of attacking threat so far suggested that 2-0 would be enough.

Robert Garrett and Mark Stafford both had unsuccessful attempts at goal. Stafford was later substituted for Josh Robinson, denying him the opportunity to score against Carrick for the forth successive home game against them.

Linfield looked like getting that 3rd goal when Jordan Stewart won a penalty.

With Lowry, Burns and Waterworth not playing, there was no obvious taker. Paul Smyth had missed the only one he had taken.

Jordan Stewart stepped up and missed it, Carrick’s keeper gathering the ball on the line when it looked like he might accidentally score an own goal.

It was Linfield’s seventh penalty in their last thirteen matches, four of which have been missed. That stat doesn’t include the ridiculous penalty shoot-out against Glentoran in late July.

It didn’t matter as Linfield cruised to a 2-0 win. Carrick had so few attacks, we didn’t get to hear Roy Carroll shout “GET OUT!! GET OUT!!!”

The only disappointment was that Linfield couldn’t get more goals, a four goal win would have put them top. However, Linfield fans will know from last season that being top at the end of matchday 38 is all that matters.

Up next, a trip to Ards.

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DUNDELA 0-2 LINFIELD 1.8.2017

It has been a busy pre-season for Linfield fans, taking in trips to Wales, San Marino and Scotland before mid-July, which was then followed by a run of friendlies against Bangor, Sheffield United Under 23s, Newry and Glentoran, before a trip to Wilgar Park to take on Dundela, hoping to avenge a defeat to Linfield in a friendly the previous summer, as well as defeat in the Steel and Sons Cup Final on Christmas Eve.

Normally, I would have went to the Bangor game, but a trip to Clandeboye Park in the League in mid August negated the need for me to go to that game. I didn’t go to the Sheffield United game as I don’t usually bother with games against XI teams. By all accounts, I missed out on a good game. Having beaten their Under 23s 5-1, I think it’s only fair that Linfield get invited to Bramall Lane to take on their first team, on the weekend of Tramlines Festival.

I haven’t been to Newry since 2010 and it would have been nice to head over, but it was a weeknight and I was heading to Dublin the next day and it felt pointless going half the way, coming back and then going the full way.

I wasn’t at the Glentoran game due to being in Dublin, but I did get a laugh when I heard Linfield won 1-0 on penalties.

In the early minutes of this game, Linfield had a lot of pressure, with Jordan Stewart, Andrew Mitchell and Cameron Stewart all having chances to score.

The goal eventually came when Stephen Lowry scored from close ranger.

Within minutes, Dundela almost equalised when a corner was thunderously headed against the bar from a corner from close range.

They were soon made to pay for not taking their chance when Cameron Stewart made it 2-0, just when it started to look like he was going to have a frustrating evening.

Not much happened in the second-half, apart from Dundela hitting the bar from a long range shot, and Ryan Strain missing when he was put through, not knowing if to pass or shot, doing both and ending up doing neither.

Ross Clarke came on in the second-half. A player I rate highly, he has been gradually getting game time as he continues his recovery after two years on injury misery. If he can recover his form of 2014-2015, it will be like a new signing, and what a signing.

Elsewhere, the game away to Crusaders has been put back from 2nd September to 6th September due to the Scottish Challenge Cup. It’s good that the club have been proactive in getting a new date as soon as possible.

We’ll be away in that round. Hopefully, not too far to travel and a Saturday game, or else there will be some squad rotation in the Irn Bru Cup.

The fallout from the Celtic tie came through with Linfield getting a relatively small fine and having to close a section of the South Stand for the next European home game. It’s fair to say, it could have been a lot worse.

Meanwhile, Celtic fans got their club into trouble for flying banners proclaiming “Brendan’s undefeated army” in a competition they lost five times in last season, as well as “Paying tribute” to road signs in County Armagh.

Interestingly, it took a while for this to be a story. The match was on the Wednesday night, but it didn’t become a story in some publications until Friday or Saturday. It’s almost as if they were shamed into doing so once they realised it wasn’t going to go away.

It seems that some journalists can embarrass themselves by being silent just as much as they did when they were vocal in the build-up to the tie.

I saw pictures of the banners on social media while the game was going on. There’s no way they couldn’t have been aware of what was happening.

It is worth noting that The Scotsman covered the banners as part of their report of the match on the Thursday. After a relatively small fine, Celtic will be breathing just as big a sigh as Linfield after their UEFA punishment.

And talking of press coverage, Linfield have indicated that they have received a letter from the Daily Record for printing lies (sorry, a “memory lapse”) told by Joe Miller and appear to be satisfied with it.

I am aware that the apology was made privately on a business to business basis, however, the claims were not. The lack of a public statement to this effect by the Daily Record in either their print or online editions does not resolve this matter satisfactorily for a lot of Linfield fans.

In the 30th July edition of Sunday Life, they doorstepped a supporter who had been banned for something that happened at the Celtic away game.

I don’t know the guy and I don’t know what he did, but there is no merit in this. Something happened and he has been punished by Linfield, and the law of the land. There is no life left in this story. He did something, and he has been punished for it. That should be the matter closed, especially as it looks as if he isn’t going to appeal against either punishment.

There is no issue with his punishments being reported, but doorstepping him at his job? Really?

The fact a lot of comments, when the story appeared online, began with “I support xxxxx, but …..” tells you all you need to know.

Attention was directed towards the start of a new League season begins with Carrick Rangers visiting Windsor Park where Linfield would line up with at least five changes from last season’s Irish Cup Final due to injuries (Callacher, Clarke, Waterworth) and suspensions (Lowry, Burns)

The four new signings over the summer have added quality to Linfield’s squad, which we expect to see the benefits of it over the course of a season.

We didn’t expect it to come in the first League match of the season.

Photo Album

LINFIELD 0-2 CELTIC 14.7.2017

It had been a long wait, but Linfield and Celtic belatedly got to play their 2nd Round European Cup tie, a few days after the designated matchday.

In recent years, Linfield have played UEFA Cup games on a Tuesday and a Wednesday, so a European Cup tie on a Friday shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise. Linfield just play European football whenever we feel like it. Monday lunchtime next season?

With the match taking place on a Friday, it meant both teams went into the match still digesting the draw for the next round, which offered Linfield and Celtic the incentive of a tie against Dundalk or Rosenborg, with the home leg first.

Linfield and Celtic have both faced Dundalk and Rosenborg in the past in Europe, so whatever the result of both ties, there was going to be a reunion for the winner in the next round.

Linfield went into this game hoping to end a rotten run of results against Scottish teams, after friendly defeats against Rangers (numerous), Kilmarnock (2011), Cowedenbeath (2014), Hearts (2017) and a Scottish Challenge Cup defeat to Queen Of The South last year. The last win I can think of was a 1-0 friendly win over Hearts in 2003.

The last time I saw a Scottish team play in Europe, they lost 5-0, so I was hoping that would be an omen.

Fans arriving at Windsor Park hoping to see a shock certainly got one, but not on the pitch, as they arrived to the sight of a couple of hundred Celtic fans in The Kop, who had bought tickets for the North Stand but were granted amnesty and allocated a section of The Kop.

The game began with Celtic having a lot of possession and pressure, unsurprsingly. It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon/teatime/evening for Linfield’s players. I’m not sure what the correct terminology is for a 5pm kick-off.

It looked like being a long 90 minutes for those on Linfield’s left, as Jame Forrest was getting a lot of joy and space down Celtic’s right. Unsurprisingly, Celtic were looking to make the most of this.

Scott Brown was lucky to get away with a talking to after making a scissor tackle after he lost possession. Brown strikes me as the kid at school who picks on kids three years younger than him but runs crying to the Teacher is someone a year older tells him to cut it out. If he was as good as he thinks he is, he would have signed for a mediocre English team like Aston Villa, Southampton or West Brom five years ago.

On 17 minutes, Celtic took the lead when a Scott Sinclair header was deflected in. It was at the end I was sat and it looked like an own goal to me, though most media outlets are giving it to Sinclair, although Sky Sports have credited it as a Mark Haughey own goal.

It didn’t matter, Celtic were in front.

After the goal, we finally got to see Linfield as an attacking force, with Mark Stafford having an effort saved and a Paul Smyth run being halted by a cynical Scott Brown foul. Europe or Domestic, it seems that Paul Smyth is the target of cynical fouls.

Linfield’s hopes of getting an equaliser took a blow when Tom Rogic scored after running onto a low drilled corner. It was, if you will, the “Tottenham Mid 90s” corner goal.

Ironically, David Healy once scored a goal like that at Windsor Park, albeit in front of The Kop, set up by recently departed Linfield player Sammy Clingan.

Another irony, was that Linfield were on the end of a quick goal blitz, having done the same to Glenavon, Coleraine (x2) and Cliftonville in the last four games of last season.

Despite Celtic’s dominance, they didn’t have Linfield on the ropes at 0-0, it was frustrating to fall behind to two bad goals.

The first goal was unlucky, the second goal showed why you have to be switched on at all times at this level.

While there might be a dispute about wether he scored Celtic’s first goal, Scott Sinclair was denied twice by Roy Carroll towards the end of the first-half as he went about making sure he could be credited with a goal beyond dispute.

The first save came when he was played in behind Linfield’s defence. He really should have scored.

Leigh Griffiths had a goal disallowed in the early minutes of the second-half, as Linfield won some set pieces, hoping to make one count and get back into the game.

The was one moment at a Linfield set piece that summed up the difference at this level. A set piece was headed clear and was going back to Jamie Mulgrew. As he waited for the ball to come to him, a Celtic player sniffed the danger and got to the ball first. In the Irish League, Mulgrew strikes the ball into the back of the net when it goes to him.

The closest Linfield came to scoring was when a rogue backheader from a Celtic defender concerned Craig Gordon enough into making a diving save, while a low cross into Celtic’s box caused concern for Celtic, with tow Linfield attackers agonisingly unable to get to the ball to put it in.

You got the feeling however, that if Linfield had pulled a goal back, Celtic would at worst have held on for a 2-1 win, or got a 3rd goal to restore the two goal lead.

Once it went to 2-0, it was a case of job done for Celtic

That, and the fact that Roy Carroll was on form.

In the last quarter of the game, the referee went a bit card happy, including a long overdue yellow card for Scott Brown.

One of those yellow cards came for Leigh Griffiths for timewasting as he was evading bottles being thrown at him as he took a corner.

It was all at the corner where South Stand and Kop meet. I just fucking despair, I really do. There’s not much I can add to what has already been said. I just wish people like that would just fuck off, as they give people who are no better than us the opportunity to stick the boot in.

That includes certain media outlets acting with a sense of moral superiority that they forfeited with their antics in the aftermath of the draw.

I’m not going to go into some “Superfan” rant, we all support our team in different ways. The way they were “Supporting” the team yesterday is not the way to do it.

I won’t be defending them. Whatever punishment they get from Linfield and the law of them land, it won’t be enough. Fuck em.

You can guarantee they won’t be there when Linfield are playing their next home European match at Mourneview Park. If we’re lucky.

However, such behaviour is not a Linfield problem, or even a football problem, it’s an overall societal problem. If any politician even tries to lecture us, they’re your hooligans and much as they are ours.

I also noted that an MLA from Delivering Unity Promptly bought a ticket for the Linfield end and tried to enter the ground via the Boucher Road. A perfect metaphor for Northern Ireland politicians trying to get involved in football.

There are a few things that should be noted and not overlooked. It was a small percentage of the crowd. They were booed by their own when the incidents happened. The reaction on Social Media from Linfield fans, has been total condemnation. Nobody is supporting them, and rightly so.

A word, on Eventsec. I went to the game straight from work. I took a backpack to work (to hold scarf, ticket and some food) and wasn’t even searched going in. So clearly, it wouldn’t have taken a lot of effort to smuggle a bottle in.

Unfortunately, i’m not going to the second leg in Glasgow on Wednesday. Hopefully, the Scottish Challenge Cup draw will give us a kind away game to make up for that.

If you are going, enjoy yourself. My advice would be to check out the Street Art and visit Missing, a record store beside Central Station.

If you’re heading over on Tuesday and are groundhopping minded, all I can say is Merry Christmas, as there is a full fixture list in the Scottish League Cup Group Stages.

There’s no game in Glasgow, but Albion Rovers, Dumbarton, Kilmarnock, Morton and St Mirren are all under an hour away from Glasgow.

I’ll be in Edinburgh in a few weeks, so at least i’ll be getting some taste of Scottish football, most likely Edinburgh City, who have Craig Beattie playing for them, a tenuous link to both Celtic and Linfield.

I’m over for the Fringe Festival, which has some football offerings. I’m doing my “To See List” and hope to see a stage version of The Damned United, while i’m going to have Don’t Cry For Me Kenny Dalglish on my Back-Up List.

Linfield’s inevitible exit means they won’t be postponing recently announced friendlies away to Newry (27th July) and Dundela (1st August).

Haven’t been to Newry since 2010, but undecided if i’m going to that as I head to Dublin the following morning for an overnight stay.

I was supposed to be doing a day trip to Dublin yesterday, but decided i’d be better off going to Linfield v Celtic. So, i’m going to go to Dublin in two weeks time instead.

The plan for Dublin is Street Art and catch a football match. If I was in Dublin last night, I would have went to see Shelbourne v Wexford. Wexford won 2-1 if you care.

When i’m in Dublin in two weeks, i’m hoping to catch UCD v Cabinteely.

Then i’ll be back in Dublin (briefly) the following midweek for Manchester United v Sampdoria, with Dundela v Linfield sandwiched inbetween.

It could have been Dundalk rather than Dundela. Could be worse, could have blown a 3-0 lead in the UEFA Cup against a team from Latvia.

Photo Album

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 : TOTAL FOOTBALL – SUMMER 2004

Three models in the kits of England, Northern Ireland and Wales is the cover image of Total Football, with all three home nations in the same World Cup Qualifying Group starting in a few months.

In news, the Northern Ireland team have announced a kit supplier deal with Umbro, and a sponsorship deal with Nationwide.

There is a profile of new Northern Ireland manager Lawrie Sanchez and the impact he has already had in his first three games in charge.

There is a profile of Irish League referee Andi Regan, as she gets ready to head to Greece to officiate at the Olympic Games football tournament.

Having just made his debut for Southampton, Alan Blayney gets profiled where he reveals he had spent a period of time training with Glentoran the previous year after suffering from homesickness.

Another player leaving Glentoran for full-time football in England was Andy Smith, who had just signed for Preston North End, and he gets a full page profile.

The models in the cover make a reappearance as they review the new kits of both local and national sides.

Getting ready for a second season of top flight football, Ballymena United manager Kenny Shiels gets interviewed.

Over the page is an interview with Loughgall manager Jim Gardiner, as the club gets ready for their first season of top flight football.

In news, Linfield have announced a shirt sponsorship deal with Umbro to run alongside their kit supplier deal.

Linfield are one of three clubs, the others being Glentoran and Portadown, whose upcoming European ties get previewed in a double page feature.

There is a double page feature with new Cliftonville manager Liam Beckett as he gets to grips with the job at Solitude.

The magazine ends with a preview of the Milk Cup.

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2016-2017

So, the 2016-2017 season is over for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed my photographic look back at the season just gone.

I’ve selected some of my favourites, so feel free to vote for the one you like the best.

POLSKA

Taken back in June 2016 at Northern Ireland v Poland, I like the composition, how everyone is fixated on the action at the other end of the pitch, and the colour co-ordination of both sets of fans.



WILGAR

Taken at a pre-season game between Linfield and Dundela, it captures the joys of going to football matches in pre-season, sunshine and relaxation ahead of the hard slog ahead.



SEAVIEW

I like the framing of this, as the crowd is in position, awaiting kick-off in a big match.



CELEBRATION

Linfield fans celebrating Jimmy Callacher’s winner against Glentoran in October. I just like this for some reason other than the obvious.

PALMERSTON

There’s just something about the architecture of old football grounds that does it for me. This is out of use turnstiles at Palmerston Park, home of Queen of the South.

APPEAL

Linfield fans appeal in unison, all making the same hand gestures, for a goal to be allowed. The goal was disallowed for a foul.



ELF

Taken at the Steel and Sons Cup Final. Some people like getting dressed up for Christmas.

GAYNOR

I like the composition of this, from Ross Gaynor’s posture, to substitutes chatting to each other while the game goes on.

UNITED

I like the composition of this, all eyes fixated on the penalty area and the incoming corner.

SPOT THE BALL

I like the composition of this shot, it looks like a Spot The Ball image, except that the ball is in the shot, with two players getting ready for an aerial tussle.



COLERAINE

I love the framing and seeing players in the background running to join the celebrations.

WATERWORTH

Celebrations after Andrew Waterworth’s second goal against Cliftonville, capturing the joy of the event and the achievement just about to happen.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MAY

There wasn’t a lot of football for me in the last month of the season.

May began for me with the Irish Cup Final between Linfield and Coleraine, which Linfield won 3-0.

My final match of the season, was a trip to Old Trafford to see a much changed Manchester United side beat Crystal Palace 2-0.

And that, was the end of 2016-2017 season for me.

2017-2018 is not too far away.

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Coleraine Photo Album

Manchester United v Crystal Palace

Manchester United v Crystal Palace Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : APRIL

April’s football watching began in Lurgan on the first day of the month, heading to Mourneview Park to see Linfield beat Dungannon Swifts 1-0 in a Irish Cup Semi-Final.

The following week, was another 1-0 win for Linfield, this time at Windsor Park in a key title decider against Crusaders.

Easter arrived in the middle of the month, and a double header of wins for Linfield, against Ballymena United and Glenavon.

The following Saturday, I headed Coleraine to see Linfield win 5-1 and go top of the League for the first time all season, with just one game to go.

That game was at Solitude, which Linfield won, and I captured the post match celebrations, as well as the celebrations later that day at Windsor Park.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

Ballymena United v Linfield

Linfield v Glenavon

Coleraine v Linfield

Cliftonville v Linfield

Cliftonville v Linfield Photo Album

Windsor Park Title Celebrations

Windsor Park Title Celebrations Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MARCH

March’s football watching began for me at Seaview, watching Linfield put Crusaders out of the Irish Cup.

There was a bit of a wait until my next match of the month as Linfield’s home match against Cliftonville was put back to the Monday night for live TV coverage.

I was back at Windsor Park the following Saturday, as Ards were the visitors.

The month ended with two games in the one weekend – Linfield’s long trip to Ballinamallard, and Norway’s even longer trip to Northern Ireland for a World Cup Qualifier.

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Ards

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Norway

Northern Ireland v Norway Photo Album