MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 28.5.1983

It’s Cup Final Day in England and Scotland, but it’s the English game that is on the cover of this week’s edition of Shoot, as Brighton take on Manchester United at Wembley.

As you open the magazine, there is a double page spread with Bryan Robson, Jimmy Case and Michael Robinson giving their thoughts on the game, with Robson wanting to win the cup for Remi Moses, who was suspended for he game, alongside Steve Foster of Brighton.

There is also a double page interview with the two managers, Ron Atkinson and Jimmy Melia, both Scousers.

There is a feature on the two referees in London and Glasgow, with David Syme achieving a rare double, referee the Scottish Cup Final 16 years after his dad did.

In ads, you could buy a Paolo Rossi branded boot, made by Pony.

In posters, the centre page spread is a poster collage of Manchester United and Brighton players.

Gary Shaw previews the European Cup Final between Juventus (who eliminated holders Aston Villa) and Hamburg, with Shaw predicting a win for Juventus, and addressing rumours of a move for him and Gordon Cowans to Italy, stating he is well suited to continental football.

Shaw also previews the FA Cup Final, stating he wants United to win, only because it would secure a UEFA Cup place for Aston Villa.

Staying in the West Midlands, West Brom’s Dutch duo of Romeo Zondervan and Martin Jol being annoyed about their exile from the national team, and declaring that the standard of football in England is better than in Holland. Jol speaks about Holland’s best young players, including Frank Rijkaard, stating “He would only last one game in England, he twists and turns too much and holds the ball too long”

1983 was the year Everton won the league …….. for Liverpool, with a 2-0 win over Manchester United at Goodison Park which ended United’s title challenge, with Everton defender Mark Higgins believing the club are on the verge of making a serious challenge in future years to send the title to the blue half, rather than the red half of Merseyside.

Another Blue (of the Manchester variety) hoping for a big future was Alex Williams, who had a breakthrough season at Manchester City, and was setting his sights on being England’s goalkeeper.

It wasn’t a World Cup year, but there was news about the competition this week, with the official film of the 1982 tournament being broadcast on TV after cinemas in the country deemed it too expensive to show., while Toluca was rejected as a host city for Mexico 86 sue to security fears.

From the World Cup to the British Championship, Northern Ireland head to Hampden Park looking to get their first win in 7 visits. A more prouder record, is Sammy McIlroy, who has played in Northern Ireland’s last 22 games and is looking to continue that run.

There was also coverage of the Scottish Cup Final, with a poster of Aberdeen and Rangers, and interviews with John McClelland, Peter McCloy and Jim Leighton.

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UEFA 101 CLUB – UPDATE

It’s been a year, and the opening rounds of European competition are drawn tomorrow, with Irish League teams joining the action, so it’s a good time to update my pursuit to complete a rather pointless list.

You may have noticed the new title – further research has indicated that 101 clubs, not 100 have played in a European Final. It’s not my fault, I was basing it on the When Saturday Comes article that inspired it, which at the time of writing said 99 clubs had reached a European Final, with the next one being the 100th.

Turns out, there had already been 100 clubs. Since you ask, the honour belongs to Fulham.

So, what is the UEFA 101 Club? Well, 101 clubs have played in the final of one of European football’s three competitions (European Cup, European Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Cup) and there are people who try to see every team play live in person.

I’m doing it just for fun, but if I win the lottery, I might start taking it a bit more seriously.

Living in Northern Ireland, you’d think it would be hard trying to see some of these clubs, but tomorrow’s draw could see some clubs who’ve had greater European nights visiting Northern Ireland. It did last year.

In the European Cup, Cliftonville could have a rematch with Celtic. No use to me, as i’ve already ticked Celtic off my list.

Other possible opponents for Cliftonville include : Steau Bucharest, Dinamo Zagreb (already ticked off my list), Partizan Belgrade and Slovan Bratislava.

Frustratingly, Red Star Belgrade won’t be in the competition due to being thrown out due to Financial Fair Play. I would have loved to have seen them in the flesh, even though they’re now a shadow of their 1991 team, the mystique remains.

If they get drawn against Steau Bucharest, I might be tempted to go.

If Cliftonville get through, they could potentially face Red Bull Salzburg, Malmo or Dinamo Tblisi.

In the UEFA Cup, Linfield being seeded means they won’t be facing any members of the club, but there are opportunities for Crusaders and Glenavon.

By the way, i’m hoping the draw sends Linfield to Broughton (or Airbus UK, if you prefer)

Crusaders or Glenavon could face IFK Gothenborg, Aberdeen or Ferencvaros.

If any of the Irish League teams progress to the next round, there are no member clubs joining at that stage. Plenty of big clubs in the 3rd Round though.

This time last year, I was on 29 clubs, but I am on 31 clubs now, having added Dundee United and Everton to my list. I’ve applied for a ticket to the European Super Cup Final in Cardiff. If I get a ticket, that’ll be Sevilla ticked off the list. I’ve already got Real Madrid.

My list in full :

Team (Year first seen)

Aberdeen (2011)
Ajax Amsterdam (2012)
Arsenal (2003)
AS Roma (2007)
Aston Villa (1993)
Atletico Madrid (2011)
Barcelona (2011)
Benfica (2000)
Brimingham City (2010)
Celtic (2009)
Chelsea (1997)
Dinamo Zagreb (2008)
Dundee United (2013)
Everton (2014)
FC Porto (2011)
Feyenoord (1999)
Fulham (2001)
Leeds United (1993)
Liverpool (1994)
Manchester City (2000)
Manchester United (1993)
Marseille (1992)
Middlesbrough (1995)
Newcastle United (1993)
Nottingham Forest (1996)
Rangers (2002)
Real Madrid (2003)
SC Braga (2011)
Tottenham Hotspur (2010)
West Ham United (1997)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (2010)

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 29.5.1999

David May, David Beckham, Teddy Sheringham, and the FA Cup are the cover stars of Match, as Manchester United have just won the double, a third in six years, but there’s more to come.

Unfortunately, printing deadlines mean that only a preview, rather than a review, of the European Cup Final against Bayern Munich can appear in the magazine.

In the news section, there’s a random story of a West Ham celebrity fan having a kickabout at West Ham’s training group with Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand ……. Tamzin Outhwaite from Eastenders.

Meanwhile, Alan Thompson predicts big things for Aston Villa in 1999-2000, despite their 1998-1999 title challenge falling apart after Christmas. They finished 6th in 2000, like in 1999, but did reach the FA Cup Final.

Peter Beagrie, having just helped Bradford into the Premier League, is interviewed for a feature called “My First …..” where he reveals his first concert was Diana Ross at the NEC in Birmingham, his first film was Jaws, and his first kit was QPR.

The FA Cup Final, where Manchester United beat Newcastle United 2-0, gets a five page round-up, mostly pictures, with quotes, with a page dedicated to a mimute by minute report of the game.

The rest of the magazine is dubbed “Champions Special”, dedicated to teams that have won their league. First up, is Rangers, and a double page interview with Andrei Kanchelskis ahead of the Scottish Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic.

Meanwhile, Sunderland (Division One) Fulham (Division Two) Brentford (Division Three) and Cheltenham (Conference) all get full page reviews of their title winning seasons.

Meanwhile, there is a five page preview of the European Cup Final, focusing on an interview with Ryan Giggs, while Yorke and Cole get a joint interview as well.

Bayern Munich get a full page, written by Steffan Effenberg, listing five reasons why they would win, that they were underdogs, well prepared, good at penalties, under no pressure, and most importantly, United had Roy Keane missing.

It was a bit laughable of Bayern Munich to pretend they were underdogs considering they actually won their group (though both games were draws) ahead of United.

There is a centre page poster for the game, where fans can fill in blank spaces with the team line-ups and goalscorers.

Manchester’s other team, City, also had a big match that week, as they headed to Wembley for the Division Two Play-Off Final, and Match does a double page interview with Nicky Weaver.

But it’s not all about Champions, as Dennis Bergkamp looks back at Arsenal’s season, where they missed out on the title by a point.

Gareth Southgate is interviewed about Aston Villa’s New Year collapse (They were top of the league at Christmas) and heaps praise on youngsters in their team such as Gareth Barry, Lee Hendrie and Darius Vassell.

In the letters page, a West Bromwich Albion fan worries that his side might lose top goalscorer Lee Hughes. He left for Coventry in a big money move in 2001, before returning to Albion, before being sacked by the club after being sentence to prison for causing death by dangerous driving.

In other letters, a young Wigan Athletic fan suggests that the town’s football team are in the process of becoming more high profile than it’s rugby team.

This week, is also one of the very first weeks where you contribute to Match’s letters page via e-mail. Modern technology.

Meanwhile, you could do a quiz on Aston Villa right-back Steve Watson, if you wanted.

Talking of quizzes, Karl-Heinz Reidle took on Gianfranco Zola in a football quiz, with Zola winning 9 (out of 10) to 8.

It was Karl-Heinz Reidle’s inability to answer who got promoted from Division Three that cost him.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 18.4.1981

John Wark, in action with Nottingham Forest’s Stuart Gray, is the cover star of Shoot, previewing cup Semi-Finals in both England and Scotland, as title chasing Ipswich Town face Manchester City at Villa Park.

The editorial, calls for a change in the structure of English football, claiming there are too many games (there were 42 games in England’s top flight that season) as the national team is struggling as a result of players being too tired.

Shoot previews both FA Cup Semi-Finals, making the bold prediction that the final will be Wolves v Ipswich. The final, was Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester City. They also predict that it would be an Old Firm Scottish Cup Final. They were half right, as it was Rangers v Dundee United.

Andy Gray has a column in this edition, focusing on Scotland’s recent World Cup Qualifier against Northern Ireland (which finished 1-1), complaining about the defending for Northern Ireland’s goal, and stating that Scotland were confident of getting a good result in the return game in Belfast (It finished 0-0)

He states that Scotland were happy with two wins and two draws, but had expected the two wins to be at home rather than away.

He also previews the FA Cup Semi-Finals, unsurprisingly predicting his Wolves team would beat Spurs, and that Ipswich would beat Man City. He’s got a future in the punditry game, that boy.

In news, Arsenal are battling with Inter Milan, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Hamburg for Michel Platini, set to leave St Etienne at the end of the season, and TV Commentator Martin Tyler has a book about the history of the FA Cup Final ahead of this year’s game, the 100th FA Cup Final.

For just £1.60 plus P and P, you could have a framed portrait of the 1981 Aston Villa team. To be fair, they did win the league that season.

There is a double page poster of all four FA Cup Quarter-Finals, and the goals which decided them.

Derek Johnstone and Danny McGrain take it in turns to do a Scottish football column for Shoot, and it was Johnstone’s turn, hoping for an Old Firm Scottish Cup Final, so that Rangers could get the chance to avenge their defeat to Celtic in the 1980 final.

There is then a double page poster of the Home Nations (England in a friendly v Spain, Scotland v Northern Ireland and Turkey v Wales World Cup Qualfiers) and Republic of Ireland (v Belgium) internationals. Shoot describes Wales as “The best placed Home Nation to reach the finals”

As it turned out, Wales were the only home nation not to reach the 1982 World Cup finals.

Rotheram United, battling for promotion to the Second Division, get a full page profile, focusing on the success of their young manager, Ian Porterfield, with a team poster overleaf.

After 14 years without the league title, there wasn’t much cheer for Manchester United supporters in 1981, but they did win one trophy that year …….. Shoot’s Best Programme of all England’s top flight clubs.

In 1981, a copy of United Review cost 20p, had 24 pages and only 1 page of adverts.

Meanwhile, Shoot does a feature on promising youngsters at West Bromwich Albion dubbed “Atkinson’s Angels” featuring Remi Moses and Bryan Robson. Within six months, Robson, Moses and Atkinson would all have left Albion for Manchester United.

On the back page, there is a profile of Brighton star Steve Foster, pictured with trademark headband, where he reveals his favourite singers are Paul McCartney, George Benson and Dennis Waterman.

THE UEFA 100 CLUB – UPDATED

You may remember a blog on here in September 2010 about something that was then known as “The UEFA 99 Club” based on an article in When Saturday Comes.

Basically, it was one man’s crusade to watch every team who had played in either the European Cup, European Cup Winner’s Cup and UEFA Cup, in the flesh.

Since the article was written SC Braga reached the UEFA Cup Final, so it is now known as The UEFA 100 Club. Obviously, when a club reaches a European Final for the first time, it will become the 101 Club, 102 Club, and so forth.

Living in Northern Ireland, you may think it will be hard to see teams, but if this season’s European draws were kinder, I could have added some. Cliftonville were drawn with Celtic, but i’ve already seen Celtic. Other potential opponents for Cliftonville were Dinamo Tblisi, Dinamo Zagreb (already seen …… twice), Steaua Bucharest, Partizan Belgrade and Slovan Bratislava.

For Linfield, Glentoran and Crusaders, potential UEFA Cup opponents included Malmo and Videoton. If Glentoran had beaten KR last night, they would have played Standard Liege. I might have been tempted along to add them to my list, cheering on Standard Liege, of course.

Linfield’s potential 2nd Round opponents included IFK Gothenborg and Red Star Belgrade.

Regular readers will know that I travel to Edinburgh every August. While i’m there, Hibs play Dundee United, so I can tick them off, a milestone one at that, as it would take me to 30.

In February, i’m thinking of heading to London for a weekend. While i’m there, Everton play Tottenham at White Hart Lane, so I might try and get a ticket for that one. Amazingly, in 20 years of travelling to Old Trafford 2-3 times a year, i’ve never seen Everton.

So, currently, i’m on 29, hopefully at least 31 by the end of the season. Here’s my full list.

Team (Year first seen)

Aberdeen (2011)
Ajax Amsterdam (2012)
Arsenal (2003)
AS Roma (2007)
Aston Villa (1993)
Atletico Madrid (2011)
Barcelona (2011)
Benfica (2000)
Brimingham City (2010)
Celtic (2009)
Chelsea (1997)
Dinamo Zagreb (2008)
FC Porto (2011)
Feyenoord (1999)
Fulham (2001)
Leeds United (1993)
Liverpool (1994)
Manchester City (2000)
Manchester United (1993)
Marseille (1992)
Middlesbrough (1995)
Newcastle United (1993)
Nottingham Forest (1996)
Rangers (2002)
Real Madrid (2003)
SC Braga (2011)
Tottenham Hotspur (2010)
West Ham United (1997)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (2010)

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : VOX – NOVEMBER 1994

Dolores O’Riodan is the cover star as Vox celebrates it’s 50th edition.

The main features, however, were of Blur and REM. Guitarist Peter Buck comments “I Shudder to think that I might be playing in stadiums when i’m 51, like the Stones”

When Peter Buck was 51 (2007), REM were still doing stadium gigs.

This month saw the launch of a column where musicians guest review singles. The honour of the very first one went to Andy Cairns, frontman of Therapy?

To celebrate the 50th edition, Vox asked 90s popstars for their review of the 90s so far, and what they thought would be on the cover of Vox in 2000 (Vox was actually wound up before then)

Noel Gallagher’s 2000 front cover is “OASIS – WHERE ARE THEY NOW?” – the answer would be, releasing their 4th album, while his hopes for the rest of the 90s would be for a second Stone Roses album, Man City to win a trophy and The Verve to do a gig on the moon.

Only one of those events happened, and it was the most far fetched suggestion, Stone Roses releasing a second album.

The Grid, a side project of Soft Cell’s David Ball list Bryan Adams being number one as the worst global event of the 90s, while suggesting that Oasis will be on the cover of Vox in 2000, as “We’ll all be having a 90s revival by then”

Nicky Wire’s Vox cover reply is “Hopefully Vox won’t exist by then” – His hope was correct.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WORLD SOCCER – DECEMBER 1986

Welcome to a new series of The Magazine Archive. Apologies that there hasn’t been one for a while.

Got a full set of 1986 editions of World Soccer at a fair in May, but wanted to get some music magazines as I didn’t want it to be all football.

Was in Manchester recently and picked up some old editions of Q, so here we go.

The first one of this new series is the December 1986 edition of World Soccer, looking back at an eventful year of football, which had a World Cup that summer.

The front cover features Diego Maradona being carried aloft while carrying the World Cup trophy, as photographers try to get a picture.

It reminded of a feature in Four Four Two ten years ago title “100 Greatest Football Pictures”, and 6 or 7 of them were of Maradona. As was written in the feature, it appears no dull pictures of Maradona exist.

Page 3 focused on the World Soccer awards with Diego Maradona, unsurprisingly, winning Footballer Of The Year, with Igor Belanov second.

Pat Jennings was 20th, possibly getting sentimental votes as he retired that year, with his final game taking place in the World Cup Finals, against Brazil ……. on his 41st birthday.

Guy Thys won Manager Of The Year award for leading Belgium to the World Cup Semi-Finals, beating competition from Valeri Lobanovsky and Kenny Dalglish.

The previous year’s winner was 15th ……….. Terry Venables.

Argentina narrowly beat European Cup Winners Cup winner Dynamo Kiev to win the Team Of The Year award which was previously held by Everton.

Despite winning a 5th successive Irish League title in 1986, Linfield were disgracefully not in the Top 20.

The magazine features a double page interview with Diego Maradona, who explains that he grew a beard earlier in the year because his sister wondered what he looked like with a beard.

The other World Cup Final in 1986, the club version got a double page spread, with the writers casting Steau Bucharest in the role of underdogs against River Plate, which turned out to be correct.

The main story in English football got a double page spread as Ron Atkinson was sacked as Manchester United and replace by Aberdeen’s Alex Ferguson.

Ferguson was given a contract until 1990 and a brief to win the title, something which United hadn’t done for 19 years, and given their start to the 1986-1987 season, the wait would extend until 21 years at least.

“United aren’t the only victims of this unpredictable season. Below them are three other once famous and mighty clubs – Chelsea, Manchester City and Newcastle United”

Ironic, that those four clubs now sit at the top of English football when Ferguson celebrated his 25th anniversary in charge of United.

Meanwhile, bizarrely, police entered the pitch at Fratton Park to tell off two players for swearing at the ref.

Meanwhile, in Glasgow, an Old Firm derby match “ended in mayhem” as Celtic have seven players booked and Mo Johnston sent-off in a Skol Cup final defeat to Rangers.

Celtic manager Davie Hay was so angry after the game, he suggested that Celtic should apply to join England’s top flight.

Meanwhile, ten games into the 1986-1987 had Glentoran and Larne joint top, with Portadown second bottom.

That month, Portadown appointed Ronnie McFall as manager, and their fortunes went on an upward trajectory.

YOOCHOOB

Football lovers on Twitter will have noticed in recent weeks, a new account by the name of RetroMBM.

It’s to launch a new football website showcasing videos from “The good ole days”, from the writers of the excellent ‘Joy Of Six‘ on The Guardian website.

I love Youtube, and what I love most is viewing old stuff, such as videos to songs i’ve only ever heard but never seen the video to, news reports of major events in the past, random idents and football matches from yesteryear.

Seeing as this site is setting up, thought i’d share some of my favourite old football videos currently on Youtube, in no specific order.

Trailer for the BBC’s coverage of the 1986 World Cup. They went to a lot of effort building a set which sort of looks like Mexico and hiring Mexican-looking actors to star in it.

ITV’s coverage of the 1982 World Cup, presented by Brian Moore with comedy from Eric Morecambe. In 2010, it was presented by Adrian Chiles with comedy (If you can call it that) from James Corden.

What the fuck went wrong with ITV in the intervening 28 years?

(You may notice Eamonn Holmes in the clip. Didn’t he look like Dimitar Berbatov when he was younger?)

A mundane friendly game from 1998, but worth watching simply for Brian Clough not taking too kindly to Nick Owen correcting him for calling Gary Pallister “McAllister”.

Now, if only someone could write a comedy show about a TV presenter and model it on Nick Owen, possibly presenting a graveyard show on Radio Norwich?

(Also, ever watch a live match from Eastern Europe these days wishing it was in the middle of the afternoon as the ground had no floodlights and with poor sound quality on the commentary? Ain’t modern technological advances shit?)

Amazing Luton Town kit, watch the reaction of the crowd behind the goal when the ball goes in.

Geekgasm alert, amazing ident. One word – GOOOOOALLLLLLACCCCHHHIIOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Bryan Robson makming Diego Maradona look like a little boy. This is why the big European nights at Old Trafford are great occasions.

THIS, is what the new Match of the Day opening credits should have looked like.

English football allowed off UEFA’s naughty step.

UK TV World Cup coverage opening credits. Bet you can remember most of them too. It’s amazing the evolution of them too.

What’s wrong with cutting together a few clips of teams involved in the tournament?

Football advertising in a more innocent age.

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

RETROMBM

West Germany v Holland, Italia 90

Italia 90 ITV End Montage

Oh Pavarotti

Oh ITV4, why won’t you repeat ‘The Big Match’ anymore?

Oh David Icke

Cup Final Build-Up 1983

Cloughie, The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Oh ITV, why can’t you do football coverage like this anymore?

YOUTUBE CHANNELS

Homesdale35

Mattyredman

THE UEFA 99 CLUB

On a long bus journey home from Manchester last week, I purchased a copy of the new edition of When Saturday Comes to pass the time, and there was one article which really caught my attention.

It was one concerning the fact that 99 different clubs have reached a European Final (European Cup, European Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Cup) and one man is on a mission to see them all in action.

His current total is 66 (Exactly 2/3s of the way through) although being a match going Rangers fan gives him a bit of an advantage, where he can see his own team and three SPL rivals on a weekly basis, as well as foreign opponents due to Rangers Euro adventures.

As the bus was still going through Scotland, I decided to see and tick off how many teams on my list, and got a meagre 22 in comparison, but I did get 8 former European Cup winners, including all 5 to come from Britain.

Can’t say i’m planning on making completing this list a life ambition, but just thought it would be fun to compare.

As with any list, there will always be ones that got away, and mine is not different.

Dinamo Tblisi, 1981 European Cup Winners Cup Winners played Linfield in a European Cup tie in 1993, which I wasn’t at. I don’t know why I didn’t go, but I definately know that I didn’t go.

I remember the first leg tie took place on the same night as a midweek Premier League fixture list, and Alan Green broke off from the commentary game to read out the score, adding “We have a great chance in the second leg with that away goal”

For a 10 year old, having Linfield getting a shout out on Five Live seemed quite exciting.

Linfield lost the tie 3-2, but Tblisi were thrown out for trying to bribe the official, and Linfield went through to face FC Copenhagen, who snuck through to face AC Milan.

If it wasn’t for that cheating bastard ref and his 6 minutes of injury time, I could have had 23 teams on my list.

In 17 years of going to Old Trafford 2-3 times a season, I have seen a wide variety of teams, but Everton are not one of them. For some reason, i’ve never seen them play at Old Trafford.

I was planning to see them in 2001, but that trip got cancelled and I got another game in compensation. I declined the opportunity to see them face a Northern Ireland XI in 2007 as it was only half a team playing, with the other half playing a friendly against Bury the same day.

2009 UEFA Cup Winners Shaktar Donesk played a European Cup Winners Cup tie at Windsor Park in 1995, but with the Ukranians leading 4-1 from the first leg, I decided to give it a miss. If only i’d known the success they would have in 14 years time.

Red Star Belgrade were the biggest miss for me. In 1991, they were reigning European Cup winners, and they began their defence in Portadown.

I wanted to go, but my dad wouldn’t take me. It was a school night, end of debate.

The first team on the list I saw was Marseille in 1992, the most recent Birmingham City and Wolves in 2010.

I’ll definately be adding Tottenham Hotspur at the end of October, and hopefully Barcelona and Athletico Madrid in February. Maybe one day, i’ll be able to add Linfield.

Feel free to post your own totals

Team (Year first seen)

Arsenal (2003)
AS Roma (2007)
Aston Villa (1993)
Benfica (2000)
Brimingham City (2010)
Celtic (2009)
Chelsea (1997)
Dynamo Zagreb (2008)
Feyenoord (1999)
Fulham (2001)
Leeds United (1993)
Liverpool (1994)
Manchester City (2000)
Manchester United (1993)
Marseille (1992)
Middlesbrough (1995)
Newcastle United (1993)
Nottingham Forest (1996)
Rangers (2002)
Real Madrid (2003)
West Ham United (1997)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (2010)

THE DIMITAR BERBATOV SHOW (OR, SEPTEMBER SHENANIGANS)

Was over in Manchester at the weekend for my first United game of the season, and my word, I picked a cracker, taking in the Dimitar Berbatov inspired 3-2 win over Liverpool.

It was the first time i’d taken in a United game against Liverpool since 1994, which was a rarity in this fixture, a Saturday 3pm fixture.

I’d actually turned down the chance to see United play Liverpool in April 2004. That game clashed with Linfield’s final day title showdown with Glentoran, there was only going to be one winner.

United lost, Linfield won (the game, and title) so it turned out to be the right decision. Incidentally, that game I turned down the chance to see was the last Saturday 3pm kick-off between United and Liverpool.

Shocking weather travelling over, it didn’t get much better on matchday, getting totally drenched, killing off any chances of dandering into Manchester City Centre.

It was strange, as the third Weekend in September in recent years always seemed to be gloriously sunny.

In 2007, I took advantage of Linfield not playing to go and check out some murals on the Shankill Road.

In 2008, I took advantage of Linfield playing, on the seaside, to see a 5-0 win at Bangor. Big crowd (in a small ground though), sunny weather and a 5-0 Linfield win, what’s not to like?

Last year, I spent this weekend at perhaps the greatest Manchester derby of all.

So, this game, had a lot to live up to.

The match itself was unremarkable for 40 minutes until Berbatov headed United in front.

His overhead kick for the second had to be seen to be believed. I was behind that goal, in a low seat, and once he hit it, you knew it was going to be a goal.

Unfortunately, rather than witnessing a routine and comfortable (But enjoyable, United beating Liverpool is ALWAYS enjoyable) win, United’s new found ability this season to self-destruct defensively saw it being a more exciting game than it should have been.

The reflief, when Berbatov scored was clear for all to see. I managed to capture a photo of it, which has become my most active post on my fledgling Tumblr account.

Now, Berbatov could do no wrong, a stark contrast from the reaction of fans after the last United game I was at, at Blackburn in April, when he was singled out for an ineffective display leading the line in the absence of the injured Wayne Rooney.

Berbatov was signed to deliver in the big and important games, and he didn’t at Ewood Park (That game, rather than the defeat to Chelsea the week before, was the one that cost United the 2010 title) but made up for it big time on Sunday,

It also meant I kept up my proud record of never having seen United lose at Old Trafford in person, although I did see United lose a fiendly to an International XI at Winsdor Park in 1995, and a league game at Ewood Park in 2006.

My next United game will be the game against Spurs at the end of October (I’ve actually got a bit of a record of missing out on seeing Spurs, but i’ll save that for the photoblog of that game) but until then, i’ll have to make do with the hustle and bustle of the Irish League (with a corproate view of Northern Ireland v Italy inbetween)

Having been to the second biggest game in British football, my next football match will be the biggest game in British football (possibly even World football)

For once, when Sky introduce a match as “Live, from the greatest league in the world”, they can actually justify it.

You shouldn’t really have to ask what it is.

So, when thinking of the three greatest hat-tricks in football history (Glenn Ferguson v Glentoran 2005, David Healy v Spain 2006, Dimitar Berbatov v Liverpool 2010), I can say, I was there.

What beating Liverpool means. Check out the guy in the red hat, he is loving it.

Beatles related graffiti in North-West Belfast. Exact location unknown.

Linfield fans at Bangor in 2008

YES!!! Wayne Rooney scoring against Manchester City in 2009

Old Trafford, September 1994

Ryan Giggs, September 1994

More photos from United v Liverpool