2022 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

October was a busy month, right from the very start, heading to Dungannon on the first day of the month to see Linfield get a win at Stangmore Park.

That was followed a few days later by another away day, to a very wet Wilgar Park to see Linfield grind out a 1-0 win over Dundela.

The following night, it was the Ulster Hall to see Beabadoobee in concert.

Back on the road the following Saturday to see Linfield draw with Coleraine.

Then it was back to Ulster Hall to see Paul Weller.

Two days after that, it was Linfield v Glentoran, the less said of that the better.

The following day was a lot more enjoyable, making the most of a football free Saturday to check out Murlough Bay.

Over the next seven days came two Linfield home matches, against Glenavon and Larne.

The following week, I was off to Manchester, my first visit to see Erik Ten Hag’s United in the flesh, against Sheriff Tiraspol.

While I was there, I got some photos from a stroll along a canal, some Street Art (of course) and a walk up Hartshead Pike.

The month ended with a trip to Newry to see Linfield get some much needed three points.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Dundela v Linfield

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall

Beabadoobee live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall

Paul Weller live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve

Murlough Bay Nature Reserve Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Linfield v Larne

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester Canal Walk

Manchester Canal Walk Photo Album

Manchester United v Sheriff Tiraspol

Manchester Untied v Sheriff Tiraspol Photo Album

Hartshead Pike

Hartshead Pike Photo Album

Newry City v Linfield

MANCHESTER UNITED 3-0 SHERIFF TIRASPOL 27.10.2022

First trip to Old Trafford of the season, and my first time seeing Erik Ten Hag’s United in the flesh.

Things were a lot different from my last visit in August 2021 to see United thrash Leeds 5-1, and not in a good way.

It was supposed to be the launchpad to a season of glory, instead it was a false dawn.

Ralf Rangnick became the first United Manager since Ron Atkinson that I never saw one of his teams play in the flesh. You could say that I had a lucky escape.

I was looking at going to Brighton in the first weekend of May this year and trying to blag a ticket for the game at The Amex, having been to Brighton six months earlier.

I went to Edinburgh instead. That was a very very lucky escape, even if I did end up going to a rather drab game between Livingston and St Johnstone.

My first visit to see Ten Hag’s United was always going to be a European game.

One good thing about playing in the UEFA Cup (probably the only good thing) is that Thursday night games are a convenient short break.

This season’s scheduling being all over the place due to the World Cup meant that all the groups had to be wrapped up by early November, which meant the bargains on hotels and flights due to long lead times between draw and fixtures might not be there.

Although, I had to choose what match I wanted to go to.

My first choice was Omonia Nicosia, but I wanted to do a trip from Wednesday to Friday instead of Thursday (the day of the match) to Friday.

The problem with that, was that I was going to a Paul Weller concert the night before the Omonia Nicosia game, so Sheriff Tiraspol it was.

United were as good as through before the match, one point would have sealed the deal, but it was three that they really needed.

A restructuring of the competition gives teams more motivation to win their group, as group winners go straight into the Last 16, while runners-up face a Play-Off against a team that has dropped down from the European Cup.

With United trailing Real Sociedad by three points, they simply couldn’t afford to drop any points if they wanted to avoid that Play-Off Round.

Not that they would be putting their feet up on those two free midweeks, which will probably be used to play the postponed League games against Crystal Palace and Leeds United.

It turned out to be a mostly full strength United line-up.

The only name who might not have been overly familiar was Alejandro Garnacho. By the end of the game, he certainly was.

A highly rated youngster, he was given his first start after a handful of substitute appearances.

He’ll certainly be getting more starts soon on the basis of this performance, making things happen when he got the ball, skinning players for fun and an end product.

There wasn’t long to wait for that prediction, scoring a futile winner away to Real Sociedad.

Unsurprisingly, the early minutes of the game was all United pressure.

Bruno Fernandes had United’s first attempt on goal, curling an effort just wide.

Ronaldo was denied from close range by Sheriff’s keeper making himself big, before later getting down to save a shot from Christian Eriksen.

Of course, if you don’t take your chances, there’s always a risk you can get caught out at the opposite end.

That was what almost happened when a cross came in from the left, perfect for a striker to get on the end of it, but thankfully there was no striker on the end of it.

Just when it looked like being a frustrating half for United, they finally made the breakthrough in the final minute, when Diogo Dalot headed home from a corner.

At the goal I was sitting behind, which was a relief.

The early minutes of the second-half were all about Ronaldo.

Cutting inside and creating a shooting opportunity for himself just like in the old days. Just as you expected to put the ball in the back of the net, the ball went wide.

Soon after, he put the ball in the back of the net, but was denied by an offside flag.

It was Marcus Rashford, on as a half-time sub who wrapped the game up with a header. That was the three points secured, even if the lead wasn;t conclusive, there was no way Sheriff were going to score two. Even one was looking too much.

Ronaldo finally got his goal, only after his header was saved, he was quickest to the rebound to make it 3-0.

Scott McTominay was denied in injury time with a header saved at point blank by the keeper.

Three goals was enough for the three points, now attention turned to the group decider against Real Sociedad.

So, what to make of Erik Ten Hag so far?

Apart from the false start, it’s been good.

United actually playing with some balls and standing up to their detractors.

Let’s just pretend that City game never happened.

The way this season is structured has favoured.

In a normal season, there would have been an International Break after the win at Southampton, then the wins against Leicester City and Arsenal would have been postponed due to The Queen dying.

Game after game allows them to develop, and getting Europe out of the way very quickly has been helpful, although the two extra games in February less so.

Hopefully, they’ll be able to hit the ground running after the World Cup. They’ll have to.

Friendlies in mid December will be helpful to ease themselves back in.

My next scheduled trip to Old Trafford is for the Wolves match in May 2023, all being well.

Old Trafford wasn’t the only ground I visited during my time in the North-West of England.

On my flight in, I saw Edgley Park, University Of Bolton Stadium and Boundary Park from the Sky.

At ground level, I took a day trip to Altrincham and took a nosey to Moss Lane as I wasn’t far from it, and I saw Seel Park, home of Mossley when I walked up Hartshead Pike.

You can read about that walk on the next blog.

As you will have read on my previous blog, I went on a Canal Walk that led me to the City Of Manchester Stadium.

I was hoping to try and take in a game on the free Wednesday night I was there.

Annoyingly, Altrincham were playing Oldham on the Tuesday night I was there.

Sheffield Wednesday were at home. It was doable, but an early flight, checking in, it would have been only a brief visit to Sheffield, and Sheffield is a city that deserves a full day visit.

It’s easy to forget, I was there to see United.

Let’s hope things will continue to be going upwards when I hopefully visit to see them play Wolves in May.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

August’s football watching began with Linfield in Europe. Yay, but not for long after defeat to Fola Esch.

The following week, I was at Old Trafford for the first time since January 2020 to see United take on Leeds.

Finally, the new Irish League season began at the end of the month, with Linfield taking on Crusaders.

Linfield v Fola Esch

Manchester United v Leeds United

Manchester United v Leeds United Photo Album

Linfield v Crusaders

2021 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August is usually a busy month. It didn’t have a trip to Edinburgh as usual, but it did have a trip to Manchester to see United take on Leeds, and of course, get some Street Art pictures.

The week before that, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Fola Esch in the Euro Conference League. The less said about that the better.

Towards the end of the month, I took in another trip, this time to County Wicklow, getting pictures of the Bray To Greystones Walk, Bray Head, Bray Harbour and of Street Art in Dun Laoghaire.

On the final Saturday of the month, I was back in Irish League watching mode, seeing Linfield take on Crusaders at Windsor Park on the opening day of the season.

Linfield v Fola Esch

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Leeds United

Manchester United v Leeds United Photo Album

Bray To Greystones Walk

Bray To Greystones Walk Photo Album

Bray Head

Bray Head

Bray Head Photo Album

Bray Harbour

Bray Harbour Photo Album

Dun Laoghaire Street Art

Dun Laoghaire Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Crusaders

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MANCHESTER UNITED – MAY 1997

Breakout star of the season, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the cover star of Manchester United’s official magazine in a month where United are hoping to win a second successive title.

The magazine reports on organisational problems at United’s away European Cup game against Porto, with a series of questions that the club believe need answered.

The second leg against Porto gets reviewed, with matters on and off the pitch being covered, as well as a preview of the Semi-Final against Borussia Dortmund.

United’s other games in March get reviewed, League matches against Sunderland, Sheffield Wednesday and Everton.

We even get a rare treat in this edition, a Paul Scholes interview.

The magazine ends with a Q and A with Chris Casper.

MANCHESTER UNITED 5-1 LEEDS UNITED 14.8.2021

I had resigned myself that 2021 would be the first year since 1992 that I wouldn’t visit Old Trafford, but the opportunity to take in the opening game of the season against Leeds United came up, so I went for it, even though I did have anxieties about attending such a large scale event.

A lot of things have changed since my last visit to Old Trafford in January 2020, a 2-0 defeat to Burnley. It was grim.

My recent United watching record isn’t great, with two defeats in my last three visits to Old Trafford, and just one win in four under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

He’d won every match in charge before I turned up against Burnley in January 2019. Don’t look at me as it it’s all my fault.

Things were to change a week after that Burnley with the signing of Bruno Fernandes. It’s not just his footballing ability, but his character, which has driven United forward.

That is what United have needed, a bit of balls and a bit of arrogance. In 2017-2018, they beat every side in the Premier League, then beat Juventus and PSG the following season, yet still seemed inhibited, allowing themselves to be gaslighted by Scouse Journalists that they were a club in crisis, a club in decline.

Liverpool were scraping 4th on the last day of the season, but sticking slogans on buses and acting like they’ve won The Treble every year for a decade.

It’s amazing what a positive mental attitude can do. It’s felt like at times that teams have been scared of Liverpool and Manchester City.

United needed to issue a few thrashings early in the season, although a 1-0 lead would have sufficed in this fixture.

This wouldn’t be my first time seeing Leeds at Old Trafford. Curiously, the previous time i’d taken in this fixture, it was on Saturday 14th August as well, in 1999.

Back then, David O’Leary’s young team were going to be the team were going to be the Team Of The 21st Century, taking on the newly crowned Treble winners.

That game too was a lunchtime kick-off, although I only found that out when I got my ticket the day before. It was moved on Police advice, as it wasn’t broadcast live in the UK, so i’d assumed it would be 3pm.

Leeds were actually the better team but it was two quickfire goals from Dwight Yorke that secured the points for the home side on a day which saw both sunshine and torrential rain.

This would be my first time seeing Bruno Fernandes in the flesh, but it wouldn’t be my first time seeing Edinson Cavani in a United shirt, with a late return after the Copa America and Quarantine ruling him out.

There would be no new signings in United’s starting eleven, beginning with players who were at the club last season.

Just before kick-off, Raphael Varane walked out onto the pitch to introduce himself to United fans, his transfer now being officially official.

You can’t be too sure. I was there when Ruud Van Nistelrooy was unveiled as a United player, only for concerns to be raised about his knee during a medical which caused United to pull out of a transfer. Although, it was all eventually sorted a year later.

At least Varane didn’t go out in a tracksuit top and shorts, juggling a football like Michael Knighton.

Involvement in England’s Euro 2021 campaign meant that Jadon Sancho had to make do with a place on the bench alongside Tom Heaton. It just would have been rude not to mention Tom Heaton amongst United’s Summer signings.

Inside the first couple of minutes, Scott McTominay burst forward and had a shot saved, obviously determined to repeat his early double in this fixture last season.

United’s biggest attacking threat in the early stages was Mason Greenwood, usually involved in everything, being available for a pass, and scaring Leeds defenders by running them. A few shots easily saved was a warning.

Greenwood was one of three Yorkshire born players in United’s starting eleven. They all seemed especially up for it, typified by Dan James going in for a crunching tackle inside the first five minutes.

United’s early pressure looked like it was going to be rewarded when Paul Pogba was played through, set himself up with the keeper closing him down. but fired wide when Old Trafford was expecting a goal

More agonisingly for United was the number of crosses that were just evading the oncoming attacker.

Leeds weren’t totally anonymous as an attacking threat, the best they offered was a shot from Mateusz Klich that was turned out for a corner.

Eventually, United’s pressure was rewarded when Bruno Fernandes was played in behind Leeds defence, his first time shot eventually sneaking into the net, just as it looked like Leeds keeper had done enough to save it.

United were on a roll, with Dan James just firing wide, looking to silence chants from the away ned of “You’re too shit to play for Leeds”. He was doing well enough in this game for United.

Luke Shaw was continuing his good form, being mostly based on the left hand side, just outside Leeds penalty area, such was the one way traffic as United went into the break 1-0 up.

A satisfactory first-half for United, but they needed a second (maybe even a third) goal just to have of breathing space.

There would be a goal early in the second-half, but it would come for Leeds, a long range strike from Luke Ayling that nobody saw coming to make it 1-1.

Now this was a test for United. Which way was this going to go?

Too many times in the past eight years, it has gone the wrong way.

The response from United was emphatic.

Within a matter of minutes, they were back in front when Mason Greenwood got in behind Leeds defence and fired home. There wasn’t even a debate about the outcome, despite the wide angle.

It was a continuation of Greenwood’s impressive form at the end of last season. Even more impressive that it was an injury that disrupted him inbetween as opposed to the close season.

Long may that continue, especially with Marcus Rashford and Edinson Cavani currently unavailable.

Soon afterwards, it was 3-1, when Bruno Fernandes dummied to shoot, took Leeds keeper out of the game, despite an attempted clearance by a Leeds defender, who was behind the line rather than on it.

Due to this, there was a slight delay in Old Trafford’s celebrations.

And then, it was 4-1, Bruno Fernandes got in behind Leeds defence and smashed home. Start as you mean to go on.

1-1 to 4-1 in eight minutes. Now that’s what I call a statement of intent..

United weren’t finished there, as Fred fired home to make it 5-1, and four goals in sixteen minutes, an average of a goal every four minutes.

If they started the game like this, they would have won 22-0, and might have made it 23-0 depending on the amount of injury time. Might as well find something to complain about.

Do you remember when Paul Scholes scored a volley from a corner against Bradford City?

Well, time to feel old. That’s the day that Jadon Sancho was born.

With the three points in the bag, it was time to bring him on. He showed some neat touches, but the attacking intensity was there like it was earlier in the game due to the game being won. A nice way to ease yourself in.

It looked liked Leeds were going to get a goal back when Raphina fired wide with only De Gea to beat.

So, a good start for United. Long may it continue.

It is important to dish out a few thrashings to bring about a fear factor, so this was welcome.

When will I be back at Old Trafford? I’m not sure.

I do have my eye on the Brighton game before Christmas, but i’ll monitor how things are going before deciding.

It was hoped that this would be my second United game of the season, after taking in the European Super Cup Final against Chelsea.

The less said about why United weren’t playing in that, the better.

Hopefully, this will put Windsor Park in a good position to bid to host the Euro Conference Final in the next few years.

And talking of the Euro Conference, for crying out loud Linfield, just put the ball in the back of the net. We should have beaten Fola Esch comfortable.

To make it worse, we got denied a Thursday afternoon game I could watch while working. The dream. Oh well, onto Crusaders at the end of the month.

Normally, at this time of year, I go to Edinburgh, but I gave it a miss as the city will be a free for all. I do hope to visit Scotland at some point in the next six months. I think i’ll live at missing out on Hibs v Kilmarnock and Edinburgh City v Hearts B.

As i’m going to Brighton in November, it means i’ll miss out on Northern Ireland v Italy as I leave that day.

I’ll take it on a game by game basis for Switzerland and Lithuania.

Honestly, I can’t say i’d feel totally confident at being around some of our support in this current situation.

You know the sort, The Rugby Brigade. Football matches are the only time they’re allowed out of the house, so they get so full they can’t walk an hour before kick-off, shout “GREEN AND WHITE ARMY” out of tune and can’t sit in the correct seat. Probably think they are a “geg”.

Definitely go on the Beer Bikes once a month and RT posts by LAD. Geg.

Eighteen months into this, i’m pretty good at identifying people who look they are riddled and to be avoided. They fall into that category. An absolute embarrassment.

I know that every team has embarrassing supporters, but this lot are next level.

Let’s face it, Eventsec won’t do anything about them.

Finally, i’m quite excited about visiting Harland and Wolff’s new ground.

The big opening should have been a few weeks back, but they’ve been switching their games.

Good job I spotted that on Twitter as I was tempted to go to their match against Newry a few weeks back.

The new date is set for September. I’m sure things will align where they will be at home when Linfield have a free Saturday.

Pre-season for Linfield will conclude with a friendly against Dungannon Swifts on Saturday. I’ll give that a miss.

Now, if they could arrange one away to Bray when i’m there next week.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : UNITED – JANUARY 2001

Roy Keane is the cover star of Manchester United’s official magazine as a new year begins with him giving them an exclusive interview.

United’s latest debutant is featured, Luke Chadwick, having made his first appearance for the club in the League Cup against Watford.

In news, Paul Scholes has backed Roy Keane over his comments on atmosphere at Old Trafford, making his infamous “Prawn sandwich” comment.

Cover star Keane gets an interview where he tackles his prawn sandwich comment and his temper.

United are back in the FA Cup after a year out, and there is a profile of United’s most memorable 3rd Round ties, as they prepare to take on Portsmouth at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex Ferguson uses his column to talk about United’s recently blooded youngsters, stating he would not hesitate to throw John O’Shea or Luke Chadwick into further first-team action.

Mikael Silvestre gets a four page profile after finding his best form after a difficult start at Old Trafford.

There is a review of recent matches, including a 1-0 win at Maine Road, the first Manchester Derby since April 1996.

And, of course, previews of upcoming games over a busy Christmas/New Year period.

The magazine ends with George Best’s column, where he compliments United’s ball retention.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : CHARLES BUCHAN’S FOOTBALL MONTHLY – MAY 1969

We go back to the end of the 1960s this week, to Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly, which is set to preview the last FA Cup Final of the decade.

There is a four page feature on Leeds United, who are described as “Champions elect”, which turned out to be an accurate description.

There is also an article on the organisation of the FA Cup Final. Manchester City were in the final, having defeated the previous season’s finalists Everton in the Semi-Final.

They would meet either Leicester City or holders West Bromwich Albion. Leicester won that match, meaning both the previous season’s finalists lost in the Semi-Final.

There is a double page feature on British teams in Europe, with Manchester United (European Cup) and Newcastle United and Rangers (UEFA Cup) advancing to the Semi-Finals, but there were Quarter-Final exits for Celtic (European Cup) and Leeds United (UEFA Cup)

Elsewhere, there is a photo special on Benfica’s exit to Ajax in the Quarter-Finals.

Celebrating silverware was Swindon Town, and their win over Arsenal in the League Cup Final gets a double page profile.

Dunfermline Athletic get a feature, dubbed “THE PROUD PROVINCIALS” after winning the Scottish Cup and then reachign the Semi-Finals of the European Cup Winners Cup, and have ambitions to go even higher.

Dunfermline’s replacement as Scottish Cup winners will be Rangers or Celtic, who meet in the final, which gets previewed.

Hungarian referee Istvan Zsolt gets interviewed, where he reveals that he is a fan of British football.

There are adverts in this magazine for other publications such as Goal and Melody Maker.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MANCHESTER UNITED – NOVEMBER 1999

David Beckham is the cover star of Manchester United’s official magazine as the Winter of 1999 has arrived.

Talking of Beckham, the magazine reveals, exclusively, that David Beckham will be crowned European Football Of The Year this year.

With United due to play Palmieras in the World Club Cup, Nobby Stiles looks back at his experiences of playing in it for United, a two legged home and away competition in them days.

Cover star Beckham gets a three page interview.

United have made three new signings since the last magazine – Mikael Silvestre, Massimo Taibi and Quinton Fortune, and they are all profiled in a nine page special pull-out.

There is a look back at recent matches, where United made progress in their European Cup group, but dropped points domestically and fell off the top of the League, while there is also a look at the TV highlights amongst the programming on MUTV.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : INSIDE UNITED – OCTOBER 2006

Having signed for Manchester United that summer, Michael Carrick is the cover star of Inside United in the early months of the 2006-2007 season, in his first major interview since joining the club.

Sir Alex Ferguson takes questions from fans, stating that he believed that of the other clubs, Portsmouth have made the best signings of the summer.

United’s Champions League group gets previewed and there are familiar opponents – Benfica, who put them out of the groups the previous season, and Celtic, who they had already met in an end of season friendly and pre-season friendly in 2006.

As the new season is just starting, there is a behind the scenes feature on United’s team photo for 2006-2007.

One player looking to feature in 2006-2007 is Alan Smith, and he gives an interview as he looks to recover from a long term injury suffered earlier in the year.

There is a look at transfers done by United, Thomas Kuszczak has come in, and various players have went out on loan such as Phil Bardsley and Gerard Pique.

Brian McClair’s column focuses on United’s pre-season, where he bumped into fans on the Metro in Amsterdam.

Carrick’s interview gets four pages, where he states he has signed for United to win things.

There is four pages of coverage, mostly photos, of the pre-season tour to South Africa.

One of United’s other teams gets featured, their Masters Team, as they play a Veterans Tournament against other North-West sides.

United’s opponents in October get previewed.

The magazine ends with XFM DJ Paul Tomkinson talking about his love of United.