PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : APRIL/MAY

April’s football watching began with a trip to Mourneview Park on Easter Tuesday to see Linfield grind out a 3-2 win away to Glenavon.

That was followed on the Saturday afterwards by going to see Linfield beat Ballymena United 2-0.

Good start to the month, but that was as good as it got, as Linfield could only managed one point from their next three games against Crusaders, Coleraine and Cliftonville, which would cause them to eventually miss out on European football.

There was only one match for me in May, a trip to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on Watford.

And that, was the 2017-2018 over for me.

Here’s to more football and photos in 2018-2019.

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester United v Watford

Manchester United v Watford Photo Album

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PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : NOVEMBER

November’s football watching began with a long trip to Fermanagh to see Linfield beat Ballinamallard 6-0 in the pouring rain.

Up next, was Northern Ireland’s World Cup Play-Off against Switzerland. The following day, I headed to Ballymena to see Linfield take on Ballymena, giving me two disappointing results on successive days.

Results took an upturn in the final weeks of the month, as I headed to see Linfield beat the top two in the League, Coleraine and Glenavon, in successive weeks.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Switzerland

Northern Ireland v Switzerland Photo Album

Ballymena United v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Glenavon v Linfield

GLENAVON 2-3 LINFIELD 3.4.2018

Linfield faced Glenavon on Easter Tuesday, just as they did last year. The goal was a lot different.

You’ll be hearing comparisons to last year, it’s the same fixture list. Curiously, the venues for all five games are different from last year.

The goal for Linfield was now 3rd place, which would guarantee European football if Coleraine win the Irish Cup.

Linfield were sandwiched in 4th, three points behind Glenavon and two ahead of Cliftonville. A win for Linfield would see them level on points with Glenavon. A three goal win for Linfield would see them overtake Glenavon. Most of us would be happy with just a one goal win.

It wasn’t just a new housing development near Mourneview Park called Linen Fields as they walked to the ground (Yes, a housing development near a football ground named after a rival team) that made Linfield fans feel at home, it was four wins and a draw from their last five visits to Lurgan.

There were two changes to Linfield’s starting eleven, both enforced through suspensions, with Josh Robinson coming in for Jimmy Callacher and Andrew Mitchell coming in for Robert Garrett.

Linfield started the game on the attack, resulting in Kirk Millar getting in behind Glenavon’s defence inside the first minute, only to be denied by a tackle, which fell to Stephen Lowry, whose shot was saved, then hit the post, before a Mark Haughey shot went behind for a corner. Linfield’s season summed up in one move.

The positive was, Linfield were up for it and Glenavon looked off the pace. Linfield had to take advantage of it.

That is what they did from the resulting corner, when Mark Stafford headed goalwards. It probably would have been cleared, but for Kurtis Byrne finishing it off and heading home from a few yards out to give Linfield the lead.

Linfield didn’t stop there, continuing to attack Glenavon. Just like in the meeting at Mourneview in November, Glenavon’s defence were in fear of Andrew Waterworth, panicking every time the ball went near him, or he went near them in search of the ball.

He knew there was a goal, or goals, to be had for him.

Andrew Mitchell was next on the scoresheet. Unfortunately, it was the Glenavon one and not the Linfield one.

It was Glenavon’s first real attack of note, a simple header won and an easy finish from close range.

Linfield dusted themselves down and were straight on the attack, winning a corner.

That corner was punched clear to Andrew Mitchell, the Linfield one. He had the option of a first time cross or a pass to Niall Quinn, who was free and in space.

Mitchell went for the cross, but it was poor. He got lucky though, as the clearance fell to Niall Quinn, whose cross was headed home by Andrew Waterworth to put Linfield back in front.

That lead saw some moments of threat during the rest if the half, with Matthew Clarke having to make a goal line clearance, while Andrew Mitchell headed over in the final moments of the half.

Glenavon started the second-half strongly, Linfield couldn’t get out of their half. It was no surprise when Glenavon made it 2-2 on 54 minutes when Bobby Burns finished a cross from close range.

Glenavon had all the momentum and looked set to go on and win the game. Or so they thought.

Straight from kick-off, Linfield were straight on the attack, and a low cross found Stephen Lowry, who scored from the rebound after his shot was saved.

Incredibly, Linfield had scored just over a minute after the game kicked off, for the third time.

If you were to compile a list of the silliest games in the Irish League over the past four years, Glenavon would feature prominently. This was another to add to the list.

Linfield have more than enough silly games this season. Thankfully, they were on the right side of the silliness.

Linfield needed a two goal lead just to be sure. They had a glorious opportunity when Andrew Waterworth was played through.

He had two options, to finish low, or to pass it left and give Niall Quinn an open net. He did neither, as Tuffey saved his shot.

Linfield fans had a sense of deja vu. We’d seen this all before. We knew what the ending wuld be. A last minute Glenavon equaliser, and we’d all be ruing that missed opportunity.

Glenavon had attempts on goal, but nothing that worried Linfield. The only real moment of worry came a Glenavon threw himself to the ground after a cross in injury time. You are always that way with Irish League referees.

Linfield had their chances on the counter, with Andrew Waterworth and Niall Quinn hitting the side netting from tight angles.

Linfield weren’t to regret those chances, as they saw out the game to win 3-2. It wasn’t the three goal win that would have put them 3rd, but it did put them level with Glenavon. Cliftonville won 3-0 away to Ballymena to remain two points clear of Cliftonville. It’s just as tight between 3rd and 5th as it is between 1st and 2nd.

The three goals that separate Linfield and Glenavon are more than retrievable. Unfortunately, so are the three goals and two points that separate Linfield and Cliftonville.

There’s even the possibility that Linfield and Cliftonville could be level on points with identical records. Imagine if they finished joint 3rd and Coleraine win the Irish Cup. That would be some fun arranging a Play-Off to avoid playing in the UEFA Cup Play-Offs.

Realistically, it’s between Linfield and Cliftonville for 3rd. Glenavon look shot.

After the game, Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton criticised the referee’s performance. But he definitely definitely definitely wasn’t putting the referee under pressure for Glenavon’s next match.

I doubt Coleraine fans were too unhappy to hear his comments.

One result that did work in Linfield’s favour on Saturday was Crusaders drawing 1-1 at home to Coleraine. It keeps the title race alive, which is handy as Crusaders face Glenavon and Coleraine face Cliftonville on Saturday. Meanwhile, Linfield are at home to Ballymena United.

You would expect at least one of Glenavon and Cliftonville, possibly both, to fail to win. Saturday’s fixtures represent a great opportunity for Linfield to get points on the board in the race for 3rd. We have to take advantage of it.

The Saturday before this saw the Irish Cup Semi-Finals go the way as expected. Cliftonville’s game against Loughgall was always going to be unbearable, whatever the result.

The fact that Cliftonville had the game won in six minutes made the Quarter-Final worse. That really was one thrown away.

Hopefully, by the time the Irish Cup Final comes around, Linfield will be in a position to have some benefit of Coleraine.

What will I be doing that day? Going to see David Hepworth at CQAF.

Slightly off topic, but i’ve got a real random urge to go travelling somewhere. I don’t know where, but I just want to go somewhere.

One trip i’m hoping to do in August, isn’t too far, but needs a few things to fall into place.

Embrace are confirmed as headlining Stendhal Festival in Limavady in August. Now, I just need a few things to fall into place. I would need it to be Saturday 11th August, and for Linfield to be away to Institute that day. That would be a very tempting day trip. Then I just need to sort out accommodation.

Last Sunday, Sunday Life reporting that the UEFA Cup Play-Offs would be taking place at Windsor Park on Saturday 12th May, a day long event of football at Windsor Park with the first match kicking off at 12pm and the last game at 7.45pm, meaning teams having two or possibly three games in one day.

And then you check the date, Sunday 1st April. April Fool. The worrying thing is, this is Irish League football, you could almost believe somebody proposed it.

And so, we leave on a sad note, with the death of Adam Coates, the voice of Irish League football when I was growing up.

I remember at The Oval, they wouldn’t bother playing music at half-time, but just play Sportsound over the tannoy, and when they did the half-time report of the match at The Oval, the fans of the team that were winning would let out a big roar when the score was announced.

Photo Album

2017 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER 2017

November began with a long trip to Fermanagh to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard. It was raining goals and raining rain as Linfield won 6-0.

From going West, it was going East that was next on my agenda, as Northern Ireland took on Switzerland with the aim of going to Russia. They lost 1-0.

The following day, it was a trip to Ballymena, to see Linfield lose 2-1.

The following Friday, the entertainment was of a musical variety, as The Killers came to The Odyssey.

The photos continued on a musical theme, getting photos of a Run DMC mural in Belfast, as well as some Street Art beside Apache.

It was back to football, seeing Linfield beat Coleraine and Glenavon.

The last day of the month saw me cycle to Lisburn to get some Street art photos, including a mural of Top Cat.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Switzerland

Northern Ireland v Switzerland Photo Album

Ballymena United v Linfield

The Killers live at The Odyssey

The Killers live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Run DMC/Apache Mural

Run DMC Mural Photo Album

Apache Mural Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Glenavon v Linfield

Lisburn Street Art

Lisburn Street Art Photo Album

2017 IN PICTURES – APRIL

April began for me with a trip to Lurgan for the Irish Cup Semi-Final, to see Linfield secure a late 1-0 win over Dungannon Swifts.

The following weekend was another 1-0 win for Linfield and just as important, a League win against Crusaders that blew the title race wide open.

April saw the launch of a new mural in Belfast City Centre, in the Cathedral Quarter, which I went and got photos of.

On Easter Saturday, I headed to Ballymena to see Linfield beat Ballymena 2-0.

On Easter Monday, I cycled to Lisburn to get some Street Art photos from the City Centre.

The following night, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield secure vital win over Glenavon.

On the following Saturday, the football continued, heading Coleraine to see Linfield beat Coleraine and finally get to the top of the Irish League.

Towards the end of the month, a mural of The Two Ronnies appeared in Belfast City Centre, so I headed out to get photos of this.

The penultimate day of the month saw me head to Solitude where Linfield needed to avoid defeat in order to win the Irish League. It didn’t look good at half-time, but a Andrew Waterworth hat-trick in the second-half saw the trophy head to Windsor Park.

Immediately after the game, there was a celebratory event at Windsor Park so that supporters unable to get into Solitude could join in the celebrations. Naturally, I was there getting photographs.

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

Pure Here, So It Is

Pure Here, So It Is Photo Album

Ballymena United v Linfield

Lisburn Street Art

Lisburn Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Coleraine v Linfield

And It’s Goodnight From Me

And It’s Goodnight From Me Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

Cliftonville v Linfield Photo Album

Windsor Park Title Celebrations

Windsor Park Title Celebrations Photo Album

2017 IN PICTURES – JANUARY

2017 began for me with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose 1-0 to Coleraine. Not the best start to the year.

Things got a bit better the following Saturday when I headed to The Oval to see Linfield beat Glentoran in the Irish Cup after extra-time.

It wasn’t all football in January, as I headed out to get photos of a George Michael mural which appeared in Botanic.

Back to football, and I was on the road to Lurgan to see Linfield beat Glenavon 2-1. The following Saturday, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Ballymena United 2-0.

The next day, it was back to murals, as I headed out to get photos of a mural of Princess Leia that appeared in East Belfast, and then across Belfast to get pictures of a mural of Jon Snow. The guy from Game Of Thrones, not Channel 4 News.

The following weekend, it was back to football and back on the road, as I headed to Stangmore Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts

I then headed to Manchester for a few days, to see United take on Hull City. While there, I got some Street Art photos of Salford Quays.

I headed over on 31st Janaury. You’ll have to wait for February’s round-up for the match and Street Art in Manchester.

Linfield v Coleraine

Glentoran v Linfield

George Michael Mural

George Michael Mural Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Princess Leia Mural

Princess Leia Mural Photo Album

Winter Is Coming

Winter Is Coming Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

GLENAVON 0-1 LINFIELD 24.11.2017

Last week, Linfield did Glenavon a favour by beating Coleraine, enabling them to cut the lead at the top of the table to two points. On Friday night, they did Coleraine a favour by beating Glenavon and giving them the opportunity to increase their lead to eight points, having beaten Ards in midweek. Crusaders wouldn’t have been too unhappy to see Coleraine and Glenavon lose games.

Linfield weren’t interested in helping Coleraine, Glenavon or Crusaders, they were only interested in helping themselves. They certainly did that over a six day period.

This is the run of games when teams are playing each other twice, but Linfield and Glenavon were only meeting for the first time, with their scheduled meeting in October being postponed due to Linfield’s involvement in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

That outstanding game has yet to be rearranged. There were games the previous midweek, but two teams playing each other on Tuesday and Friday was never going to happen. The next logical available date would be in January, but with a scheduled meeting on 20th January, the two sides could potentially be having a double helping of meetings in the new year. Just hope they avoid each other in the Irish Cup.

As mentioned last week’s, Linfield’s visits to Mourneview Park in recent years have been silly, great for the neutral, not so much if you support one of the two teams, so this promised to be an entertaining game, especially as these were the only two teams in the League to have scored in every League game so far this season.

It was Glenavon who had most of the ball in the opening minutes. They were up for it. They want to win this game early.

Despite Glenavon’s possession, Linfield were comfortable. Glenavon didn’t have a clear chance. They were having too much of the ball for Linfield to be too comfortable.

The first real chance of the game fell for Linfield, when Andrew Waterworth burst down the right wing and crossed for Cameron Stewart, who got the ball caught between his legs and scuffed the opportunity. He really should have scored. You had the feeling that if the roles were reversed and Andrew Waterworth was on the end of the cross, Linfield would have been 1-0 up.

A few minutes later, another Linfield breaks saw Linfield win a corner. As the corner was about to be taken, someone near me shouted “COME ON STEWART!!!”. I’m guessing that was aimed at Cameron rather than Jordan.

He might have known something was about to happen, a believer in the unwritten football rule that if a player misses an easy opportunity to score, they will score a harder opportunity a few minutes later.

And so it proved, as Cameron Stewart headed home to put Linfield 1-0 up.

Glenavon complained about it, claiming there was a push by Stewart. There was physical contact, but a foul? Seriously? The Glenavon defender should have been stronger. If Linfield conceded that goal, i’d be asking questions about our defence. Glenavon also had an opportunity to clear the ball before it came to Stewart.

After the game, Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton complained about “Pressure” being put on the referee by Linfield recently. After being eliminated from one competition and potentially losing the League in the space of four weeks due to gross incompetence, I think Linfield are entitled to ask questions about the standard of officiating, just as Glenavon did over a referee’s performance in two games at Mourneview Park between October and November 2014.

It seems as though some people have short memories.

All that Glenavon could offer in response was a low shot that was easily saved by Roy Carroll.

Andrew Waterworth had Linfield’s next chance when he broke through but his shot was saved by Jonathan Tuffey.

Glenavon might have had most of the ball, but Linfield were making the most of it when they had it, and looked the more dangerous side when attacking.

As the half neared it’s end, Linfield had another break, an advantage played despite two fouls saw a Niall Quinn cross only be cleared as far as Stephen Lowry, who fired home from close range.

Or so he thought, as the goal was disallowed for handball.

I didn’t get a clear view of it, and TV pictures were inconclusive. Linfield could have done with a second.

They could have had it in the opening minute, when Jordan Stewart got space in Glenavon’s box to shoot, only to see his shot saved, and Niall Quinn unable to head home the rebound.

Linfield were putting pressure on Glenavon’s goal in the opening minutes of the second-half. You would have thought they were the team that was 1-0 down and had just been given a dressing down at half-time.

Unable to get a second that would surely have clinched the points, they were almost pegged back when Sammy Clingan fired from outside the box.

I was behind the goal at the other end, and it looked like it was going in. It looked like it was unsavable, but Roy Carroll got a hand on it and saved it.

Aaron Burns came on for Cameron Stewart and linked up well with Andrew Waterworth. Waterworth was winning the personal battle against his defender throughout the second-half, constantly getting in behind Glenavon’s defence.

Unfortunately, the shot or the final pass was just short. It was clear he is still suffering from missing pre-season through injury. The fitness will come. If this match was four or five weeks time, he probably would have had a hat-trick. Despite that, Glenavon’s defence was terrified every time the ball went near him.

Having been sent-off at Mourneview Park last November, Roy Carroll was once again in trouble with the referee, getting a yellow card as he took a goal kick. Literally, as he took a goal kick. The referee declared that he was timewasting.

Now that referees are cracking down on this, I look forward to opposition goalkeepers being booked against Linfield in the coming weeks, especially at Windsor Park.

Carroll was targeted at set pieces by Glenavon and was offered no protection by the referee when he was blocked off. Luckily, Linfield’s defenders were there to save the day.

Linfield’s players were getting into the Black Friday spirit by scrapping for and holding onto three points as if it was a discounted TV.

Aaron Burns appearance off the bench was brief, as he was stretchered off after a challenge. He was replaced by Louis Rooney.

He, or any of the none other outfield players couldn’t get that second goal. Niall Quinn headed agonisingly wide in stoppage time. I was right behind it and could see it going wide from the moment it hit his head. Everyone around me knew that the three points were still not secure, even though the 90 minute mark was approaching.

Glenavon had one late chance, that went just wide. four minutes and fifty seconds into five minutes of injury time, Glenavon were not going to get another chance, and so it proved, as the final whistle blew and Linfield had the three points.

I said last week that i’d take a boring 1-0 win. It was a 1-0 win, but it wasn’t boring.

In the end, it was a deserved win for Linfield. A week previously, Linfield hadn’t beaten a team higher than 6th, now they had beaten the top two, and deserved to do so on each occasion.

As well as cutting the gap at the top of the table, Linfield fans left Mourneview Park knowing one of Saturday’s results would go in their favour, as Crusaders would travel to Coleraine.

There would be no bad result for Linfield. A Coleraine win would have put Crusaders closer to Linfield. A Crusaders win would have put Coleraine to closer to Linfield. It ended up a draw, and Linfield are two points closer to both of them. Cliftonville beat Ballymena to stay a point ahead of Linfield, but Linfield have a game in hand.

It might look like Cliftonville are on a good run of form, but it’s deceptive. They’ve had a run of games against sides in the bottom half. I’m not to concerned about being below them hit as they’ll hit a brick wall in December when they have a run of games against sides in the top half.

The gap now to leaders Coleraine is nine points, but Linfield have a game in hand. Until the gap gets shorter, i’m going to continue to lament those ten minutes of madness at Ballymena a few weeks back.

Without sounding arrogant, the fixture list is kind to Linfield, with Dungannon, Carrick and Warrenpoint coming up next.

If Linfield have ambitions of winning the League, that has to bring a return of nine points. If it does, we are looking at a five game winning run going into the Christmas/New Year fixtures. A perfect time to go on a winning run, not that there is a bad time to do so.

Next Saturday, should see wins for Coleraine, Crusaders, Glenavon and Cliftonville. The two weeks after that will be of interest, as Glenavon will face Cliftonville and Crusaders.

There will be points dropped above us in the coming weeks, we simply have to take advantage.

Linfield have taken a lot of deserved criticism for their record in big games this season. This month, Coleraine have failed to beat Glenavon, Linfield and Crusaders, and have led in two of those games, one of which was against ten men.

It will be interesting to see if Coleraine’s title credentials come under the same amount of scrutiny as Linfield’s.

Up next of interest to Linfield fans is the Steel and Sons Cup Semi-Final against Immaculata, the winners will play Newington. I know, we’ll all be trying to decide if it’s worth getting up early on Christmas Day. At least last year, it was on Christmas Eve.

Of those Christmas/New Year games alluded to, the game away to Coleraine has been brought forward from Tuesday 2nd January to Monday 1st January.

It’s not that surprising. It stood out when the fixture list was made. It is fair to say that the decision could have been made earlier for those making arrangements.

Hopefully, the club will bring forward the match against Crusaders to Friday 29th, to give the players extra recovery time. It’s our home game, so we can make the call. We have until the end of the week to make the call.

Playing Tuesday-Friday-Monday isn’t ideal, but it’s slightly better than Tuesday-Saturday-Monday.

Next weekend, i’ll be looking at draws. I’ll be hoping that Crewe draw with Blackburn in the FA Cup so that the Replay will be the midweek when i’m in Manchester. Might be tempted to go along.

Next Friday, is the World Cup draw. If Switzerland end up in a group with Russia, Iran and Panama, I might just cry.

Hopefully, Linfield beating Dungannon at Windsor Park the following day will cheer me up.

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 : JANUARY

January began for me with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Coleraine, a match which resulted in a disappointing 1-0 defeat for Linfield.

It was then the Irish Cup for me, heading to The Oval to see Linfield get an extra-time win over Glentoran.

The following Saturday, another away game for Linfield, this time to Glenavon, and another 2-1 win for Linfield.

It was back to Windsor Park the following Saturday to see Linfield take on Ballymena United.

My football watching for the month ended with a trip to Stangmore Park to see Linfield secure a 4-1 win against Dungannon Swifts.

Linfield v Coleraine

Glentoran v Linfield

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : NOVEMBER

November got off to a dramatic start, as I headed to Mourneview Park to see nine man Linfield come from 2-0 down to get a late draw against Glenavon.

I was back on the road a few days later to Ballymena to see Linfield record a 4-1 in win.

Up next was a trip to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland record a 4-0 win over Azerbaijan, before continuing Linfield’s road trip with a 4-0 over Dungannon Swifts before a midweek date at Windsor Park for Northern Ireland’s last game of 2016, a 3-0 friendly defeat against Croatia.

I was back at Windsor Park for Linfield’s only home game of the month, a 2-1 defeat to Cliftonville.

The following weekend, I went to see my first and second games at Old Trafford with Jose Mourinho as United manager, doing a double header of games against Feyenoord and West Ham United, with a trip to Bury (via Broadhurst Park) sandwiched inbetween.

As a bonus, I even got pictures of stickers left around Manchester by Feyenoord fans.

Glenavon v Linfield

Ballymena United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan

Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Croatia

Northern Ireland v Croatia Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester United v Feyenoord

Manchester United v Feyenoord Photo Album

Feyenoord Stickers

Bury v Millwall

Bury v Millwall Photo Album

Broadhurst Park

Manchester United v West Ham United

Manchester United v West Ham United Photo Album