PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : FEBRUARY

February’s football watching was spent at Windsor Park, where I spent every Saturday of the month.

It began with Linfield exiting the Irish Cup to Crusaders, then come from 2-0 down to beat Coleraine with a last minute winner, beat Ballymena United to win the NIFL Cup, and then beat them again in the League.

The month ended with a trip to Newry to see Linfield secure a late and dramatic 1-0 win.

Linfield v Crusaders

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Ballymena United (NIFL Cup)

NIFL Cup Final Photo Album

Linfield v Ballymena United (League)

Newry City v Linfield

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PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : OCTOBER

October’s football watching began at The Oval, to see Linfield get a win over Glentoran.

That was then followed by Newry City’s first League visit to Windsor Park since 2011, and we were treated to a hat-trick from Jimmy Callacher.

That was then followed by two road trips, firstly to Clandeboye Park, where Linfield suffered their first defeat of the season, and then to Stangmore Park, where Linfield came from behind to beat Dungannon Swifts.

Glentoran v Linfield

Linfield v Newry City

Ards v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

NEWRY CITY 0-1 LINFIELD 26.2.2019

There wasn’t much time for Linfield to dwell on the match against Ballymena United, as they were back into League action three days later, as both they and Ballymena played in rearranged games that were postponed due to the League Cup Final.

This was supposed to be the second of two Friday night visits to Newry, but due to postponements and the League Cup Final, it was the second of two Tuesday night visits. Though, with both teams out of the Irish Cup, there was no reason why it couldn’t have been put back to Saturday 2nd March.

Tuesday night it was, and Linfield would have to get on with it, and it would be a Linfield eleven with two enforced changes from the second of those 1-0 wins against Ballymena, with Jimmy Callacher (suspension) and Jamie Mulgrew (injury) missing.

Newry will have been glad to see Callacher not on the field, having scored a hat-trick when the sides met at Windsor Park in October. Though, he is currently experiencing a goal drought recently, having failed to net since scoring twice at Ards on New Year’s Day.

Mulgrew’s absence meant a place on bench for Benny Moller Nielsen, while Andrew Mitchell made a welcome return to bench after a period of Injury and Compassionate Leave. Ironically, it was an injury that he suffered against Newry in late January.

With Jamie Mulgrew joining Stephen Fallon on the injury list, centre midfield was starting to look like a problem position for Linfield, so getting players coming back in that area is always welcome.

I was running slightly late and missed the first couple of minutes. It certainly wasn’t as bad as the time I got stuck in Newry traffic and only managed to get in the ground in time to see Curtis Allen put Linfield 1-0 up, on a day stood in the rain watching Linfield win 6-0, while Glentoran were losing at home to Coleraine by the same score. It was that long ago, Glentoran were defending champions.

Back to the present day, and as I arrived, Marek Cervenka was being played through to finish, only to be denied by and offside flag.

It was one of many frustrating moments in the first-half for Linfield, the ball being mostly in Newry’s half, but not near enough near Newry’s goal.

Ryan McGivern, playing in his home city, couldn’t twist to put the ball home from close range, while Mark Stafford was denied by the crossbar from a header after a corner.

The only chance that Linfield’s pressure could bring, was a Marek Cervenka shot that was fired over under pressure.

As the half-time whistle blew, with the score at 0-0, Linfield knew they had to step it up, especially with Ballymena beating Cliftonville 1-0.

This combination of results would have undone to good work by beating Ballymena the previous Saturday. Even though we’d be a point better off than we were two games previous, we’d be letting Ballymena back into the title race instead of keeping them at arms length.

Whatever was said at half-time, it was brief and to the point, as Linfield’s players were back out while Newry’s were still in the dressing room.

Linfield were straight on the attack in the opening minutes of the second-half, already showing more attacking intent than they did in the first-half. It looked like getting an instant reward when Andrew Waterworth headed home, but he was denied by the offside flag.

The closest that Linfield came to legally scoring was when Mark Stafford headed over from a corner.

Newry rode it out, and suddenly, Linfield were running short of ideas. Usually, it was kicking it out wide to Kirk Millar and hope that he won the flick, but not knowing what to do if he won it.

Andrew Waterworth got in behind Newry’s defence and was fouled. From where I was, it looked like the Newry defender just about won the ball just outside the penalty area. There was a bit of commotion between Newry’s protest, and the issue of a yellow card. During this, Josh Robinson placed the ball on the penalty spot in anticipation of a spot kick, only for it to be a jedi mind trick, as the referee pointed for a free-kick.

It was on the line, as close to the penalty area as possible. The only option was to smash it low and see if the keeper can get down quick enough. Chris Casement tried to place it, and it was blocked.

On a night that Linfield weren’t creating many chances, they had to make the most of those that came their way.

David Healy turned to the bench, bringing on Michael O’Connor and Jordan Stewart for Daniel Kearns and Marek Cervenka.

However, it was Ryan McGivern who had Linfield’s next big chance, firing just wide.

Kyle McClean then had a shot blocked from the edge of the box, unable to recreate his recent heroics against Coleraine, setting himself up when he needed to shoot instantly, giving Andy Coleman a chance to get into position.

Newry began to grow in confidence, and sensed they could win this 1-0. They almost did but Gareth Deane had to rush out of his goal and intercept a through ball.

Even though it was 0-0 rather than 1-1 going into the final minutes, this game had similarities to trips to Ballinamallard (2017) and Dungannon (2018) in recent years, being frustrated, out of sorts at times and having to guard against conceding on the counter attack.

Linfield won those previous two games, and were hoping to do likewise in this.

On a night when they were struggling in attack, it seemed strange not to introduce Lorcan Forde from the bench, to offer something different.

Having failed to score in 90 minutes, Linfield would have 5 more, as the board for injury time came up.

They only needed 2, as a Niall Quinn cross was headed home by Chris Casement, to ecstatic scenes in the away support.

It was only his third goal of the season, but the second time in 2019 he has come out of nowhere to score a vital goal, having put Linfield in front when they were struggling against Glentoran in January.

By this point, Ballymena had left the pitch having beaten Cliftonville, this goal maintained Linfield’s nine point lead, deflating Ballymena’s hopes of cutting the gap before Linfield travel to Mid and East Antrim Council Stock Car Arena in April.

It was a goal cursed by one former Linfield manager but celebrated by another, with David Jeffrey and Warren Feeney keeping an interest in this result, a game which affected both ends of the table.

Linfield’s current manager seemed quite happy with the goal.

It is unknown what Trevor Anderson, Eric Bowyer or Roy Coyle made of the goal.

There was still time remaining in the game, but thankfully, Linfield were able to see out the game and win 1-0. It was their third clean sheet in a row, after conceding six in their previous three games.

Late goals, wins, clean sheets. All good habits to have at any time of year, but especially in the run-in.

This will be Linfield’s last match in Newry and Mourne this season, but i’m already looking to next season’s visits, crossing my fingers that Linfield will be away to Warrenpoint Town on Saturday 5th October, so that I can go to the John Power concert after the match.

As said earlier and in recent weeks, I was hoping this game would be on the following Saturday as both teams are free.

However, we can use this to our advantage, having a break to rest legs and get players in condition for the run-in, after a demanding run of games over the past three months, including a lot of away games, six pointers, and Cup Finals/Semi-Finals.

As the teams were leaving the pitch, the floodlights started to dim. Linfield’s title ambitions are very much still shining bright.

Photo Album

2018 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

I had to wait until the 8th of the month for a photo adventure, heading to The Oval to see Linfield take on Glentoran.

That was then followed up by a trip to Windsor Park the following Saturday to see Linfield take on Newry City.

Another weekend, another football match, as I then headed to the Seaside to see Linfield take on Ards.

The following weekend, began with Rugby, as I headed to Ravenhill to see Ulster take on Dragons.

It was back to football the following day as I headed to Stangmore Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

The month ended with a trip to The Odyssey to see U2 in concert.

Glentoran v Linfield

Linfield v Newry City

Ards v Linfield

Ulster v Dragons

Ulster v Dragons Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

U2 live at The Odyssey

U2 live at The Odyssey Photo Album

LINFIELD 3-1 NEWRY CITY 13.10.2018

With it raining all day, it was certainly the weather for staying indoors with your feet up. That’s what Glenavon were doing, though that postponement was due to international call-ups.

This presented an opportunity for Linfield to go top of the League with a win over Newry City.

This match also represented a milestone point in the season, the eleventh game when everybody has played each other once. Well, that should have been the case, with two games postponed today (one due to international call-ups, and another due to Coleraine’s involvement in the Scottish Challenge Cup) and Ballymena United v Glentoran being postponed a few weeks ago, only half of the teams in the League will have reached that milestone today.

It was an unchanged starting eleven for Linfield, with Chris Casement having to make do with a place on the bench after injury. Thankfully unchanged, as it meant that Joel Cooper was fit to start having been substituted in the early minutes of the second-half at The Oval on Monday night.

This was Newry’s first League visit to Windsor Park since February 2011, though they did visit in the Irish Cup last season. Amazingly, there were two players starting this game who started that day – Robert Garrett for Linfield and Andy Coleman for Newry, both in their second spell at their respective clubs.

There would have been some doing a double take when the teams came out, with a clash of socks saw them wearing blue sock, and looking very much like HSV Hamburg.

Newry, unsurprisingly, were spending the opening minutes defending, and it was nor surprise when Linfield took the lead on 10 minutes when Jimmy Callacher headed home from a corner.

As in most games he plays, Michael O’Connor was involved in a lot of Linfield’s attacks, the closest he came to scoring was when he was just unable to get on the end of a low Joel Cooper cross.

Eventually, Newry began to show themselves as an attacking force, with Jimmy Callacher being forced to make a last gasp tackle to deny Newry, while Roy Carroll made a spectacular save from a long range shot.

It was perhaps apt, in the week that Alan Blayney announced his retirement, it was almost a cover version of a save that Alan Blayney made in this fixture in October 2010.

Daniel Kearns headed over as Linfield chased a 2-0 lead, which eventually came when Jimmy Callacher headed home again.

It was the third time he had scored two in a game, having done so against Ards in 2016 and against Warrenpoint earlier this year.

Linfield were in the mood to go in at half-time 3-0 up, with Joel Cooper hitting the post before having a low shot saved by Coleman, who would later stretch out an arm from close range to deny Michael O’Connor.

In that incident, O’Connor collided with a goalpost, but was thankfully able to continue.

The second-half continued with more Linfield dominance, with Michael O’Connor controlled but fired over, while a nice move saw Robert Garrett hit the bar and go out for a goal kick.

In search of a hat-trick, Jimmy Callacher had a penalty appeal turned down when he appeared to be grappled. The fallout from that incident saw Josh Robinson pick up a yellow card for dissent. It was the third yellow card this season he has picked up that could easily have been avoided. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by him, or else he will pick up a one game ban, and might not get back into the team.

The third goal that Linfield needed didn’t come, and suddenly they would need it, as a bout of pinball in the penalty area saw a Kevin McArdle shot be deflected past Roy Carroll.

Newry, were suddenly back in the game.

Before you could say that Newry were back in the game, they were back out of the game.

The goal jolted Linfield back to life, going straight on the attack, winning a corner, which was headed home by you know who.

Having sense that a hat-trick was on, Callacher was like a man possessed every time Linfield got an attacking set piece. Nobody was going to deny him the matchball.

That was the three points secured, as Linfield went top of the League, albeit that Glenavon have a game in hand.

After the game, it turned out the two sides could be meeting again next month, as the draw for the Quarter-Finals of the League Cup saw Newry City or Portadown drawn at home to Linfield or Institute. Newry City (2010-2011) and Portadown (2008-2009) have both eliminated Linfield from the competition since they last won it.

It’s been so long since Linfield won it, Glenn Ferguson scored the winner in the Final. I’m used now to just writing the competition off. I’m not even confident that we’ll beat Institute.

Next weekend, is a trip to Ards, a ground that has been kind to Linfield in recent years, so hopefully, another win can be notched up to keep the pressure on Glenavon, and everybody else in the League.

If things had worked out differently, it could have been a weekend of groundhopping instead. I’m not sure why I didn’t book it, but I never got round to booking a trip to Northern Ireland’s trip to Austria. If I did, I would have made it a double header and seen in Slovakia v Czech Republic this afternoon. If you care, Czech Republic won 2-1.

Not going to lie, I really wish Linfield were involved in the Scottish Challenge Cup, especially when you see the complete disaster Coleraine made of their trip to Connah’s Quay.

Saturday night game in North Wales, 2.30am boat home and a midnight meal in the Holyhead branch of McDonalds. Sounds like heaven.

Today’s trip to Windsor Park that I did make, was worthwhile and enjoyable.

Photo Album

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR

Having done a statistical analysis of the 2011-2012 season, I thought i’d do one for my football watching in 2012, with today having been my last match attended of the year.

Here is the breakdown.

Games : 48

Goals Seen : 149

(Should have been 151, but I managed to miss two goals this year. Was late for second-half of Linfield v Portadown on 27.10.2012 and missed a goal. Missed the start of Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan on 14.11.2012 and missed a goal)

Red Cards: 10

(Doesn’t include red cards awarded in the dressing room to David Armstrong and Terry Fitzpatrick during Dungannon v Linfield on 13.10.2012)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 4

Hat-Tricks : 3

Aaron Burns (Linfield v Dungannon Swifts)
Peter Thompson (Linfield v Newry City)
Matthew Tipton (Orangefield OB v Linfield)

Teams Seen : 33

Ajax (1st time), Australia (1st time), Azerbaijan, B36 Torshavn (1st time), Ballinamallard United (1st time), Ballymena United, Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Donegal Celtic, Dungannon Swifts, Excelsior Rotterdam (1st time), FC Utrecht (1st time), Glenavon, Glentoran, Harland and Wolff Welders (1st time), Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Holland (1st time), Linfield, Lisburn Distillery, Luxembourg (1st time), Manchester United, Newry City, Northern Ireland, Norway, Orangefield OB (1st time), Portadown, Queens Park Rangers (1st time), Rosenborg, Scotland, VVV Venlo (1st time)

Stadiums Visited : 16

Amsterdam Arena (1st time), Ballymena Showgrounds, Ballyskeagh, Easter Road, Ferney Park (1st time), Gibson Park (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, The Oval, Tillysburn Park (1st time), Windsor Park, Woudestein (1st time),

Competitions : 9

County Antrim Shield, Eredivise, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League, Scottish Premier League, UEFA Cup, World Cup

Curiosities

4th February – Watched a match in a stand named after Robin Van Persie

18th February – Twins (Aaron and Andrew Burns) on opposing sides in a competitive game

2012 IN PICTURES – APRIL

Sun is out and the Irish League season is in the final straight.

Some of the photos of the day when Linfield clinched the title weren’t that great, but managed to get some lovely shots the following week at the Irish Cup Semi-Final against Newry City.

With Linfield in a commanding lead early on, managed to get some portrait shots of The Oval. The most productive photo day of the month.

On the day of the title presentation against Glentoran, the inevitable pitch invasion meant I had to change my plans in order to get photos of the celebrations.

Also managed to get some Graffiti/Street Art photos in Belfast, including a protest against the newly built Titanic Centre

Enjoy

Summer Was Here

New Graffiti Shots

Linfield v Portadown

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Newry City

Linfield v Glentoran

PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2011-2012

After enjoying a month by month review of the past season, feel free to vote for your favourite photos from the following selected photos.

Corner

This photo was taken at the Hearts v Spurs UEFA Cup tie. I like it purely for the composition as Hearts fans look on helplessly as their team tries to restore some pride. They were 5-0 down when the corner was taken.

Statue

Again, the composition just makes this photo for me. Taken outside Old Trafford prior to a game against Sunderland on 5th November 2011

High Feet

Taken during a friendly between Derriaghy CC and Linfield in July. Again, the framing and composition just work for me.

Gaffers

Another one taken from Derriaghy CC v Linfield, I like this one showing Derriaghy’s management team watching the game, trying to see if there is anything they can spot which can help their team.

Lazy Summer Day

I used the pinhole effect in my camera for this shot, taken during a hastily arranged pre-season game between Linfield and Carrick Rangers.

I like the way it just captures watching football on a summer’s day. Even the Carrick Rangers subs appear to be relaxing while watching the game.

Linesman

Carrick Rangers again, this time a lot colder and darker, and more competitive, in a league match at their temporary home of Seaview.

I like this shot for the composition of the linesman, and the way the light reflects off Crusaders plastic pitch.

Boxing Day

This photo, taken on Boxing Day unsurprisingly, shows the crowd with their eyes fixed on Linfield taking a corner (taken, I think, by Rory Patterson) during a match against Glentoran.

Windsor Park

Taken prior to a match against Dungannon Swifts in January, I like this for the composition and the way the supporter’s shadows reflect.

Flag

Taken in Rotterdam while I was in Holland in February, Excelsior Rotterdam fans wave flags and release streamers as their side enters the field for a match against VVV Venlo

Cameraman

A TV cameraman captures the action during the Eredivise clash between Excelsior Rotterdam and VVV Venlo

Sunset

Photo outside Old Trafford prior to a UEFA Cup tie against Ajax on 23.2.2012

Old Trafford

Portrait shot of Old Trafford after the UEFA Cup tie against Ajax on 23.2.2012

City End

Linfield fans at The Oval, taken during a match against Newry City on 14.4.2012

Watson

Albert Watson, surrounded by supporters, is interviewed for TV after Linfield lift the Irish League title

Of ones not taken by me, there are two which stand out.

This one, credited to Getty Images, shows Kenny Dalglsh’s celebration just after Andy Carroll puts Liverpool 2-1 up in the FA Cup Semi-Final against Everton.

The composition and framing, capturing the emotion whcih makes it a fantastic photo.

I’m no lover of Liverpool FC, but credit where it’s due, that’s a fantastic photo.

The second photo, is of Ross Glendinning trying to save a shot during a friendly between Linfield and Rangers in May. It was credited to Pacemaker Press.

Like the Dalglish one, is the emotion and the framing which makes it, as Glendinning strains to try and stop the ball going into the back of the net.

For the record, the ball ended up in the back of the net.

I am aware that my natural footballing loyalties shouldn’t have me complimenting a photo of a Liverpool goal or a goal against Linfield, but, you’ve just to to appreciate good photography.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : APRIL

Onto April now, the time of year when trophies are decided and handed out.

My first game of the month was the day Linfield won he league against Portadown.

Not a great collection of photos, but I managed to have a more productive afternoon the following week.

That was at The Oval, for the Irish Cup Semi-Final against Newry City. A routine 7-0 win, but the weather was nice and I managed to get some good shots of the game and surrounding environs.

Inbetween that, fixture fulfilling games against Cliftonville and Coleraine saw me get some ok photos, nothing special.

So, the last game of the month, and last game of the season, against Glentoran, and it was all a big letdown.

The result (0-2) was bad enough, but the trophy presentation was ruined by one game a season supporters invading the pitch. Didn’t get the photos I wanted, but I did manage to get some.

Enjoy

Linfield v Portadown

Linfield v Portadown Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Newry City

Linfield v Glentoran

Linfield v Glentoran Photo Album

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL SEASON

You can thank @philmojones4 for the inspiration for this pointless blogpost, when he commented on how many matches he’d been too during the 2011-2012 season, and it got me thinking, then I thought some more, and came up with this statistical analysis of the football season just past (I know technically the season is still going, but for me, it is over)

Matches Attended : 44

Goals Seen : 120

Red Cards : 5

Hat-Tricks : 2

Aaron Burns (Linfield v Dungannon Swifts) Peter Thompson (Linfield v Newry City)

(Last season I witnessed hat-tricks by Dimitar Berbatov and Lionel Messi)

Hat-tricks missed due to being on holiday : 1

Phil Lowry (Linfield v Donegal Celtic)

Hat-tricks missed due to not being arsed with Irish Cup ties v lower league opposition : 2

Rory Patterson (Linfield v Ballyclare Comrades) Peter Thompson (Linfield v Coagh United)

Highest scoring match : 7 (Linfield 7-0 Newry City)

Countries seen football in : 4

England, Holland, Northern Ireland, Scotland

(Last season, it was 4 as well – England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Spain)

Teams seen play : 28

Aberdeen, Ajax Amsterdam, Ballymena United, BATE Borisov, Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Derriaghy CC, Donegal Celtic, Dungannon Swifts, Excelsior Rotterdam, Faroe Islands, Glenavon, Glentoran, Heart of Midlothian, Linfield, Lisburn Distillery, Manchester United, Newry City, Northern Ireland, Norway, Portadown, Serbia, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur, Utrecht, VVV Venlo

Competitions Watched : 8

Eredivise, Euro 2012, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish Premier League, Scottish Premier League, UEFA Cup

Stadiums Visited : 14

Amsterdam Arena, Ballymena Showgrounds, Ballyskeagh, Coleraine Showgrounds, Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Seycon Park, Shamrock Park, Solitude, The Oval, Tynecastle, Windsor Park, Woudestein

NB: Stats do not include last night’s Manchester United v Irish League XI game. My visit to Amsterdam for the Holland v Northern Ireland game will be counted towards 2012-2013 statistics.