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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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

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : AUGUST

Finally, in August, the season began, with Linfield looking to win a 50th title in the club’s 125th anniversary season. With all that hope and optimism, it was quickly brought back down to earth with a drab 0-0 draw at home to Ballymena United.

The following day, I jetted off to Edinburgh to take in the Edinburgh Festival, and managed to get some portrait shots of Tynecastle, home of SPL side Hearts.

Back home the following weekend, I visited Stangmore Park, to see Linfield’s title defence stutter more with a defeat against Dungannon Swifts, but on the plus side, I managed to get some good photos.

After home wins over Distillery and Coleraine, my next away match saw me use my new camera for the first time, and got some enjoyable shots, especially of Curtis Allen celebrating his winning goal.

The season, like my phototaking, was up and running.

Linfield v Ballymena United

Tynecastle

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Linfield v Lisburn Distillery

Linfield v Coleraine

Newry City v Linfield

THE FULL SET

By attending Linfield’s match at Solitude last night, it now meant that I had visited all the grounds of the clubs in the top flight of the Irish League.

Obviously, there are people who will have ‘achieved’ this feat before me, but it’s still a nice wee milestone.

Of course, i’ll have had my camera with me to these grounds, with varying results.

Ballymena Showgrounds – Ballymena United

Not great for amateur photography for away fans. The home stand looks as though it could be handy for amateur photography.

Minus points though for no stands behind the goal, meaning all photos are going to be side on.

Managed to get some good photos when I visited in March 2009, especially one of David Jeffrey barking out instructions on the touchline.

Haven’t had a chance to attaned a match in their new stand ofr away fans, so hopefully that will make it a more pleasurable excperiance for amateur photography.

Solitude – Cliftonville

Was there for the first time yesterday, and is absolutely horrible for amateur photography as an away fan, hence why the best I could get was pre-match portrait shots.

However, for home fans, it looks like you could get some good photos.

Coleraine Showgrounds – Coleraine

A long and enjoyable away trip, especially if you win, and also a fan friendly ground for photography.

Seaview – Crusaders

Nice and local, and always full when Linfield visit, Seaview is a great ground for getting amatuer photography.

Bonus points also for freedom of movement meaning you can stand behind whichever end your team is attacking.

Suffolk Road – Donegal Celtic

Like Ballymena, minus points for no access behind the goals.

The only time i’ve been there, Linfield didn’t create anything of note, meaning I was unable to find out if it was good for action photography.

Stangmore Park – Dungannon Swifts

Very much like Seaview, easy access to the heart of the action and no segregation.

Always manage to get some decent photos when here.

Mourneview Park – Glenavon

Absolutely love travelling to Mourneview. Easy to get to, and close to the pitch, making some excellent photos.

Managed to get free tickets for the 2009 CIS Cup Final and went snap happy. A full album can be found here.

The Oval – Glentoran

Always enjoy leaving here after a Linfield victory, be it a cup semi-final or a match against Glentoran.

Not that great for photos when a full crowd, but very good when the crowd is smaller.

Windsor Park – Linfield

Not that great at domestic games, excellent for internationals, as you can get closer access to the pitch.

It is good for portrait shots, be it from the Kop or South Stands, or from the Viewing Lounge.

Ballyskeagh – Lisburn Distillery

Horrible ground, that is officially impossible to get a good photo in.

Newry Showgrounds – Newry City

The new stand in recent years has improved the photographicability of this ground, especially when your team are attacking that end.

Shamrock Park – Portadown

Always enjoyable visiting here. Usually guaranteed an excellent view and photographing opportunity.

2010 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

Busy month, went to Edinburgh for a week for the Festival, taking in concerts by Doves and Duke Special (and various other comedy events) and then upon my return, Stereophonics at Belsonic, as well as the start of the Irish League season.

I also got a new camera, as a result of the one my had being damaged at Belsonic, although I was considering getting a new one, the decision was made for me.

One of the first times using it was to get some sunset photos, and for the next couple of weeks, it was a case of trial and error at various events, including my first night football match, where I got an excellent photo of Curtis Allen celebrating a goal at Newry.

My favourite photo of the month was Stephen Douglas waiting to take a throw-in at Dungannon, as the composition and framing just worked, as did the pure luck of it happening right in front of me.

That day, Linfield lost 2-1 to Dungannon Swifts, leaving them with only 1 point after 2 games.

Linfield’s form has improved since that day. Wether my photography has, you’ll have to wait for forthcoming blog posts.

Stereophonics Review

Stereophonics Photos

Duke Special Review

Duke Special Photos

Doves Review

Doves Photos

NEWRY CITY 1-1 LINFIELD 23.10.2010

Was at Newry yesterday for the CIS Cup tie between Newry City and Linfield.

If it wasn’t for the fact that i’ll miss next week’s trip to Ballymena due to being at Old Trafford and being unlikely to make the trip to Portadown the following week, I probably would have given this game a miss in all honesty.

The trip was worthwhile at about 3.20pm when Michael Gault scored a wonderful volley to put Linfield into the lead.

Unfortunately, Newry equalised before half-time and eventually won the tie when it went to a penalty shoot-out.

To make matters worse, my camera ran out of battery just before the shoot-out, with me in a prime photography position.

Newry is an amateur photography friendly ground and I managed to get some shots. Not great, but OK.

Enjoy


Myspace Link

NEWRY CITY 1-2 LINFIELD 31.8.2010

Took advantage of some built-up flexi time to get out of work early in order to head down to Newry for the Irish League clash between Newry City and Linfield.

Newry is one of my favourite away games, mainly due to the fact that it’s an enjoyable drive there.

It was my first time at Newry since they built there new stand, and Linfield supporters were housed there, so I checked it out.

It’s not a bad stand, and should be a good atmosphere when there is a full crowd. Sadly, the midweek scheduling of the fixture saw a significant drop in attendance than if it was a Saturday game.

Newry is a relatively friendly ground for amateur photographers, so I managed to get some shots and experiment.

I got to use the night mode on my new camera for the first time and was very impressed.

Managed to get into a good position for the celebrations of Curtis Allen’s winner, and was very impressed with the photo I got, as like Linfield, my photography managed to salvage something ta the end.

Myspace link

NEWRY v LARNE – THE FALLOUT

Was writing my Blog for publication tomorrow, and found that I was writing at length about the events last Saturday at the Newry Showgrounds, so I felt I might as well put them up here as a seperate entity.

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I noted with interest, the media coverage of the Newry v Larne game this week. Call me a cynic, but if something like that happens in another sport, will it be the lead story on Nolan, asking if that sport is “out of control”?

People seem to forget that there were 14 Irish Cup ties on Saturday which weren’t abandoned due to fighting, so it’s important to get a bit of context, something like that is not a weekly occurance. I’m not expecting football to get an easy deal from the media, but I certainly expect a degree of fairness when reporting it. That said, the events at Newry on Saturday were well out of order.

I’d originally dismissed it as a bit of handbags when hearing the radio commentary, but viewing the photos later on, it was clear how serious the incident was. Anto Lagan will have no complaints if he ends up in court over his involvement.

If he does, I hope he doesn’t bleat about how he is being a test case over it, because it took place on a football pitch. It may be true that the media profile of the incident has contributed to the police involvement, but, if you don’t behave like that, you don’t get arrested. Simple really.

What hasn’t helped matters is referee Raymond Crangle, who has appeared to revel in his media profile this week, leaking his report to the Belfast Telegraph before the IFA Disciplinary Committe has met to discuss punishments to those involved. Yes, there is a public interest in this case, but not until those involved have been punished.

Once those involved have been punished, it is not unreasonable for the IFA to issue a statement detailing exactly why those who get banned are banned, but not before the committee has met. Totally irresponsible from Raymond Crangle, you can’t but ask why he did it, and what he thought he was going to benefit from it.

In a perverse way, this might have helped in the bid for more Irish League coverage on TV, as BBCNI must be kicking themselves that they didn’t send a TV crew to Newry on Saturday.