PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MAY/JUNE

As the season was winding down, the matches were less frequent, now a fortnightly thing.

I began May with the Irish Cup Final in the Portadown end, getting drenched, having to park at The Odyssey and the barrier eating my ticket, and to compound the misery – Glentoran won the cup.

Two weeks later was my second trip of the season to Old Trafford, with Arsenal being the visitors in a game that finished 1-1.

Two weeks later, I was back in the North-West of England, to see Northern Ireland take on Qatar in Crewe. Most of the appeal of the game was the opportunity to visit another ground for the first time.

Near to a train station and with a programme shop, Crewe gets a thumbs up from me.

The next day was spent in Liverpool. I had some spare time on my hands, and headed to Goodison Park, in search of a mural of Dixie Dean i’d read about, but doesn’t appear to be there anymore.

Undeterred by this, I decided to get some photos of the exterior of the ground.

Two weeks later, one last game, Northern Ireland’s European Championship Qualifier against Romania, and an opportunity to experience the new Railway Stand at Windsor Park for he first time.

It was the only 0-0 draw I saw all season.

Glentoran v Portadown

Glentoran v Portadown Photo Album

Manchester United v Arsenal

Manchester United v Arsenal Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Qatar

Northern Ireland v Qatar Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Romania

Northern Ireland v Romania Photo album

NORTHERN IRELAND 0-0 ROMANIA 13.6.2015

As supporters entered the Railway Stand, they were greeted with a sign with an image of a construction worker with the caption “All set and ready to go”

It might have been referring to the Railway Stand, but Northern Ireland fans were hoping if would apply to the footballers on the pitch, who like the builders off it, have battled against the odds during this qualifying campaign.

Fans got used to their new surroundings, on an evening that the weather resembled that of Fr …..

I can’t say it, it’s almost taboo to mention the name of that country that Northern Ireland are hoping to play in next summer.

Hope for Northern Ireland came from that the fact that Romania had lost on both their previous visits to Windsor Park. Their last competitive visit, in 1984, was the night the North Stand was opened.

Fate would bring Romania to Windsor Park on the night the Railway Stand and South Stand would be used it first time. It certainly wasn’t planned that way in the construction schedule.

More recent inspiration, came in the form of Wales win over Belgium the previous night, with Northern Ireland hoping their side would get a similar result against higher ranked opponents.

The night didn’t get off to a good start, as news filtered through of the result from the 5pm kick-off, with Hungary winning 1-0 in Finland to cut the gap behind Northern Ireland to 1 point.

Northern Ireland would be finishing the night in a qualifying position regardless, but it could be a lot less comfortable than it was on Saturday morning.

The big team news for Northern Ireland, came with the inclusions of Michael McGovern and Stuart Dallas. McGovern was playing in place of the injured Roy Carroll, while Dallas was rewarded with a start after impressive performances against Finland and Qatar.

A regular performer for his club, and having played in a Scottish Cup Final, there was no fear of McGovern having a “Scott Carson type of night”

McGovern didn’t have a lot to do, but what he did do, he did well. Romania had some speculative shots on goal early on, but McGovern was in the right position to save if the shot was on target.

There was one moment of worry when Romania attempted to shoot directly from a corner, but McGovern was able to get back to his post to stop the ball going in.

You could see that the Romanians had the technical ability to punish Northern Ireland if they got a clear sight at goal. Northern Ireland didn’t help themselves with a couple of stray passes. Anytime Romania got in or around the penalty area, there was usually enough bodies to get rid of the danger.

Northern Ireland were holding their own. It was clear they were trying to get Kyle Lafferty as much of the ball as possible. They weren’t hoofing it to him, they were playing it to him.

As well as Lafferty played, he had the ball in the wrong areas. Northern Ireland needed him to be in the box to be on the end of the attacks he was starting. If only he could be cloned.

Northern Ireland’s best moments came when Chris Brunt caused a bit of a scramble by attempting a Paul Scholes v Bradford, and Jonny Evans having a header spectacularly saved by Romania’s keeper.

As the second-half kicked off, Northern Ireland attacked the new Railway Stand, where their fans who had previously occupied The Kop were based.

Romania’s keeper had a few dodgy goal kicks which gave away possession. Northern Ireland fans behind the goal were less than sympathetic.

Northern Ireland had a late rally, with fans hopeful of a dramatic late winner. When the ball fell to Kyle Lafferty after a corner, it looked like being it, but his snapshot was saved by Romania’s keeper.

It was a game either side could have won, so a draw was a fair result. The real winners were Hungary.

The only sour note of the night was a photographer being hit with a banger thrown from the Romanian section of the crowd. A steward also required treatment during the incident. I couldn’t see if he was hit as well or if it was from shock at being close to the bang that went off.

3rd place Hungary are now just two points behind Northern Ireland. It’s the same position after the game in Romania, but now two games further on.

Romania and Hungary face each other in the next matchday. The ideal result is a Romania win. Not only would it make the dream of qualification closer, but it would kill Hungary’s momentum before they arrive at Windsor Park later that week.

There’s nothing Northern Ireland can do about Budapest, so it’s not worth worrying about. Northern Ireland must worry about themselves, and their game against the Faroe Islands.

Whatever Hungary do against Romania, Northern Ireland must ensure Hungary arrive at Windsor Park to face a Northern Ireland team three points better off than now.

Faroe Islands beat Greece last night to do the double over them. A great result for Northern Ireland as it will kill the idea of any complacency towards the Faroe Islands.

Greece are effectively out. They’ll be officially eliminated in one of the two matchdays. It’s an incredible decline in such a short space of time, to reach the Quarter-Finals in 2012 and be out of contention a year before Euro 2016.

Hopefully, by the time Greece arrive at Windsor Park, they’ll be gone and fulfilling fixtures. They play Romania, Northern Ireland and Hungary in their final three games of the group.

They might get anywhere near France, but Greece could be the team who decides who does.

Applications for Euro 2016 tickets are now open, and are open for the next month. I’m going to fill out my application in the next week.

I didn’t want to do it in the build-up to this game for fear of putting a scud on things.

348 days after it started, the 2014-2015 season is now over for me. It’s possibly only two weeks before the 2015-2016 season begins for me.

Last night was my 55th match of the season, and it was my first 0-0 draw. It had to be. I should have out money on it.

By the way, that sign that met Northern Ireland fans as they entered the North Stand, the caption in full read “All set and ready to go!! Next match expect even more”

Let’s hope so.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MARCH

After ending February with Irish Cup disappointment for Linfield, it was the league that concerned them in March, and began well with an easy home win over Warrenpoint Town.

The following week, it was off to Drumahoe to see Linfield grind out a win against Institute.

A blank Saturday was followed by a trip to Scotland to see Northern Ireland play at Hampden Park.

The football kept coming, as the following Saturday, I was headed to Mourneview Park to see Linfield lose 1-0 to Glenavon.

The following day, it was off to Windsor Park for a bit of Sunday football to see Northern Ireland take on Finland, and get some photos of the redevelopment of Windsor Park, which was going so well at that point.

Little did I know then, but it would be my last time in The Kop before it was demolished

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Institute v Linfield

Scotland v Northern Ireland

Scotland v Nothern Ireland Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Finland

Northern Ireland v Finland Photo Album

NORTHERN IRELAND 1-1 QATAR 31.5.2015

It might have been the last day in May, but my football season was still ongoing, as I headed to Crewe (a first time visit) to see Northern Ireland take on Qatar in an international friendly.

It was Qatar’s home game, and they chose Crewe as the venue as they are having a training camp in England. Both teams are working towards vital qualifiers in June – Qatar in the World Cup and Northern Ireland in the European Championship.

I had eyes on the rumoured friendly away to Wales, but as that didn’t happen, I decided to head to this one. Easy to get to and cheap to get to as well.

I flew in to Liverpool and met a friend at Lime Street and got the train to Crewe, 30 minutes away. The ground was near the train station. Not that surprising considering that Crewe Alexandra are known as The Railwaymen.

As we headed to the ground and picked up our tickets, we saw a programme shop and a bar. Near a train station, with a programme shop and a bar. This ground is almost perfect.

Our seats were in the upper end of the main stand, the only stand in operation for this game. Sadly, the Whitby Morrison Ice Cream Van Stand wasn’t in use.

The first noticed was the pitch. It wasn’t in the best of condition. I had some spare time on the Monday morning before my train to Liverpool so headed to have another look at the ground, and the pitch was being torn up and relaid.

The Football League season ended on May 2nd, four weeks prior to this game. With the number of Northern Ireland players playing at this level, there was a danger some players could be doing into the game against Romania without a game in six weeks. That’s why this game was so important, even if the result was not.

Unsurprisingly, it was a much changed team from that which faced Finland at the end of March. Of those that were on the pitch, Niall McGinn, Conor McLeaughlin and Stuart Dallas were getting a lot of joy out wide.

Northern Ireland were dominant and Qatar didn’t have an attacking threat. Qatar’s keeper was worked but not overworked. Unfortunately, Northern Ireland couldn’t get the goal that reflected their dominance.

They didn’t have to wait long in the second-half to get that goal, as Stuart Dallas fired home in the opening minutes of the second-half. Northern Ireland looked set for victory.

Patrick McNair, in his second cap, took the opportunity to get forward, firing a few shots on goal.

Qatar got more into the game and had a short period of pressure. During this period, they got a goal, with a long range strike.

As with any friendly, substitutions in the final twenty minutes disrupted the rhythm of the game and the game fizzled out into a draw.

With a lack of footballing entertainment, Northern Ireland fans taunted their opponents over recent scandals at FIFA, asking “How much did you pay, for the FIFA World Cup?” and taunting their own Jim Boyce over watches he received with “Boycie Boycie, what’s the time?” before some local Crewe fans managed to start “We hate Port Vale, we hate Port Vale”

Overall, a good trip, and always nice to visit a stadium for the first time. If i’m ever in the North-West of England and at a loose end, I wouldn’t be adverse to making a return visit to Crewe.

The result wasn’t important, it was all about getting match fitness for Romania. Still would have liked to have won. Should have won. Qatar are not a good team and have a lot to do in order to just be competitive for the 2022 World Cup, that they are due (situation changing every day) to host.

So, i’ve travelled to see Northern Ireland at Millennium Stadium, Old Trafford, Hampden Park, Lansdowne Road, Amsterdam Arena and now Gresty Road.

Hopefully, the next one will be in Paris, Lille or Lens next summer.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : OCTOBER

October. The month that was spent at Windsor Park. Five matches, all at the same stadium. Still, it gave me a chance to document the ongoing redevelopment work, as various construction milestones were reached, such as the demolition of the South Stand, and the first bits of steel added to the Railway Stand.

Unfortunately, the Railway Stand had more steel than Linfield during this month.

The month began well, with wins over Ballymena and Institute taking Linfield top, before defeats to Cliftonville and Crusaders saw them drop down to 5th.

Inbetween Linfield’s wins over Ballymena and Institute, came Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 Qualifying win over Faroe Islands.

Linfield v Ballymena United

Northern Ireland v Faroe Islands

Northern Ireland v Faroe Islands Photo Album

Linfield v Institute

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Crusaders

NORTHERN IRELAND 2-1 FINLAND 29.3.2015

There was a lot of strangeness around Windsor Park today. It wasn’t just the fact the game was taking place on a Sunday, Northern Ireland’s first home game on this day of the week, it was the fact that Northern Ireland went into a game at this stage with fans expecting victory, a victory that would keep them in a qualifying position. Not something that happens too often.

The much expected and publicised protests, which the media had been foaming at the mouth over since the date for this game was confirmed in February 2014, never materialised. There were a few people handing out leaflets, a normal occurrence at certain Irish League grounds on Saturdays anyway.

It was Finland who made the better start, having a lot of possession in Northern Ireland’s half. Northern Ireland’s best moment in the opening stages came when an Oliver Norwood cross was whipped into a dangerous position, but there as nobody there to get on the end of it.

Finland had the first real chances when a shot had to be turned behind by Roy Carroll, and Niall McGinn had to clear off his line from a corner.

Within minutes, Northern Ireland had the ball on the net, but the goal was disallowed.

I’d love to say if it should have been a goal, but I missed it due to a latecomer telling me I was in his seat, but the stupid idiot was in the wrong section of the stand. I’m almost relived the goal was disallowed due to me missing it.

The game wasn’t going how Northern Ireland wanted. You could see the frustration from Kyle Lafferty. He was making the runs but not getting the passes.

It wasn’t long before Kyle Lafferty had an impact on the game, fighting for a lost cause to set up Jamie Ward through on goal. It seemed certain that Ward would score but it was saved by Finland’s goalkeeper.
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Lafferty’s next impact was to put the ball in the net. A set piece didn’t go as hoped, but it was headed back into the box, straight to Lafferty, who volleyed home.

Within minutes he made it 2-0. Jamie Ward lost his footing when trying to cross, but managed to do enough to get the ball to Conor McLaughlin to cross for Lafferty to score.

Both goals owed a lot to players fighting for the ball and making the most of a bad situation. In previous campaigns, the ball might have went out for a goal kick before it even went to Lafferty.

Despite Niall McGinn being unable to divert a shot going wide into the back of the net, it was Finland who had the better of things at the start of the second-half. Finland didn;t have any clear chances, but they had enough of the ball to cause Northern Ireland concern.

Northern Ireland needed to get a 3rd goal, but they couldn’t get out of their own half. The introduction of Stuart Dallas saw him run at Finland defence, and keeping the ball at that end of the pitch.

With each passing minute, it looked like Northern Ireland were going to see out a 2-0 win. Spoke too soon. As the clock approached 91 minutes, Roy Carroll was unable to hold onto a shot, and the rebound was put in.

The final moments were now going to be a lot nervier than hoped. Especially as Northern Ireland tried to put the ball out for a throw by the corner flag from kick-off, and only succeeded in putting the ball out for a goal kick.

Finland had a lot of possession in Northern Ireland’s half and won a corner. The crowd got nervous. Thankfully, Northern Ireland saw the game out and claimed the 3 points.

Elsewhere in the goup, Romania beat Faroe Islands 1-0 to remain top, 1 point ahead of Northern Ireland. The sides meet in the next matchday in June.

More importantly, Hungary were held to a 0-0 draw by Greece, meaning that Northern Ireland in 2nd place, 4 points clear of the Hungarians. Hopefully, Finland can get a result against Hungary in the next matchday.

The mathematics of qualification is, it’s too early, let’s just take one game at a time.

Before Romania, is Qatar in Crewe. Heading over for that game. The main appeal of that game is to visit a stadium i’ve never been to before, and to spend a day in Liverpool (haven’t been since 2010) afterwards.

So, having been to Glasgow, and got Crewe to come, it’s far too early to dream of my next Northern Ireland trip being of a gallic nature.

Photo Album

SCOTLAND 1-0 NORTHERN IRELAND 25.3.2014

Northern Ireland made the short trip to Hampden Park for their first match of 2015, a friendly against Scotland.

If 2014 was a year of great progress, Northern Ireland will be hoping 2015 continues in that fashion, which would make 2016 a very enjoyable year.

The lack of an international date in February this year necessitated this game, as both sides wanted to give players game time to ensure they don’t go into vital qualifiers this week “cold”

With Scotland facing Gibraltar at home on Sunday, they obviously chose Hampden Park for this game so they would have two games in Glasgow, and not have the inconvenience of travel withing Scotland.

It marked a departure in policy from the Scottish FA, as recent friendlies (barring England, which would obviously have a high demand for tickets) have been played at Easter Road or Pittodrie.

Either of those venues would have been perfectly suitable for this game. Either venue would have represented a first for me – i’ve never been to Pittodrie, and i’ve never been in the away end at Easter Road.

Northern Ireland were hoping to improve on (relatively) recent results against Scotland, failing to score in their previous three meetings (0-3, 0-0, 0-1)

I’d been to Hampden Park twice before, for Northern Ireland’s last game in Scotland in 2008, and the Scottish Cup Semi-Final in 2013 between Falkirk and Hibs, which took place on a weekend when I was in Glasgow, so I knew how to get there and what the local area was like, which was handy.

Somewhere near Hampden Park I wanted to visit but never got the chance to was Cathkin Park, former ground of Third Lanark, now a public park, with the terracing and pitch still there.

A video from 2011 of the venue can be found here.

Unsurprisingly, both teams made changes from their previous qualifier in November. If the players on the pitch were unfamiliar, the kits they were wearing was just as unfamiliar, with both teams wearing their away kit – Northern Ireland in blue and navy, Scotland in white, pink and yellow.

Northern Ireland had an early attacking moment when a cross was whipped into the box, but it was Scotland who had most of the attacking play and attempts on goal, Michael McGovern saving from a Steven Fletcher early on. Most of Scotland’s attacking play came through Ikechi Anya.

McGovern had a busy night. Curiously enough, Michael McGovern was playing in the lat match at Hampden Park I was at. He was busy that day as well, saving a penalty.

Northern Ireland didn’t help themselves, giving the ball away too easily in defensive positions. Too many Scotland attacks began that way.

Despite that, Northern Ireland looked good when they broke, though their attacks weren’t as frequent as people hoped. The best moment came when Oliver Norwood fired a shot over after a flick on from Josh Magennis.

The second-half saw the inevitible multiple substitutions. Scotland were still on top but didn’t have as many chances as they did in the first-half.

As each minute passed it looked like being a 0-0 draw. As the game neared it’s end, Northern Ireland had some attacks, the best of which saw Josh Magennis fired wide from a wide position. This was followed by a flurry of corners.

With five minutes to go, Scotland won a corner, which was headed home by Christophe Berra. It was a disappointing goal to concede. Even though Scotland were the better team, it was frustrating getting so close to a draw to lose the game.

Once they went 1-0 up, Scotland were able to see the game out, Northern Ireland couldn’t even get a chance to equalise.

Staying in Scottish football, Edinburgh City won the Lowland League, setting up a play-off against the Highland League winners to play-off against the team that finishes bottom of League Two. If they go up, I might go and see them if I go to Edinburgh in August.

So, Northern Ireland’s year is off to a losing start, but this wasn’t a must-win game. Finland on Sunday is. Let’s hope we can do it.

Photo Album

See also

Scotland v Northern Ireland 2008 Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Scotland 2011

Northern Ireland v Scotland 2011 Photo Album

THE FRIDAY FIVE – 20.3.2015

1. Coasts – Modern Love
2. Modest Mouse – Lampshades On Fire
3. Muse – Psycho
4. Florence and the Machine – What Kind Of Man
5. Angry Anderson – Suddenly

For some reason, I totally forgot about it being St Patrick’s Day coming up and thus, forgot to do a chart. Consider that corrected, and a bonus chart

TOP FIVE PATRICKS

1. Starfish
2. Sharpin (more commonly known as Pat Sharp)
3. Stewart
4. Swayze
5. Duffy

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS FROM NORTHERN IRELAND

1. Baltimora – Tarzan Boy
2. Wonder Villains – TV
3. Duke Special – Freewheel
4. Ash – Envy
5. Briana Corrigan – Love Me Now

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS FROM REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

1. Phil Lynott – Yellow Pearl
2. U2 – The Fly
3. Hozier – Take Me To Church
4. Kodaline – Honest
5. The Strypes – Blue Collar Jane

The line-up for Belsonic 2015 was announced last night. Stereophonics and Paloma Faith are the ones that appeal to me. Here’s five songs to look out for in August

FIVE SONGS BY BELSONIC PERFORMERS

1. Stereophonics – Dakota
2. Bastille – Pompeii
3. Stereophonics – Indian Summer
4. Rudimental – Free (ft Emeli Sande)
5. Paloma Faith – Thirty Minute Love Affair

And finally, The Charlatans have been announced to be coming to Belfast in May as part of Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival. So, Charlatans Top Five anyone?

FIVE SONGS BY THE CHARLATANS

1. Love Is The Key
2. Blackened Blue Eyes
3. Forever
4. The Only One I Know
5. North Country Boy

THE TWITTER LIST 2015

Hello and welcome to The Twitter List for 2015. It’s the 4th successive year i’ve done such a thing. The concept is simple, it’s a breakdown of people and organisations I think are worth following on Twitter, but from a Northern Ireland perspective.

Not everybody on the list is from Northern Ireland, or even reside there, but most do.

This list was ‘inspired’ by The Independent doing a Twitter List in 2012, but most of them were of no interest to me. Instead of waiting for a Northern Ireland version, I decided to do my own one. So here, is the list ……

LOCAL MUSIC

There are plenty of promoters involved in bringing concerts to Belfast. These include @davidhullpromo @magillpromoni @aei_2011 @rollinspromo @aikenpromotions @mcd_productions @noelmchale

Some of those work on an All Ireland basis, so are worth following if you fancy a road trip.

Of course, for actually buying CDs (yes, they exist) and DVDs, as well as instore events @headbelfast @hmvbelfast

For news and reviews @alcoholirony @chordblossom @acrosstheline

Belfast’s two big events are on Twitter. Expect their accounts to get busier over the coming months @tennentsvital @belsonicbelfast

Not a music festival, but it does feature some music, and talking about music, taking place in Bangor every September @aspectsfestival

In terms of journalists, there is of course, the legend that is @stu_bailie

Two concert venues worth following for news, and set times (so you can make you plans for that night) @odysseyarena @limelightni

If you enjoy live music, you might want to know where to get a ticket. You could always try @ticketmasterire

PHOTOGRAPHY

Many photographers use Twitter to showcase their work. The best of which isn’t with us any more, as it is an account set up by his relatives, keeping his work alive. @photosallan is a fascinating archive of Belfast photos from the 1970s onwards, of the work of press photographer Allan McCullough.

On a UK wide basis, @gettysport @stuart_photoafc @tomjenkinspix and @bluemcardle are worth following, especially if you like football.

If you love football photography, you should follow @homesoffootball

If you like your football photography to be of an Irish League variety, you should follow @cwood_95 and @darrangilpin

Press photographers worth folowing include @photomcq @kscott_04 and @snappercherry

Other photographers worth following include @emgornall and @azoraphoto

MARKETING/PR

Northern Ireland’s Marketing community is well represented on Twitter, with many organisations and people present on Twitter, often tweeting on behalf of their clients, including @rlagroup @dcpstrategicom @naked_pr @pmlgroupni @image_zoo @mcgilliemediapr @asg_pr @powerpeopleni @rumourmill_pr @grainnemcgarvey @jagocomms @acupoflee @hamillbosket @rnncomms @avbbrand @joannemcneill1 @thetomorrowlab @cipr_ni @ardmoreadv @informcomms @mammothbelfast @massivepr @chrislove1 @baxter_pr @mcenewsfeed @wearebluecuve @morrowcomms @freshwaterniroi @lkcomms @avbgroup @nlbothwell @aikenpr @lighthouseni @duffyrafferty @smartscomm @sineaddoyle @jprnewswire @cathy_martin @john_meg

For UK wide industry news, follow @marketinguk and @prweeknews

IRISH LEAGUE

Irish League football keeps growing and growing on Twitter. Journalists worth following include @garethhanna11 @ge_lurganmail (as the name suggests, works for the Lurgan Mail, obviously focusing on Glenavon) @mclarkeshow @egrantcameron @taggartjoel @liam_beckett @grahamluneybt @ourlogie @garethfullerton @markjmcintosh @laurejames @nialfoster @holtchris (and covering Yorkshire as a bonus)

Blogs and media outlets which cover Irish League football worth following include @sundaylifesport @nifootballdaily @bbcsportni @utvsport @thesocialclubni

Official accounts covering domestic football in Northern Ireland include @officialnifl @officialirishfa

If you like your news Linfield based an unofficial, follow @southstandsays and @linfield_fc

Official accounts of top flight clubs – @ballinamallard @ballymenaunited @cliftonvillefc @colerainefc @crusadersfc @dgnswifts @institute_fc @glenavon_fc @glentoran @officialblues @portadownfc @thepointfc

Challenging for promotion to the top flight – @ardsfc1900 @bangorfc @carrickrangers

Also worth following, working for Carrick Rangers – @bobocrfc

@vauxhallni is a account dedicated to the Narthern Ireland national team, run by their sponsors

PUBLIC SERVICES

Many Public Services in Northern Ireland are now on Twitter, and using it as a way of getting information to the public.

Government run Twitter accounts include @pressofficedrd @nidirect @niopressoffice @niexecutive

Other public body Twitter accounts worth following include @investni @consumercouncil @librariesni @hscboard @publichealthni

UK wide public accounts worth following include @ukcivilservice @guardianpublic

Police information (unmanned, so won’t reply if you tweet it) @psnibelfast

For travel and weather – @bbcnitravel @metofficeni

FUN

Twitter is mostly about fun, and there are plenty of accounts which bring you nothing but fun.

If you want to know about flags – @flagfacts

If you want to pitch TV ideas for shows starring footballers – @footballtvshows

Irish based satire – @whispersltd

UK based satire – @newsthump

A celebration of music artwork gone bad. Or good – @badalbumcovers

Remember, the customer is always right – @callprobs

Portraits of footballers, done on post-it notes @postitplayers

The adventures of Alan Curbishley trying to get another job in football management – @alansavailable

A guy called Jim who will paint anything you want. Anything. @jimllpaintit

A daily dose of Peep Show @peepshowqotd

A daily does of The Simpsons @simpsonsqotd

Internet comment boards. They attract the strangest people. @bestofthemail@mufc_facebook @rawk_meltdown

For the moments when life resembles Alan Partridge @accidentalp

Public Transport shenanigans @sleepycommuters @translinkpr

Seen a football shirt? Call @shirtspotter

For 90s nostalgia, follow @we_luv_the_90s

FOOTBALL

Each year, football gets bigger on Twitter, with more accounts to follow.

@groundtastic is the account of a magazine dedicated to football grounds, posting old pictures of football grounds from yesteryear

With qualification to Euro 2016 to be decided this year, @euroqualifiers is the official Twitter account of the competition.

@ronaldkoeman is rather entertaining, one of the few Premier League managers on Twitter, good for train and plane pictures going to and from matches.

If you want to know if there is a game on TV soon, follow @footieontv

For news, @skysportsnewshq is worth a follow.

Journalists worth following include @janineself @jacquioatley @samuelluckhurst @danielharris @marcwebber @brynlaw @stumathiesonmen @patmurphybbc @_manishbhasin @tim_vickery @robbopalmer @andymitten @dtguardian @blogdroed @sarahmufc93

If you like Spanish football, worth following is @english_as @ligabbva_eng @revistadelaliga

If you like old and retro football pictures @theskystrikers @scotsfootycards

Also worth following, is @footy40yearsago – tweeting football from 40 years ago, as live

Official governing bodies to follow @fifacom @uefaeuro

A club (Everton) PR person worth following is @efc_helenmayo

If you want to see football moments recreated in classic video game form – @8bitfootball

Bloggers worth following include @yicetor @unitedite @mirkobolesan @beardedgenius @seidodge

Going to London and want to see a game? @ldnfootyguide will give you the lowdown

A magazine account worth following, looking at the off-field issues of the game is @fcbusiness

The final is coming up soon, so you should probably follow @capitalone_cup

Another Twitter account of an English club competition that might interest you – @premierleague

Or possibly, @football_league

For latest news from League Of Ireland football, @sseairtricitylg

Official competition accounts of the two European club competitions @europaleague @championsleague

If you like to mock bad punditry – @howalanseesit @footballcliches

And if you want to complain about your team always being on last on Match Of The Day – @bbcmotd

For Man United related GIFs @beautifullyred

NORTHERN IRELAND MEDIA

Northern Ireland’s media is well represented on Twitter

Newspaper/Magazine accounts worth following include @beltel_business @irish_news @thesun_ni @nitravelnews @thesundaylife

TV news accounts to follow include @bbcnewsline @utvlivetonight @utvnews

TV continuity accounts to follow – @utvonair @@bbconeni

Journalists worth following include @skydavidblevins @alexkane221b @collettasmith @taramillstv @nevinfarrell @jolong03 @bigivanlitte @_chrisjones_ @sarahgirvin @markmcfadden @jamie_utv @kenreid_utv @citybeatsara @mlchealth @markdevenport @rblackbt @kimkellykk

@electionni covers election related news. It might get a bit busy this year.

If you enjoy random stories from the courts, your should follow @nevinfarrell

NATIONAL MEDIA

There are also media outlets and journalists outside Northern Ireland worth following.

Especially worth following, is @suttonnick for posting front and back pages from national newspapers late at night.

He is complimented by accounts looking at the media such as @ukpapers and @themediatweets

For TV news, follow @telegraph_tv and @radiotimes

Journalists worth following include @michaellcrick @chrisskuddersky @simon_price01 @eve_barlow @prodnose

JOBS

We all need one, and there are plenty of Twitter accounts to help you get or find one.

If you want to see the latest job listings in the UK Civil Service – @ukcsjobs

For advice on jobhunting – @guardiancareers @concisecv

Reruitment Agencies operating in Northern Ireland – @premiereni @corvus_jobs @brightwaterni @kennedyrec @diamondjobs @graftonrec @abacusjobs @lynnrecruitment

For jobs listings in Northern Ireland – @qubjobs @coolfmjobs @niwork @nijobfinder @recruitni @nijobscom

BELFAST

There are quite a few accounts worth following for events/news in Belfast.

@belfastbookfest is the official account of the Belfast Book Festival, unsurprisingly. It usually takes place in June.

Another event account worth following is @cqaf

@ulsterrugby for all the latest news from Ravenhill.

@culturenightbel is one of the highlights of the year in Belfast. It usually takes place in the middle Friday in September.

If you want to know what Belfast folk are Tweeting about, follow @trendsbelfast

@extramuralactiv is a good account to follow for Street Art/Murals in Belfast.

If you want to go to a show at the BBC, @bbcaudiencetix and @bbcnievents are the accounts to follow.

NI JOURNALISTS/WRITERS ABROAD

There are plenty of Northern Ireland journalists living and working far afield. Ones to follow are @nornironknight @sarahrainey4 @billneelynbc @skysportspaulg @skyorla @ianwoods @jenofcroths @kellyallen01

…….. AND FINALLY

I hope you enjoyed that, and discovered some new accounts worth following. It would be rude not to do some self promotion, you can follow me on @andrewastewart

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2014

So, my football watching is over for 2014. Time to look back at the year just gone. And what better way to do it than with a load of stats.

Games : 54

Goals Seen : 164

Red Cards : 17 (includes Rhys Marshall getting sent-off after the final whistle, but not Gary Hamilton being sent-off as a substitute before he entered the field)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 4

Hat-Tricks : 1 (Robin Van Persie, Manchester United v Olympiacos)

Teams Seen : 37

Accrington Stanley (1st time), AIK Solna (1st time), Ards, B36 Torshavn, Ballinamallard United, Ballyclare Comrades (1st time), Ballymena United, Bangor, Bray Wanderers (1st time), Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Cowdenbeath (1st time), Crusaders, Drogheda United, Dungannon Swifts, Everton (1st time), Exeter City (1st time), Faroe Islands, Glenavon, Glentoran, Harland and Wolff Welders, Heart Of Midlothian, Hibernian, Hull City (1st time), Institute, Leyton Orient (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Olympiacos (1st time), Peterborough United (1st time), Portadown, Real Madrid, Sevilla (1st time), Tottenham Hotspur, Warrenpoint Town,

Stadiums Visited : 19

Ballymena Showgrounds, Brisbane Road (1st time), Cardiff City Stadium (1st time), Carlisle Grounds (1st time), Coleraine Showgrounds, Crown Ground (1st time), Drumahoe (1st time), Ferney Park, Milltown (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, The Oval, Tynecastle, White Hart Lane (1st time), Windsor Park

Competitions : 15

County Antrim Shield, European Championship, European Cup, European Super Cup (1st time), FA Premier League, Football League One (1st time), Football League Two (1st time), Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship, League Of Ireland, Northern Ireland League Cup, Scottish Championship (1st time), Steel and Sons Cup, UEFA Cup

Curiousities :

No real curiosities this year. There were two twins on opposing sides, but i’d already seen it. Other than that, a player setting up a goal with no boots. It was a poor year for curiousities.

UEFA 100 Club : Everton, Sevilla (now at 32 clubs)