THE FRIDAY FIVE – 23.3.2018

1. Frank Turner – Blackout
2. Manic Street Preachers – Distant Colours
3. Kylie Minogue – Stop Me From Falling
4. George Ezra – Paradise
5. The Killers – Wonderwall

Firstly, an apology for there being no Friday Five. I was either busy or lazy, depending on how you look at it, and didn’t get a chance to do one.

That meant I didn’t get to do a St Patrick’s Day chart for you. So, either 1 week late or 51 weeks early, here’s some St Patrick’s Day charts for you.


1. The Adventures – Broken Land
2. Brianna Corrigan – Hold Me Now
3. Baltimora – Tarzan Boy
4. Relish – Rainbow Zephyr
5. Snow Patrol – How To Be Dead


1. Phil Lynott – Yellow Pearl
2. U2 – The Fly
3. The Strypes – Get Into It
4. Sinead Lohan – Whatever It Takes
5. Kodaline – I’m Ready



Bryan Robson, in action for England, is the cover star as the 1986 World Cup gets closer.

The magazine opens with rumoured tansfer activity by the Old Firm, with Rangers wanting to sign Richard Gough (he would eventually sign in 1987, after a year at Tottenham Hotspur) from Dundee United and Andy Goram (It took until 1991, from Hibs, for him to join) while Celtic want to sign Stevie Clarke from St Mirren. That is ex Chelsea player and West Brom manager Steve Clarke.

Another Scottish player potentially on the move is John Robertson of Hearts, who has been attracting attention from Tottenham Hotspur.

With the World Cup getting closer, there is a double page spread previewing Poland’s chances.

Canada also get a preview. UK fans will get a glimpse of them before the tournament as they play England in a friendly at a 16,000 capacity venue, due to England manager Bobby Robson insisting that the game be played on grass, and not artificial grass that is used in Canada’s bigger stadiums.

Bryan Robson uses his column to argue the case for England as World Cup winners, giving a brief profile of the 22 players tasked with taking the trophy home from Mexico.

Swindon Town won the 4th division, and this gets a double page spread, with manager Lou Macari giving most of the credit to defender Colin Calderwood.

Also promoted and getting a double page spread were Norwich City.

In World Cup news, Socrates was left out of Brazil’s friendly against East Germany, while West Germany manager Franz Beckenbauer says this World Cup has come too soon for his team, but they have a great chance of winning the trophy in 1990.

The centre page poster is of AC Milan’s English duo of Ray Wilkins and Mark Hateley, settling in in Italy, complete with family portraits. Former Motherwell player Tom Hately wasn’t pictured, because he wasn’t born until 1989.

Charlie Nicholas uses his column to discuss the vacant manager’s position at Arsenal, suggesting that his preference is Alex Ferguson or Billy McNeill.

John Fashanu gets a full page profile, described as “articulate TV and radio star who listens to Dire Straits and Phil Collins”. His biggest ambition is to appear on The Cosby Show. Fashanu would be going to the World Cup in Mexico as a pundit for Nigerian TV. Fashanu describes himself as “Mean and nasty”

The magazine goes green for a few pages, with features on Northern Ireland and Plymouth Argyle.

There was an advert for the following week’s edition, which had a World Cup wallchart.

It was a World Cup that Trevor Francis won’t be playing. He tells Shoot of his disappointment of not being selected for England, and that he’s not planning on leaving Italy, where he is currently based.


Action from the opening game of Mexico 86 between Bulgaria and Italy is on the cover of Shoot, as they bring you the latest news from the ongoing World Cup.

England are hoping to win it for the first time since 1966, and their winning captain that day, Bobby Moore, is now a columnist for Shoot, and he lists the players that have impressed him in the opening games, such as Socrates, Maradona, Platini, Papin, Boniek, as well as Randy Regan and Bruce Wilson of Canada.

Bryan Robson is hoping to emulate his fellow Shoot columnist by lifting the trophy, but it hasn’t got off to the best of starts, as he writes of his frustration of England failing to win their first two games, but predicts England will reach the knock out stages. Beside his column is an advert for New Balance, which he endorses.

There is a double page interview with Jim Leighton, where he reveals that he didn’t want to be a goalkeeper.

News from Mexico includes that Fenerbache made approached Franz Beckenbauer to quit West Germany and become manager of Fenerbache, while in Italy, there is a potential match fixing scandal about to blow open.

Italy’s group opponents Bulgaria haven’t made many friends, by holding training behind closed doors and having armed guards outside their training facilities.

Shoot’s man in Mexico, Bill Day brands England’s performances “A disgrace”, while being complimentary about Northern Ireland, despite losing 2-1 to Spain.

Ray Daly from County Offaly writes to Jimmy Greaves to suggest that when Ron Atkinson’s inevitable departure as Manchester United manager is confirmed, the job should go to United legend Lou Macari.

There is a round-up of results from the 1985-1986 Scottish League seasons, with Steve Cowan of Hibs being top scorer, 2 ahead of Brian McClair. Both men would go on to win league titles outside their native country, Cowan with Portadown and McClair with Manchester United.

Outside of the World Cup, Republic Of Ireland are making progress under Jack Charlton, already lifting a trophy by winning a triangular tournament in Iceland against the hosts and Czechoslovakia.

Steve Hodge gets a full page profile having broken into the England squad in time to head to Mexico. A potential Aston Villa team-mate of Hodge’s is John Hewitt, in a contract dispute with Aberdeen, which gets a full page feature. Discussions are on hold at the moment, due to Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson being in Mexico in his role as Scotland manager.

Nigel Winterburn of Wimbledon, looking forward to playing in the top flight for the first time, gets a full page interview, where he credits his former manager at Birmingham, Jim Smith, with saving his career.

There is also a full page profile of League of Ireland champions Shamrock Rovers.

In club news, Alex Ferguson spoke of his dislike for agents after Eric Black moved to Metz, while Liam Brady was leaving unsubtle hints for Arsenal to buy him back.


The other way around from the movie series, it is Bond sending rather than receiving an SOS, as Birmingham City manager John Bond wants to bring cover star Trevor Francis beck to St Andrews from Sampdoria.

As you open the magazine, Mark Hughes tells Shoot that he doesn’t want to leave Manchester United, amidst rumours of a move to Barcelona.

In news, Terry Venables is linked with a move to Spurs at the end of the season, while leaving White Hart Lane could be Ally Dick, linked with a move to Hibs.

In World Cup news, Billy Bingham hits back at criticism of Northern Ireland’s preparation being against heavyweight sides such as Denmark and France, while Scotland manager Alex Ferguson has added Archie Knox and Craig Brown to his backroom staff for their campaign in Mexico.

Cover star Francis tells Shoot he is still available for England, having missed a recent friendly due to injury, and suggests he could create a place for himself in right midfield in Mexico.

Bryan Robson uses his column to state that the recent signing of Terry Gibson could be a boost for Manchester United in the title race.

In Scotland, Falkirk winger Jimmy Gilmour is playing so well, he is drawing comparisons to his uncle, former Celtic winger Jimmy Johnstone.

Crystal Palace manager Steve Coppell, only 30, tells Shoot that his side have had to change their style of play in order to get results, after previously missing out despite playing well.

Having saved Manchester City and Swansea City from relegation, John Bond is looking for a hat-trick by keeping Birmingham City up. In order to do this, he tells Shoot he wants to bring Trevor Francis back to the club, after Francis left to join Nottingham Forest in 1979 in England’s first £1m transfer.

Gary Mabbutt gets scouted by Shoot during Tottenham Hotspur’s match against Nottingham Forest, stating that he was exposed against a striker like Peter Davenport.

Back to Scotland, and Aberdeen’s John Hewitt tells Shoot that Dons manager Alex Ferguson is hard to please.

West Brom’s George Reilly tells Shoot he is happy at The Hawthorns after a short spell at Newcastle United.

Kenny Swain tells Shoot that he believes his experience of winning the title with Aston Villa in 1981 will help Portsmouth as they aim to get promoted to the top flight for the first time in 27 years.

West Ham goalkeeper Phil Parkes is having the best season of his career, and owes it to giving up booze after a drink driving ban in January 1985.

Ian Rush uses his column to praise his Liverpool team-mate Sammy Lee, who is celebrating his 27th birthday thsi week.

Meanwhile, Shoot does a double page spread on how Sunderland fans are losing patience with Lawrie McMenemy, after failing to launch a promotion bid.

The magazine ends with a “Focus On …..” Gordon Durie. His favourite bands are Depeche Mode and Simple Minds.


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


In the first week of October 2017, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Germany in a World Cup Qualifier.

That was sandwiched inbetween me going out around Belfast to check out Street Art which was painted as part of Hit The North, these pieces were still works in progress when I went to photograph them in September

The following day, I went to my one Rugby match a year, as Ulster beat Wasps in the European Cup.

It was back to football the following day, seeing Linfield take on Coleraine.

There was a glut of concerts towards the end of the month, going to see Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, OMD and Liam Gallagher, with Linfield’s matches against Ards and Crusaders sandwiched inbetween.

Northern Ireland v Germany

Northern Ireland v Germany Photo Album

Hit The North Mop-Up

Hit The North Mop-Up Photo Album

Ulster v Wasps

Ulster v Wasps Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at The Limelight

Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Crusaders

OMD live at Mandela Hall

OMD live at Mandela Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Ards

Liam Gallagher live at The Odyssey

Liam Gallagher live at The Odyssey Photo Album


September 2017 began with a road trip, and a long one at that, to Edinburgh, to see Linfield take on Spartans in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Two days later, it was another football match with an international feel, an actual international, as Northern Ireland took on Czech Republic at Windsor Park.

The following weekend was busy, taking in Ryan Adams at Ulster Hall and then Linfield’s match against Glentoran.

There was more football to follow, taking in Linfield’s matches against Crusaders and Ballinamallard.

The following weekend was football free but not photo free, as I was out capturing Culture Night, and Street Art painted as part of Hit The North.

The month ended with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville. The less said about which, the better.

Spartans v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic Photo Album

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Linfield v Glentoran

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Culture Night 2017

Culture Night 2017 Photo Album

Hit The North 2017

Hit The North 2017 Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield


March 2017 began for me with a trip to Seaview to see Linfield beat Crusaders in an Irish Cup tie. That was followed a few days later by my first concert of 2017, seeing Blossoms at The Limelight.

It was then back to football for a Monday night match between Linfield and Cliftonville, and then returning to Windsor Park the following Saturday to see Linfield take on Ards.

I was then out on the trail of Street Art, getting photos of a mural of a Dancer in Belfast City Centre.

The following weekend, I headed to Fermanagh to see Linfield get a late win against Ballinamallard.

I then headed out again in search of Street art, getting photographs of a new mural of East Belfast legends.

The month ended with a trip to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Norway in a World Cup Qualifier.

Crusaders v Linfield

Blossoms live at The Limelight

Blossoms live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Ards

The Dancer

The Dancer Photo Album

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

East Belfast Wall Of Legends

East Belfast Wall Of Legends Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Norway

Northern Ireland v Norway Photo Album


It was the night Belfast had been waiting for since the 1980s. It was the hottest ticket in town. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a ticket to see Bananarama at The Odyssey, so I had to make do with Northern Ireland’s World Cup Play-Off First Leg against Switzerland, as Michael O’Neill’s side aimed to avoid 2018 being a Cruel Summer.

When the draw was being done, everyone wanted to avoid Italy. Those that believe in omens will have wanted Italy, due to the fact that the only time they failed to qualify for the World Cup, it was Northern Ireland who eliminated them. Realistically, when the draw was done back in the summer of 2015, the Runner-Up of the group containing Spain and Italy was the one to avoid.

That didn’t mean that any of the three other teams would be easy. Switzerland can call on players from Juventus, AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Benfica. They are clearly a decent team.

There were nine groups in Europe, Switzerland’s tally of 27 points out of 30 would have been good enough to win five of them.

Their group was realistically a shoot-out between them and Portugal, with 2-0 wins for the home team, Portugal beating Switzerland in the final group game, and Portugal going through on goal difference.

Switzerland had fallen into the Play-Offs, while Northern Ireland had been aiming and preparing for them as soon as the draw was done in the Summer of 2015, even though they could have been in the race for automatic qualification if they had beaten Germany.

Northern Ireland were hoping this would give them an advantage.

The teams walked out, with Northern Ireland fans showing Love In The First Degree for their side. They were led out by Steven Davis, winning his 100th cap.

Davis won his 1st cap in a Friendly at home to Canada in 2005. Northern Ireland lost 1-0. Canada played 70 minutes with ten men. That was where we were at. It wasn’t even Northern Ireland’s worst result this century, and that’s Really Saying Something.

When he left the pitch that night, I doubt he would have imagined he would win 99 more caps, and lead his side out in a World Cup Play-Off.

Both sides have a bit of previous in World Cup Qualifying, being in the same group for the 1966 tournament. Both games were home wins, 1-0 for Northern Ireland and 2-1 for Switzerland. That combination of results would be enough for Northern Ireland to qualify for Russia.

I was there the last time Switzerland visited Windsor Park, a 1-0 win for Northern Ireland in a Friendly in 1998 with a goal from Darren Patterson.

That night, it was two wins out of two under new manager Lawrie McMenemy. We all thought we were on our way to better things. It was Aaron Hughes first two games for Northern Ireland. The teenager from Newcastle United must have thought international football was easy.

Hughes has seen a lot in almost 20 years as an international footballer, but he would be seeing this from the sidelines, as he was ruled out through injury.

The last time Northern Ireland faced Switzerland was in a friendly in 2004 which finished 0-0. It was a forgettable game, except for Chris Brunt, who made his international debut that night. When he left the pitch that night ……

It was another player on the left hand side for Northern Ireland, Stuart Dallas, who was involved in the first main talking point of the game, when he was fouled by Fabian Schar. It was dangerous, reckless and nowhere near the ball. The referee only awarded a yellow card. It should have been a red card.

On 24 minutes, it’s a red card. On 34 minutes, it’s a red card. 4 minutes in, the referee bottled it, afraid of putting himself under pressure and in the spotlight, so he went for the easy decision, and the wrong one. He bottled it.

For the first time in a long time, Northern Ireland looked nervous.

Switzerland, by contrast, were comfortable on the ball. Xherdan Shaqiri was the focal point of Switzerland’s attacks, getting the ball Wherever Whenever he wanted.

Granit Xhaka had Switzerland’s first attempt on goal, firing just over from the edge of the box.

There were similarities with the Linfield v Celtic match in July, with the away team having all of the possession.

Unlike Linfield, Northern Ireland were able to hold out for the first 20 minutes. If they didn’t, it looked like being a longer evening than it already was.

Switzerland’s first chance came when Haris Seferovic got a foot on a cross from Shaqiri.

I was behind the goal and thought it was going in. It was going in, but Michael McGovern got a hand on it. He always gets a hand on it. We were all thankful that he did.

Despite all their possession, it took a lump upfield and a stretched leg to have an attempt on goal. A case of It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It, and it almost brought results.

Northern Ireland finished the half strongly, having pressure on Switzerland’s goal. If they were going to make the most of a set piece, they would have to be clever about it, due to the referee being fussy about any physical contact in aerial tussles.

Having survived the first-half, Northern Ireland couldn’t relax in the second, with Shaqiri narrowly curling a shot wide less than 30 seconds into the half.

A dangerous cross saw Seferovic unable to get a leg on it as he did in the first-half. If he did, he would have scored.

The pressure continued, it looked like it was only a matter of time before Switzerland scored.

It came just before the hour, in controversial fashion, when a shot hit Corry Evans on the shoulder with his back to goal. A penalty was awarded.

I didn’t get a clear view at the game. Firstly, because I was at the other end, and secondly, because some manchild in front of me were waving flags that were left on seats prior to kick-off. Seriously, why do we give these people toys to play with? It’s not Eurovision for crying out loud.

And don’t even start me on people who spend the match passing beach balls around.

Just like fans of Martina Hingis, we were all desperate to see a Swiss Miss. We were to be disappointed as Ricardo Rodriguez put Switzerland 1-0 up.

Switzerland had been given a massive Help.

Northern Ireland had a late flurry when Josh Magennis headed wide from a free-kick. He should have been hitting the target from there. If he did, he would have scored.

Chris Brunt had a free-kick from outside the box just go wide.

There was then a penalty box scramble where a Northern Ireland player couldn’t get a clear shooting position. They couldn’t even get enough space to even speculatively toepoke it towards goal.

Switzerland held out for the 1-0 win. Disappointing. Northern Ireland are up against it but not out of it.

99.99999% of winning scorelines will be good enough in Basle. The only one that won’t sent them through is 1-0, but it won’t put them out.

We’ll have to get a performance like those done by Billy Bingham’s sides in the 1980s.

There was an advert around that time for IDB, the forerunner for Invest NI.

The words of that advert are apt, over 30 years on.

So come on Northern Ireland, come on. There’s a whole lot of work to be done. You can make it in the end, with a little help from your friends. So come on Northern Ireland, come on.

Photo Album


Usually, when the top seed arrives in Belfast at this stage of a World Cup Qualifying campaign, it is an opportunity to see some famous names and a glamour game to look back on at the end of another miserable campaign. Except, this time, it was a bit different.

Germany arrived at Windsor Park with acht wins out of acht, and would have qualified if they made it neun out of neun. In fact, even eins point would have done.

Northern Ireland knew that a win would put them in contention for automatic qualification in the last game and at worst, secure a Play-Off spot.

Northern Ireland might have already secured 2nd in the group, but not quite a Play-Off spot reserved for one of the eight best runners-up.

I’m old enough to remember when Northern Ireland ere Germany’s bogey team, a five game unbeaten run against them in the 1980s and 1990s. Since then, it’s been six successive wins for Germany.

It was a milestone match for Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill, his 50th in charge. All he wanted was for his 52nd and 53 to be World Cup Play-Off matches.

Germany started the game dominant in possession, and made the most of it when a poor clearance made it’s way to Sebastian Rudy to fire home from outside the box to put Germany 1-0 up after just siebenundsiebzig seconds to silen …….

Well, no, it didn’t quite silence Windsor Park. Anyone turning up two minutes late might have thought Northern Ireland were kicking off to start the match, although the scoreboard might have given them a clue.

Northern Ireland’s response was immediate, with Gareth McAuley agonisingly unable to get his head on a corner. If he did, it might have just been another legendary goal from him.

Germany responded to Northern Ireland’s response by going in search of a second goal, with Leon Goretzka having a header saved from close range by Michael McGovern while Sandro Wagner.

Wagner had better luck with his next attempt, firing home from the edge of the box to make it 2-0. You could see that the shot was coming once he got the space, the problem was, trying to get close to him.

It didn’t quite silence the Windsor Park crowd, but it was now a lot quieter.

Northern Ireland had a chance to pull a goal back before half-time when a cross found Corry Evans, but he couldn’t get a chance to set himself up for a shot, and when he did, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen was able to make himself big.

From the resulting corner, Kyle Lafferty had a free header easily caught by Ter Stegen. If someone had been able to run and and get even the slightest touch, they would surely have scored.

Northern Ireland knew that if they could pull a goal back, they could have a go at a famous comeback win. The problem was, getting that goal. Opportunities to get it were rare.

Conor Washingon had a glorious one in the second-half when created space in the penalty area, and hit the bar with the whole goal to aim at.

You got the feeling that was Northern Ireland’s big moment. They already had two. They weren’t going to get any more.

On 86 minutes, Joshua Kimmich made sure of the drei points for Germany when he fired home from a tight angle to make it 3-0.

Northern Ireland had a late flurry and pulled a goal back to make it 3-1. It was the final act of the game, and only a consolation.

The initial observation, was that it wasn’t as important as his only other Windsor Park goal, but it could be, if Northern Ireland secure a Play-Off on goal difference.

Attention turned to other groups. Scotland beating Slovakia helped Northern Ireland but not so much in terms of second place ranking.

Some fans already dreaming of a Play-Off against Scotland. If it did happen, Annual Leave is tight for me in November, I would have to do an unbelievable amount of begging if the away leg was on any day but the Saturday.

Talking of Scotland, i’m not going there this weekend, as flights to get to Dundee for Linfield’s match against Dundee United are just too expensive.

I’ve done the maths, and a Congo win against Egypt will secure a Play-Off for Northern Ireland. Erm, I think I might have to redo my calculations on that one.

Friday teatime saw the unlikely sight of Northern Ireland and Republic Of Ireland fans coming together to cheer on the same team, Georgia, as they faced Wales.

Wales won 1-0. If they failed to win, Northern Ireland would have secured a Play-Off place.

I can’t see Republic Of Ireland winning in Cardiff and expect to see Wales in the Play-Offs. They would be the team to avoid as they would have so much form and momentum going into it.

That is why Northern Ireland must get a positive result in Norway, to sign off the group on a high and avoid going into two big games on the back of two defeats.

With regards to the Play-Offs and best runners-up, it’s an absolute farce that the final games aren’t all taking place on the same day rather than being staggered across three days.

Norway go into this game on the back of an 8-0 win over San Marino, but that was preceded by a 6-0 defeat against Germany. It’s hard to get a barometer of where they are at.

Getting ahead of schedule, i’ve had a look at the Euro 2020 Qualifiers, which will have Play-Offs in March 2020. Yes, you read that right. What a farce.

Logically, that means the draw will take place in March or April 2020, meaning fans will have less then three months to arrange travel for a tournament that will already be a logistical nightmare due to it taking place all over Europe.

There’s going to be a shitstorm over it. You read it here first.

That can wait, it’s all about Northern Ireland getting a positive result in Norway to secure a Play-Off spot.

They might not even need it if Bosnia fail to beat Belgium. Just imagine a statue of Marouane Fellaini outside Belfast City Hall.

Photo Album