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)

FOOTBALL IN 2015

Another year of football watching is over, and it’s all about looking forward to 2015. But what, realistically, are my hopes for 2015?

Well, these are my football watching hopes for 2015.

LINFIELD

Well, stating the obvious, I obviously want Linfield to win the Irish League and the Irish Cup.

This season’s Irish Cup draw has already given a treat in the form of an away game against Tobermore United – another new ground to visit.

In terms of pre-season, it’s the usual wishlist of Dundela, PSNI or Stranraer away. Seeing as we invited Cowdenbeath over for a friendly in the summer of 2014, would it be too much to ask for them to return the favour in the summer of 2015?

In terms of promotion, i’m hoping Carrick Rangers go up as i’ve never been there. So again, a new ground to visit. If there is to be another team promoted, hopefully it will be Ards or Bangor, with an away game early in the season on a sunny day.

Of course, there is also the ongoing redevelopment work at Windsor Park. It is expected for this to be completed by November.

Obviously, i’d be getting use of the South Stand, but hopefully, i’ll get an opportunity to sit in the Railway Stand just to see what it’s like. I’m guessing it might have to be used for a Linfield match before it is passed for a Northern Ireland match, in the same way Wembley had to stage an underage international with a restricted attendance before being allowed to host full events.

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Obviously, i’m hoping for Linfield to be in the European Cup, but i’m hoping that the other Irish League sides get fallen giants who are part of the 101 Club, that I can tick off my list.

The closest an Irish League side got in 2014 was when Crusaders got duffed by a Swedish team who went on to play Torino.

Seeing as Glenavon are best mates with PSV Eindhoven, if they want to invite them over for a friendly, that would be great.

MANCHESTER UNITED

I’m hoping to get to Old Trafford before the end of the season. I’ve nothing booked yet, but i’m eyeing either Tottenham in March or Arsenal in May.

Hopefully, there’s be European Cup football returning in September 2015. I might be tempted to a there and back group game. Just have to wait until the 2015-2016 fixture list comes out.

NORTHERN IRELAND

I’m planning to be at four Northern Ireland games in 2015 – the home games against Finland, Romania, Hungary and Greece. I bought a Block Booking for the first time ever for this campaign. The downside is, i’m going to go to hell for attending the Finland game, which is on a Sunday night.

Tempted by the Scotland friendly in March. Haven’t booked anything yet, but a quick there and back for an away friendly is very tempting.

EURO 2016

Whatever the fate of Northern Ireland’s qualification campaign, i’m planning to be in France in the summer of 2016. The reason i’m posting it with reference to 2015 is, the flights will probably go on sale in August/September 2015, and i’m planning to be straight in with my booking. The plan is to go out for the first four days of the tournament and be based in Paris, with two games there, one in Lille (one hour away) and Lens (one hour away)

BIRMINGHAM

Toying with the idea of heading to Birmingham in September for the Rugby World Cup, as Australia and South Africa play on successive days at Villa Park. If I was to do this, i’d be planning to try and take in a football match taking place in the city (if feasible) at either Birmingham City or Walsall. Nothing definite in this idea though.

BARCELONA

Going to Barcelona for a weekend in February. Espanyol are at home to Valencia that weekend, so i’m hoping to take in that match. I’m also looking at lower league sides in the area to try and catch more than one game. The most likely bet is CE Europa, who play in Spain’s 4th tier. Frustratingly, Barcelona B (in Spain’s second tier) are away that weekend, to Real Zaragoza, a 101 Club member.

LEAGUE OF IRELAND

I don’t plan to go to a League Of Ireland game every year, but there’s usually something that takes me to Dublin, so I end up taking in a game. If I do end up taking in a game in Dublin, hopefully, it will be UCD, as the Bellefield Bowl is the only football ground in Dublin I haven’t been to.

SCOTLAND

As well as the previously mentioned international i’m tempted by, i’m planning to head to Edinburgh in August for the festival. Obviously, there’ll be Hibs and Hearts, but i’m hoping they’ll be at home on a Sunday, leaving the Saturday free to see Spartans or Edinburgh City, hopefully by now promoted to League Two (4th tier)

Of the two, Edinburgh City look the most likely. The downside is, they play at an athletics stadium.

MOROCCO

One place i’m definitely not visiting in 2015 is Morocco. I was tempted as they were the host of the 2015 African Cup Of Nations. It turned out I made the right decision by not making plans, as they were stripped of hosting rights, which were given to Equatorial Guinea, which is a bit harder to get to.

2014 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

October was mostly spent at Windsor Park, with four Linfield matches and a Northern Ireland match. There was other stuff too.

The first Saturday of the month saw me see Linfield take on Ballymena United at Windsor Park. As the month wore on, the frequent visits to Windsor Park allowed me the chance to document the ongoing redevelopment, from the still unfamiliar surroundings of the North Stand.

The following Saturday, it was Windsor Park again, but for an international between Northern Ireland and Faroe Islands. Unlike club games, I was in The Kop. This view allowed me to get some final photos of the South Stand at Windsor Park, as it entered it’s final days before complete demolition.

Two days after Northern Ireland’s win, I was back at Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Institute, which kicked-off late due to a power failure at the ground.

The next day, I went to see George Ezra in concert, at Winds ….. I jest, The Limelight.

Back to Windsor Park on the final two Saurdays of the month, to see Linfield take on Crusaders and Cliftonville, with some Street Art on North Street (missed out from Culture Night, the previous month) and Duke Of York

Linfield v Ballymena United

Northern Ireland v Faroe Islands

Northern Ireland v Faroe Islands Photo Album

Linfield v Institute

George Ezra Live At The Limelight

George Ezra Live At The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

North Street Art Extra/Duke Of York

North Street Art Extra/Duke Of York Photo Album

Linfield v Crusaders

PHOTO OF THE SEASON 2013-2014

So, another football season is over, time to look back. It’s taken in four countries and various stadiums, teams and levels. There was a lot of pictures, so here are my favourites. Feel free to vote for yours :

FUGLAFJORDUR

Taken just after the final whistle of Linfield’s match with Fuglafjordur as fans applauded, the composition and framing just works for me which is why I love the photo.

SKODA

Taken before Linfield’s match with Skoda Xanthi, again, the composition and the light works for me, as supporters walk to The Kop, ready for the 90 (well, in this match, it was 120) minutes that await.

JEFFREY

Like the other two, it’s all about the composition, as David Jeffrey observes the action during a pre-season match against Derriaghy CC

RICHMOND

Taken during my trip to Dublin, I took in a St Patrick’s Athletic game. The colours just make this photo for me, as is the fact you came see a rainbow over the stadium.

CAMERAS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Portugal match, the two cameras, focused on the action in sync does it for me, alongside the composition of the players, so small in comparison with their surroundings.

BRISBANE ROAD

I’m a sucker for arty pics of football stadiums. I took this during a trip to London, when I took in a match at Leyton Orient.

THE OVAL

Linfield fans looking on, under the floodlights, as their side has a free-kick against Glentoran at The Oval.

ROONEY

Manchester United fans looking on as Wayne Rooney prepares to take a free-kick against Olympiacos.

SEAVIEW

Linfield fans looking one at a match at Seaview. Seaview is always good for photos.

BLUE

Arty one, take of seats in the South Stand at Linfield’s last game at Windsor Park before redevelopment, which the South Stand will be one of the main areas getting redeveloped.

CLARKE

Taken on the last day of the league season, love the composition, especially of the two players, one with the ball, and one trying to win the ball back,

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : 2013-2014

Barring something amazing, my matchgoing 2013-2014 season is over, time for a statistical analysis.

There were no curiousities to report. Went to some games, saw some goals, visited some new grounds. Standard stuff.

Matches Attended : 47

Goals Seen : 139

Red Cards : 23

Hat-Tricks : 2

Cristiano Ronaldo (Northern Ireland v Portugal)
Robin Van Persie (Manchester United v Olympiacos)

Penalties Missed/Saved : 2

Highest Scoring Match : 7 (Linfield 5-2 Ards, Glenavon 2-5 Linfield)

Countries Seen Matches In : 4

England, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland

Teams Seen Play : 31

Ards, Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Cliftonville, Crusaders, Crystal Palace (1st time) Derriaghy CC, Drogheda United, Dundee United (1st time), Dungannon Swifts, Everton (1st time), Glenavon, Glentoran, Hibernian, IF Fuglafjordur (1st time), Leyton Orient (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Peterborough United (1st time) Portadown, Portugal, Russia (1st time) Skoda Xanthi (1st time), St Patrick’s Athletic, Tottenham Hotspur, Warrenpoint Town (1st time)

Competitions Watched : 11

County Antrim Shield, European Cup, FA Premier League, Football League One (1st time), Irish Cup, Irish League, League Of Ireland, Northern Ireland League Cup, Scottish Premier League, UEFA Cup, World Cup,

Stadiums Visited : 18

Ballymena Showgrounds, Brisbane Road (1st time), Coleraine Showgrounds, Dixon Park (1st time), Easter Road, Ferney Park, Milltown (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Richmond Park, Seaview, Seycon Park, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, The Oval, White Hart Lane (1st time), Windsor Park,

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – SEPTEMBER

September began for me with the World Cup Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Portugal. Everything looked set for a Northern Ireland win, until Ronaldo turned on his magic, aided by playing against nine men.

The next day, it was back to Irish League action, as I made my first visit to Dixon Park, to see Linfield take on Ards.

The following weekend, I was Old Trafford bound. A trip with a difference, as it was my first visit with David Moyes as United manager, for the game against Crystal Palace.

There was much hype in the build-up about a Belgian on the bench about to make his first appearance for United at Old Trafford. Little did we know, it would be another Belgian on the bench that day we would be falling in love with over the season.

Seven days later, I was on my travels again, to Fermanagh, to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard, getting some nice shots on a sunny day, and watching Linfield win.

To end the month, it was back to Windsor Park for the first time in three weeks, to see Linfield take on Coleraine, which was won by Linfield with an injury time goal.

The sunny days might have been ending, but the football season was in full swing. Time to look forward to the Winter months.

Northern Ireland v Portugal

Northern Ireland v Portugal Photo Album

Ards v Linfield

Manchester United v Crystal Palace

Manchester United v Crystal Palace Photo Album

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine