PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2017-2018

I hope you’ve enjoyed the month by month look back at the 2017-2018. The less said about what happened on the pitch, the better.

I took a lot of photos, so i’ve rounded up my favourites.

Feel free to vote for your favourite.

PLATT LANE

This was taken in June last year when The Oval was being used for filming a movie about Bert Trautmann, and was decorated to look like Maine Road. I went to get some photos.

I specifically wanted one with 1950s Maine Road and 2017 Oval both in the same shot, and this was my favourite from that day.

CLANDEBOYE

You have roadworks to thank for this photo.

I was held up heading to Ards v Linfield and missed the first couple of minutes.

This was the scene that greeted me as I entered, a crowd with their eyes fixated on the pitch on a warm summer evening.

GARRETT

I like the composition of this photo.

You may be surprised that Robert Garrett is attacking and not defending, he had just kept the ball in play and was now being surrounded by two Dungannon defenders.

PHOTOGRAPHER

I just like the composition of this shot. Taken during Spartans v Linfield in Scottish Challenge Cup.

RAINBOW

Me being arty farty. I love trying to get pictures of rainbows over football grounds. Taken at half-time during Ballinamallard v Linfield in November. A rare time that afternoon when it wasn’t raining.

HAUGHEY

Same match, everyone huddled in the stand to avoid the rain. I like the composition of this shot.

FLEGS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Switzerland match in November, green and white flags were left out before the game for fans to wave. I decided to take a shot as they were being waved and got lucky.

CELEBRATION

Everything fell into place for this shot, the sky, a well worked goal, and the whole team coming together to celebrate.

GOAL

I like this shot because it captures the emotion of a last minute equaliser as part of a late comeback that never looked like coming.

TIPTON

I was heading to the exit for a quick getaway (in my defence, it was an away game on a weeknight) and stumbled upon this framing as Matthew Tipton looked on as Warrenpoint took on Linfield.

CAMPION

Taken during Cliftonville v Linfield in February, the guy in the red coat makes it makes it with his celebration as Linfield players celebrate in front of their fans.

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PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MARCH

Football watching in March got off to a delayed start, due to Linfield’s Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville being postponed due to snow.

I had to wait a week to get to a match, Linfield’s home game against Carrick Rangers.

The following midweek, was that postponed Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville, resulting in a defeat for Linfield.

It didn’t get better the rest of the month as Linfield had to come from behind to get draws against Glentoran and Ballinamallard United.

At least the month ended on a high note, beaming with parental pride (sort of) as Paul Smyth came off he bench to score the winner for Northern Ireland against South Korea on his debut.

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Glentoran

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v South Korea

Northern Ireland v South Korea Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : NOVEMBER

November’s football watching began with a long trip to Fermanagh to see Linfield beat Ballinamallard 6-0 in the pouring rain.

Up next, was Northern Ireland’s World Cup Play-Off against Switzerland. The following day, I headed to Ballymena to see Linfield take on Ballymena, giving me two disappointing results on successive days.

Results took an upturn in the final weeks of the month, as I headed to see Linfield beat the top two in the League, Coleraine and Glenavon, in successive weeks.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Switzerland

Northern Ireland v Switzerland Photo Album

Ballymena United v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Glenavon v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : OCTOBER

October’s football watching began with Northern Ireland taking on Germany in a World Cup Qualifier.

That was then followed by taking in Linfield’s defeats against Coleraine and Crusaders.

Thankfully, the month ended a bit better, as I went to see Linfield beat Ards

Northern Ireland v Germany

Northern Ireland v Germany Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

Linfield v Ards

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : SEPTEMBER

September’s football watching began for me in Edinburgh, seeing Linfield take on Spartans in the Scottish Challenge Cup. That was followed two days later with World Cup action, as Northern Ireland took on Czech Republic at Windsor Park.

After that, it was all about Irish League action, taking in Linfield’s matches against Glentoran, Crusaders, Ballinamallard and Cliftonville.

Spartans v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Cliftonville v Linfield

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT 29.3.1986

Mark Wright is the cover star of Shoot as he wants to be part of the England squad that goes to Mexico 86 after being dropped for England’s recent friendly in Israel.

His determination to reach Mexico was in vain, as a broken leg sustained playing for Southampton would rule him out, though he would get to play for England in the 1990 World Cup.

The countdown to Mexico is in full swing, as Northern Ireland face fellow finalists Denmark in a friendly at Windsor Park, with Shoot doing a feature on 40 year old goalkeeper Pat Jennings, as Northern Ireland aim to keep a 7th successive clean sheet.

They wouldn’t get it as the match finished a 1-1 draw.

Another veteran hoping to go to Mexico was Kenny Dalglish, now player-manager at Liverpool, on the verge of winning his 100th cap in Scotland in the friendly against Romania. However, like the cover star Mark Wright, he would have the action at home after missing out through injury.

Not to be left out, Wales get a feature, as their recent friendly saw a changing on the guard, as Joey Jones retired as joint most capped player, while Malcolm Allen made his debut, and was already compared to Mark Hughes.

Wales are in Dublin for a friendly as the opposition in Jack Charlton’s first game as Republic of Ireland manager, and Charlton gets a full page feature.

BBC pundit Bob Wilson gets a double page column, where he states that Bruce Grobbelaar is the best goalkeeper in England.

Another Scotsman writing for Shoot is Charlie Nicholas, writing about his boyhood idol Kenny Dalglish, who scored six goals for Celtic against Kilmarnock in the first game Nicholas went to, and urges Alex Ferguson to select him for Scotland’s World Cup squad.

Bryan Robson uses his column to hit back at Kevin Keegan, who suggested that he should be playing a Sweeper role for England, stating that his best position is as an attacking midfielder.

This edition is all about the World Cup, as Hungary get a full page feature, looking at their chances in Mexico.

Hearts, billed as “The club that shocked Scottish soccer” get a double page spread looking at their success under Wallace Mercer.

1986 was an agonising year for them, as they lost the league on the last day, then lost the Scottish Cup Final the following week.

Staying in Scotland, Dundee United manager Jim McLean hits out at stayaway fans, fearing that a lack of gate revenue will force the club to sell stars such as Maurice Malpas and Richard Gough.

Transfer Deadline Day isn’t a modern phenomenon, as Shoot features Colin West, who signed for Watford on Deadline Day the previous year, and Shoot looked at the changes he had to cope with, moving clubs at short notice.

One player who moved more recently was Peter Davenport, who left Nottingham Forest for Manchester United, tells Shoot that he had joined his dream club, having stood on the Stretford End as a lad.

It was the continent where English players might be moving to in the future, with PFA chief Gordon Taylor warning that English football could be losing it’s star players to clubs from Italy and Spain.

It’s derby say in Birmingham as Villa and City go head to head as both clubs are desperate for points to avoid relegation, with Andy Gray of Villa and Wayne Clarke of Birmingham both interviewed.

Going back to the World Cup, Chris Waddle tells Shoot that he fears getting axed from the England squad due to his poor form.

On the back page, there is a profile of Liam Brady.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 19.10.1985

Glenn Hoddle of England is the cover star of this edition of Shoot. Or perhaps, not of England, if the headline is anything to go by.

This was also the week in Back To The Future II where Marty McFly visits 2015.

As you open the magazine, there is a double page spread on Steve McMahon, who has just joined Liverpool from Aston Villa, nearly three years after rejecting Liverpool to go to Villa Park.

Meanwhile, there are reports that England’s top clubs could be forming a breakaway Super League.

Cover star Glenn Hoddle is interviewed, finally becoming an England regular, and is confident of returning home from Mexico the following summer with the World Cup.

The cover headline “I’LL QUIT ENGLAND” refers to his club status, as he expresses his desire to play on the continent, which he did in 1987 when he signed for Monaco.

Bryan Robson uses his column to state that Peter Barnes is worthy of a place in the England squad to provide competition for John Barnes and Chris Waddle.

Northern Ireland’s vital World Cup Qualifier away to Romania gets previewed, with manager Billy Bingham confidently predicting that Northern Ireland will finish 2nd in their group and head to Mexico.

Republic Of Ireland also have ambitions of going to Mexico, and have blooded Tony Cascarino into their squad in time for their vital game away to the Soviet Union.

Portsmouth manager Alan Ball gets a photo collage, as he aims to lead the club back to the top flight of English football.

Peter Shilton gets a double page feature as he becomes England’s most capped goalkeeper, complete with a tribute from Gordon Banks, who he replaced at Leicester City, Stoke City and England, with the headline “PETER SHILTON – KING OF KEEPERS”

West Germany manager Franz Beckenabauer feels this season’s European club competitions have been devalued by the absence of English clubs, while Canada have qualified for the World Cup for the first time in their history.

Meanwhile, Napoli failed in their bid to sign Hugo Maradona from Argentinos Juniors, the younger brother of Diego Maradona.

A dispute between the governing body and broadcasters meant that there were no games on TV, so Shoot did a double page photo collage of the best strikes.

In Scotland, there is a full page profile and a poster of Celtic.

In Wales, Mark Hughes was set to miss the opening games of Euro 88 Qualifying, due to a red card in an underage Euro qualifier against Yugoslavia in 1983.

Steve Cowan gets a full page feature, having just signed for Hibs and is hoping to put his injury problems behind him.

Bradford City get featured, as the club tries to recover from the tragic fire at their ground five months earlier.

Peter Reid uses his column to talk about Everton’s problems conceding goals, especially in the early moments of games.

Reid’s Everton team-mate Gary Lineker is happy, having found a Snooker Club near his home in Southport, and has managed to convince Willie Thorne to start supporting Everton.

Meanwhile, Portsmouth are trying to sign Paul Mariner from Arsenal.

The magazine ends with a profile of Davie McPherson of Rangers. His favourite music is Dire Straits and Bruce Springsteen.

NORTHERN IRELAND 2-1 SOUTH KOREA 24.3.2018

World Cup preparation began on Saturday at Windsor Park. Unfortunately, it was for South Korea and not Northern Ireland.

Could you imagine if Northern Ireland had qualified? All that joy, only to see it taken away as the DUP try to withdraw us from the competition to sock it to Vladimir Putin.

Don’t even try to argue with me, that is exactly the sort of dumbfuck thing they would try to do.

They won’t be going to the World Cup, but Northern Ireland fans will be getting new experiences this year, as their first four opponents of 2018 (South Korea, Panama, Costa Rica, Bosnia and Herzegovina) are teams they’ve never faced before.

Games against Israel, Austria and Republic of Ireland towards the end of the year ruin that ambiance.

For me, it was the first time i’ve seen a truly properly Asian team in the flesh.

I’ve seen Russia (part of which is in Asia), Azerbaijan (part of which is in Asia), Israel (Asian, but a member of UEFA) and Australia (Not in Asia, but a member of the Asian Football Confederation)

It was also a first for Trevor Carson and Jamal Lewis, both making their international debut. A bit surprising in the case of Carson. He’s been playing regularly at club level for a long time, i’d assumed he’d have had a cap by now.

It was also a first start for Jordan Jones, while Paul Smyth was on the bench, looking to make his debut.

It was also a first outing for the new Northern Ireland away kit (I know, reported to the Kit Police). I’m not sure what colour it is, the closest is sky blue, but it looks nothing like Uruguay, Manchester City, Napoli or Ballymena United. It’s actually a nice kit.

The only other times I can think of Northern Ireland not wearing green at Windsor Park is a friendly against Israel in 2009 (Again, to promote a new away kit), a friendly v Spain in 2002 (not sure why) and a European Championship Qualifier v Republic of Ireland in 1979 (For some reason, the home team wore their away kit in both games)

South Korea were straight on the attack, a ball played across the penalty area causing a lot of concern for Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland replied with a run from Jordan Jones, before South Korea took the lead after 6 minutes when Kwon Chang Hoon was played through and finished under Carson.

South Korea already had the better of the play and a goal to show for it. It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland managed to hand on in there, having a few attacks of their own, one of which resulted in a disallowed goal.

On 18 minutes, Aaron Hughes left the pitch through injury, the day before the 20th anniversary of his Northern Ireland debut. Those numbers were purely coincidental, this wasn’t a stage managed departure.

Within minutes, Northern Ireland were level. They had a free-kick in a shooting position, to the right of the edge of the penalty area. Everyone expected a shot, but a low pass to Jamie Ward, who made a run, and his low cross was diverted into his own net by Kim Min Jae.

Both sides had chances in an even game. Trevor Carson doing his cause no harm for future contention.

Naturally, substitutions disrupted the flow of the second-half, with Liam Boyce, Conor Washington and Craig Cathcart entering the pitch.

With ten minutes to go, the substitution I personally had waited for.

Alas, it wasn’t Smyth and Jones down the wings, it was Smyth for Jones.

It wasn’t surprising that Paul Smyth’s introduction was relatively late in the game, with this game being sandwiched inbetween two Under 21 games. He was never going to get more than ten minutes. It was still enough time for him to show what he can do.

With just a few minutes remaining, a loose ball fell to him, and with one touch, he took two South Korean defenders out of the game and gave himself enough room to fire home low.

It was all about the first touch.

Northern Ireland fans had a new hero. It’s a bit like when your favourite band becomes big. Oh, you’re only noticing how good he is now?

Northern Ireland held on to get their first win in four games. It wouldn’t have been a cause for concern if they didn’t win this match, but it’s still nice to end a winless run.

Those four games saw Northern Ireland fail to score. I can still remember that run between 2002 and 2004. Still a long way to go to equal that run, but good to put that to bed.

2018 was off to a winning start for Northern Ireland. It won’t be a year that will see them head to Russia, but hopefully, the groundwork will be put in place for a visit to any one of thirteen European countries in the Summer of 2020.

Photo Album

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.

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS FROM NORTHERN IRELAND

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

FIVE SONGS BY ACTS FROM REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

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

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 24.5.1986

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.