PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : NOVEMBER

November 2018’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield scrape a late draw at home to Warrenpoint Town.

It didn’t get much better the following Saturday, as I headed back to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose to Coleraine.

The weekend after, was a double header, the first of which was a first trip to The Brandywell, to see Linfield take on Institute. The next day, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Austria in the UEFA Nations League.

The following weekend, it was yet another trip to Windsor Park, but finally a home win, as an Andrew Waterworth hat-trick saw off Cliftonville.

My football watching for the month ended with a midweek trip to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on BSC Young Boys in the European Cup, my first visit to Old Trafford of the season.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Coleraine

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Austria

Northern Ireland v Austria Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys Photo Album

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PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : SEPTEMBER

I didn’t have to wait long for some football action in September, with Linfield taking on Ards on the first day of the month. I would have to wait a while for a first goal of the month, as that match finished 0-0.

The goals flew in during my next match, as Linfield beat Warrenpoint 5-0, before taking in Northern Ireland’s first ever UEFA Nations League match, a 2-1 home defeat to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The month ended taking in three further Linfield matches, home wins against Dungannon Swifts and Ballymena United, as well as a draw at Coleraine.

Linfield v Ards

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

NORTHERN IRELAND 2-1 BELARUS 24.3.2019

If Estonia’s last visit to Windsor Park was one of Northern Ireland’s lowest points in recent years, Belarus only previous visit to South Belfast was one of the highest points.

It was a gloriously warm Friday night in late May 2016. We didn’t know if the heat was because of the sunshine or because of Will Grigg. We were seeing the team off in their last home game before heading to the European Championship in France, we were on an unbeaten run, we were going to win it.

If you hadn’t seen such riches, you could live with being poor.

We loved the experience of going to a major tournament, and all the little spin-offs such as sticker books, send-off home matches and newspaper pull-outs, we want to do it all again in Euro 2020.

It will be tough though, with Northern Ireland in Pot 3 behind two former European Champions and two heavyweights. However, Germany and Holland are two heavyweights trying to rebuild their reputation after humiliating failures in recent years.

However, 3rd place may not be enough for Northern Ireland to secure a Play-Off place thanks to the farce that is the Nations League.

If the group goes to form based on the seedings, Northern Ireland finish 3rd and Belarus 5th, Northern Ireland won’t be guaranteed a Play-Off whole Belarus will be on the basis of winning their group in League D.

There were idiots in our support who kept saying the UEFA Nations League was a great opportunity to help Northern Ireland qualify. How? It is nothing more than a reward for mediocrity.

There will be a 3rd place team who misses out to a team who finishes 5th or 6th in their group. This will blow up in a big way in November.

Northern Ireland would be guaranteed a Play-Off if Bosnia-Herzegovina and Austria qualify automatically. Bosnia-Herzegovina blew a 2-0 lead at home to one of their main rivals, while Austria have lost their opening two games in the weakest group. Useless showers.

Northern Ireland can only help themselves, and they found themselves camped in the Belarus half in the opening minutes of the game, but the best they could offer was a Paddy McNair shot saved by the keeper.

Kyle Lafferty had a shot turned around for a corner, a corner which brought Northern Ireland their opening goal when Jonny Evans found himself free in the box to head home from close range.

Pointless stat, but it was Northern Ireland’s first goal in the first-half of a competitive game since Chris Brunt scored against Czech Republic in 2017, nine games ago.

All the clichés about not giving Belarus something to defend and the floodgates opening for Northern Ireland were soon wiped out within a couple of minutes when a shot from Ihar Stasevich was deflected and looped up and over Bailey Peacock-Farrell. It was like a recreation of Andreas Brehme’s goal against England at the 1990 World Cup.

I was behind the goal it was scored in, and you knew what was going to happen as soon as the ball looped up. Windsor Park fell silent, apart from a small pocket of Belarus fans in the corner of North Stand and Railway Stand.

This was a game that Northern Ireland had to win, and the best way of making that happen looked like it was going to come down the left hand side with the duo of Jamal Lewis and Jordan Jones, where most of Northern Ireland’s play was going to.

Jones looked like he was going to set up a second for Northern Ireland but his cross went agonisingly across the box but nobody was able to get on the end of it.

Paddy McNair had a shot blocked as Northern Ireland’s pressure continued in search of a second goal that would not come.

As each minute passed, it became inevitable that Northern Ireland would turn to their bench.

First up, was Josh Magennis for Niall McGinn, then it was Liam Boyce for Kyle Lafferty.

You might say i’m being biased, but I was hoping that the third sub would be Paul Smyth.

It wasn’t, as Shane Ferguson came on for Jordan Jones. It was a sub that made sense though, as Jones was getting into good position out the left but the final ball was missing. If Ferguson could get into the same position, his left foot could provide a final ball that could be productive for Northern Ireland.

A small section of supporters in the quadrant between The Kop and North Stand began singing “Kop Stand Kop Stand, sing us a song”, to which The Kop responded “Who are ya? Who are ya?

Good point actually, who are they? Are they Kop? Are they North Stand? What stand are they in?

It looked like the winner was never going to come.

With just minutes remaining, the ball fell to Josh Magennis. It was set up for him to shoot but he couldn’t get a clear strike on goal.

He ended up passing it, and within seconds, was on the end of a cross, finding that elusive space to turn the ball home. Windsor Park erupted in celebration.

He doesn’t score many, but when he does, it’s vital. That second goal against Greece, breaking the deadlock on a frustrating night in San Marino.

Even his consolation goal against Germany felt important at the time.

The common consensus, would that this would be enough for Northern Ireland, but it almost wasn’t.

With less than a minute of injury time remaining, Bailey Peacock-Farrell had to save at the feet of a Belarus striker who looked set to score from a few yards out.

Northern Ireland held on and got the win, making it two wins out of two.

They were two games they were expected to win, but they still had to go out there and get the win.

Elsewhere in the group, Germany beat Holland 3-2.

It’s hard what to want when Germany meet Holland. Logically, a draw wouldn’t be bad, but it might not be a bad thing if Germany win both games.

That means that if Northern Ireland win away to Belarus and Estonia, and even if they lose home and away to Germany, they will effectively be in a Play-Off with Holland.

Given the choice, you’d rather be in that situation with Holland than Germany.

Even though Holland and Germany are both trying to rebuild their reputations after humiliating failures in recent years, it is Holland who have had the greater fall, and failure to reach the last two tournaments will still be on their mind until they get over the line in this one.

Due to their involvement in the UEFA Nations League, Holland won’t be playing any qualifiers in June while Northern Ireland play twice. This makes them even more of a must-win set of games than they already are.

If we do, we’ll have a nine point advantage over the Dutch, and put all the pressure on them come September.

For once, the UEFA Nonsense League will be doing Northern Ireland a favour.

Northern Ireland v Belarus 2016

Photo Album

 

NORTHERN IRELAND 2-0 ESTONIA 21.3.2019

The last time Estonia visited Windsor Park, it was one of Northern Ireland’s lowest points in recent history.

It was October 2011, nearing the end of Nigel Worthington’s second full campaign as manager, both of which saw group favourites (Czech Republic/Poland in 2010, and Serbia in 2012) fail to qualify and minnows take advantage of it, but we weren’t the minnows taking advantage.

If Slovenia can reach a World Cup, why can’t we? If Estonia can reach a European Championship Play-Off, why can’t we?

It was grim, we couldn’t win a game, it felt like we would never win another game, and nobody wanted to play for us.

Unsurprisingly, Nigel Worthington’s time as manager was up, a new man was needed to take us forward.

That man, was Michael O’Neill, but it wasn’t instant. A poor qualifying campaign for the 2014 World Cup saw Northern Ireland be in Pot five for the expanded Euro 2016.

Suddenly, it all clicked, Northern Ireland won their group and went to France. They almost went to Russia. Now, they were wanting to head to, um, any one of thirteen countries co-hosting Euro 2020, for their second successive European Championship.

It would be tough though, as Northern Ireland, now in Pot three for Euro 2020, found themselves in a group with Germany and Holland.

Oh well, but even if we finish third, we’ll have a shot at the Play-Offs.

Well, no, that’s not guaranteed, thanks to the sham that is the UEFA Nations League.

Northern Ireland’s first foray into that competition wasn’t exactly glorious, losing all four games and being relegated. Quite how, I don’t know, Northern Ireland had enough chances to win all four games.

That frustration was worse when you saw Austria’s group – Poland, Latvia, Macedonia, Slovenia and Israel. If Northern Ireland had that group, we’d be very confident of qualifying automatically from that.

Northern Ireland had a chance with just over a minute on the clock, with Niall McGinn dragging a shot just wide, failing to emulate Ivan Sproule scoring an early goal against Estonia at Windsor Park.

Paddy McNair then had Northern Ireland’s first really chance of note when he headed over from close range when he really should have scored. Craig Cathcart had a header easily saved before Jordan Jones dragged a shot just wide, as Northern Ireland went in search of the opening goal they so desperately needed.

If Northern Ireland could get it, they could charge on and win this game comfortably. If Estonia got it, it could be a long night against a team set up to defend, now with something to defend.

The most curious thing about Estonia’s play in the first-half, was their goalkeeper always kicking out wide from goal kicks, usually conceding throws or possession.

All that Estonia could offer as an attacking force in the first-half was a couple of corners that were easily cleared.

If the first-half was a false start, the second literally was as Estonia had to kick off three times before they got it right. That third time was to ironic cheers. Hopefully, Northern Ireland fans would be cheering at some point for real as Estonia are kicking off, this time after a goal.

Northern Ireland began the second-half a lot quicker, outing more pressure on Estonia’s goal. That pressure was rewarded on 55 minutes when an attacking move which saw Northern Ireland seem to always have one more player and were a pass ahead get rewarded when Niall McGinn finish into The Kop.

Despite being 1-0 up, Northern Ireland still needed a second goal just to be sure.

They got a reminder of that when Estonia got in behind Northern Ireland’s defence, only for Bailey Peacock-Farrell to make himself big and deny Henri Anier.

Any nerves that may have been in Windsor Park were soon gone when Goerge Savile won possession (I originally though it was going to get pulled back for a high foot by him) before launching an attack which resulted in him being fouled for a penalty.

Steven Davis made no mistake from the spot to make it 2-0, and secure the Northern Ireland the points.

They could have secured them by a bigger margin, but Josh Magennis, now on as a substitute, enduring a frustrating evening, hitting everything except the back of the net, but he never hid when he got the ball next time. Thankfully, the misses weren’t costly.

With a Play-Off spot being determined by UEFA Nations League placings, 3rd place won’t be enough for Northern Ireland. It would only be enough if Austria and Bosnia qualify automatically.

Austria lost their opening game, but no need to panic, it was against the team who is Pot one in their group, while Bosnia won.

Northern Ireland can only help themselves, they simply had to get twelve points on the board before facing Holland and Germany. They have three of them.

On to Belarus, arriving at Windsor Park three days later.

Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 14.9.1985

England’s new star striker Gary Lineker shares cover space with Ian Rush, ahead of a vital week of World Cup Qualifiers, with Rush stating that Wales will destroy Scotland.

Rush gets a double page spread, saying that Wales will win and set up a Play-Off against a team from Oceania, due to Scotland missing the suspended Graeme Souness.

Unsurprisingly, Scotland think they will get the win, according to Shoot columnist Willie Miller.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw, a result which sent Scotland into a Play-Off against Australia, which they won 2-0 on aggregate to reach the World Cup in Mexico.

The game will be remembered for the death of Scotland manager Jock Stein, who collapsed on the touchline moments before the final whistle.

Sammy McIlroy gets interviewed about Northern Ireland’s game in Turkey, expecting Turkey to provide difficult opponents despite losing 8-0 to England earlier in the group.

Kevin Sheedy gets interviewed about Republic Of Ireland’s chances of reaching the World Cup, stating that they can do it. Sheedy had yet to win an away game in his international career, and would need to start doing so, with trips to Switzerland and Soviet Union coming up.

England’s game against Romania is previewed, with manager Bobby Robson singing the praises of Gary Lineker, who had only made his international debut earlier that year.

Bryan Robson uses his column to focus on players who are aiming to head to Mexico next summer, such as Adrian Heath, Paul Walsh, Peter Davenport, Steve Williams and Remi Moses.

Celtic’s new star Alan McInally gets a double page spread, while Rangers also get a double page spread. Well, Queens Park Rangers.

Justin Fashanu also gets a profile as he hopes to get Brighton promoted from the Second Division.

Charlie Nicholas uses his column to express his fears after Scotland manager Jock Stein considers picking only domestic based players after having problems getting access to English based players.

One Scottish striker not worried about not getting picked is Kenny Dalglish, also player-manager at Liverpool, telling Shoot he’ll have no hesitation in dropping himself.

Meanwhile, there is disharmony with the West Germany squad, due to a row breaking out between Berndt Schuster and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Schuster was currently in international exile due to a disagreement with manager Franz Beckenbauer.

A dispute with broadcasters means that no club games in England are televised, so Shoot does double page photos of some of the best action.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 20.5.1978

Frank Worthington is one of the cover stars, as Shoot looks forward to the British Championship, while looking back at he 1977-1978 season.

Shoot did a double page spread previewing all six games in the British Championship, accompanied by facts and figures of all the teams.

England, who didn’t qualify for that year’s World Cup, took the title, winning all three of their games.

In adverts, there was a full page advert for the following week’s edition, which had a free World Cup wallchart.

Ray Clemence uses his column to state that England are desperate to beat Wales, having suffered their first ever Wembley defeat to them in 1977.

England beat Wales 3-1 at Ninian Park in their opening game of the competition.

In news, a thousand fans signed a petition to the IFA for the lifetime bans from international football imposed on Bobby Campbell and Bertie McMinn, for an off-field incident at an underage tournament in 1975.

Bobby Campbell was a non appearing squad member at the 1982 World Cup, so obviously, the petition was successful.

17 year old Craig Johnston has broke into the Middlesbrough team, after borrowing £632 from his dad in order to get to England.

Coventry City are in danger of being known as “The Curly Kids”, with seven players all having perms.

Elton John got a full page feature. Yes, the nephew of 1959 FA Cup Final goalscorer Roy Dwight. In 1979, he was the chairman of Watford, just promoted from Division 4. As ever, he wanted a Number 1 – Watford to be in Division 1.

He was full of praise for the management team of Graham Taylor and Bertie Mee, and stated he was nervous watching games, even more than when he is on stage.

Elton had big plans for Watford, wanting to build a 30-40,000 capacity stadium, and a pitch with synthetic turf.

Elton was looking to other clubs for inspiration “I would like us to achieve the professionalism of Liverpool, the facilities of Aston Villa, and the organisation of Coventry”

There is a further double page spread on the Home Internationals, with a player from each side giving their thoughts ahead of the games.

Andy Gray uses his column to express his disappointment at only being a stand-by player for the World Cup, but he was hoping to make up for it by helping Scotland to a third successive Home Nations title.

Shoot does a double page spread on Birmingham’s two clubs, with new City manager Jim Smith hoping to wake up what he describes as “A sleeping giant”, while Ron Saunders blames injuries for Aston Villa’s failure to build on their 4th place finish and League Cup win in 1977.

There is a poster of John Greig’s Testimonial, where Rangers beat a Scotland XI 5-0.

Trevor Francis poses in an NFL uniform, as he is about to head off on a short-term loan to Detroit Express during the pre-season.

Little did he know it then, Francis would make English football history less than a year later with his next move.

In world news, Sepp Maier has signed an Amnesty International petition for the release of political prisoners in Argentina. Talking of Argentina, Alberto Tarantini is being paid by his country’s FA as he is without a club. That year, he signed for Birmingham City. Spain defender Jose Camacho was ruled out of the World cup through injury, while priests in West Germany have been sent a schedule of World Cup games, in order to avoid clashing services with matches.

Daniel Passarella gets a double page interview ahead of the World Cup. When asked about Peru, he said he wasn’t impressed with them. That didn’t come back to bite them, as Argentina beat Peru 6-0 in the 2nd Round group stage.

In adverts, you could get four World Cup posters (of the four groups) in Wimpy. All you had to do was buy a burger and milkshake.

Martin Peters gets a profile, where he states his favourite band is Bread, and he would most like to meet Miss Piggy.

Shoot dedicates a page to a new trend in football – perms, with a photo collage of footballers who have perms. Meanwhile, John Greig says fans have been telling that Rangers should replace Scotland in the World Cup, after they beat a Scotland XI 5-0 in his Testimonial.

Gordon Hill uses his column to state that, following his departure from Manchester United, if he didn’t rejoin his former United boss Tommy Docherty at Derby County, he would have gone to America to play.

To finish, getting people in the mood for the World Cup, is a double page spread on the club form of Scotland’s squad, as the tournament in Argentina approaches.

2018 IN PICTURES – NOVEMBER

November 2018 began for me with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield scrape a late draw at home to Warrenpoint Town.

From Warrenpoint to Waterford, as the following week I spent a few days in Waterford seeing Waterford Walls, with a brief stop-off in Dublin.

The day after my return to Belfast, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose to Coleraine.

The following weekend, a new ground for me to visit for the first time, as I headed to The Brandywell to see Linfield take on Institute.

The day after, it was a return to Windsor Park, and another bad home result, as Northern Ireland lost to Austria in the UEFA Nations League.

On the following weekend, I headed to The Limelight to see Cast in concert.

That was then followed by a good home result at Windsor Park, as Linfield beat Cliftonville 4-2.

I then headed to Manchester for a few days, to see United take on BSC Young Boys and get some Street Art photos.

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Waterford Walls

Waterford Walls Photo Album

Linfield v Coleraine

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Austria

Northern Ireland v Austria Photo Album

Cast live at The Limelight

Cast live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys

Manchester United v BSC Young Boys Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

2018 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September 2018 began for me with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Ards on the first day of the month, for a match that finished 0-0.

The following day, I headed out on bike to check out the latest scribbles on the Belfast Peace Wall.

On the third day of the month, yes, three successive days of photo adventures, I headed to The Limelight to see The Kooks in concert.

The following weekend, it was a football double header, taking in Linfield’s trip to Warrenpoint Town, and then Northern Ireland’s first ever UEFA Nations League match, at home to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

There was more football, taking in Linfield’s matches against Dungannon Swifts and Coleraine.

Sandwiched inbetween that was a trip to The Palm House to see Kyle Falconer in concert, and then Belfast Culture Night.

In the aftermath of Culture Night, I was out getting photos of new Street Art which appeared in Belfast, as part of Hit The North.

The month ended with me taking in Linfield’s home match with Ballymena United.

Linfield v Ards

Belfast Peace Wall Art

Belfast Peace Wall Art Photo Album

The Kooks live at The Limelight

The Kooks live at The Limelight Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina

Northern Ireland v Bosnia-Herzegovina Photo Album

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Kyle Falconer live at The Palm House

Kyle Falconer live at The Palm House Photo Album

Culture Night Belfast 2018

Culture Night Belfast 2018 Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

North Street Art

North Street Art Work In Progress

North Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Ballymena United

2018 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March 2018 began for me photographing snow. Yes, you read that right, the snow came down in the early days of March 2018.

That snow caused the postponement of Linfield’s Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville, so I had to wait a week for my first football match of the month, as Linfield took on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed up the following midweek by Linfield’s Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville.

Two days later, I headed to The Odyssey to see Stereophonics in concert.

St Patrick’s Day was spent watching Linfield draw 1-1 at home to Glentoran.

The following Thursday, I headed to The Limelight to see Feeder in concert.

Off work the next day due to needing to use up excess Annual Leave, I made the long journey to Ballinamallard to see Linfield drop two points in the last minute.

That weekend, and the month, ended with me heading to East Belfast to get photos of some new murals that had appeared during the month.

Belfast Snow March 2018

Belfast Snow March 2018 Photo Album – Thursday 1st March

Belfast Snow March 2018 Photo Album – Saturday 3rd March

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Linfield v Cliftonville

Stereophonics live at The Odyssey

Stereophonics live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Feeder live at The Limelight

Feeder live at The Limelight Photo Album

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v South Korea

Northern Ireland v South Korea Photo Album

East Belfast Street Art

East Belfast Street Art Photo Album

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : NI SOCCER – SEPTEMBER 1988

This week, we go back to 1988, and the very first edition of NI Soccer Magazine, which is unsurprisingly a magazine dedicated to football in Northern Ireland. This edition is the very first one, and features the Northern Ireland team posing for a pre-match photo as it’s cover image.

The magazine opens by asking “Where are they now?” in relation to former Crusaders stars Roy McDonald and Denis Light. The answer is, working together having formed their own insurance business, while McDonald looks after Crusaders reserve team as well.

Billy Bingham gets a column as he aims to reach the 1990 World Cup, which would be Northern Ireland’s third successive World Cup, believing that he has a nucleus of good young players such as Allen McKnight, Gary Fleming, Anton Rogan and Kingsley Black to help him achieve that.

Alan Snoddy gets a column, encouraging people to take up refereeing, and lists some of the international and European club competition games refereed by officials from Northern Ireland, including the World Cup Qualifier between Iceland and Soviet Union.

Another aspect of football getting looked at is Scouting, and Jim Emery gets profiled, looking at his career to date, and commenting on the way professional clubs treat rejected trialists which he believes isn’t healthy for the game.

Having recently had his Testimonial, George Best gets profiled and his career gets looked back on.

There is a double page feature on those who love collecting things, with one page for programmes, and one page for badges.

There is a squad list for all sixteen teams in the Irish League, while Peter Dornan is questioned about wether Irish League teams should play in European competition. He says they should, despite poor results.

The magazine ends with a poster of Glentoran, who won the League in 1988.