Not a lot of football in September, due to Linfield having a domestic game postponed due to international call-ups, and then going to England for a weekend two weeks later.

Just the two games, seeing Linfield score four games at home to Portadown and Ards.

Linfield v Portadown

Linfield v Ards


Allan Hunter and Mick Mills of Ipswich Town, dressed in their respective national kits, are the cover stars of this edition of Shoot. That can only mean one thing, England are playing Northern Ireland. It’s not a Home International game, but on a continent wide scale, a European Championsip Qualifier at Windsor Park.

Mills and Hunter get a joint interview in Shoot’s preview.

Shoot do a feature on soldiers in Belfast who’ll be guarding the England team.

The feature reveals that, despite a lot of them being football fanatics, they’re not allowed to attend Irish League games when in civilian clothes due to security fears.

As well as England and Northern Ireland, there are also previews of Republic Of Ireland, Wales and Scotland’s European Championship Qualifiers.

Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson expressed his frustration at a League Cup defeat away to Arbroath. Fortunately for them, a comfortable first leg win saw them go through.

As well as winning the European Cup on the field, Nottingham Forest were celebrating after being voted European Team Of The Year by France Football magazine.

Wolves get a profile by Shoot, with the headline “Wolves Are Biting Again”, and so it briefly proved, as they won the League Cup that season. The rest of the decade wasn’t as good for Wolves.

In Northern Ireland, Portadown defender Herbie Pearson fears his career could be over, while QPR saw off competition from Manchester United and Everton to sign Northern Ireland Schoolboy international Alan McDonald, while Bobby Carlisle has signed for Newry Town, who have ambitions of joining Northern Ireland’s top flight.

Gordon McQueen uses his column to describe Scotland’s European Championship Qualifier against Austria as “Win or bust”

The draw for the 1982 World Cup is coming up soon, and Shoot previews this and how it will be decided, as this is the first 24 team World Cup. Shoot writes that there is a possibility of two UK teams being paired together, and so it proved, when Scotland and Northern Ireland were paired in the same group.

In ads, Phil Neal is advertising Gola.

Derek Johnstone uses his column to deny he had a punch-up with Scotland manager Ally McLeod.

Meanwhile, teenage defender Tommy Caton is juggling playing for Manchester City with his studies. He is interviewed by Shoot and says he is yet to face his biggest footballing examination, a match against Joe Jordan.


In the past two years, Linfield’s title challenge has been derailed by defeats to Portadown on a Friday night in February. They avoided a third successive defeat, but it was still a hat-trick of bad results as Linfield commemorated Random Acts Of Kindness Day by gifting Portadown a point, and potentially a third successive title for Crusaders.

The one positive was, that Portadown’s impending relegation means there won’t be any agony against Portadown in February 2018. That, plus INXS were played on the tannoy before the match.

Amongst the crowd at Windsor Park were some Glasgow Warriors fans sat near me making a weekend of their team’s match against Ulster. This, after a group of Dundee Stars fans attended the last Windsor Park game against Ballymena on the same day their team faced Belfast Giants.

It appears that Windsor Park is the go to venue for Scottish sports fans having a weekend in Belfast to see their team.

Even though both teams started slowly, Linfield had the ball in the net in the early minutes when Jimmy Callacher headed home from a free-kick but it was disallowed for offside. An early goal was desired for Linfield as they encountered opponents set up to frustrate.

Callacher was having to deal with problems at the other end from Marcio Soares, having a few nervous moments and stray passes.

It was another stray pass, this time from Stephen Lowry, who gifted Portadown their best chance of the night when Marcio Soares was played through and fired straight at Roy Carroll. He really should have scored.

Linfield’s search for the opening goal continued with both Andrew Waterworth and Niall Quinn having shots saved in the same attack.

Towards the end of the half, Waterworth flicked the ball past his man and got to the ball before the goalkeeper, only to see his effort go wide of the post.

Despite their possession, Linfield weren’t doing much with it. Despite the ball being in Portadown’s half, it didn’t look like going into Portadown’s net. It was poor.

David Healy set about doing something about it, bringing on Paul Smyth for Kirk Millar at half-time. Smyth was surprisingly still on the bench after his cameo and goal at Carrick the previous week. The match would take a recurring theme. Linfield trying to get Paul Smyth on the ball and Portadown players trying to cynically foul him.

It wasn’t quite Claudio Caniggia v Cameroon, but it was close. Portadown players did manage to try to recreate the “third time lucky” foul that Cameroon did on Caniggia. Niall Henderson ending up getting a yellow card.

As at any time over the past fifteen months, Linfield are a better attacking force when Smyth is on the pitch and the ball.

As well as cynical fouling, Portadown players were indulging in timewasting. Again, another referee who gestures to tell players to hurry up but doesn’t add the time on. Another mug.

It might sound like a petty thing to raise, but Linfield don’t really help themselves when opponents try to stop the game. With two empty stands and a slope at the end of the pitch, it’s very easy for opposition goalkeepers to timewaste at Windsor Park. Our ballboys should be making sure a new ball is on the pitch as soon as the matchball leaves the field. There was one incident where the ball went into the Railway Stand and the ballboy behind the goal didn’t have a ball and had to go and get the ball that went out. We should be getting our matchday organisation and infrastructure in place to make sure the game doesn’t stop when we are chasing a goal.

No away team comes to Windsor Park to play football. We shouldn’t be facilitating them.

David Healy again turned to his bench, bringing on Ross Gaynor for Niall Quinn as Linfield chased the breakthrough. Gaynor was soon having a shot blocked, as was Stephen Lowry, and then Mark Stafford had a header cleared off the line as frustration began to grow.

Linfield had to be wary of keeping Portadown out at the other end. Marcio Soares got in behind the defence from a goalkeeper’s kick but couldn’t get enough space to set himself up for a clear shot at goal.

Earlier in the game, a Portadown goal might have kickstarted Linfield into life. By this stage, it was too late. Linfield simply had to get the first goal if they were to have any ambition of winning this game.

David Healy then (metaphorically) sacrificed a defender by bringing on Josh Carson for Chris Casement. Casement was a surprise choice at right-back ahead of Sean Ward to cover for the injured Mark Haughey.

Then, came disaster for Linfield, when Portadown went 1-0 up when Sean Mackle dispossessed Jimmy Callacher and did just enough to set up Adam Foley to lob Roy Carroll.

That’s two goals in three games that Callacher could have done better in. I can’t help but wonder if he really is fully fit after going off at Institute a fortnight ago.

As Linfield kicked-off to restart the game, a crossfield pass to Paul Smyth went out of play for a throw. It summed up the night.

Andrew Waterworth had a volley go just wide before Robert Garrett had a great chance to secure the win for Portadown but his shot was saved by Roy Carroll.

To sum up the mood, not even a board to indicate four minutes injury time could raise a roar. One minute into that four, Josh Carson forced home a rebound from close range to make it 1-1. Portadown’s goalkeeper was injured in the incident and required lengthy treatment.

The stoppage killed any momentum Linfield might have had, just when they needed it most. When the game restarted, the correct amount of injury time wasn’t played. It didn’t matter, they didn’t look like getting a second.

This was a game Linfield should have been winning, having beaten Portadown 4-1 and 5-0 this season. They haven’t improved since that 5-0 game in November. If anything, they’ve got worse, if it was possible. You can bet that their defending won’t be as heroic when they play Crusaders next weekend.

Despite our possession and chances, Portadown were never hanging on. Linfield should have had enough over one hundred minutes to beat Portadown.

To compound the misery, Linfield Swifts then showed the First Team how it’s done by beating their Portadown counterparts 9-1.

Crusaders win at Dungannon means they are nine points clear. With Linfield playing Crusaders in April, we need two teams to beat Crusaders. It’s hard to see. Despite writing the book on how to beat Crusaders this season, nobody else in the league seems interested in reading it. Too many teams in this league simply do no believe they can beat Crusaders.

Sadly, it looks like Linfield will be gifting the title to a bunch of hoofers and thugs for the third successive season.

However, there’s no point feeling sorry for ourselves. We must dust ourselves down and continue to get the points on the board just in case, starting at The Oval next weekend.

The future is bright at Windsor Park and we’re on the right track, it’s just taking us a bit longer than expected to get where we want to be, but we’ll get there in the end.

Naturally, with each bad result, there will be analysis of Linfield’s home form. The truth is, it’s no worse than in any of the past four seasons, and it has cost us in each of those four seasons. A statistical analysis can be found here.

Getting settled in the redeveloped Windsor Park was always going to be trial and error. It’s a lot more error than hoped at the moment.

It must be worth the club having a consultation from fans as to what they want from their matchday experience. One suggestion i’d have is to trial having Linfield fans in the Railway Stand. It’s very easy to organise logistically, and has already happened, in a County Antrim Shield tie against Cliftonville in October 2015.

I remember joking that the Coleraine game took place on the wrong day of the week. Linfield have won on every Saturday they’ve played since November 19th. The good news is, the game against Glentoran next weekend will be on a Saturday.

That triggered a little thought in my head, so I decided to dig a little further. Linfield have won only two of their last seven home games on a weekday (excluding Bank Holidays) including all three this season. I’m not sure if that stat serves any relevance.

Meanwhile, this week, saw Northern Ireland announce a friendly against New Zealand at Windsor Park in June. Undecided at the moment, but i’ll probably end up going for the curiousity factor. And yes, i’m aware that they don’t do a haka pre-match. I was hoping for a random friendly at a random EFL ground, like the game against Qatar in Crewe in 2015.

Up next, a trilogy of Belfast derbies. Thankfully, the next two are away from home.

Photo Album


It was a musical start to September 2016, by going to see Squeeze in concert at Ulster Hall, then going to see The Divine Comedy perform at HMV two days later.

It was back to football the following weekend as Linfield took on Portadown.

I was then off to Liverpool for a wedding and made a trip out of it, getting some Street Art photos in Liverpool.

The following weekend after my return from Liverpool, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Ards.

Having photographed Street Art in Liverpool, I was photographing Street Art in Belfast, of North Street and surrounding areas, having missed Culture Night due to being in Liverpool.

Squeeze live at Ulster Hall

Squeeze live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

The Divine Comedy live at HMV Belfast

The Divine Comedy live at HMV Belfast Photo Album

Linfield v Portadown

Liverpool Street Art

Liverpool Street Art Photo

Linfield v Ards

North Street Art

North Street Art Photo Album


February began for me seeing Linfield beating Dungannon Swifts 6-0, a good start to the month.

The following weekend, I was on the road to Shamrock Park, to see Linfield lose 2-1.

Back on the road the following weekend, this time to Coleraine, with a better result, with Linfield coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

The next day, I made the most of a free ticket to see Ulster take on Scarlets. Unfortunately, the game ended up in an agonising one point defeat for Ulster.

Two days after that I headed to The Limelight to see Foxes in concert.

The month ended with me heading to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Glenavon, a match that saw an outfield player go in goal and save a penalty.

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Portadown v Linfield

Coleraine v Linfield

Ulster v Scarlets

Ulster v Scarlets Photo Album

Foxes live at The Limelight

Foxes live at The Limelight Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon


Matches against Portadown had proved problematic for Linfield over the past two years, winning only two of the previous nine meetings, a run that included five defeats. The change in personnel and upheaval caused by off the field problems at Portadown meant there was never any danger of it being six defeats in ten games today.

The opening moments of the game were uneventful, with neither side creating any clear opportunities.

As in most games over the past year, Linfield’s best attacking moments came when Paul Smyth got the ball.

However, it was Andrew Waterworth and Ross Gaynor who combined for the opening goal when Gaynor ran through to Waterworth’s flick on and put a left foot finish past David Miskelly.

The goal came in a period when Linfield were having a lot of pressure but no real chances. Now they had a goal to show for it.

Within minutes, Sam Simpson put the ball wide after Roy Caroll dropped a cross. A reminder, that this game was far from won.

Despite being the better team, Linfield had only a 1-0 lead to show for it. If they could get a 2-0 lead, that would be enough to secure the points and avoid a nervous ending.

That goal came just over a minute into the second-half when Mark Stafford headed home from a corner.

The ball went over the line, though Portadown players protested the decision. From where I was sat (at the corner flag at that end of the South Stand) it looked like a clear goal to me.

Roy Carroll was forced into a couple of saves as Portadown tried to make an unlikely comeback.

With just under 20 minutes to go, a volley from Paul Smyth, celebrating his 19th birthday, made it 3-0 and put the result beyond all doubt.

Linfield took the opportunity to make a few substitutions, Kris Bright coming on from the bench and causing problems for Portadown’s defence as both he and Andrew Waterworth chased a goal they both craved.

Portadown got a consolation on 86 minutes when Robert Garrett fired home from long range. It was a goal that even drew some applause from the notoriously hard to please South Standers.

Within a minute, Linfield restored their three goal lead when Portadown tried to play their way of out defence and couldn’t the ball out of their own penalty area, and Kirk Millar won possession to cross for Aaron Burns to head home.

Andrew Waterworth got the goal he craved in injury time. Unfortunately for him, it was disallowed for offside.

It wasn’t a great performance from Linfield, it didn’t need to be.

If it wasn’t for Crusaders win, it would have been a good day for Linfield, with other results going in their favour.

Next up for Linfield, is a trip to Carrick. It’s a game i’ll be missing due to being at a wedding in England. I was hoping the Premier League Fixture Computer would give me a United home match next Sunday while i’m in North-West England, but no, it wasn’t to be.

The Premier League Fixture Computer doesn’t like me, after not giving me a United home game on the weekend Duran Duran did a concert in Manchester last November.

However, I do have a football trip coming up in the next few weeks, as i’ll be heading to Dumfries to see Linfield take on Queen of the South in the Scottish Challenge Cup. Hopefully it goes a bit better than the last time Linfield face a Scottish team.

That was the 7-0 defeat to Rangers last weekend. Sorry to remind you in case you’d removed it from your memory.

Naturally, the game against Ballymena scheduled for that weekend is postponed. Thankfully, Crusaders v Glenavon that weekend is also postponed, denying those two the opportunity to get points on the board while we are inactive.

There’s no immediate rush to play the postponed game against Cliftonville, but it’s important there isn’t a backlog of fixtures in the diary.

And finally, some self promotion, as I announce that 21st September will see the launch of a blog series called There We Were, Now Here We Are, looking back at the Windsor Park Redevelopment from start to finish.

The next Linfield games for me are against title chasing Ards and relegation battling Glentoran. Yep, you read those descriptions right.

Photo Album



February’s football watching began with Dungannon’s trip to Windsor Park for a match that was postponed in January, a 6-0 win for Linfield being a good start to the month.

At the end of the following weekend, I was off to Shamrock Park to see Linfield’s run of form come to a crashing end with a 2-1 defeat.

Eight days later, I was back on the road, to see Linfield get a come from behind win at Coleraine.

I ended the month at Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Glenavon, a match that saw an outfield player go into nets and save a penalty.

Just another dull month.

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Portadown v Linfield

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Glenavon


The early weeks of November 2015 were spent at Windsor Park, taking in Linfield’s matches against Crusaders and Cliftonville, as well as Northern Ireland’s match against Latvia

The final two Saturdays of the month were on the road to Mid-Ulster, but no upturn in fortune for Linfield

Sandwiched inbetween those two trips to Mid-Ulster was my first trip of the season to Old Trafford to see United play out a drab and ultimately costly draw against PSV Eindhoven.

It’s a good job I went to that Northern Ireland match, otherwise it would have been a totally awful month of football watching.

Linfield v Crusaders

Northern Ireland v Latvia

Northern Ireland v Latvia Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Glenavon v Linfield

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven

Manchester United v PSV Eindhoven Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield


Alexi Lalas, one of the more recognisable US footballers, is the cover star of World Soccer, as Major League Soccer, the national league of the United States, is about to launch.

The creation of a national league was a condition for USA hosting the 1994 World Cup.

Lalas got a move to Serie A after the 1994 World Cup, and was one of the headline signings as the league was about to launch, signing for New England Revolution.

Four pages get dedicated to the launch, with a team by team preview, with most of the players being American, including players such as John Harkes and Roy Wegerle, returning from Europe.

Kier Radnedge, the editor, uses his column to pay tribute to the recently deceased Bob Paisley and Helmut Schoen, and suggesting that the signing of Faustino Asprilla might derail Newcastle’s title bid, similar to how signing Rodney Marsh did for Manchester City in the 1970s.

Japan and South Korea are battling to host the 2002 World Cup, with the decisive vote coming up on 1st June. Eventually, both countries would co-host the tournament.

Radnedge also writes about Pay Per View football, stating that it is inevitable in English football. It eventually happened in 1999, as a one-off, when Oxford United played Sunderland (followed later that season by Colchester United v Manchester City), before becoming a regular occurrence from the 2001-2002 season, with the launch of dedicated channel, Premiership Plus.

In news, Manchester United signed Britain’s biggest kit deal, with Umbro, believed to be around a total of £40m until 2002.

South Africa fans at the recent African Cup Of Nations have been honouring defender Mark Fish by taking fish to matches.

Ahead of Euro 96, Kier Radnedge interviews Spain manager Javier Clemente, where he declines to answer if he intends to call-up Barcelona’s Dutch born but Spain eligible Jordi Cruyff, and declares England as favourites for Euro 96, but that the standard of club football in England has decline in the past decade.

Faustino Asprilla, who also appears on the cover, gets a double page profile.

World Soccer gives two pages to the recent Bosman Ruling, which has seen various clubs offer stars long-term contracts to protect their transfer value.

In Iberia, Atletico Madrid are aiming to win their first La Liga title since 1977, while a moustached Carlos Queroz has been sacked by Sporting Lisbon.

Oliver Bierhoff, just broke into the Germany squad, gets a profile. Little did he know, he would be Germany’s hero at Wembley three months later.

In Northern Ireland, Crusaders are on course to win the Irish League title. They didn’t, Portadown did. Bangor were struggling to avoid relegation, while the national team have arranged friendlies against Norway, Sweden and Germany.

Across the border, there are rumours that the League Of Ireland is planning to move to Summer Football.

Sami Hyypia, who attracted interest from Oldham Athletic, has moved to Willem II in Holland.

Brian Glanville uses his column to criticise UEFA’s proposals to allowing some countries to have more than one club competing in the European Cup.

On the final page, there is a feature called “Soccer Cities”, profiling football in a different city. This edition, was Glasgow.


The last time Linfield visited Shamrock Park, in November, they left after a fourth successive defeat, their season in tatters.

Fast forward two and a half months, seven wins and a draw from the following eight games saw them return hoping to get the points on the board to try and mount an unlikely title challenge.

With Crusaders playing Glenavon, their would be points droppage either directly below or above them, or possibly both. Add in the fact that Cliftonville were inactive (in league terms) this weekend, this was a game that would be best decribed as “must win”

Linfield had a good early start, spending the early minutes in Portadown’s half. You got the sense that Linfield needed to score when they were on top.

Gradually, Portadown got more and more into the game, without creating any clear chances.

Neither team on top, it was a game where you felt the first goal was going to be key. Portadown would soon be getting a chance to take the lead, when Marcio Soares went down soft after a challenge from Mark Stafford, who he had nudged over a few seconds earlier.

Ross Glendinning in goal for Linfield was more concerned with appealing for a goal kick, believing Stafford to have played the ball off Soares.

To everyone’s astonishment, referee Arnold Hunter awarded a penalty to Portadown. It would be the first of many howling errors he would make during the game.

If it was a foul, then surely Mark Stafford should have been carded? Arnold Hunter couldn’t even get a wrong decision right.

After a long delay, Mark McAllister put Portadown 1-0 up. Just about, after Glendinning got a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out.

Looking for an equaliser, Linfield were hoping that Andrew Waterworth would be the man to get it for them. As he raced towards goal, he was recklessly scythed down by Michael Gault, showing the type of skills that has earned him a move to Crusaders.

It wasn’t even a late or misjudged tackle, it was a wild kick out purely designed to stop an attack before it advanced into Portadown’s final third. There was no attempt to win the ball. Amazingly, Arnold Hunter only deemed the challenge worthy of a yellow card.

1-0 up, we were treated to a masterclass in timewasting from Portadown. The harsh economic clinate has seen Portadown outsource their ballboy services to Linfield players, and goal kicks and throw ins took an age.

It’s not the fact that teams do it that’s the problem, it’s the fact that teams get away with it, aided by referees who are too dumb and/or incompetent to notice they are being made mugs of.

Fans don’t spend a tenner to watch teams taking ages over dead ball situations, we spend our tenners to watch football.

Two minutes of added time were added on, Portadown spent at least thirty seconds wasting time on a throw in during this. The half ended on 47 minutes and 11 seconds with Linfield having a corner.

I’m not suggesting that Linfield would have scored that corner, but it would have been nice to have gotten the chance to see.

When Linfield are playing away from home, and attacking their fans, you always get a feeling a goal will come, regardless of how the game was going. Linfield fans were hoping that attacking their fans in the Armagh Road End would inspire their team to turn the situation around.

Jimmy Callacher went wide from a corner in the early minutes of the second-half. A few minutes later, a poor clearance fell to Ross Gaynor on halfway for Andrew Waterworth to chase, but David Miskelly was out of his goal to gather the ball and deny him.

Miskelly was aided by the fact he was able to gather the ball outside his penalty area. Never a red card, but as clear a free-kick you will see.

You’ve probably guessed by Arnold Hunter’s previous form, he waved play on.

Michael McLellan came off the bench for Kirk Millar. It would be kind to say it didn’t happen for Millar. It didn’t happen for any of Linfield’s attackers, despite the number of attacks and chances.

Philip Lowry soon made it 2-0 with a header from a soft free-kick, that looked to be it.

You still had to hope. There was still time left, and you got the feeling Portadown could capitulate if Linfield could get a quick goal.

Michael McLellan had a chance when the ball fell to him in the penalty area, but he sliced his shot wide.

Portadown thought they had made it 3-0 with a goalbound header that was cleared on the line, only to see a free-kick awarded for a handball by Ken Oman, which resulted in him getting a second yellow card.

The game restarted with him still on the pitch, only for the referee to realise he was still walking off the pitch.

Linfield soon had hope when Matthew Clarke slide the ball home. Clarke had a shooting free-kick in injury time but elected to pass to Jamie Mulgrew for a cross. It would have been a good move if it had worked. It didn’t work.

Five minutes of injury time was indicated, one minute of which was spent by Portadown wasting time at a throw-in.

The game ended on 95 minutes and 14 seconds with Linfield getting ready to take a corner. Like in the first-half, Linfield might not have scored, but it would have been nice to have seen if they could, considering there was a stoppage in injury time.

The game had ended in total farce.

Talking of farces, you might have seen it all over the news the kerfuffle of the allocation of tickets for Northern Ireland’s games ta Euro 2016.

I only applied for Poland, as it’s the only game i’m going out for. I got an e-mail on Tuesday to say my application was unsuccessful.

Due to it being in a relatively small stadium, I calculated I might have been on the border of the cut-off point. I thought I was just unlucky. I was offline and in a news bubble for most of Tuesday, and didn’t realise what had actually happened.

Hopefully, those who missed out get sorted in the coming weeks.

Thankfully, i’m able to get a ticket through a friend, so the situation is retrieved. I’m 99.9% certain of being in the Allianz Riviera on 12th June.

From the Allianz Riviera to the Ulster Riviera (that is what Coleraine is known as?) and it’s a trip to Coleraine for Linfield next. A win against Coleraine started the impressive Winter run of form, so why not have history repeat itself.

This definitely is a must win, with Crusaders playing Cliftonville. There will be points droppage around us next week (hopefully both teams) just like there was last night when Crusaders and Glenavon drew, which makes the result even more frustrating.

Despite not playing that well, Linfield still had enough chances and attacks to get something from the game. We didn’t help ourselves, nor were we helped by competent officialdom.

It’s gone, and it’s all about looking forward, with a big run of games coming up.

The home match against Glentoran on 12th March is anticipated to be the day that the South Stand becomes fully operational for Linfield fans.

Hopefully, we’ll be going into that game with six more points behind us and an Irish Cup Semi-Final to look forward to.

Photo Album