LINFIELD 0-2 ROSENBORG 10.7.2019

It is said that living a bit Scandinavian is good for you. Not for Linfield.

This century, FC Haka, Viking Stavanger, HJK Helsinki, Halmstad, Elfsborg, Randers, Rosenborg and AIK have ended their European hopes.

It’s either a team from Scaninavia or a former Soviet state.

But not since 2014.

Since then, Linfield’s European hopes have been ended by teams from Slovakia, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and East Belfast.

After a year’s absence, Linfield were back in Europe, and face familiar, but difficult opponents in Rosenborg, having met in 1986 and 2010 in the European Cup.

They had hoped to meet in 2017, with Rosenborg being who Linfield would have faced if they had got past Celtic.

This match came in a midweek where there was a surprising amount of football in Belfast. Any Rosenborg fans arriving in Belfast a day early had a choice of three games in East Belfast with Glentoran (Harland and Wolff Welders), East Belfast (Ards) and Dundela (Glenavon) all hosting pre-season friendlies.

Fans of Haugesund (Cliftonville) and B36 Torshavn (Crusaders) could have taken in another game if they arrived the day before their respective UEFA Cup ties. I didn’t see any at Windsor Park myself though.

Linfield had one survivor from the previous meeting in 2010, which unsurprisingly was Jamie Mulgrew, though there were a few players from the team that night who are still playing in the Irish League.

Linfield’s starting eleven for this match included Bastien Hery making his debut the day after signing for the club from Waterford, with Michael O’Connor heading the other way on loan.

Hery looked comfortable on the ball and could pick out a pass. He also looked comfortable running with the ball. I know what you’re thinking, he’s going to get fouled about 20,000 times next season.

It also means that we have a player similar to Jamie Mulgrew, meaning that Mulgrew can be taken out for a few games (he’s recently turned 33) when needed in order to save him for bigger games.

In order to prepare for this match, Linfield headed to Spain to train, and came home to rain.

This was a match which drew a big crowd, the queue of people standing in the rain prior to kick-off made me glad I got my ticket on the Saturday before.

It had been so long since my last visit to Windsor Park, I thought I was going to have to look up directions to find it.

Linfield were on the attack straight from kick-off and held their own in the opening minutes, with Niall Quinn heading just wide.

Jordan Stewart was playing tricks on Rosenborg’s defence and getting into good positions, while Matthew Clarke’s low cross was intercepted by Rosenborg’s keeper.

It wasn’t all Linfield though, Rosenborg hitting the post through Tore Reginiussen, the aftermath causing some panic in Linfield’s defence.

Rosenborg took the lead when Mike Jensen snuck in on the right hand side unmarked to finish from close range.

It wasn’t quite against the run of play, but Linfield were holding their own. It wasn’t the end of the world though. This time last year, Glenavon came from 1-0 down in the UEFA Cup to beat Norwegian side Molde, managed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Whatever happened to him?

The goal did deflate Linfield for a while though, as the game meandered for a bit.

Bastien Hery had Linfield’s first shot on goal in the second-half, an easy save for Rosenborg’s keeper.

Shane Lavery came on for Kirk Millar, to make his debut for Linfield. Surprisingly for Millar, as most would have expected it to be a like for like change for Andrew Waterworth.

I only know the basics about him, but the general consensus was that this signing was a bit of a coup for Linfield.

His brief cameo appearance looked promising. Good positioning, comfortable on the ball and not afraid to shoot.

Unfortunately, Rosenborg made it 2-0 on the counter attack within a minute of him coming on, wrapping up the game, and more than likely the tie.

So, match 1 of 2019-2020 didn’t get the result I wanted, but it won’t be a European exit for Linfield. If they don’t turn around the deficit, they will face a UEFA Cup tie against HB Torshavn, who trail HJK Helsinki 3-0 from the first-leg.

From next season, the Irish League will lose a UEFA Cup place. The only good that will come out of it will be the end of the ridiculous UEFA Cup Play-Offs.

If they are kept, you could have a situation where a team could finish 2nd, one point behind the Champions. If they don’t reach the Irish Cup Final, they will then go into a Play-Off including teams that sat in mid table all season. Nothing more than a reward of mediocrity.

There have been other ins and outs at Windsor Park this summer. Roy Carroll is one of those. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if he rejoined on a short-term basis when (or if) he recovers from injury.

That means that Alex Moore has now been promoted to 2nd choice Goalkeeper, so it is unlikely he will go out on loan again.

Cameron Stewart and Jonathan Smith have left. Not really surprising in either case, it would be hard to see where they would get games.

Ross Larkin has come in from Portadown, I don’t really know much about him. Mark Haughey is on the way back from injury, which is almost like a new signing.

As things stand, the squad is good to go. It feels like you’ve done your Christmas shopping by November 7th.

Using last season’s team, you have Gareth Deane in nets with Alex Moore as back-up.

Josh Robinson is still injured so that will need to be monitored.

Using last season’s back four of Casement-Robinson-Callacher-Quinn, we will have back-up of Haughey, McGuinness, Stafford and Clarke.

Assuming Hery and Mulgrew will be in midfield, we’ll have Fallon, Mitchell and Larkin as back-up.

Further up the field, we’ll have Stewart, Kearns, Cooper and Millar going for three positions.

Up front, there is Waterworth and Lavery battling for the striking position, with Forde and Reynolds options that are available for the bench.

Tempting fate, but we are good to go.

The fixtures for the new season are out, and i’m not too unhappy. You don’t too easy a start like in 2015 and 2017, so it’s good to have two big games against Ballymena United and Coleraine in the opening week.

We didn’t get Warrenpoint Town away on the day John Power is doing a concert in Warrenpoint. Flip sake.

Not ideal, is a trip to Institute on the day Northern Ireland are at home to Holland. That’ll be a quick rush back, even with an expected 1pm kick-off.

Looking a bit further ahead, I’ve applied for tickets to three games at Euro 2020. A Monday group match in Dublin, a Last 16 match in Dublin (involving the winner of England’s group) and the Final. Wish me luck.

I’ve got my first United match of 2019-2020 booked, a midweek match in January against Burnley, just as I did in 2018-2019. I hope to go to a UEFA Cup group match as well.

I’m heading over to Edinburgh in a few weeks time for the Edinburgh Festival. My football choices are Dunfermline Athletic v Dundee, Hibernian v St Mirren and Livingston v Motherwell.

Dunfermline’s match has been moved to Friday night for TV, which is tempting me, leaving me free to spend Saturday at the Festival.

My only previous visit to Dunfermline was for a match against Dundee in 2015.

Unfortunately, that might be my only football match in Scotland this season, with Linfield not entering the Scottish Challenge Cup, which is disappointing. The competition is staggered through the season and could easily be accommodate in the fixture list.

I bet Glenavon get Stranraer away, just to make it worse.

The draw for the NIFL Cup has already taken place and Linfield are away to Ballinamallard. Not ideal for travelling, but with it being the Tuesday after a Bank Holiday, if you want to sneak in a short trip to Fermanagh, the opportunity is there.

In terms of future football trips, it has been announced that the San Siro is due to be demolished in 2023, so I had better get myself into action if I ever want to visit it.

Harland and Wolff Welders are due to move to a new ground in 2020. I don’t know when in 2020, but if it is during the forthcoming season, i’ll try to sneak in a visit.

Maybe it’s because of this draw, and getting into the music of Sigrid (Hope she announces her own headline show in Belfast to compensate for pulling a sickie at Belsonic), but i’m having a real Scandinavian vibe at the moment.

It could possibly be because i’m in the middle of a house move and it’ll be filled with Ikea, Flying Tiger and Sostrene Grene.

One final thing, the new Linfield kit is a belter.

2019-2020 is now up and running.

Photo Album

Linfield v Rosenborg 2010

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STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : 2012-2013

Barring something dramatic, the 2012-2013 season is over for me in terms of football attending.

The season began in June at the Amsterdam Arena, and ended in May at Clandeboye Park.

Unsurprisingly, most of the Linfield matches I attended weren’t particularly enjoyable.

There wasn’t much in the way of curiousities (last season, I saw two twins on opposing sides) apart from going to two matches in once day – twice, and there being a power failure at a match I was at.

Amazingly, it was an FA Premier League game, rather than an Irish League game.

So here, is a statistical look back at my 2012-2013 football season :

Matches Attended : 52

Goals Seen : 147 (should be 149, but I missed 2 goals in 2 different matches due to being late)

Red Cards : 11 (Plus also 2 players sent-off in dressing room for on field incident)

Hat-Tricks : 2

Matthew Tipton (Orangefield OB v Linfield, Linfield v Coleraine)

Penalties Missed/Saved : 7

Highest Scoring Match : 7 (Linfield 5-2 Coleraine, Falkirk 3-4 Hibernian AET)

Countries Seen Matches In : 5

England, Holland, Northern Ireland, Republic Of Ireland, Scotland

Teams Seen Play : 35

Australia (1st time), Azerbaijan, B36 Torshavn (1st time), Ballinamallard United (1st time), Ballymena United, Bangor, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Donegal Celtic, Dungannon Swifts, Falkirk (1st time), Fulham, Glenavon, Glentoran, Harland and Wolff Welders (1st time), Hibernian, Heart of Midlothian, Holland (1st time), Israel, Linfield, Lisburn Distillery, Luxembourg (1st time), Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Norwich City, Orangefield OB (1st time), Portadown, Queens Park Rangers (1st time), Rangers, Reading (1st time), Rosenborg, Shamrock Rovers (1st time), Scotland, Tobermore United (1st time)

Competitions Watched : 11

County Antrim Shield, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship 1, Scottish Cup, Scottish Premier League, Setanta Cup, UEFA Cup, World Cup,

Stadiums Visited : 20

Amsterdam Arena, Ballyskeagh, Clandeboye Park, Craven Cottage (1st time), Cregagh Sports Ground (1st time), Easter Road, Ferney Park (1st time), Hampden Park, Ibrox (1st time), Loftus Road (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Stangmore Park, Solitude, Tallaght Stadium (1st time), The Oval, Tillysburn Park (1st time), Windsor Park,

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – JUNE/JULY

For me, the 2012-2013 season began just two and a half weeks after the 2011-2012 season ended.

I had thought about going to the Holland v Northern Ireland game when it was announced, but I was going to Amsterdam in February 2012, so the idea was put on the shelf.

In March 2012, I won free flights with an airline. I had to redeem my prize within three months. Looking through the possible destinations, a trip to Amsterdam for the Northern Ireland match soon became a no brainer.

I had a great weekend in Amsterdam, and having been there before was so useful in getting around. Fantastic city, fantastic stadium, unfortunately, Holland have a fantastic football team (though they didn’t show it at Euro 2012)

The seat I had wasn’t that great for match photos, but I still managed to get some good shots.

My next football shots, came off the pitch in late June, as a new mural in Sandy Row celebrated the life of local heroes, including those who’ve had football careers such as Tommy Dickson and Joe Bambrick.

July started with European football, going to Linfield and Crusaders home matches.

The Crusaders match, v Rosenborg, was the most productive of the two in terms of phototaking, with the closeness to the pitch and a bright night making for good conditions.

The month ended with the Pre-Season Friendly between Orangefield OB and Linfield. It was a mixed night in terms of phototaking, but I got a good one of Orangefield’s bench.

Holland v Northern Ireland

Holland v Northern Ireland Photo Album

Linfield v B36 Torshavn

Crusaders v Rosenborg

Crusaders v Rosenborg Photo Album

Orangefield OB v Linfield

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR

Having done a statistical analysis of the 2011-2012 season, I thought i’d do one for my football watching in 2012, with today having been my last match attended of the year.

Here is the breakdown.

Games : 48

Goals Seen : 149

(Should have been 151, but I managed to miss two goals this year. Was late for second-half of Linfield v Portadown on 27.10.2012 and missed a goal. Missed the start of Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan on 14.11.2012 and missed a goal)

Red Cards: 10

(Doesn’t include red cards awarded in the dressing room to David Armstrong and Terry Fitzpatrick during Dungannon v Linfield on 13.10.2012)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 4

Hat-Tricks : 3

Aaron Burns (Linfield v Dungannon Swifts)
Peter Thompson (Linfield v Newry City)
Matthew Tipton (Orangefield OB v Linfield)

Teams Seen : 33

Ajax (1st time), Australia (1st time), Azerbaijan, B36 Torshavn (1st time), Ballinamallard United (1st time), Ballymena United, Carrick Rangers, Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Donegal Celtic, Dungannon Swifts, Excelsior Rotterdam (1st time), FC Utrecht (1st time), Glenavon, Glentoran, Harland and Wolff Welders (1st time), Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Holland (1st time), Linfield, Lisburn Distillery, Luxembourg (1st time), Manchester United, Newry City, Northern Ireland, Norway, Orangefield OB (1st time), Portadown, Queens Park Rangers (1st time), Rosenborg, Scotland, VVV Venlo (1st time)

Stadiums Visited : 16

Amsterdam Arena (1st time), Ballymena Showgrounds, Ballyskeagh, Easter Road, Ferney Park (1st time), Gibson Park (1st time), Mourneview Park, Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, The Oval, Tillysburn Park (1st time), Windsor Park, Woudestein (1st time),

Competitions : 9

County Antrim Shield, Eredivise, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League, Scottish Premier League, UEFA Cup, World Cup

Curiosities

4th February – Watched a match in a stand named after Robin Van Persie

18th February – Twins (Aaron and Andrew Burns) on opposing sides in a competitive game

2012 IN PICTURES – JULY

Not a lot happening in this month. Attended three football matches, Linfield and Crusaders in Europe (and a pre-season friendly), as well as getting some graffiti towards the end of the month.

Linfield’s European match against B36 Torshavn didn’t bring any goals, but it did provide some OK photos.

Crusaders match against Rosenborg brought some far better photos, including some sunset photos of Seaview. I was happy with this as i’d always wanted to get a sunset shot of a football stadium.

Hopefully, one day, i’ll be able to get one of Windsor Park

My final match of the month was Orangefield OB v Linfield. Great shooting position, poor shooting conditions.

Enjoy.

Linfield v B36 Torshavn

Crusaders v Rosenborg

Crusaders v Rosenborg Photo Album

A Tone Of The Times

Orangefield OB v Linfield

CRUSADERS 0-3 ROSENBORG 5.7.2012

Was at Seaview on Thursday night for the UEFA Cup tie between Crusaders and Rosenborg.

It was my sixth tie attended in this competition in the last four years. My last game in this competition was at Old Trafford between two sides with seven European Cups between them.

Crusaders were heavy underdogs and the scoreline wasn’t much of a surprise. Rosenborg were a class above their opponents.

Crusaders were restricted to mostly long range efforts, most of which were on target but never really troubled the keeper.

Even if they did, Rosenborg could easily have stepped up a gear if they needed to.

Crusaders will feel aggrieved about a penalty claim being turned down with the score at 1-0, and then Rosenborg score from the resulting counter-attack, but in truth, the better team won.

Declan Caddell was sent-off, marking it my first red card seen of the season (I also saw him sent-off in person last season too) and Gareth McKeown missed a penalty, though that wasn’t my first seen this season. Somebody at the FA must have distributed a copy of ‘How To Take A Penalty Like England Players’ to Irish League clubs preparing for Europe .

Random stat, but all three games I’ve been to in 2012-2013 have had a penalty. If you include he Irish League v Manchester United XI game in May, that’s four successive games I’ve been to where there has been a penalty.

So, my football watching season is off and running, though it might take a month long break depending on Linfield’s result this Tuesday.

Managed to get some good photos from this game. There was a brilliant sunset at half-time too.

Enjoy

Photo Album

2010 IN PICTURES – JULY

Not a lot happening in this month, the STLFTEM came right on the very last day when I went to see (for free) Adam Hills live at Mandela Hall.

The first half of the month was obviously spent watching the later rounds of the World Cup, and within days, the early rounds of the European Cup, where I ventured to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Rosenborg.

I also managed to take in a pre-season friendly between Linfield and Dunmurry Rec, and Dunmurry’s ground was amateur photographer friendly.

Some interesting Street Art also popped up in Belfast during the month, as various stencils of popculture icons appeared in the Woodstock Road, and a mural tribute to the recently deceased Snooker legend Alex Higgins appeared outside the Royal Bar in Sandy Row.

Enjoy.