May began with a trip to North Street to take in the Hit The North Street Art Festival, getting photos of the pieces of artwork as they were created, and then the finished artwork.
The following weekend, I treated myself to a trip to Scotland, spending most my time in Edinburgh, getting photos of Street Art (of course) and walking up Arthur’s Seat and going for a stroll in Colinton.
It would have been rude not to go to a football match, Livingston v St Johnstone being my match of choice before a day trip to Glasgow saw me get more Street Art photos and visit Cathkin Park, an abandoned football stadium.
Towards the end of the month, it was all about Friday nights, first of all winning a ticket to see Ulster v Sharks.
Then, the last Friday of the month, I went to see Queen (well, half of Queen, but it was still so good) at The Odyssey.
It would have been rude not to take in a match while in Scotland, so I ended up in Livingston.
When I booked my trip to Edinburgh, there were no games scheduled as the top flight games were all post-split determined by League position, while the Lower League games would be all Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs.
I did hope that Hearts would be at home as I hadn’t been to Tynecastle since 2015, so i’d have been hoping for a long awaited return to Tynecastle.
That would not be an option, but Hearts would be an option for me.
This is what my options were:
Celtic v Hearts (Why are you laughing? I was planning a day trip to Glasgow during the trip), Hibs v Aberdeen, Rangers v Dundee United or Dunfermline Athletic v Queen’s Park.
Or, I could have went in a totally different direction to see Edinburgh v Wasps in Rugby, it was the equivalent of a UEFA Cup Quarter-Final.
There was a potential for an Edinburgh v Glasgow Semi-Final. I know, two Glasgow teams in European Finals three days apart. They both lost their Quarter-Finals though.
That was just in Scotland.
I had two other cities on my shortlist for this weekend away. Brighton, to try and blag a ticket for Brighton v United. In retrospect, it was a good idea not to go to Brighton.
Tallinn was also under consideration. The matches over this weekend I would have been there was Tallinna Kalev v Levadia Tallinn, Legion v Narva Trans, Nomme Kaliju v Tammeka and Flora Tallinn v Paide.
Yeah, I had to use Google and Wikipedia for that last paragraph.
In the end, I plumped for Livingston v St Johnstone, as this was a game that had something riding on it.
There were other factors in the decision as well. One was that I had never been to Livingston, and I love visiting new grounds. It was also easy to get to and easy to get a ticket.
I travelled by bus, a very scenic ride which left me at a shopping centre right beside the ground, very easy to find.
After a spot of lunch,, I headed to the ground.
You may have watched Livingston play Rangers or Celtic at home and wondered where their fans are.
I can verify that Livingston have fans, they just like to keep them hidden, hosting them in the stand along the side of the pitch where the TV cameras are, with the away fans on the stand at the side of the pitch on the other side.
Except of course, when they play Rangers or Celtic, who get both stands behind the goal as well.
This wouldn’t be my first time seeing St Johnstone play, but it would be the first time in a while, having last seen them play Linfield in a Pre-Season Friendly in the 1990s. 1997, I think.
There would be a familiar face on the touchline, with former Linfield goalkeeper Paul Mathers now Goalkeeper Coach at St Johnstone. At one point, he was one of three former Linfield goalkeepers at the club (Alan Mannus and Tommy Wright the others, since you ask)
St Johnstone made a quick start to the game, with Callum Hendry firing over from a cross inside the first minute.
Livingston’s best moment came in the second-half when Odin Bailey got in behind St Johnstone’s defence, but his low shot was saved by the legs of St Johnstone’s keeper.
This was a game lacking in any attacking quality. It was hard to see where a goal was coming from. It wasn’t for a lack of effort though.
Just as it looked like I would be signing off my football watching season with a 0-0 draw, the deadlock was broken.
It was the first real moment of attacking quality from St Johnston, when James Brown made space for himself and crossed perfectly for Glenn Middleton to head home from close range.
Livingston’s keeper actually made a good save. The problem was, he was well behind the line when he did so.
It was a vital goal for St Johnstone. As it stood, they were relegating Dundee and dragging Aberdeen into the mix for the Relegation Play-Off spot that they occupied.
A lead that St Johnstone held on for dear life, and it looked like they were going to leave Almondvale with three points.
Having seen St Johnston score with their only moment of attacking quality, Livingston thought they might as well do the same.
A cross from Jason Holt was headed goalwards, but St Johnstone’s keeper could only parry it to Jack Fitzwater, who finished like Fritz Walter to make it 1-1 as injury time approached.
Not sure how I managed to get in a 1950s West German football reference there.
Thankfully, it wasn’t “Fritz Walter Weather”.
Amazingly, in the time that remained, St Johnstone had a chance to win the game, clean through with only the keeper to beat, but it was missed.
You expected him to score but you just knew he was going to miss. It was just the way the game had gone.
It was a point that virtually avoided automatic relegation for St Johnstone, but it felt like two points dropped and an opportunity missed to drag Aberdeen into contention for a Play-Off spot.
St Johnstone would send Dundee down in the next matchday, but they would still need to beat Inverness over two legs to be absolutely sure, a year after winning the cup double.
August 2019 began with a bit of a bang, it was hard to keep up.
On the 1st of the month, I went to see Linfield take on HB Torshavn in the UEFA Cup.
A few hours later, I headed to Edinburgh for a break, taking in two football matches, some Street Art and a walk up Arthur’s Seat
Upon my return from Edinburgh, it felt like I was having a permanent residency at Windsor Park for the rest of the month, taking in Linfield’s matches against Institute, Sutjeska, Coleraine and Qarabag.
Having already taken in one game during my trip to Edinburgh on the Friday night, I decided to take in a second game on the Saturday afternoon at a ground I hadn’t been to for a while.
Unlike my other game, there was no Northern Ireland involvement in this, with both clubs parting company with Managers from Northern Ireland this year.
A change in manager seemed to work for Hibs, as they finished the season in title winning form under Paul Heckingbottom, although the manager they got rid of did win the League.
This was my first time seeing St Mirren in the flesh, though it might have been my second, as they randomly played a pre-season friendly a few streets away against Rosario, though I didn’t end up going to that match.
This was my first visit to Easter Road since 2013. They were away when I visited Edinburgh in 2014 and 2015, although I did turn down the chance to see them play in the League Cup against Stranraer in 2015 as I decided to see James in concert instead.
I didn’t visit Edinburgh in 2016. They were at home when I visited in 2017 but I went to see Edinburgh City instead, and they didn’t play when I visited in 2018.
Surprisingly, despite not visiting in six year, I was able to walk to the ground and not get lost. It’s very easy to remember the route from Edinburgh City Centre.
What it now means, is that when August 2020 comes around, it will be five years now since my last visit to Tynecastle, so I know what I want the Fixture Fairy to bring me.
There wasn’t much options in terms of games in Edinburgh or close to Edinburgh. Livingston were at home, but the ground seemed hard to get to, while Edinburgh City were away from home.
The previous weekend, Liverpool played Napoli in a friendly at Murrayfield, which finished 3-0 to Napoli. They maybe should have done that last December instead and made everybody’s Summer a lot more bearable. Useless shower.
Unfortunately, United didn’t follow suit, playing their friendly against AC Milan in Cardiff instead.
You could just imagine Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handing out flyers in Pleasance while despairing as Phil Jones and Chris Smalling accidentally got nominated for a Perrier Award.
With tickets for this game being on general sale, I took the opportunity to purchase one for the away end, meaning that I will have been in all four sides of Easter Road, but not all stands, as the game I attended in the East Stand was in 2009, before being demolished to make way for a modern stand in 2010.
One of the highlights of the game came before the match, watching as bemused American tourists wonder what is going on, as St Mirren fans marched to the game signing their team’s songs.
St Mirren were straight on the attack from kick-off and were holding their own in a game that not many were expecting them to get anything from.
However, it was Hibs who had the first strike of note when a long range shot from Stevie Mallan went just wide.
St Mirren were mostly relying on counter attacks, which were very effective.
Hibs had a few decent attacks, with St Mirren usually being forced into a last ditch block or tackle
The closest they came to scoring was when a Scott Allan shot hit the post.
Hibs thought they had made the breakthrough, only to be denied by an offside flag. St Mirren fans responded by taunting the Hibs fans beside them when “Sit down” gestures like Neil Lennon did against Hearts last season.
There was more frustration for Hibs when Christian Doidge missed an open net from a cross.
Just when it looked like St Mirren were going to get an unlikely point, Scott Allan burst through to fire low to give Hibs the lead with a few minutes to go.
But not the points, well not for certain, as St Mirren had a late rally in response, resulting in Jonathan Obika stretching for a cross, but firing over, as Hibs began the season with a win on Matchday 1.
Matchday 2 saw them crash down to earth with a 6-1 defeat at Rangers, and they were overtaken in the table on goal difference by St Mirren, who beat Aberdeen 1-0. It’s a funny old game.
Having just broken into the Everton team, teenage sensation Wayne Rooney give an interview to When Saturday Comes. Well, sort of.
A blank speech bubble represents the fact that Everton manager David Moyes has blocked media requests to interview his young player.
The editorial focuses on racism in football, most notably at the European Championship Qualifier between Slovakia and England, but warns that football authorities in England need to address concerns closer to home.
There is a profile of former Belgium goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff, now forging a new career as a Reality TV star in a Flemish version of The Osbournes.
There is a feature on four clubs at differing ends of the football pyramid who are looking to move out of their current ground to a new one – Wimbledon, Chelsea, York City and Brentford.
In Scotland, there is a feature on the race for one of the more invisible honours, 3rd place, aka The Best Of The Rest after Rangers and Celtic, looking at those clubs aiming for that spot.
A more curious phenomenon in recent years was Masters Football, which WSC likened to ageing rock stars only playing hits from 20 years previously.
There is a feature on “lost footballers”, big money signings on high wages. The poster boy of this feature is Mark Bosnich, earning £40,000 in Chelsea’s reserves.
This edition focuses on young players, with a look at the number of French coaches at underage level in England.
Cover star Wayne Rooney is part of a feature looking at the history of hype of young players in English football.
There is also a feature on club football in Czech Republic, due to improved perfomances in Europe this season, with many teams boosted by Euro 96 stars coming home to play their club football.
Yeovil Town get a feature, so long a famous Non League giantkiller, and now on the verge of joining the giants they used to kill.
The rivalry between Cardiff City and Swansea City gets a feature, being described as becoming a poisonous affair in recent years.
The magazine ends with a brief look at the history of Cheltenham Town’s highlights and lowlights.
With a new national team manager appointed and the league season due to Start, the cover of this edition of Shoot doesn’t just focus on Scotland, but a Welshman bound for Italy – Ian Rush, who has just signed for Juventus.
As you open the magazine, there is a double page feature from Shoot columnist Bryan Robson, with his hopes for Manchester United in 1986-1987, with him expecting Gordon Strachan, one of Scotland’s stars at the World Cup, to continue his return to form.
Strachan’s future international caps would be coming under the recently appointed Andy Roxburgh, an internal appointment having been Director of Coaching, beat off competition from Jim McLean and Billy McNeill for the role, with the man who appointed him, SFA President David Will, describing him as “knowing more than Alex Ferguson”
Shoot’s editorial focuses on Billy Bingham preparing to agree to become manager of Saudi Arabian club Al Nasser while managing Northern Ireland as well, and that he could struggle taking on the two roles at the same time.
In news, Jesper Olsen is set to leave Manchester United, with PSV Eidnhoven his most likely destination, while across Manchester, City manager Billy McNeill wasn’t too unhappy at missing out on the Scotland job, as he and his family were settled in the North-West of England.
One Scotsman who could be on the move was Paul Sturrock of Dundee United, with Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson looking to sign him
Northern Ireland’s champions Linfield are celebrating their centenary with a friendly against Brazilian side Flamengo, with Zico and Socrates both guaranteed to be playing.
Meanwhile, England’s top flight clubs have examined the practicalities of a breakaway Super League, with representatives running up an expense bill of £32,000
It’s a new era in Scotland with the top flight now comprising of 12 clubs, and Rangers have a new manager in Graeme Souness, beginning the season away to Hibs.
There was a double page spread with the fixture lists for England’s top four divisions.
One player determined for make a good start in that new season was Graham Roberts, who wasn’t selected for the World Cup, blaming himself for that, but he did get to face England’s nemesis Diego Maradona, as he had played in Ossie Ardiles Testimonial in May.
With players such as Warren Aspinall and Mike Newell joining top flight clubs, Wigan Athletic get a feature, looking at their reputation as a breeding ground for tomorrow’s stars.
A current star is Ian Rush, who has signed for Juventus, but will play for Liverpool for a season before heading to Turin in 1987. In the feature, Shoot looks at the fortunes of players who have previously moved between British clubs and Italian clubs.
In letters, one person wants Bryan Robson replaced in the England team by Steve Hodge, one person hates Denmark’s kit and a Scottish reader is unsure that Andy Roxburgh should have got the job as national team manager.
With Wimbledon about to begin their first season in top flight football 9 years after being elected to the Football League, with Shoot looking at what challenges face clubs looking to enter the Football League, as 1986-1987 was the first season to have promotion and relegation to and from the 4th Division.
Beside it, Shoot has a feature on World Cup stars moving outside their native countries to head to Mainland Europe on their back of their World Cup performances.
Also on the move was Alan Mullery, who had returned to Brighton for a second spell as manager, and gets a full page feature.
Someone who was on the move for the first time was Paul Power, who signed for Everton after 11 years at Manchester City.
The PFA have set up a working group amongst clubs in the North-West of England to try and make football more family friendly.
In adverts, Puma have brought out a new Kenny Dalglish branded boot.
After League Of Ireland and UEFA Cup football during June and July, the domestic season began for me in August, when Linfield welcomed Ballymena United to Windsor Park on the opening day of the season.
Four days later, I visited Taylor’s Avenue for the first time, as Linfield travelled to newly promoted Carrick Rangers.
To round off a busy week, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.
The following weekend, I was in Scotland for my annual trip to the Edinburgh Festival, and made the most of it by taking in matches at Hearts, Rangers and Dunfermline.
Upon my return from Scotland, it was back to Windsor Park, my third time this month, to see Linfield take on Portadown, and get a win that continued their perfect start to the season.
The first tournament of the 1980s is approaching, Euro 80, and Shoot is attempting to do Ron Greenwood’s job for him by picking the England squad for this tournament.
Shoot gives a double page spread to this, with their selection, and the reasons for their selection.
While England’s players are heading to Italy, Ipswich Town’s players are heading to Hungary to appear in a film called Escape To Victory
In other news, Billy Humphries was considering making a comeback for Ards at the age of 42, while Aston Villa were keen on signing Mick Ferguson from Coventry.
In letters, Stephen Cochrane from Hartlepool writes in to suggest his local side will be a top flight club by 1987.
Scotland are also in international action, and Derek Johnstone uses his column to write about his hopes for an international. With Scotland not going to the European Championship, he can’t resist a dig at England by writing that this is how they must have felt sitting at home watching Scotland at the 1974 and 1978 World Cups.
Shoot interviews Manchester born pop star Andy Gibb about his love of Manchester United, saying that George Best was his hero. He supports United, but wants City to do well. In the interview, he says he doesn’t get to Old Trafford often, but visits Vicarage Road to see his local team Watford.
Gibb also reveals he has football matches in his local park with his three elder brothers Barry, Maurice and Robin (That’s the Bee Gees, by the way) who he describes as “Soccer mad”, which are videotaped, then they watch back when they get home.
West Germany captain Bernard Dietz gets a double page interview, where he states that England can win the competition. They were eliminated in the group stage while West Germany won the competition.
A possible future domestic opponent of Bernard Dietz is Liverpool midfielder Terry McDermott, who tells Shoot he is considering a move to a West German club.
Terry Venables uses his column to declare that players who do cynical fouls will never prosper in football.
As part of their build-up to Euro 80, Shoot looks at previous European Championships. This week, they look back at Euro 72.
In ads, Admiral take out a full page for their England kit and tracksuit range. One of the tracksuits is modelled by Trevor Francis. It’s unknown if it was purchased in Shepherd’s Bush.
Alan Hansen gets a full page profile where he reveals his favourite music is Billy Joel, and The Commodores, while his favourite other team is Manchester United.
In transfer news, Aston Villa manager Ron Saunders was fuming after Everton hijacked their bid to sign Dumbarton’s striker Graeme Sharp after they had agreed a fee with the Scottish club.
Shoot does a feature on Grimsby winger Mike Brolly, complete with a picture of him holding a brolly.
In other ads, there is an advert for a free Euro 80 sticker album, but not in Shoot, in two other publications – Roy Of The Rovers, and Tiger.
There is a poster of Celtic players and manager Billy McNeill celebrating winning the 1980 league title. They would soon look stupid as it was Aberdeen who claimed the trophy that season.
In international news, Bobby Robson is wanted by Barcelona to be their new manager. It would eventually take him 16 years to get the job. Meanwhile, one Spanish newspaper had a leftfield candidate for the post, Ian Paisley. It was a printing error as they got him confused with Liverpool manager Bob Paisley.
Andy Gray uses his column to suggest that there should be full-time referees in football.
The magazine ends on the back page with a poster of John Toshack in his Wales kit.