Saturdays in Mid Ulster are far better than Tuesdays in North Belfast.

Aside from the trip to Carrick in August, Linfield have manged ok against the Bottom 6. It’s games against the Top 6 that have been the problem.

No drama (Well, apart from the final minutes of the half) and three points, as Linfield signed off January with a win, ahead of a February fixture list that has the potential to make or break their season.

Kirk Millar was back in the starting eleven for the first time since injury.

It would be a case of one in and one out for Linfield as Cameron Palmer had to go off injured and was replaced by Conor Pepper.

Midfielders are in short supply for Linfield at the moment. On the plus side, at least this was the last game of Kyle McClean’s suspension.

Thankfully, Linfield got an early goal. Having struggled for a long time during their previous visit to Shamrock Park this season, it was most welcome.

Joel Cooper won possession out right, played in Eetu Vertainen.

Vertainen was in too wide a position to go for goal, but Cooper chased up with him, making himself an option for a pull back, and when he received it, he simply couldn’t miss.

It was Portadown who had the next big chance of the game, when Eoghan McCawl curled an effort off the post, but it landed perfectly for Cathair Friel, who put the ball over with his outstretched foot, to a less than sympathetic cheer from the away fans packed behind the goal.

To be fair, the ball just hit him, but that wasn’t going to stop anybody from mocking him.

It was a moment that Portadown would be left to rue, as Eetu Vertainen put Linfield 2-0 up with a side foot finish after a bit of a goalmouth scramble.

After that, the game went a bit uneventful for a while. Shouldn’t really complain, this was the sort of game where you just want to get the three points and go home.

As the first-half neared it’s end, suddenly we had a game on as Paddy McNally headed home a free-kick to make it 2-1.

A frustrating end to a comfortable half for Linfield.

On a day when they could have done without any drama, it was set up to be a dramatic afternoon.

It was so important for Linfield to take control of the game as soon as the second-half started, not to give Portadown any encouragement.

They did just that, being camped in Portadown’s half, but it took a while to get a reward for it, until Kirk Millar worked space for himself out the left.

With everybody expecting a left foot cross, he surprised everybody by going for a right foot cross across the six yard box, perfect for Eetu Vertainen to finish from a few yards out to make it 3-1.

Even though it wasn’t totally job done, deep down we all new that there wasn’t enough in Portadown to come back from this.

Another goal would have been nice, just to be absolutely sure.

It came from another Kirk Millar assist, playing in Eetu Vertainen through on goal with only one outcome, a second successive Saturday hat-trick and 4-1 for Linfield.

Points in the bag, Linfield took the opportunity to give some game time to players needing it, with Niall Quinn and Chris McKee coming on.

A free-kick just outside the box looked like it was on a perfect position for Quinn to have an attempt on goal.

Instead, it was teed to Joel Cooper who fired home low to make it 5-1. Keeper should really have done better, not that anybody celebrating cared.

Without playing that well, Linfield were racking up a convincing win. It wasn’t the outright annihilation you would expect for a scoreline like this.

A welcome boost to the goal difference, especially with Cliftonville leading 4-0.

In a title race so tight, you have to account for every possible deciding factor.

That goal difference got a further boost in injury time with a sixth goal from Chris McKee, with his close range effort being saved by the keeper’s legs behind the line.

A second six goal win in Mid Ulster in a fortnight.

January completed but didn’t bring the County Antrim Shield as hoped.

It did bring two League setbacks but there were points in the other games to have some sort of recovery.

With six defeats already, Linfield should be well out of the title race. The inconsistency of others has allowed them to still be in it, albeit chasing.

Even within January, Cliftonville followed up their win over Linfield with draws against Carrick Rangers and Coleraine. Linfield’s wins on those two matchdays meant that actually gained a point on Cliftonville over a three game run despite losing to them.

With each setback though, Linfield are close to entering games where they are at the point of no return, especially with games running out.

Elsewhere that weekend, Brighton beat Liverpool in the FA Cup.

And why is that of relevance?

I’ll be in Brighton in late February. I only realised after I booked that it was the midweek of the FA Cup 5th Round.

Although, I would have been celebrating that result even if I wasn’t going to Brighton.

So, watching the draw, hoping Brighton get a home draw against opposition where tickets might be on general sale.

Talking of tickets, I would be sat in the Living Room listening to Radio Ulster for Linfield’s next match, having missed out on getting one for the Irish Cup clash with Larne.

I had hoped this would be a good omen. I haven’t seen Linfield win an Irish Cup game outside the Final since 2017.

Me not being there was surely going to guarantee victory.

Hopefully, they’ll use those free Saturdays to practice penalties.

Photo Album


November began with a trip to Shamrock Park to see Linfield eventually beat Portadown by a score of 3-0.

By this point, I was using up Annual Leave, so I went on a day trip to Dublin and got some Street Art photos.

That was then followed by two trips to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Cliftonville and Glenavon.

Another Linfield match, this time on the road, to Ballymena.

The next day, I made the most of a football free Saturday morning to head to Lisnabreeny Hill to get some Sunrise photos.

Then that night, I made my first visit to the newly rebuilt Mandela Hall to see John Power in concert.

November ended with two Linfield matches, both at home, against Larne and Crusaders.

Portadown v Linfield

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Glenavon

Ballymena United v Linfield

Lisnabreeny Hill

Lisnabreeny Hill Photo Album

John Power live at Mandela Hall

John Power live at Mandela Hall Photo Album

Linfield v Larne

Linfield v Crusaders


If Linfield were having a poor run of results, it was nothing compared to Portadown’s current run of form.

Portadown were still looking for their first win of the season, just as they were when they met Linfield on the Opening Day.

In fact, they had only secured one point since then.

Stats like that would make Linfield fans nervous. Nobody wants to be the team on the receiving end when Portadown get their first win of the season. Linfield simply couldn’t afford to let that be the case.

A win on the Opening Day put Linfield top of the table. Their ambitions this time were more modest, to try and break through the Top 6.

It was Portadown who had the first chance of the game when Jamie Mulgrew got caught in possession trying to clear the ball, and Billy Steadman went just wide with his effort.

Linfield’s main response was a bit of pinball in the box where a series of shots were continuously blocked by Portadown defenders.

When you are sat behind the goal at the opposite end it is very easy to prematurely celebrate what you think is a goal. That is what happened when Joel Cooper hit a shot just wide, with Linfield fans thinking he had scored when they saw the ball rolling behind the net.

Portadown were giving every bit as good as they were getting, with Chris Johns having to tip over a cross/shot that was threatening to sneak in.

Linfield’s only other attacking moment of note in the first-half was a Robbie McDaid diving header from a corner that was easily saved.

The first-half was a tough watch. Linfield only had a handful of attacking moments, and Portadown were comfortable.

This was a team who were bottom of the table and had just come off a 4-0 defeat. We should have been making life uncomfortable for them from the very start. Linfield had to do so much better.

Kirk Millar went off injured at half-time, and was replaced by Eetu Vertainen.

Even though it was an enforced change. It was one that worked for Linfield, they were already showing more of an attacking threat in the opening minutes of the second-half, not that the bar was high.

If only the bar was high when the ball fell to Jimmy Callacher at a corner, as he blazed the ball over. It was a big chance.

Despite that, this chance perked up Linfield’s support.

No matter how bad they are playing, or who they are playing, there is something special when Linfield are attacking a goal their fans are based behind.

One thing that Linfield couldn’t afford to do was go 1-0 down. They simply couldn’t give Portadown something to hold onto.

That almost happened when Stephen Teggart fired towards goal, his effort had to be turned around by Chris Johns.

Linfield’s approach was to give the ball to Joel Cooper, Fair enough, he makes things happen.

For the first time in the game, you felt like a goal for Linfield was only a matter of time.

It looked like Cooper was going to set up the opening goal of the game for Linfield when he played in Andrew Clarke, but the angle was too tight for him to finish.

There wasn’t long to wait for a Cooper assist, when he pulled the ball back from the byline for Sam Roscoe to knee the ball in to make it 1-0.

You’ll take a goal by any means.

Linfield now had the goal to go with their dominance, it was time to kick on.

They were given a reminded that this game was not won when Portadown hit the post with a long range shot a few minutes later.

Portadown couldn’t find a way to stop Joel Cooper.

When he is unstoppable, things happen for Linfield. That’s why they always try to give him the ball.

It wasn’t until the final minutes of the game that he got his reward, when another cross from the right was headed home from close range by Robbie McDaid. That was the points officially in the bag for Linfield.

There was no doubt as to who the Man Of The Match was. It was a landslide decision.

Given how lazily these awards are handed out to goalscorers, the fact a player on a winning team who hadn’t scored was winning it so comfortably said how good he was.

The goal we all wanted to see came in stoppage time when he was played through by Jamie Mulgrew and smashed it into the roof of the net, before lapping up some well deserved adulation.

It was a tough watch in the first-half, but a lot better in the second. It simply had to be.

More of that second-half performance and less like the first-half please.

Onto Cliftonville at home on Tuesday night.

Photo Album


November 2021 was a mixed bad for Linfield with away trips, to Portadown, Crusaders and Glenavon.

Oh, and there was a home match against Cliftonville sandwiched inbetween that, before a midweek home match against Carrick Rangers on the last day of the month.

Portadown v Linfield

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Cliftonville

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Carrick Rangers


Due to matches being postponed due to International Call-Ups, September’s football watching took a while to get going, having to wait until the middle of the month for my first match, Linfield’s trip to Portadown.

For me, like a lot of others, it was a first away trip since March 2020.

It was, eventually, an enjoyable trip with Linfield winning 3-2.

That was then followed by a home match against Coleraine, and trips to Glenavon and Glentoran.

Portadown v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Glenavon v Linfield

Glentoran v Linfield


November began with a day trip to Dublin. Naturally, while I was there, I took the opportunity to check out Street Art. Might as well, seeing as it was my first time there in two years.

Later that week, I did something else I hadn’t done for a long time. Not as long, just over eighteen months. I am of course referring to going to a concert, in this case, Lightning Seeds at The Limelight.

That was then followed by two road trips for Linfield away games, to Portadown and Crusaders.

Sandwiched inbetween that was another road trip, this time to Ards to get some Street Art photos, with a recent event having taken place.

It was a month of doing things I hadn’t done for a while. This time, going on a flight.

The destination was Gatwick, but not to go to London, but Brighton instead.

So many photo adventures, where to start?

Street Art in Brighton, of course. Also, a walk along Beachy Head, OMD in concert, and some sunsets while I was in Brighton.

Back home, a return to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Cliftonville.

Two days later, I headed to The Limelight to see The Charlatans in concert.

The month ended with Linfield matches against Glenavon and Carrick Rangers.

Dublin Street Art

Dublin Street Art Photo Album

Lightning Seeds live at The Limelight

Lightning Seeds live at The Limelight Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

Ards Street Art

Ards Street Art Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Brighton Street Art

Brighton Street Art Photo Album

Beachy Head

Beachy Head Photo Album

OMD live at Brighton Centre

OMD live at Brighton Centre Photo Album

Brighton Sunset

Brighton Sunset Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

The Charlatans live at The Limelight

The Charlatans live at The Limelight Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Carrick Rangers


September began with a stroll towards Royal Avenue, or rather streets around Royal Avenue, to take in the aftermath of Hit The North, taking place in around The Sunflower. I wasn’t able to attend on the actual day of the event.

The rest of the month was football matches, Linfield’s games against Portadown, Coleraine, Glenavon and Glentoran.

Hit The North

Hit The North Photo Album

Portadown v Linfield

Linfield v Coleraine

Glenavon v Linfield

Glentoran v Linfield


Beginning to think that Linfield should have saved some of the eleven goals they scored against PSNI four days previously, as they endured a frustrating afternoon, having to settle for a point at Shamrock Park.

Even though Linfield had won on their last five visits to Portadown, four of those victories had been by one goal, including a come from behind win in September.

Linfield had a lot of early possession but the best they could offer was a speculative long ranger shot from Niall Quinn.

From where I was sat, behind the other goal, I thought it was going in, jumping up to celebrate and making myself look very silly.

Jordan Stewart was next to be frustrated. Not once, but twice.

First with a header denied by a save from close range, then he burst through on goal only to be denied by Portadown’s keeper making himself big and blocking the shot.

It wasn’t all one way traffic, with Portadown having enough time in Linfield’s defensive third to show they couldn’t be discounted as an attacking force.

0-0 at half-time but no need to panic, especially with Linfield attacking their own fans. They did need to step it up.

Step it up they did, being camped in Portadown’s defensive third, but all it brought was a flurry of corners.

Those corners were easily cleared by Portadown though, Linfield couldn’t take advantage of them. You got the feeling that the only way that Linfield would get a goal would be from a moment of inspiration from one of their own players, or a moment of stupidity from a Portadown player.

The way the game had been going, neither of those two scenarios was looking likely.

Matt Green got on the end of a cross but the ball agonisingly went across the goal while Jordan Stewart had a low shot cleared off the line.

Such was Linfield’s frustration in front of goal, it was even more important not to concede, especially with Portadown killing and stalling the game at every available opportunity.

In search of a winner, Billy Chadwick came on for Matt Green, or “Billy Hat-Trick” as somebody behind me dubbed him after his treble against the PSNI. Just one would have done.

I was wondering why Martin Donnelly wasn’t introduced. Turns out he wasn’t on the bench. Injured, I presume.

Linfield could have done with something different. Even though it hasn’t happened for Ahmed Salam (That’s being kind), it might have been worth throwing him on in the final minutes.

It looked Christy Manzinga was going to win it for Linfield, just as he did in September, when he hooked an effort just wide from a corner.

In injury time, he tried a repeat of his winning goal in September, but this time fired over when a pass to the right was a better option. It would have went in in September, but now he’s hit a bit of a dry spell in front of goal, it was only ever going over.

So late in the game, Linfield fans knew it would be their last attack, and so it proved as Portadown held on for a 0-0 draw.

A frustrating day. Linfield had so much of the ball but couldn’t do much with it.

It got even worse when other results were digested, with wins for Glentoran, Larne and Cliftonville.

Cliftonville are six points ahead of Linfield but have played a game more. They are due at Windsor Park in mid November so that can change very quickly.

Before that, a visit to Seaview.

Photo Album


Cristiano might have been the talk of the footballing world in the lead up to this weekend, but at Shamrock Park, it was Christy who was the centre of attention.

After a two week break due to games being called off due to International Call-Ups, Linfield were back in action and back on the road.

Their last away trip, to Solitude in May, saw them lift the title.

For many fans, due to restrictions, they missed out on a chance to be there, just as some were unable to attend the Irish Cup Final the previous weekend due to restrictions. This match would be the first opportunity in eighteen months to see their team on the road, since a trip to Carrick Rangers in March 2020.

There would be no signs of rustiness, vocals all in tune. Like a classic rock band, you never lose it.

In the opening minutes, there wasn’t much to sing about, with both teams forcing the opposition keeper into routine saves.

There would be nothing routine about Chris Johns first meaningful save, as Ruairi Croskery was played through. He looked certain to score, but Johns got a hand to his low shot, saving it, and sending the rebound away from immediate danger.

Christy Manzinga got in behind Portadown’s defence, similar to his second goal against Crusaders two weeks previously.

This time, his shot was saved. From where I was, it looked like a cross to Billy Chadwick would be a better option, but when you’re on the run of form he is on, he is entitled to shoot.

It was Portadown who scored first, from a cheaply conceded corner by Linfield. Kirk Millar made a hash of clearing the ball when a corner came to him, the resulting confusion saw a team-mate forced into the safety first option of conceding another corner.

The safety didn’t last for long, as a free header across the penalty area and a stretched leg saw the ball fall perfectly for Ruairi Croskery (one game and one goal for Linfield in 2016) to sneak in and put Portadown 1-0 up.

It was a bad goal for Linfield, Michael Newberry was caught ballwatching. He knew it too, with his hands going on his head straight away.

Linfield’s best chance in response was a volley from Christy Manzinga which went over the bar.

Manzinga was soon involved in the action when he was played through after a run from Billy Chadwick. He made no mistake, finishing to make it 1-1.

Chadwick and Manzinga combined well at times, something to work on.

Something that definitely needs worked on was the amount of cheap throw-ins conceded.

Even though they weren’t in dangerous area, it was frustrating to continually see simple passes gone wrong, or too ambitious passes being made. Especially at a ground like Shamrock Park where the ball doesn’t come back into play immediately, and Linfield needed the game to flow to keep the pressure on Portadown.

Christy Manzinga continued to be the main character in the game, this time being denied by the crossbar after a header.

Both teams exchanged shots that were easily saved as the half meandered to an end, looking like they would go in level.

Portadown had other plans when Lee Bonis snuck in unnoticed from a cross on the left to finish from close ranger. Another poor goal to concede as a result of not tracking a man.

The dynamic of the half-time team talk had changed once again. It was no longer about finishing the job off and completing the comeback, it was about starting another comeback.

It looked like another equaliser was going to come from Billy Chadwick, when he got himself one on one with a Portadown defender, set himself up to shoot, but dragged his shot wide.

From where I was behind the goal, it looked like there would only be one outcome. I turned out to be wrong. I know, i’m as shocked as you are.

David Healy turned to the bench to try and change the game, bringing on Jordan Stewart and Matt Green.

Jordan Stewart had scored the winner in two of Linfield’s last three visits to Portadown, so fingers crossed for three out of four.

He would soon have a goal disallowed due to an advantage not being played. The resulting free-kick went over the bar.

There were more agonising near misses for Linfield.

Trai Hume having an effort cleared off the line by a header. Matt Green had a header saved by the keeper’s legs.

You had a feeling that if Linfield could just get one goal, it would be the springboard towards victory. There was still plenty of time to go.

That goal eventually came when Jordan Stewart played the ball to Kirk Millar whose low cross was finished from close range by Matt Green for his first goal for Linfield.

No time to savour the moment though, grabbing the ball straight away to restart the game. There were three points to be won.

Green would be frustrated in his attempts for his second Linfield goal, having an effort saved by the legs of Portadown’s keeper, before having the ball snatched away from him by a Portadown defender just as he was setting himself up to fire home.

Eventually, Linfield took the lead for the first time, when Christy Manzinga, who else, made space for himself outside the box, and for some reason ignored me shouting at him to pass it left, firing home to make it 3-2 and give Linfield the lead for the first time.

Even though there was one goal in it, you can never be too comfortable, the way the game had gone, you just knew Linfield would see the game out.

They weren’t even seeing the game, continuing to spend the game in Portadown’s half, despite the aim being not to concede rather than to score.

Four goals would have been nice, but three was enough, as Linfield kept up their winning start to the season, but languish in 5th, due to inactivity.

Postonements due to International Call-Ups have made the table lopsided, but it is Cliftonville with ten points from twelve who lead.

Linfield facing a repeat of the Winter of 2019, having to make up games and chase opponents.

Up next, was a League Cup tie away to Ballyclare. I wasn’t there, which is probably why they won, negotiating that opponent, round and venue a lot more effectively than when I visited in 2014.

In League terms, Coleraine at home, a fixture that has literally been even over the past five year.

2016-2017, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 saw one win each and two draws.

2019-2020 saw two Coleraine wins and a draw, before Linfield levelled it out last season with two wins and two draws.

Two wins have seen Coleraine back on their feet after losing their first two games. The objective for Linfield is to knock them off their feet again. Every point is valuable.

On the Wednesday before this, was Shayne Lavery running the show for Northern Ireland against Switzerland. They still have a chance but are up against it.

I gave the match a miss as it will be an absolute Covidfest. Sorry, but there are two many divs in the Green And White Army.

Although, the ticket prices made it easy. Good to see and issue being made about it and hopefully the IFA address the issue for Euro 2024, or dare I say, a World Cup Qualifying Play-Off. Got to be optimistic.

Living relatively near Windsor Park, I incorporated it into my evening walk to purchase a programme for watching the game on TV.’

I was disappointed to see them not being sold at the ground. This has been a recent phenomenon at games under the IFA. This was the case at the Irish Cup Final and the European Super Cup Final as well, instead selling them online only.

Ahh yes, that well known matchday behaviour, ordering the programme to get it through the post four days later. And you have to pay postage for it.

I fully understand safety concerns about Programme Sellers, absolutely, but there is enough land in and around Windsor Park for them to be based. Why not borrow a kiosk from Ticketmaster to reduce close contact for them?

They can sell programmes at Old Trafford with a crowd of 75,000 for crying out loud.

There have been a few Linfield games moved to Friday nights. One of those was Crusaders moved to Friday 12th November.

Before you could say “Isn’t that the night Northern Ireland play Lithuania? That seems like a dumb idea”, it was moved back to the Saturday.

As I will have some free Saturdays, I hope to spend one of those visiting Harland and Wolff Welders new ground.

The first definite date is Saturday 27th November, but if Linfield v Carrick Rangers is postponed due to International Call-Ups, i’ll be there on Saturday 9th October, all being well, the first scheduled game there.

Until then, my match going will be Linfield. Up next, will be the aim for three wins in a row to help with four titles in a row.

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