2019 IN PICTURES – JANUARY

2019 began for me with a trip to the seaside on the very first day of the year, to Clandeboye Park to see Linfield take on Ards as they aimed for three points in the title race.

Eleven days later, was my first trip of the year to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Warrenpoint Town.

That was then followed a week later by a trip to Seaview to see Linfield beat Crusaders.

A month that was mostly spent watching football saw me return to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Glentoran in a televised game.

The next day, I headed to Manchester. Guess what? It was for a football match, as Manchester United took on Burnley.

While I was there, I got photos of Street Art in Manchester and Salford Quays, while I also snuck in a day trip to Sheffield, where I got more Street Art photos.

While I was in Manchester, it snowed, so I got some photos of that, including snow outside Old Trafford.

Ards v Linfield

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Burnley

Manchester United v Burnley Photo Album

Manchester Snow

Manchester Snow Photo Album

Sheffield Street Art

Sheffield Street Art Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

SHEFFIELD STREET ART

It has been twenty-five and a half years since my first visit to Old Trafford and over those years, I’ve started to use those trips to explore Manchester and Greater Manchester more in recent years.

Going Tuesday to Thursday for a midweek game, if the game was on a Tuesday night, it would mean i’d have a free day on the Wednesday. As the game I was going to was confirmed as a Tuesday night, I planned to go somewhere for a day trip on the Wednesday.

I had three options – Hadfield (The League Of Gentlemen is filmed there), York or Sheffield. I decided to go with Sheffield as it was only 45 minutes away and my train tickets cost £10.60.

It wasn’t intentional, but taking in a day trip to Sheffield when i’m in England for a football match, what day do I go to Sheffield? On a Wednesday, of course.

I had been to Sheffield before, spending a day there as part of a mini tour of the North of England in April 2010, taking in a James concert.

My trip to Sheffield wasn’t with the intention of spotting Street Art, but it would have been rude not to.

It wasn’t hard to spot pieces, immediately spotting a trail of Street Art in the University Area which is right beside the Train Station, and then stumbling onto some pieces elsewhere in the City Centre, except that Sheffield doesn’t have a City Centre, it’s simply called “The Heart Of The City”

Despite being less than an hour away from snowy Manchester, it was sunshine and daylight in Sheffield, which made it easier for taking photos.

I explored a lot of the city (Over 40,000 steps if you care about that type of thing), my favourite places were Sheffield Winter Gardens, Devonshire Quarter and The Moor.

There is a free guide book produced by Sheffield BID (offices right beside Winter Gardens) of independent shops and businesses in Sheffield, and it has a feature on the Street Art in Sheffield, most notably by Pete McKee, whose Penguin mural in the Northern Quarter in Manchester has previously featured on this blog.

There is also a website called Street Art Sheffield, which obviously covers Street Art in Sheffield.

Believe it or not, my trip to Sheffield came when I was in an internet blackout. I had no data on my phone and my Apple account was locked meaning I couldn’t access my ipad. It was strange, having no internet access whatsoever was both wonderful and horrific.

It meant that I couldn’t cheat and refer to the website, meaning I was blindly exploring Sheffield’s Street Art.

If I had another day, I might have used this website and made a plan of attack to see more pieces that I missed.

I would definitely recommend Sheffield for a visit. Even if you get bored, you’re less than an hour away from Nottingham and Manchester. Not that you would get bored.

Photo Album

2010 IN PICTURES – APRIL

April was a busy month, and I have photographic evidence to back it up, including trips to Dublin, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool.

I headed to Dublin at the start of the month to see Linfield take on Bohemians in a Setanta Cup Semi-Final.

The game was on Easter Saturday, but I decided to take Good Friday off and head down to make a wee break of it.

I spent the Friday in Dublin and took in a League of Ireland clash between St Patrick’s Athletic and Sporting Fingal in the evening, before the Linfield match on the Saturday.

One big regret of the month was that I didn’t take my camera to the Easter Tuesday title decider against Glentoran, but two days later, I was in Sheffield watching James in concert at Sheffield O2 Academy.

The next day, I headed to Manchester, before spending the Saturday in Liverpool and then going to Ewood Park on the Sunday.

A few weeks later, I had an unexpected week off work and became a tourist in my own city, and managed to get some intersting graffiti shots.

The end of the month, saw Linfield visit Seaview to take on Crusaders in a game where Noel Bailie made his 1,000th appearance for Linfield, which was commemorated with a banner.

A win for Linfield that day would have secured the title, but a 0-0 draw meant that champagne was on ice.

A 1-0 win over Cliftonville on the following Tuesday night meant Linfield were champions, and I had my camera there to capture.

Dublin Blog

Sheffield/Manchester/Liverpool Blog

James Review

James Photos

Linfield Champions 2010 Photos

SHEFFIELD/MANCHESTER/LIVERPOOL

In the middle of the dark January when the news was dominated by travel disruption caused by freak weather, unlike now, I just felt like I needed something to look forward to when the weather improved come April.

Having taken a shine to the possibility of going to Ewood Park to watch United take on Blacburn, and seeing James on tour, I decided to book a mini tour of the North of England, and then count down the days.

The build-up was nervous as a threatened rail strike meant I faced the very serious possibility that I would be spending 3 hours on a bus with an hour long stop in Leeds. Thankfully, that situation was avoided.

After checking in to my hotel, I decided to have a wee stroll in Sheffield City Centre and the first thing I saw was the top of the main stand at Bramall Lane, home of Sheffield United.

I decided to have a wee nosey at the ground and started by visiting the club shop. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get access to the stadium to look inside, but I did get some photos of the exterior.

Later on in the afternoon, I saw a bus with ‘Hillsbrough’ on the LED screen at the front, so I decided to jump on, in the interests of fairness.

I had a wee look in the Wednesday shop, and the first thing that comes to mind is that it is spacous.

Like at Bramall Lane, I wasn’t able to actually get inside the stadium, but I did get a look at the memorial stone for those who died in the Hillsbrough Disaster, the 21st anniversary of which was this week.

Back in the city centre I had an enjoyable day. Sheffield is worth visiting, though it is probably more to my detriment that I didn’t get to see a lot of the city as I had to cram it all into one day, though it certainly doesn’t have the wow factor that Manchester has.

Thursday night was spent at the O2 Academy in Sheffield to see James in concert. If you’re too lazy to click the link, James were excellent.

Come Friday, it was bye bye Sheffield and hello again Manchester. Having been there in February, I spent most of my time based in the city centre (though in reality, with the football matches on Saturday and Sunday and going home on Monday afternoon, I only got one full day in the city centre) I decided that I wanted to see more.

Having booked tickets to see Sean Lock on the Sunday night at the Lowry Theatre, I decided to do a dry run to try and find the venue and get home from it.

Getting there was easy enough, and Salford Quays on a beautiful sunny day is an enjoyable experience, especially when you can get a brilliant view of Old Trafford.

If only I had a better camera with a better zoom.

The Lowry Centre is well worth a visit, whatever your interest.

I decided to then walk up to Old Trafford, just to see what it was like on a non-matchday. Despite there not being a match on, there was plenty of activity, as local merchandise stall holders were on hand to satisfy the needs of passers-by.

As I was walking past, preparations were being made for the weekend’s big event, not a United match, but the X-Factor auditions.

From there, I popped in to the ‘other’ Old Trafford, to have a wee look around and was rather embarrased to walk in during a match between Lancashire and Durham. I didn’t really have a clue what was going on.

After taking an early night on the Friday to try and compensate for the 3am start on Thursday.

I was up bright and early on Saturday morning to get a train to Liverpool. Word of advice, NEVER EVER get a train to Liverpool on the morning of the Grand National as it’s a warzone, although it was funny to laugh at the drunk knobs on their way to the event, who clearly didn’t have a clue about Horse Racing.

The reason why I was in Liverpool was that I was visiting a mate who had moved there from Belfast. I was meeting him at 4.30pm to watch the Aston Villa-Chelsea match and get something to eat.

I decided to head over early and see a bit of the city before meeting up.

The first thing I did was visit Central Library, across the road from Lime Street Station to view ‘The Everton Collection‘, which was suggested (actually, it wasn’t suggested, I was told to go) to me by a work colleague.

As the name suggests, it is a collection of Everton memrobillia, and it was great to look around he collection, and see the history of one of Britain’s biggest football clubs right before you.

Unfortunately, the exhibition will be closing this weekend.

After viewing it, I couldn’t help but think how good ‘The Linfield Collection’ would be, if it was feasible, especially with the club’s 125th anniversary taking place in 2011.

It would be great to have a room to view articles and memrobillia from Linfield’s history, either in Central Library or City Hall, though even if it was downsized, it could work to the club’s advantage, possibly taking place in Sandy Row Library, which could help the club reach out in it’s local constituency of South Belfast.

On Saturday, Liverpool City Centre was transformed into a mini-spain for the day, and it wasn’t just the weather, as the Spanish Holiday Board tried to cash in on the success of Merseyside football legends such as Antonio Nunez and Albert Rieira by attracting loads of Scouser to their country through a fair in the city centre, complete with live music.

Last Saturday was the hottest day of the year so far, and I was gagging for a lolly, more precisely, a Polly Pineapple, which there didn’t seem to be any in Liverpool.

If you love graffiti, Liverpool is worth going to, as there was some excellent pieces.

One of my favourites was an animated portrait of The Beatles with the tagline “We all live in a terrorist regime”.

The Myspace link at the bottom of the image is that of a Liverpool based graffiti artist and well worth checking out.

After meeting up and having dinner while watching Villa lose to Chelsea, I headed back to Manchester on the last train, as we were to meet up in Blackburn, ahead of travelling to Ewood Park to watch United take on Blackburn.

It was my mate’s first United away match, and my first away match in the United end. The only other United away match I was at was incidentally at Ewood Park, as I sat with Rovers fans as I had to keep quiet three times when United scored, though unfortunately, Blackburn scored four which ruined the night.

After meeting up at the train station we shared a taxi with four others on the way top the ground, at a total charge of £6, £1 each. Win.

We headed into the deignated away supporters bar, The Fernhurst, which was heaving so much, we only (just about) were able to get 1 drink for the time we were there.

The match itself, was a frustrating affair. It was one of those games where you reach a point midway through the first half where you realise no matter how much possession and chances you have, it’s going to end 0-0.

If it was an uphill struggle after the Chelsea defeat, United now have a mountain to climb after this result.

I then headed back (eventually, after being stuck in a hick town reminiscant of Royston Vasey) to Manchester to see Sean Lock, who I managed to miss the first five minutes of due to disruption on the tram line.

Thankfully, the rest of the show made up for this inconvenience as he was excellent.

I also did a bit of celeb spotting as his 8 Out Of 10 Cats co-star Jason Manfiord was sat directly 2 rows in front of me. I didn’t se Jimmy Carr though.

On my way to The Lowry, I noticed some anti-Glazer graffiti on the walls along Salford Quays, which I went to get some photos of on Monday morning, before mostly milling around Manchester before getting a bus to Ringo Starr Airport for my 7.30pm flight.

Flying at Sunset is truly amazing, I really wish I was able to get some photos whilst on the plane.

Well, that looks like me in terms of travel for the near future, until I starting getting the wheels of a trip to the Edinburgh Festival in motion once the Finge programme gets published on June 10th.

Already counting down the days.

SOMETIMES, WHEN I LOOK INTO YOUR EYES, I SWEAR I CAN SEE YOUR SOUL

JAMES – LIVE AT SHEFFIELD O2 ACADEMY
8.4.2010

Ever since 1998 when my older brother brought home a copy of The Best Of James, released that day, i’ve loved this band.

The following year, on my 16th birthday, I used money I was given to purchase a special edition of the album, complete with a live CD.

James have always been a band I wanted to see live, but a combination of a 8 year hiatus, and the fact that they never visited Belfast meant that it was an ambition that was always unfulfilled.

Upon the announcement of their 2010 tour, I did start looking at the dates, thinking to myself that either the Edinburgh or Sheffield dates looked tempting (and easier to get to)

I let the idea sit for a while, before booking a trip to the North of England for that weekend, I decided to start my trip a day earlier just so I could get to Sheffield to see them in concert. It turned out to be a decision I wouldn’t regret.

After getting a train from Liverpool and spending the day in Sheffield, I eventually made it to the venue, but was unaware of the layout and ended up queing for the wrong concert, as there are two concert venues at Sheffield Academy.

Even the fact that the audience was making me feel old didn’t give the game away. Having left the queue to see Twenty Twenty (No, I haven’t a clue either) I then parked up into the queue for James, and the audience made me feel young (Not sure if that says more about me or them)

The support band, Unkle Bob, were rather good and well worth checking out.

James caught people out with their entrance to the stage, as Tim Booth, backed only with an acoustic guitar, mingled with fans in the top tier whilst singing an acoustic version of ‘Sit Down’.

It was an almighty sight to see burly security guards reduced to quivering wrecks as Booth climbed over the balcony to view his fans in the bottom tier of the venue.

Not being precious, but there was a rather high quota of cunts intent on moshing into people.

I always make it a rule never to let people like that steal the limelight, and it’s a rule i’m going to uphold for this concert, especially when James were so good.

To give you an idea of how good they were, they got a standing ovation at the end of ‘Tomorrow‘.

Not at the end of a concert, but at the end of a song.

Another highlight of the concert was ‘I Know What I’m Here For‘, which is probably better known as the soundtrack to a sponsors indent during Champions League coverage, as it was sadly not the massive hit should have been.

As ever, with concerts of a a band this good, you could end up being grumpy and complain about the songs they didn’t sing, and this set-list had a gaping ‘She’s A Star‘ shaped hole in it.

The encore was gloriously chaotic, you wouldn’t want it any other way, before a second encore signed off with Laid.

The music of James is like a disease without any cure, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Twitpics