2018 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March 2018 began for me photographing snow. Yes, you read that right, the snow came down in the early days of March 2018.

That snow caused the postponement of Linfield’s Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville, so I had to wait a week for my first football match of the month, as Linfield took on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed up the following midweek by Linfield’s Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville.

Two days later, I headed to The Odyssey to see Stereophonics in concert.

St Patrick’s Day was spent watching Linfield draw 1-1 at home to Glentoran.

The following Thursday, I headed to The Limelight to see Feeder in concert.

Off work the next day due to needing to use up excess Annual Leave, I made the long journey to Ballinamallard to see Linfield drop two points in the last minute.

That weekend, and the month, ended with me heading to East Belfast to get photos of some new murals that had appeared during the month.

Belfast Snow March 2018

Belfast Snow March 2018 Photo Album – Thursday 1st March

Belfast Snow March 2018 Photo Album – Saturday 3rd March

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Linfield v Cliftonville

Stereophonics live at The Odyssey

Stereophonics live at The Odyssey Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Feeder live at The Limelight

Feeder live at The Limelight Photo Album

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v South Korea

Northern Ireland v South Korea Photo Album

East Belfast Street Art

East Belfast Street Art Photo Album

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PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MARCH

Football watching in March got off to a delayed start, due to Linfield’s Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville being postponed due to snow.

I had to wait a week to get to a match, Linfield’s home game against Carrick Rangers.

The following midweek, was that postponed Irish Cup tie against Cliftonville, resulting in a defeat for Linfield.

It didn’t get better the rest of the month as Linfield had to come from behind to get draws against Glentoran and Ballinamallard United.

At least the month ended on a high note, beaming with parental pride (sort of) as Paul Smyth came off he bench to score the winner for Northern Ireland against South Korea on his debut.

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Linfield v Cliftonville

Linfield v Glentoran

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v South Korea

Northern Ireland v South Korea Photo Album

NORTHERN IRELAND 2-1 SOUTH KOREA 24.3.2018

World Cup preparation began on Saturday at Windsor Park. Unfortunately, it was for South Korea and not Northern Ireland.

Could you imagine if Northern Ireland had qualified? All that joy, only to see it taken away as the DUP try to withdraw us from the competition to sock it to Vladimir Putin.

Don’t even try to argue with me, that is exactly the sort of dumbfuck thing they would try to do.

They won’t be going to the World Cup, but Northern Ireland fans will be getting new experiences this year, as their first four opponents of 2018 (South Korea, Panama, Costa Rica, Bosnia and Herzegovina) are teams they’ve never faced before.

Games against Israel, Austria and Republic of Ireland towards the end of the year ruin that ambiance.

For me, it was the first time i’ve seen a truly properly Asian team in the flesh.

I’ve seen Russia (part of which is in Asia), Azerbaijan (part of which is in Asia), Israel (Asian, but a member of UEFA) and Australia (Not in Asia, but a member of the Asian Football Confederation)

It was also a first for Trevor Carson and Jamal Lewis, both making their international debut. A bit surprising in the case of Carson. He’s been playing regularly at club level for a long time, i’d assumed he’d have had a cap by now.

It was also a first start for Jordan Jones, while Paul Smyth was on the bench, looking to make his debut.

It was also a first outing for the new Northern Ireland away kit (I know, reported to the Kit Police). I’m not sure what colour it is, the closest is sky blue, but it looks nothing like Uruguay, Manchester City, Napoli or Ballymena United. It’s actually a nice kit.

The only other times I can think of Northern Ireland not wearing green at Windsor Park is a friendly against Israel in 2009 (Again, to promote a new away kit), a friendly v Spain in 2002 (not sure why) and a European Championship Qualifier v Republic of Ireland in 1979 (For some reason, the home team wore their away kit in both games)

South Korea were straight on the attack, a ball played across the penalty area causing a lot of concern for Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland replied with a run from Jordan Jones, before South Korea took the lead after 6 minutes when Kwon Chang Hoon was played through and finished under Carson.

South Korea already had the better of the play and a goal to show for it. It looked like it was going to be a long afternoon for Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland managed to hand on in there, having a few attacks of their own, one of which resulted in a disallowed goal.

On 18 minutes, Aaron Hughes left the pitch through injury, the day before the 20th anniversary of his Northern Ireland debut. Those numbers were purely coincidental, this wasn’t a stage managed departure.

Within minutes, Northern Ireland were level. They had a free-kick in a shooting position, to the right of the edge of the penalty area. Everyone expected a shot, but a low pass to Jamie Ward, who made a run, and his low cross was diverted into his own net by Kim Min Jae.

Both sides had chances in an even game. Trevor Carson doing his cause no harm for future contention.

Naturally, substitutions disrupted the flow of the second-half, with Liam Boyce, Conor Washington and Craig Cathcart entering the pitch.

With ten minutes to go, the substitution I personally had waited for.

Alas, it wasn’t Smyth and Jones down the wings, it was Smyth for Jones.

It wasn’t surprising that Paul Smyth’s introduction was relatively late in the game, with this game being sandwiched inbetween two Under 21 games. He was never going to get more than ten minutes. It was still enough time for him to show what he can do.

With just a few minutes remaining, a loose ball fell to him, and with one touch, he took two South Korean defenders out of the game and gave himself enough room to fire home low.

It was all about the first touch.

Northern Ireland fans had a new hero. It’s a bit like when your favourite band becomes big. Oh, you’re only noticing how good he is now?

Northern Ireland held on to get their first win in four games. It wouldn’t have been a cause for concern if they didn’t win this match, but it’s still nice to end a winless run.

Those four games saw Northern Ireland fail to score. I can still remember that run between 2002 and 2004. Still a long way to go to equal that run, but good to put that to bed.

2018 was off to a winning start for Northern Ireland. It won’t be a year that will see them head to Russia, but hopefully, the groundwork will be put in place for a visit to any one of thirteen European countries in the Summer of 2020.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – JANUARY

Like in the previous season, January began with a game between Linfield and Crusaders. Again, it was a home win, though this time, it was at Windsor Park instead of Seaview.

The following Saturday, it was the Irish Cup at Windsor Park, with Linfield edging out Ballymena United after extra-time.

Three days later, same venue, same two teams, but a different competition, the County Antrim Shield Final, with Ballymena winning 3-2.

A frozen pitch saw Linfield’s home match (YES! another match at Windsor Park) against Dungannon Swifts postponed, so my next football was the trip to Old Trafford to see United take on Southampton.

The football watching month ended with Linfield’s routine win over Carrick Rangers at, you’ve guessed it, Windsor Park.

Linfield v Crusaders

Linfield v Ballymena United

County Antrim Shield Final

County Antrim Shield Final Photo Album

Manchester United v Southampton

Manchester United v Southampton Photo Album

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 12.5.1990

Later today, Alan Pardew will lead out Crystal Palace for the FA Cup Final. In 1990, he was playing for Crystal Palace, appearing on the cover of Match with current Stoke City manager Mark Hughes, then a Manchester United player, with the FA Cup sandwiched inbetween them.

As you open the magazine, Mark Bright is interviewed, urging Crystal Palace to make him a contract offer he can’t refuse, amid speculation over his future.

Across the page, Gary Pallister is interviewed, stating the the FA Cup offers a lifeline to a disappointing season for both him and United.

In traditional cup final fashion, the teams get profiled by a team-mate, Gary O’Reilly for Palace and Mike Phelan for United.

Phelan reveals that Steve Bruce is known as “Empty head” due to knowing a lot of useless facts, and Paul Ince is known as “Mr Quote” due to his love of speaking to the press.

In news, Ronnie Rosenthal states he won’t be returning to Standard Liege for the following season, with Liverpool, where he on loan, being his preferred destination.

It’s also Cup Final Day in Scotland, where Celtic face Aberdeen, and this gets a double page profile.

With the World Cup in Italy approaching, Match looks at those players with ambitions of being on the plane, and the choices Bobby Robson has to make.

Ally McCoist gets a profile, where he reveals a fondness for Brooke Shields, a fear of Spiders, and that his favourite thing about Match is photos of Ally McCoist.

In Match Facts, 18 year old Mark Bosnich made what Match described as a “reasonable” debut for Manchester United in a 0-0 draw with Wimbledon.

In their foreign round-up, Napoli win Serie A, but their star player Diego Maradona wants to leave and join Marseille.

As part of their World Cup preview, South Korea get a double page profile.

The magazine ends with a double page profile on Paul Gascoigne, as Match assesses his performance against Czechoslovakia in one of England’s warm-up games.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : WORLD SOCCER – APRIL 1996

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.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : SHOOT – 28th APRIL 1990

This edition of the Magazine Archive sees us look at Shoot from 28th April 1990.

This week, was focusing on the Rumbelows Cup (That’s Carling Cup in modern currency) Final between Nottingham Forest and Oldham.

Then, Forest were a top flight club while Oldham were riding high (Getting promoted in 1991, and being Premier League founding members in 1992) in the Second Division (That’s The Championship in modern currency)

With the two clubs not meeting in the league that season, the cover image is of an Oldham player in a challenge with Manchester United’s Bryan Robson during the recent FA Cup Semi-Final between the two sides.

Personally, I would have went with a split image of a player from each team.

Each team gets a double page spread preview

A further double page spread is given to “Shoot Star Writer” Tony Cottee’s pre-match preview.

He rates each player in the starting 11 and 2 subs out of 10, with Nottingham Forest scoring 103 and Oldham scoring 104 with Cottee declaring that Oldham would win.

Nottingham Forest won the final 1-0 with a goal from Nigel Jemson, who 14 years later would be playing for Ballymena United.

Meanwhile, there is a competition to win flights and tickets to see England’s World Cup games against Republic Of Ireland or Holland.

Keir Radnedge’s column (He was the editor of World Soccer, owned by IPC who also owned Shoot)focusing on the rest of the world, sees FIFA President Joao Havelange stating that he wants to see China host the 2002 World Cup finals, while Japan have stated they wish to bid to host this event.

Japan did eventually host the 2002 World Cup, but in a co-hosting arrangement with South Korea.

That week, it was also announced that Portugal are wishing to bid to host the 1998 World Cup, in a candidate list which also includes Switzerland, Morocco, France and Brazil.

France were awarded hosting rights to the competition, which they won, beating Brazil 3-0 in the final.

Portugal (Euro 2004) and Switzerland (co-hosting of Euro 2008) have since gone on to host further tournaments, while Brazil (2014 World Cup) and Morocco (2015 African Nations Cup) are scheduled to host tournaments withing the next five years.

Morocco would also have a failed bid to host the 2010 World Cup, losing out to South Africa.

The build-up to that summer’s World Cup continues with team previews of Italy, Romania, Holland, England and Scotland.

There is also a double page spread of Stuart Pearce proving how hard he is by driving a tank.

He admitted that he almost joined the army after leaving school, and blames not getting in on telling them that he had an application pending with his local police force.

In rumours, Chris Woods is going to sign for QPR and Pat Nevin is going to sign for Celtic. Neither transfer happened.

Jimmy Greaves letters page is an eye-opener as Richard Barlow from Heaton suggests that England should bring Ray Wilkins to the World Cup in Italy.

Julie Glover from Kent dishes it out to Greavsie over his prediction that Crystal Palace wouldn’t stand a chance against Liverpool in the FA Cup Semi-Final at Villa Park.

Paul Knauer from Avon writes in to complain about the Third and Fourth Division (That’s League One and League Two in modern currency) Play-Off Finals at Wembley as it devalues the prestige of the venue.

Jimmy Jones from Wallasey in Merseyside writes in to congratulate Kenny Dalglish on unearthing a world beater in Ronny Rosenthal.

Oh hindsight, what a wonderful thing.

In the latest league standings, Liverpool lead Aston Villa by two points with a game in hand, while Leeds, Sheffield United and Newcastle United are locked in a tight battle for promotion to Division One (That’s Premier League in modern currency)

In Scotland, Rangers are facing competition from Hearts and Aberdeen for the title, with Celtic 15 points behind in 4th.

The ad for the following week’s edition has the headline “STEWART HITS OUT”, referring to Tottenham Hotspur’s Paul Stewart.

Meanwhile, a double page spread is dedicated to an explosive interview with Charlie Nicholas, then of Aberdeen, declaring that he is leaving Pittodrie and that he is “Finished” with Scottish football.

He signed for the very much Scottish Celtic that summer.

The back page has an advert for a collection of figurines called “Sportstars”

Think of it as Corinthan figurines, but a bit bigger.

I had Bryan Robson, Neville Southall, Diego Maradona, Marco Van Basten, Peter Beardsley, Thomas Von Heeson, Mo Johnston, Ruud Gullit and Paul McStay.

MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : FOUR FOUR TWO – MAY 1997

In this segment, we look at Four Four Two, from May 1997, which pulled off a bit of a scoop by getting Alex Fergsuon (Not yet Sir Alex) and Kenny Dalglish on their front cover as Manchester United and Newcastle United were challenging for the title, alongside Arsenal and Liverpool.

The Premier League was nearing the end of it’s fifth season, and Ferguson and Dalglish (with Blackburn Rovers) had won the previous four, with Fergie leading 3-1

The Spine Line read “Alex, Matt, Tom, Johnny, Matt, Bill, Bill, George” which I guess might be some reference to Scottish managers in English football, considering Ferguson and Dalglish are on the cover with Matt being Busby, Bill being Shankly and George being Graham.

Recently sacked BBC Five Live presenter Danny Baker gets a page dedicated to him in support.

In the world of advertising, Ben Thatcher and Chris Perry of Wimbledon are advertising Valsport’s multicoloured range of boots.

To appreciate the quality of Valsport, you need to wear them apparantly.

World Cups of the future take up space in the magazine, with two pages bizarrely dedicated to wether England should make a joint bid with Germany to host the 2006 World Cup.

England had just successfully hosted Euro 96 and wanted to exploit this by bidding to host the 2006 World Cup, the next tournament (apart from Euro 2004, but having hosted Euro 96, it is unlikely it would be favourably looked at) that was available to bid for.

Germany had long stated their desire to host World Cup 2006. Viewers of ESPN Classic will note that Premier League grounds had hoardings with “England 2006” written on them.

When it came to the vote in the summer of 2000, it was South Africa, not England, who were Germany’s main rival as England were eliminated in the first round of voting.

Germany edged out South Africa, who eventually won the right to host the 2010 World Cup.

A feature titled “The Odd Couple” looks at the 2002 World Cup to be held in South Korea and Japan, the first time ever the World Cup would be co-hosted.

Despite the much feared tensions between the two host nations, the only confrontation of the 2002 World Cup would be between Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane at the Republic of Ireland training camp.