PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2017-2018

I hope you’ve enjoyed the month by month look back at the 2017-2018. The less said about what happened on the pitch, the better.

I took a lot of photos, so i’ve rounded up my favourites.

Feel free to vote for your favourite.

PLATT LANE

This was taken in June last year when The Oval was being used for filming a movie about Bert Trautmann, and was decorated to look like Maine Road. I went to get some photos.

I specifically wanted one with 1950s Maine Road and 2017 Oval both in the same shot, and this was my favourite from that day.

CLANDEBOYE

You have roadworks to thank for this photo.

I was held up heading to Ards v Linfield and missed the first couple of minutes.

This was the scene that greeted me as I entered, a crowd with their eyes fixated on the pitch on a warm summer evening.

GARRETT

I like the composition of this photo.

You may be surprised that Robert Garrett is attacking and not defending, he had just kept the ball in play and was now being surrounded by two Dungannon defenders.

PHOTOGRAPHER

I just like the composition of this shot. Taken during Spartans v Linfield in Scottish Challenge Cup.

RAINBOW

Me being arty farty. I love trying to get pictures of rainbows over football grounds. Taken at half-time during Ballinamallard v Linfield in November. A rare time that afternoon when it wasn’t raining.

HAUGHEY

Same match, everyone huddled in the stand to avoid the rain. I like the composition of this shot.

FLEGS

Taken during the Northern Ireland v Switzerland match in November, green and white flags were left out before the game for fans to wave. I decided to take a shot as they were being waved and got lucky.

CELEBRATION

Everything fell into place for this shot, the sky, a well worked goal, and the whole team coming together to celebrate.

GOAL

I like this shot because it captures the emotion of a last minute equaliser as part of a late comeback that never looked like coming.

TIPTON

I was heading to the exit for a quick getaway (in my defence, it was an away game on a weeknight) and stumbled upon this framing as Matthew Tipton looked on as Warrenpoint took on Linfield.

CAMPION

Taken during Cliftonville v Linfield in February, the guy in the red coat makes it makes it with his celebration as Linfield players celebrate in front of their fans.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : SEPTEMBER

September’s football watching began for me in Edinburgh, seeing Linfield take on Spartans in the Scottish Challenge Cup. That was followed two days later with World Cup action, as Northern Ireland took on Czech Republic at Windsor Park.

After that, it was all about Irish League action, taking in Linfield’s matches against Glentoran, Crusaders, Ballinamallard and Cliftonville.

Spartans v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Cliftonville v Linfield

2017 IN PICTURES – SEPTEMBER

September 2017 began with a road trip, and a long one at that, to Edinburgh, to see Linfield take on Spartans in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

Two days later, it was another football match with an international feel, an actual international, as Northern Ireland took on Czech Republic at Windsor Park.

The following weekend was busy, taking in Ryan Adams at Ulster Hall and then Linfield’s match against Glentoran.

There was more football to follow, taking in Linfield’s matches against Crusaders and Ballinamallard.

The following weekend was football free but not photo free, as I was out capturing Culture Night, and Street Art painted as part of Hit The North.

The month ended with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield take on Cliftonville. The less said about which, the better.

Spartans v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic

Northern Ireland v Czech Republic Photo Album

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Ryan Adams live at Ulster Hall

Linfield v Glentoran

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Culture Night 2017

Culture Night 2017 Photo Album

Hit The North 2017

Hit The North 2017 Photo Album

Cliftonville v Linfield

SPARTANS 1-2 LINFIELD 2.9.2017

“Farewell Edinburgh, i’ll see you again in 2018” I thought to myself as I sat in the Departure Lounge at Edinburgh Airport less than a month ago, but the draw for the Irn Bru Challenge Cup had other plans for me.

Regular readers will know that I visit Edinburgh every August and take in a game. Having got a bit bored of alternating between Hearts and Hibs, i’d been commenting on how I wanted to see Spartans get promoted to League Two and take in a game at Ainslie Park.

I did get to see a League To game at Ainslie Park, but it was an Edinburgh City game, as they will be groundsharing with Spartans for the next three years due to Meadowbank Stadium being redeveloped. I’d previously never considered going to see Edinburgh City at Meadowbank Stadium as watching football in a ground with lots of empty seats miles away from the pitch sounded grim.

So, after wanting to visit Ainslie Park, I would be doing so twice in four weeks.

An away game in the Central Belt was convenient, not knowing who not so convenient, with Spartans only being confirmed as Linfield’s opponents nine days before, making it hard for fans to make independent travel arragements. Thankfully, the club offered a package for supporters to travel by bus.

It had been a while since I last travelled to Edinburgh by bus, and I suddenly remembered why I usually fly to Edinburgh.

It was a much changed Linfield starting eleven, far from what you would consider to be Linfield’s first choice eleven, be it if you consider the team that finished last season or the team that has started this season, minus Paul Smyth obviously.

In truth, i’m not sure anybody knows what Linfield’s strongest eleven is at the moment, in a good way, due to there being so many options.

This game offered a first start of the season for Jimmy Callacher after injury, and a start for Matthew Clarke after being on the bench due to injury. Clarke picked up where he left off, linking up well with Niall Quinn on the left hand side.

The only two names that might have been unfamiliar to Linfield fans would have been two recent loan signings Brandon Adams and Louis Rooney up front, though Rooney introduced himself with a hat-trick off the bench on his debut against Distillery in the League Cup.

A hat-trick from Rooney on his debut brought obvious comparisons with another Rooney. It must be remembered, that Wayne Rooney went three games without a goal after a hat-trick on his Manchester United debut. Just to manage expectations.

Spartans had the first chance of the game inside the first minute when Linfield couldn’t clear in their own half, but a long range shot went over.

After that, it was all Linfield pressure, with Brandon Adams having a shot blocked, Niall Quinn heading wide and Josh Robinson firing wide from a corner.

All that Spartans could offer was a Ross Allum shot that was saved.

Adams and Rooney were trying to get used to each other as a partnership. You could see there were promising signs but still need some work on the training ground.

As the half neared it’s end, Linfield got an opportunity to take the lead after a penalty for handball, which Louis Rooney scored with ease.

Within the opening minutes of the second-half, a quick free-kick allowed Stephen Lowry free space to shoot home from the edge of the box.

At 2-0 up, the game looked over and began to meander.

David Healy turned to his bench to give Adams and Rooney the afternoon off.

With about 76 minutes gone, a long ranger shot was spilled by Gareth Deane, and the rebound was finished by Blair Atkinson. Suddenly, the game had become interesting. A lot more interesting than it should have been.

It looked like Stephen Fallon was going to make it 3-1 but his close range effort before Ross Allum had a similar chance saved.

Once Allum’s shot was saved, you got the feeling that was it for Spartans, their best chance of extra-time had gone.

So it proved, as Linfield held on for a win that should have been more comfortable than it was.

Attention turns to the next round, and Linfield’s possible opponents. Here’s the outlook for possible away games.

Doable from Glasgow : Dumbarton, Falkirk, St Mirren

Doable from Edinburgh : Dundee United, Dunfermline, Falkirk, Raith

Bollocks to get to : Inverness

Doable by boat : Queen Of The South

Doable from Aberdeen : Elgin, Peterhead, Montrose, Cove

Short trip across Belfast : Crusaders

Dream : Stranraer

If there is a Football Santa, i’m hoping i’ve been a good boy and Linfield get Stranraer away.

Talking of long trips, Linfield got Ballinamallard in the League Cup. We’ve won every time i’ve went but this is on a weeknight. They can beat them without my presence inspiring them?

With Linfield being inactive today in League terms, Coleraine took the opportunity to go top of the League with a win over Glenavon.

Up next for Linfield, a home match against unbeaten Glentoran. Now, that would be a nice bubble to burst.

Photo Album

FOOTBALL IN 2015

Another year of football watching is over, and it’s all about looking forward to 2015. But what, realistically, are my hopes for 2015?

Well, these are my football watching hopes for 2015.

LINFIELD

Well, stating the obvious, I obviously want Linfield to win the Irish League and the Irish Cup.

This season’s Irish Cup draw has already given a treat in the form of an away game against Tobermore United – another new ground to visit.

In terms of pre-season, it’s the usual wishlist of Dundela, PSNI or Stranraer away. Seeing as we invited Cowdenbeath over for a friendly in the summer of 2014, would it be too much to ask for them to return the favour in the summer of 2015?

In terms of promotion, i’m hoping Carrick Rangers go up as i’ve never been there. So again, a new ground to visit. If there is to be another team promoted, hopefully it will be Ards or Bangor, with an away game early in the season on a sunny day.

Of course, there is also the ongoing redevelopment work at Windsor Park. It is expected for this to be completed by November.

Obviously, i’d be getting use of the South Stand, but hopefully, i’ll get an opportunity to sit in the Railway Stand just to see what it’s like. I’m guessing it might have to be used for a Linfield match before it is passed for a Northern Ireland match, in the same way Wembley had to stage an underage international with a restricted attendance before being allowed to host full events.

EUROPEAN FOOTBALL

Obviously, i’m hoping for Linfield to be in the European Cup, but i’m hoping that the other Irish League sides get fallen giants who are part of the 101 Club, that I can tick off my list.

The closest an Irish League side got in 2014 was when Crusaders got duffed by a Swedish team who went on to play Torino.

Seeing as Glenavon are best mates with PSV Eindhoven, if they want to invite them over for a friendly, that would be great.

MANCHESTER UNITED

I’m hoping to get to Old Trafford before the end of the season. I’ve nothing booked yet, but i’m eyeing either Tottenham in March or Arsenal in May.

Hopefully, there’s be European Cup football returning in September 2015. I might be tempted to a there and back group game. Just have to wait until the 2015-2016 fixture list comes out.

NORTHERN IRELAND

I’m planning to be at four Northern Ireland games in 2015 – the home games against Finland, Romania, Hungary and Greece. I bought a Block Booking for the first time ever for this campaign. The downside is, i’m going to go to hell for attending the Finland game, which is on a Sunday night.

Tempted by the Scotland friendly in March. Haven’t booked anything yet, but a quick there and back for an away friendly is very tempting.

EURO 2016

Whatever the fate of Northern Ireland’s qualification campaign, i’m planning to be in France in the summer of 2016. The reason i’m posting it with reference to 2015 is, the flights will probably go on sale in August/September 2015, and i’m planning to be straight in with my booking. The plan is to go out for the first four days of the tournament and be based in Paris, with two games there, one in Lille (one hour away) and Lens (one hour away)

BIRMINGHAM

Toying with the idea of heading to Birmingham in September for the Rugby World Cup, as Australia and South Africa play on successive days at Villa Park. If I was to do this, i’d be planning to try and take in a football match taking place in the city (if feasible) at either Birmingham City or Walsall. Nothing definite in this idea though.

BARCELONA

Going to Barcelona for a weekend in February. Espanyol are at home to Valencia that weekend, so i’m hoping to take in that match. I’m also looking at lower league sides in the area to try and catch more than one game. The most likely bet is CE Europa, who play in Spain’s 4th tier. Frustratingly, Barcelona B (in Spain’s second tier) are away that weekend, to Real Zaragoza, a 101 Club member.

LEAGUE OF IRELAND

I don’t plan to go to a League Of Ireland game every year, but there’s usually something that takes me to Dublin, so I end up taking in a game. If I do end up taking in a game in Dublin, hopefully, it will be UCD, as the Bellefield Bowl is the only football ground in Dublin I haven’t been to.

SCOTLAND

As well as the previously mentioned international i’m tempted by, i’m planning to head to Edinburgh in August for the festival. Obviously, there’ll be Hibs and Hearts, but i’m hoping they’ll be at home on a Sunday, leaving the Saturday free to see Spartans or Edinburgh City, hopefully by now promoted to League Two (4th tier)

Of the two, Edinburgh City look the most likely. The downside is, they play at an athletics stadium.

MOROCCO

One place i’m definitely not visiting in 2015 is Morocco. I was tempted as they were the host of the 2015 African Cup Of Nations. It turned out I made the right decision by not making plans, as they were stripped of hosting rights, which were given to Equatorial Guinea, which is a bit harder to get to.