PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2018-2019

2018-2019 is now over and consigned to history. I hope you’ve enjoyed my month by month look back. I thought i’ll end with a look through some of my favourites. Feel free to vote for yours.

NEWFORGE

Taken during a Pre-Season Friendly, I like arty farty shots in the style of Stuart Roy Clarke, so I unashamedly try to copy him.

MOURNEVIEW

I like this shot because of the way everybody is lined up, and how everybody has their eyes fixed on Kirk Millar, being the man in possession

COLERAINE

This shot came about by fluke, I was hoping to capture a Linfield goal, but again, it’s the fans who make the picture for me, all heads in the one direction.

DUNGANNON

Got some good photos this day due to generous Winter Sun. Dungannon is always good for photos. I like the framing, getting the terraces in alongside the pitch.

JORDAN

Jordan Stewart makes it 4-0 against Crusaders in December. I like being able to capture the celebrations on the pitch and in the stand. Even a Steward joined in.

CLANDEBOYE

That spot at Clandeboye Park is handy for getting photos, as long as something interesting happens at that end during the game. Thankfully, Linfield scored while I was at this end. Not just in terms of phototaking, but the match, as it was looking like a frustrating afternoon against opponents who had already proved tricky earlier in the season.

SNOW TRAFFORD

Having got snow photos of Windsor Park in 2010, I couldn’t believe my luck when Manchester was hit with snow the day after United’s match against Burnley. Staying close to the ground, I was straight out with my camera to get photos.

McCLEAN

An explosion of emotion. 2-0 down and looking to be pegged back in the title race, to 2-2 and being frustrated, then a last minute winner, I managed to capture the reactions, of fans and players both going wild in unison.

RAIN

A weather based photo that just works. Bleurgh, an awful night for weather and football.

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PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : MARCH

I had to wait a while for March’s football watching, but it wasn’t really worth the wait as Linfield slumped to a League defeat at Glenavon then lost the County Antrim Shield Final to Crusaders.

Thankfully, the month got a bit better when Linfield defeated Institute 2-0 at Windsor Park.

The month ended with a flurry of games, three in four days, with Linfield’s trip to Dungannon Swifts being sandwiched inbetween Northern Ireland’s opening two Euro 2020 Qualifiers, both at home, against Estonia and Belarus.

Glenavon v Linfield

County Antrim Shield Final

County Antrim Shield Final Photo Album

Linfield v Institute

Northern Ireland v Estonia

Northern Ireland v Estonia Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Belarus

Northern Ireland v Belarus Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : OCTOBER

October’s football watching began at The Oval, to see Linfield get a win over Glentoran.

That was then followed by Newry City’s first League visit to Windsor Park since 2011, and we were treated to a hat-trick from Jimmy Callacher.

That was then followed by two road trips, firstly to Clandeboye Park, where Linfield suffered their first defeat of the season, and then to Stangmore Park, where Linfield came from behind to beat Dungannon Swifts.

Glentoran v Linfield

Linfield v Newry City

Ards v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

DUNGANNON SWIFTS 0-5 LINFIELD 22.3.2019

When this game was chosen for live TV coverage, Dungannon Swifts were on a run of seven wins and a draw in eight games. It represented a major challenge to Linfield ahead of the split, a potential slip-up that would be captured live to the viewing public, just as it was against Glenavon a few weeks previously.

However, in more recent weeks, Dungannon’s form has gone on a downward trajectory, with defeats to Institute and Glenavon, and an Irish Cup exit to Ballinamallard United.

Even though Stangmore Park has been a kind ground to Linfield in recent years – Unbeaten since November 2013 and won on their last eight visits – the visits this season suggested this would be tight, with a last minute winner needed in October, and extra-time needed to end Dungannon’s grip on the League Cup in December.

Linfield went into this game missing two players due to international duty, though the two players in question, Kyle McClean and Michael O’Connor were substitutes last time out against Institiute, meaning that there was no disruption to the starting eleven. Their places on the bench were taken by Stephen Fallon, returning after injury, and Kirk Millar, returning after suspension.

Those absences didn’t affect them, going straight on the attack and spending the opening minutes in Dungannon’s half. They got rewarded with an early goal when Jordan Stewart created space down the right wing for Andrew Waterworth to nip in ahead of Joel Cooper and head home to put Linfield 1-0 up.

Having struggled at times against Bottom Six teams this season after not getting an early goal, Linfield now made sure that Dungannon didn’t have something to hold on to. It was also a timely goal for Waterworth, his first goal in five games.

Within a few minutes, he was making up for lost time when Jordan Stewart got in behind Dungannon’s defence to set him up to put it into the empty net. For the second time, Linfield had a situation that was going to result in a goal, the only question was who would score it. The answer each time was Andrew Waterworth.

Linfield must have been inspired by watching Kazakhstan score two in the early stages against Scotland the previous night.

Another cross from Jordan Stewart almost resulted in a goal but a Dungannon defender got to the ball ahead of Joel Cooper at the cost of a corner, while Cooper headed just wide from another cross.

All of Linfield’s attacking play was coming from the trio of Joel Cooper, Daniel Kearns and Jordan Stewart. Left or right, it didn’t matter which side Linfield went, one of those three would be setting something up.

A neat passing move resulted in Andrew Mitchell having a volley saved.

Linfield didn’t have to wait long to go 3-0 up, when Jimmy Callacher headed home from a free-kick, ending a goal drought for him, his first goal since New Year’s Day.

The half ended eventfully for Andrew Mitchell with a yellow card and an injury, making him a prime candidate to be the first one substituted once the points were secured, if they weren’t already.

A run from Joel Cooper resulted in Niall Quinn having a shot go just wide.

Dungannon had some half chances towards the end of the half, but the danger was easily snuffed out by Linfield’s defence.

3-0 up at half-time, Linfield were a bit slow at the start of the second-half, perhaps not that surprising as they didn’t need to score, but they didn’t need to be giving Dungannon any encouragement that they could get back into the game.

Any possibility that Dungannon could launch an unlikely comeback disappeared when a bout of Head Tennis between Jimmy Callacher and Josh Robinson after a Daniel Kearns cross resulted in Andrew Waterworth heading home from close range to complete his hat-trick to make it 4-0. It was the second time he had scored a hat-trick against Dungannon, having scored one against them in 2015.

Waterworth then scuffed home an effort to make it 5-0, or so he thought, only to be denied by an offside flag.

The game won, Andrew Mitchell was replaced by Stephen Fallon to give him some vital minutes ahead of the run-in, as he returns from injury.

Andrew Waterworth would then get his fourth goal of the game, heading home from a Daniel Kearns cross to make it 5-0. It kept up a bizarre run of Linfield scoring five goals at Stangmore Park having won 5-3 there in 1995 and 5-1 in 2007. I’m already looking forward to Linfield scoring five away to Dungannon in 2031.

With the points definitely in the bag, Kirk Millar and Marek Cervenka coming on for Andrew Waterworth and Jordan Stewart.

Both of them were involved in attacking moments, with Millar hitting a shot wide after being caught in two minds wether to head it or shoot.

It finished 5-0, which put Linfield nine points clear, which they would expected it to be cut to six by Saturday teatime.

Except, that it wasn’t, with Warrenpoint Town recording a surprise win at Ballymena United.

It means that if Linfield win at Ballymena on 5th April, they will effectively be champions, with Ballymena United having to win their last four games, Linfield to lose their last four, and Ballymena to overcome a goal difference advantage of nineteen in Linfield’s favour.

What a win at Ballymena will definitely result in, will be European football and a return to the Scottish Challenge Cup for 2019-2020.

Friday night games on TV have been a mixed bag for Linfield this season. Hopefully, the game against Ballymena is a repeat of this rather than Glenavon.

Photo Album

2018 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

I had to wait until the 8th of the month for a photo adventure, heading to The Oval to see Linfield take on Glentoran.

That was then followed up by a trip to Windsor Park the following Saturday to see Linfield take on Newry City.

Another weekend, another football match, as I then headed to the Seaside to see Linfield take on Ards.

The following weekend, began with Rugby, as I headed to Ravenhill to see Ulster take on Dragons.

It was back to football the following day as I headed to Stangmore Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

The month ended with a trip to The Odyssey to see U2 in concert.

Glentoran v Linfield

Linfield v Newry City

Ards v Linfield

Ulster v Dragons

Ulster v Dragons Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

U2 live at The Odyssey

U2 live at The Odyssey Photo Album

DUNGANNON SWIFTS 1-2 LINFIELD 27.10.2018

After a first defeat of the season against Ards last week, Linfield were hoping to bounce back as they travelled to a ground they had a good record at.

Though, at lunchtime last Saturday, they had a good record at Clandeboye Park.

To say that Stangmore Park has been kind to Linfield in recent years is a bit of an understatement. Since a 1-0 defeat to Dungannon in November 2013, Linfield have won in their last six visits to Stangmore Park, scoring four goals in each of their last three visits)

Four goals and a win would have been great, but we all would happily have taken a 1-0 win.

With Glenavon’s match kicking off at 5pm, this represented an opportunity to get some points on the board and put some pressure on the Lurgan side.

Andrew Waterworth’s winning goal against Glentoran in the County Antrim Shield in midweek saw him restored to the starting eleven, while an injury to Josh Robinson in the same game presented Mark Stafford with his first League start of the season.

The early minutes of the game saw a lot of Linfield pressure. There had to be. Recent games have shown that if you give opponents something to defend, the task suddenly becomes bigger.

The closest they came to a goal when Andrew Waterworth flicked a corner goalwards, while Joel Cooper had a shot saved. Jamie Mulgrew also shot wide from a wide position, while Jimmy Callacher and Mark Stafford had headers go wide.

It wasn’t all one way traffic, as Dungannon had shots of their own, with Paul McElroy firing over after the ball was pulled back, while Roy Carroll was forced into a double save later in the half.

As the half looked to be coming to a goalless conclusion, Dungannon took the lead when a free-kick was headed goalwards by Douglas Wilson and it looped over Roy Carroll and in.

Just like last week, Linfield’s opponents would have something to defend, and Linfield would have 45 minutes to turn it around.

Whatever was said in the Linfield Dressing Room at half-time, it was short and to the point, with the players arriving out for the second-half well in advance of their opponents.

The siege on Dungannon’s goal that Linfield fans were hoping for didn’t materialise. Linfield were forced into a substitution in the early minutes when Michael O’Connor came on for the injured Daniel Kearns.

O’Connor for one of the wide players was a substitution we would have expected later in the game if Linfield were still chasing it. It wasn’t an ideal one to make in the early minutes of the second-half, but it could beworked to Linfield’s advantage.

Within a few minutes, Linfield got that equaliser, when Joel Cooper started a counter-attack in his own half, playing in Niall Quinn with one pass. His cross looked like it was going to be headed home by Michael O’Connor, but it evaded him, but it hit a Dungannon player and went in.

It was one of those horrible ones for the defender, where he couldn’t get his feet how he wanted them, and ended up putting the ball into his own net. It was a stroke of luck, but one that Linfield were more than willing to take.

The goal came a lot earlier than the equaliser came against Ards last week, with Linfield looking to avoid a repeat of what happened afterwards.

History almost repeated itself, as for the next five minutes, Linfield couldn’t get out of their own half, but thankfully were able to keep Dungannon out.

The tide suddenly swung in Linfield’s favour when Seanan Clucas was sent-off for a second yellow card. Linfield couldn’t take advantage of it. Dungannon were holding out.

Jordan Stewart came on for Kirk Millar as Linfield chased a winner. In fact, it was Dungannon who had the best attacking moment, with a Paul McElroy shot forcing Roy Carroll into a save, and Dungannon had a lot of the ball in Linfield’s half.

It looked like being one of those days. Even though they would move level on points with Glenavon, it would be two points dropped, especially with Glenavon having two games in hand.

As supporters would have been entering Mourneview Park for the 5pm kick-off, they would have been doing so with smiles on their faces at this scoreline. Suddenly, the smiles were on the faces of Linfield fans.

My view for the goal, well ……..

At grounds like Dungannon, I like to watch from one side for fifteen minutes, then when there is a break in play, go behind the goal, and then move to the other side.

During a break in play, I planned to move to the stand along the side of the pitch for the final minutes. I realised it was a bit crowded and there was no view, so I moved back to where I was.

As I turned back, the gate was closed, as they do for the final minutes. I turned around and saw the other gate being closed.

There were a lot of Linfield supporters at the side of the pitch. Realising it was crowded with no view, they asked to be allowed to move back but this was refused.

I found myself in a no man’s land, with a few other supporters, and we watched the game peacefully, until one of the security staff started to try and forcefully and aggressively push me out of the ground with seconds of injury time remaining.

All this could have been avoided with some common sense. They should have closed one gate first, and not done both at the same time, or they could have delayed closing the gates and allow supporters to move back behind the goal so they could get a view of the game.

Or they could have closed the gate earlier once it became obvious the area at the side of the pitch was filling up.

There were a lot of angry supporters at being fenced in like this. Due to injuries during the game, there was always going to be a lot of time added on at the end. They could easily have delayed closing the gates and avoid people being stuck. All it took was common sense.

It won’t stop me going to Dungannon, you never let people like that win. It seems to be a private firm that does their matches, and it’s not the first time away fans have had to put up with their dickish behaviour and attitude.

The usual case of baboons with badges, trying to act the big man to compensate for their small dicks.

The only thing that will stop me coming back to Dungannon in March will be if i’m travelling away to Northern Ireland’s Euro 2020 Qualifier that weekend.

The goal, came from Mark Stafford, not that I saw much of it.

Over the past few weeks, i’ve spoken of the importance of the squad. We’ve been operating on a core of 14 to 16 players in the opening weeks, and Stafford wasn’t one of them. He came in today, and won the game.

He wasn’t brought into the team to score goals, but his contribution was greatly appreciated.

Linfield held on and got the points. It wasn’t a classic game or performance, but it’s all about the three points.

We just need to go back to basics. We haven’t kept a clean sheet in four games, it’s a bad habit to get into.

We also need to cut out the “Hollywood Passes”. Sometimes they work, more often they don’t.

The win sent Linfield top, though only for a few hours, as Glenavon defeated Newry City 2-0 in the 5pm kick-off.

After the game, the draw for the County Antrim Shield Semi-Finals took place, with Linfield drawn away to Ballymena, meaning two trips there in the same week.

I’ll be at Old Trafford that night, but I don’t usually bother with Shield games unless we reach the final, so hopefully i’ll get to go to a County Antrim Shield game this season.

Tentative arrangements were made for Institute. 1pm kick-off has positives and negatives. I’ll wait to see what the final arrangements are and where we meet, as i’d like to head up early and make a day of it and try to do as much touristy stuff as I can cram into a morning.

The ticketing arrangements should have been sorted by now. Any game that is all-ticket should be on sale four weeks in advance. It’s a basic courtesy to supporters.

I’d imagine the tickets will be delivered when Institute visit Windsor Park on Tuesday. Thankfully, if they can’t get them on sale on Tuesday, we have two other Saturday home games between now and then for supporters to purchase.

I understand cup games can be confirmed at short notice, but i’d like to see a four week rule in place for League games. It’s a basic courtesy towards supporters. We all have different lives, and we can’t all turn up at Windsor Park at short notice just to purchase tickets.

Thankfully, the fixture schedulers have been kind in terms of ticket selling arrangements, giving us two to three home games.

Hopefully, by the time we head Foyleside, we’ll have three home wins in the bag. One game at a time though.

Photo Album

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 : AUGUST

August’s football watching began at Wilgar Park to see Linfield take on Dundela in a friendly. The following day, was another Pre-Season Friendly, but in different surroundings, as Manchester United took on Sampdoria at Lansdowne Road.

That weekend, I was in Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Festival. While there, I make an effort to attend a game, and I saw Edinburgh City v Montrose while I was there.

Upon my return, was the start of the Irish League season, and I was out for Linfield’s opening week of matches against Carrick, Ards and Dungannon.

My football watching for the month ended by seeing Linfield take on Ballymena at Windsor Park.

Dundela v Linfield

Manchester United v Sampdoria

Manchester United v Sampdoria Photo Album

Edinburgh City v Montrose

Edinburgh City v Montrose Photo Album

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Ards v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

2017 IN PICTURES – AUGUST

August began for me at Wilgar Park, seeing Linfield take on Dundela in a Friendly.

The following night, was another Pre-Season Friendly, as I was on the road to see Manchester United take on Sampdoria at Lansdowne Road.

That weekend, I was travelling some more, heading to Edinburgh for a weekend away, getting some Street Art photos and taking in Edinburgh City v Montrose.

When I returned home, I was out getting some Street Art photos, the aftermath of Hit The East Festival in Eats Belfast.

The following weekend, the Irish League season started, with Linfield taking on Carrick Rangers at Windsor Park, followed by a midweek trip to Ards and a trip to Dungannon Swifts.

As soon as the final whistle blew at Stangmore Park, I was straight back to Belfast to see Amy MacDonald perform at Custom House Square.

A few days later, I was back at Custom House Square to see Blossoms warm up for Kasabian, or so I thought, as Kasabian pulled out at the last minute.

A few days after that, I was back at Custom House Square, to see Ocean Colour Scene in concert.

The following day, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Ballymena United.

My photo adventures for August ended by getting snaps of murals of Jimmy Cricket, Jimmy Nesbitt, Jimmy Young and Carl Cox.

Dundela v Linfield

Manchester United v Sampdoria

Manchester United v Sampdoria Photo Album

Edinburgh Street Art

Edinburgh Street Art Photo Album

Edinburgh City v Montrose

Edinburgh City v Montrose Photo Album

East Belfast Street Art

East Belfast Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Ards v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Amy MacDonald live at Custom House Square

Amy MacDonald live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Blossoms live at Custom House Square

Blossoms live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Ocean Colour Scene live at Custom House Square

Ocean Colour Scene live at Custom House Square Photo Album

Linfield v Ballymena United

The Three Jimmys and Carl Cox

The Three Jimmys Photo Album

Carl Cox Photo Album

2017 IN PICTURES – JANUARY

2017 began for me with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield lose 1-0 to Coleraine. Not the best start to the year.

Things got a bit better the following Saturday when I headed to The Oval to see Linfield beat Glentoran in the Irish Cup after extra-time.

It wasn’t all football in January, as I headed out to get photos of a George Michael mural which appeared in Botanic.

Back to football, and I was on the road to Lurgan to see Linfield beat Glenavon 2-1. The following Saturday, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Ballymena United 2-0.

The next day, it was back to murals, as I headed out to get photos of a mural of Princess Leia that appeared in East Belfast, and then across Belfast to get pictures of a mural of Jon Snow. The guy from Game Of Thrones, not Channel 4 News.

The following weekend, it was back to football and back on the road, as I headed to Stangmore Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts

I then headed to Manchester for a few days, to see United take on Hull City. While there, I got some Street Art photos of Salford Quays.

I headed over on 31st Janaury. You’ll have to wait for February’s round-up for the match and Street Art in Manchester.

Linfield v Coleraine

Glentoran v Linfield

George Michael Mural

George Michael Mural Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Princess Leia Mural

Princess Leia Mural Photo Album

Winter Is Coming

Winter Is Coming Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album