PHOTO OF THE SEASON : 2019-2020

Even though my matchgoing season ended prematurely, I still had a lot of photographs.

So, I decided to collate my favourites and let you choose the best.

RED

During the July Holidays in 2019, I snuck off to Dublin for a few days. I had a stroke of luck that St Patrick’s Athletic were playing a UEFA Cup game while I was there, so I headed along.

The weather was perfect for phototaking. As the teams lined up, red paper was left out for fans to do a pre-match display. The framing worked out perfectly which is why I love this photo.

STRETCH

Another photo where it all fell into place, as Matthew Clarke chased a ball trying to keep it in. If you care, he wasn’t able to keep the ball in.

SUTJESKA

 

It’s all about the reactions, Mark Stafford running away in celebration, Ryan McGivern in the middle loving it and fans with their hands in the air. Unsurprisingly, this was a big goal in a big game.

MILLAR

My favourite. It was a big goal (a late winner against Glentoran) and everything just fell perfectly, catching Kirk Millar sliding in celebration, players running towards him and fans going wild.

CAMERAMAN

Another picture where it all fell perfectly due to the framing, and the rain making a nice effect although it didn’t feel that way when I was getting drenched taking it.

DUNGANNON

Even though it was now October, I was still having a lot of daylight to work with. Dungannon is kind for phototaking and the framing of this just worked as Kirk Millar looked to get a cross in.

FANS

You know I love arty photos and this end of Warrenpoint allows you to experiment. As fans stood at the side of the pitch while action was ongoing, this was too good an opportunity to miss.

FLOODLIGHT

Over for a United match, I was able to take in a Salford City match while I was there. The first thing you see as you walk towards the ground is the floodlights in the shape of the club badge. I managed to capture it in all it’s glory.

Well, that was my favourite photos of 2019-2020, feel free to vote for your favourite, even though i’ve canvassed for what I think you should vote for.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long until i’m back in a football stadium taking photos so I can have a similar poll for 2020-2021.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – OCTOBER

October began with a disappointing trip to Seaview to see Linfield lose to Crusaders.

It got better the following Saturday, with a 4-1 win at Dungannon Swifts.

That was then followed by two quick trips to Windsor Park, to see Linfield beat Ballymena United 2-1, and then hammer Warrenpoint Town 7-0, before the month ended as it started, with a disappointing away defeat for Linfield, this time at Coleraine.

Crusaders v Linfield

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Coleraine v Linfield

2019 IN PICTURES – OCTOBER

October 2019 began with a trip to Seaview to see Linfield take on Crusaders.

A busy month of concerts began a few days later with a trip to Ulster Hall to see The Divine Comedy.

There was even some Street Art spotted during the month, heading to Stephen Street to see a mural of The Joker and Catwoman

The next day, I was on the road to Dungannon to see Linfield beat Dungannon Swifts 4-1.

From there, it was another concert, a first visit to The Telegraph Building, to see Two Door Cinema Club.

The flipping between football and concerts continued as I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Ballymena United. The following midweek saw a football/concert double header, seeing Linfield take on Warrenpoint Town, before seeing OMD at Ulster Hall.

October’s photo adventures ended with a trip to see Linfield take on Coleraine, the month beginning and ending for me with a 1-0 defeat.

Crusaders v Linfield

The Divine Comedy live at Ulster Hall

The Divine Comedy live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Joker and Catwoman Mural

Joker and Catwoman Mural Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Two Door Cinema Club live at The Telegraph Building

Two Door Cinema Club live at The Telegraph Building Photo Album

Linfield v Ballymena United

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

OMD live at Ulster Hall

OMD live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Coleraine v Linfield

2019 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March began with a first concert at Elmwood Hall for me, to see KT Tunstall.

A few days later was my first football match of the month, as I travelled to Mourneview Park to see Linfield lose to Glenavon.

The football didn’t get much better, as I headed to Seaview to see Linfield lose the County Antrim Shield Final to Crusaders.

Thankfully, things got a bit better as Linfield beat Institute 2-0.

There was a flurry of football as the month ended, with three games in four days, with Linfield’s trip to Dungannon Swifts being sandwiched inbetween Northern Ireland’s opening Euro 2020 Qualifiers, at home to Estonia and Belarus.

KT Tunstall live at Elmwood Hall

KT Tunstall live at Elmwood Hall Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Crusaders v Linfield

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

DUNGANNON SWIFTS 1-4 LINFIELD 12.10.2019

Linfield enjoyed their visit to Stangmore Park on Tuesday night they decided to come back on the Saturday, and enjoyed themselves just as much.

This game was the second in a double header of away games against Dungannon Swifts. The objective on Tuesday was advancing in the NIFL Cup, this match was about getting three points and getting the title challenge back on track after defeat the previous weekend.

Linfield’s results in recent years against Dungannon have been decent, unbeaten since 2013, and winning the last four meetings. It’s been almost too good. Dungannon are due one against us, which makes me nervous going into games against them.

This run of results has gone one of two ways – a resounding win for Linfield by four or five goals, or an undeserved scrappy one goal win.

Curiously, the last time that 12th October fell on a Saturday was in 2013. Who did Linfield play that day? Dungannon Swifts, a 2-0 win at Windsor Park with both the goals coming from Andrew Waterworth.

The most memorable thing about that game was the fact it kicked-off at 3.45pm due to the motorway being closed that morning due to a bomb scare.

Six years on, Andrew Waterworth was still scoring against Dungannon, and arrived looking to score on his fourth successive visit to Stangmore Park, having been restored to Linfield’s starting eleven due to Shayne Lavery being unavailable due to being in the Northern Ireland squad.

He wasn’t the only Andrew returning to the starting eleven, with Andrew Mitchell coming in for the injured Bastien Hery.

Linfield had a lot of early pressure, the closest they came was when a Stephen Fallon shot was saved by the legs of Niall Morgan.

There wasn’t long to wait for Linfield to take the lead, as Andrew Waterworth finished from close range after a Joel Cooper cross, the fourth successive game at Stangmore Park in which he scored. He also scored at around the same time he scored when the sides last met in March last season, if you believe in omens.

Even at this early stage, it was clear that Dungannon were struggling to handle Joel Cooper, and Linfield weren’t slow in exploiting it. Every time he got the ball he was usually clear, in space and looking to cross.

Despite this, Linfield needed a two goal lead, especially as Rohan Ferguson was forced into a save after Sean Noble got in behind Linfield’s defence.

There wasn’t long to wait for Linfield to get a second goal, after Kirk Millar was played through on goal.

I was shouting for him to smash it low across the keeper, but what do I know, he chipped the keeper in an replica of his second goal against Sutjeska in August. His best goalscoring season at the club continues, long may it continue.

A few minutes later, it was 3-0 when Joel Cooper broke clear down the left and fired home low. That meant that all of Linfield’s front three had found the net.

That surely meant the points were in the bag, but Linfield made absolutely certain of it by going 4-0 up in the final minutes of the half.

As players were queuing up to score, Matthew Clarke cross for Kirk Millar to head home.

Pointless stat for you, but Linfield have scored at least four in a game on at least one occasion against every team they have faced in the League since David Healy became Manager in October 2015 apart from two. The answer may surprise you – Carrick Rangers and Newry City.

This was the sixth time Linfield had scored at least four against Dungannon Swifts during that four year period.

Having had a game in midweek and with midweek games in the next three weeks, it was no surprise that the second-half was a non event, with energy needing to be saved with big games coming up in the next few weeks.

A goalmouth scramble was the closest Linfield came to making it 5-0.

There would be a goal in the second-half, but it came for Dungannon Swifts when Daniel Hughes fired home to make it 4-1. Thankfully, there was never a danger of Dungannon making a comeback.

It was disappointing to concede in terms of Goal Difference. Linfield are seven worse than Crusaders and five worse than Coleraine in that regard, but with three games in hand, and a further twenty-seven to play after that, so there is no need to panic.

The only other moment of note in the second-half was when a cross was intercepted by a Dungannon defender, much to the frustration of Kirk Millar, who was set to put the ball home for a hat-trick.

The only thing of note, on the pitch that is.

During the first-half, an announcement was made over the tannoy for someone to remove their car as it was blocking a Farmer’s Field. A further announcement was made that the PSNI were arriving to remove the vehicle.

Whilst we were all waiting on the outcome of this situation, there is no announcement, so we’ll never know what happened.

Unsurprisingly, Linfield made three subs, with Joel Cooper, Andrew Waterworth and Kirk Millar getting an early rest, with a League debut for teenager Charlie Allen.

Other results saw Ballymena United draw with Crusaders, which was good for Linfield on two regards. Ballymena have snuck under the radar, but if they won this game and their game in hand (at home to Linfield), they would only be four points off the top of the table, so it is good to start opening up a gap on them.

We have a great opportunity to extend that next weekend when Ballymena United come to Windsor Park. It is a ground where David Jeffrey hasn’t won in his last eleven games there, including nine defeats in a row. Let’s make it ten.

This weekend should have been Matchday 11, when everybody should have played each other once, a good barometer of where teams are it.

It is for only five clubs, with the others having games in hand due to postponements caused by Linfield and Glenavon’s involvement in international competitions.

A few observations so far. Glentoran and Larne are at best going to be scrambling for Top 6 despite the hype. Larne’s only wins this season have come against the Bottom Four.

Coleraine draw too many games and Crusaders concede too many goals.

Cliftonville are doing better than I expected, but it is interesting to note their only defeats have come against Linfield, Crusaders and Ballymena United, so they come up short against the top teams.

Linfield can’t really say much with their only dropped points coming in defeats to Coleraine and Crusaders.

We’ll need to remedy that, and we’ll get a chance with a trip to Coleraine at the end of October.

Before that, Coleraine play Crusaders at Seaview. It makes a win against Ballymena even more vital. Not only will we pull clear of Ballymena, but we’ll take advantage of what happens at Seaview.

Whatever the outcome, there’s no bad result, but only if we win, as we’ll cut the gap on at least one, possibly two rivals.

And then, we’ll be ticking off one of our games in hand in the midweek after.

Talking of Glenavon, they lost 3-1 to Raith Rovers in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers Cup, with the first goal for Raith coming from a player called Bowie, who I believe was their Star Man.

Glenavon took Linfield’s place in the competition. As much as I would have enjoyed a weekend in Edinburgh (to base myself for the game in Fife) and a walk up Arthur’s Seat, I can see why the club decline the invitation to enter the competition.

If we were playing in it, wins over Cliftonville and Dungannon would be postponed and still to be played. We’d be six points worse off and 8th and fourteen points off the top, albeit with five games in hand.

If I was in Edinburgh, I may have been tempted to do a day trip in Glasgow to see Scotland v San Marino. That temptation would end at £30 a ticket.

If things had worked out differently, I may have been going to see a Euro 2020 Qualifier as a neutral.

I’m taking a short visit to Vilnius in November for a break. My original choice of date was this week (Sunday to Wednesday), to take in Lithuania v Serbia while i’m there. However, the flight dates didn’t suit as I needed to be back on Wednesday for Two Door Cinema Club.

Up next for Linfield, is a County Antrim Shield match at home against Cliftonville, after being drawn at home to Cliftonville in the NIFL Cup.

The big matches keep on coming. You wouldn’t have it any other way.

Photo Album

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.

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