It’s the most wonderful time of year apparantly. I doubt Andy Williams saw his team lose on Boxing Day to a deflected last minute winner.

It was the traditional Boxing Day clash of Linfield and Glentoran, and with it being an odd numbered year, it was at The Oval, because well, they’re a bit odd in the East of the city.

Defeat wouldn’t ruin Linfield’s Christmas, it could potentially ruin their season, as they need points, kicking off fourteen points behind morning leaders Coleraine, albeit with two games in hand.

Linfield fans will have had good memories of their most recent League visit to The Oval, in February, kicking off nine points behind Crusaders with nine games to go, winning 1-0 to kickstart a winning run that saw them lift the title.

In fact, Linfield fans will have enjoyed a lot of their recent visits to The Oval, winning their last eight away League visits to Glentoran.

There was the Irish Cup tie there last season, a home match against Crusaders there in April 2015, a League Cup tie won on penalties in October 2013, then a penalty shoot-out win in the Big Two Challenge in July.

Linfield have won a lot of games at The Oval recently. So many, we can’t actually agree on how many.

I was running late and missed the opening minutes of the game. I didn’t get to see any of Jamie Mulgrew, as he was substituted through injury in the opening minutes, replaced by Stephen Lowry.

I arrived in the ground to see Elliott Morris lying on the ground requiring treatment. Standard.

Mark Haughey had a header headed off the line as Linfield piled on the pressure looking for the breakthrough.

That pressure was rewarded when Cameron Stewart was played in and finished low into the bottom corner to put Linfield 1-0 up.

Minutes later, her was played through again but dragged his shot wide. Near post or far post would have brought a goal, but he hit neither. Even more baffling that it came from a player who had just scored and should have been full of confidence.

Linfield were left to rue that chance when Curtis Allen snuck in from a free-kick to fire home to make it 1-1.

Questions have to be asked about the defending, why a goal threat was allowed to get a free run at a loose ball.

It wouldn’t be the only time a loose ball in the penalty area fell to a Glentoran player.

Before the half was over, Mark Stafford would have a header easily saved by Elliott Morris.

It was one of many Linfield set pieces aimed at the back post. It was predictable. Even if a Linfield player got on the end of it, they were stretching for it, or were too far away from goal to have a realistic chance of scoring. It was predictable, and because it was predictable, it was easy for Glentoran to defend.

And when Glentoran weren’t able to defend it, they were able to get the second ball.

Linfield began the second-half strongly, with Andrew Waterworth having a shot go just wide and Mark Haughey having a header saved. They couldn’t get the goal. Glentoran were able to ride out the pressure.

On 66 minutes, Mark Stafford was lucky to escape with just a yellow card after squaring up to a Glentoran player after a wild tackle. Dylan Davidson was booked for his part in it.

As well as being predictable at set pieces, Linfield were predictable in open play, far too often just hoofing it up. Their decision making was poor. There are eleven players on a pitch which is quite big, yet Linfield players couldn’t find the right pass. Glentoran players didn’t have to make a last gasp tackle.

Ross Clarke, matchwinner in 2012, came on for Niall Quinn, as Linfield chased a winner.

Josh Robinson headed just wide in a rare free header. He should have got it on target. If he did, it was a goal.

Kirk Millar then came on for Stephen Fallon. I could understand bringing on one of the two wingers, but not two of them.

The third sub should have been Louis Rooney. Granted, it hasn’t happened for him this season, nobody can dispute that, but Linfield needed something different. A second winger off the bench, when Linfield had barely played it wide all game was not the answer.

A striker coming on from the bench with a point to prove could well have given Linfield that spark for the final minutes.

Ross Clarke fired just over when played in. If he kept it low, he would have scored. It was another poor decision. Poor decision making has been too frequent in Linfield’s season.

As injury time approached, Linfield lost possession when attacking, once again a Glentoran player was first to a loose ball, beginning a counter attack which saw a speculative shot deflected in by Curtis Allen. Linfield were now losing a game they never looked like losing.

Dylan Davidson was sent-off for a second yellow card in the aftermath of the goal.

90 minutes too late, Linfield now had urgency and a drive towards goal.

It’s easy to have drive and urgency when it is 1-2. It should have been there at 0-0, 1-0 and 1-1. If it was there at 1-0, there might not have been a 1-1.

It almost brought a reprieve for Linfield when Mark Haughey finished from close range after a free-kick. It was disallowed for offside, cutting the celebrations short. False hope, the story of Linfield’s season so far.

Looking at the replay on the TV coverage, it’s hard to see where the offside is.

Here’s a stat for you. When was the last time Linfield lost a League game to Glentoran after taking the lead? 12th October 2002. That’s pretty damming.

With Coleraine drawing, the damage is only one point, and if Linfield win their games in hand, they will have the same defecit they overcame last season.

However, with a traffic jam at the top of the League, we didn’t lose a point to Coleraine, we lost three points to Crusaders and Glenavon.

When opportunities present themselves to you, you have to take them.

At the moment, Linfield aren’t in the chasing pack. They are in the also-ran group with Cliftonville. That is not the sort of company we want to keep, because Cliftonville are awful.

That can change with wins in the net two games.

The season isn’t over. There is still a lot to play for. There’s still the Irish Cup and securing European football.

The last time we had a season like this was in 2012-2013. We ended that season with a whimper. It was a hangover that continued into the opening month of the following season. You could arugue that it cost us the title.

If we don’t win the League, we have to finish the season strongly. Anything less will not be tolerated

It hasn’t been a great Christmas for Linfield, with Linfield Swifts losing to Newington in the Steel and Sons Cup Final.

Waking up at 10am and seeing the rain outside, I think I made the right decision in not going.

It was amusing to see one Newington player describe it as the club’s greatest moment, meaning that a win over Linfield Swifts was a greater moment than a win over Glentoran.

Up next, is Crusaders at home. Hopefully, we go 4-4-2, stand up to them and attack them. None of this showing respect to them and playing 4-5-1 and standing off them bollocks. Get tore into them and attack them. They’ve been sneaking wins and conceding goals the past few weeks. They learnt the had way at Ballymena last April that you can only get away with that for so long.

I do fear that today’s result might make 4-5-1 the easy option.

Whatever formation they line up on Saturday, expect a change in personnel.

Any player who played today who doesn’t start on Saturday can have no complaints.

Photo Album



June 2017 began for me chasing after murals, starting with one of Northern Ireland legends outside Filthy McNasty in Botanic.

From there, it was across South Belfast to get a photo on Lower Ormeau Road of a mural by Emic.

There was more Street Art photos as I followed the progress of a mural of music legends in Hill Street.

In the middle of the month, I headed to Ormeau Park for Belsonic, to see The 1975 in concert.

That weekend, I headed to Manchester in the 1950s. Sort of. The Oval was dressed up to look like Maine Road for a film, so I went and got some photos of it.

The month ended with some football, heading to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on La Fiorita in the European Cup.

Filthy McMural

Filthy McMural Photo Album

Emic Mural

Emic Mural Photo Album

Hill Street Wall Of Fame

Hill Street Wall Of Fame Photo Album

The 1975 live at Ormeau Park

The 1975 live at Ormeau Park Photo Album

Maine Oval

Mine Oval Photo Album

Linfield v La Fiorita


February 2017 began for me in Manchester, heading over to see United take on Hull City, while also getting some Street Art photos.

Back in Northern Ireland, I was on the road to Drumahoe to see Linfield take on Institute in the Irish Cup.

The next day, I was out on my bike for my biannual (usually February and August) visit to Belfast Peace Wall to get some photos of the Wall Art on the walls.

The following Saturday, another road trip, to Carrickfergus to see Linfield at Taylor’s Avenue

The following weekend, it was back to Windsor Park for Linfield, and a disappointing draw against Portadown.

The morning after, I was out on my bike to get photos of a Jamie Dornan mural in Belfast City Centre.

Later that day, it was another cup final, the NIFL Cup Final between Ballymena and Carrick.

The following weekend, I was Oval bound to see Linfield get a 1-0 win against Glentoran.

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v Hull City

Manchester United v Hull City Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Belfast Peace Wall Art

Belfast Peace Wall Art Photo Album

County Antrim Shield Final

County Antrim Shield Final Photo Album

Carrick Rangers v Linfield

Linfield v Portadown

Be My Valentine

Be My Valentine Photo Album

NIFL Cup Final

NIFL Cup Final Photo Album

Glentoran v Linfield


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


There have been strange goings on in East Belfast lately, most recently in Parkgate Avenue, where the entrances of The Oval have been painted …….. of all colours, blue.

Signage has gone up to indicate that it is the home of Manchester City.

Before you get excited at the thought of Pep Guardiola sipping lattes in Ballyhackamore, or consider setting up a shop in Connswater that sells inflatable bananas, it’s not what it seems.

The reason for this, is that The Oval is being used to film scenes for a forthcoming movie about Bert Trautmann and has been set up to replicate Maine Road in the 1950s and 1960s.

A sign has been left to explain this for any confused locals.

It’s not the first time The Oval has been used for filming. In the 00s, DoubleBand Films, a Belfast based film company used the venue for link shots when producing documentaries as part of the Football Stories series on Channel 4.

Glentoran and Manchester City fans have some things in common. Not only do they support teams living in the shadow of more famous and successful city rivals, they also have nightmares of when Alan Kernaghan was at their club.

Cliftonville are also in on the act, with their ground also being used to replicate Stoke City’s Victoria Ground.

Photo Album


So, the 2016-2017 season is over for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed my photographic look back at the season just gone.

I’ve selected some of my favourites, so feel free to vote for the one you like the best.


Taken back in June 2016 at Northern Ireland v Poland, I like the composition, how everyone is fixated on the action at the other end of the pitch, and the colour co-ordination of both sets of fans.


Taken at a pre-season game between Linfield and Dundela, it captures the joys of going to football matches in pre-season, sunshine and relaxation ahead of the hard slog ahead.


I like the framing of this, as the crowd is in position, awaiting kick-off in a big match.


Linfield fans celebrating Jimmy Callacher’s winner against Glentoran in October. I just like this for some reason other than the obvious.


There’s just something about the architecture of old football grounds that does it for me. This is out of use turnstiles at Palmerston Park, home of Queen of the South.


Linfield fans appeal in unison, all making the same hand gestures, for a goal to be allowed. The goal was disallowed for a foul.


Taken at the Steel and Sons Cup Final. Some people like getting dressed up for Christmas.


I like the composition of this, from Ross Gaynor’s posture, to substitutes chatting to each other while the game goes on.


I like the composition of this, all eyes fixated on the penalty area and the incoming corner.


I like the composition of this shot, it looks like a Spot The Ball image, except that the ball is in the shot, with two players getting ready for an aerial tussle.


I love the framing and seeing players in the background running to join the celebrations.


Celebrations after Andrew Waterworth’s second goal against Cliftonville, capturing the joy of the event and the achievement just about to happen.


February’s football watching began for me at Old Trafford on the first day of the month, to see Manchester United held to a 0-0 draw by Hull City.

Three days later came the first in a trilogy of road trips, first to Drumahoe to see Linfield take on Institute, then to Ballymena to see Linfield win the County Antrim Shield, and then to Carrick to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed by a visit to Windsor Park to see Linfield held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Portadown.

The following day, I was Seaview bound to see Ballymena United take on Carrick Rangers in the NIFL Cup Final.

The football watching for the month ended with a trip to The Oval to see Linfield get a 1-0 win against Glentoran.

Manchester United v Hull City

Manchester United v Hull City Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

County Antrim Shield Final

County Antrim Shield Final Photo Album

Carrick Rangers v Linfield

Linfield v Portadown

NIFL Cup Final

NIFL Cup Final Photo Album

Glentoran v Linfield


January began for me with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Coleraine, a match which resulted in a disappointing 1-0 defeat for Linfield.

It was then the Irish Cup for me, heading to The Oval to see Linfield get an extra-time win over Glentoran.

The following Saturday, another away game for Linfield, this time to Glenavon, and another 2-1 win for Linfield.

It was back to Windsor Park the following Saturday to see Linfield take on Ballymena United.

My football watching for the month ended with a trip to Stangmore Park to see Linfield secure a 4-1 win against Dungannon Swifts.

Linfield v Coleraine

Glentoran v Linfield

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Ballymena United

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield


October began with a trip to The Oval, to see Linfield play awful but still grind out a 2-1 win.

The following weekend, was a double header. First up, was Northern Ireland v San Marino, the first game a fully redeveloped Windsor Park. After a few hours sleep, I was on an early boat to travel to Dumfries to see Linfield take on Queen of the South in the Scottish Challenge Cup.

It was then back to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Ballinamallard United before a road trip to Coleraine.

The month ended with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield and Crusaders draw 0-0.

Glentoran v Linfield

Northern Ireland v San Marino

Northern Ireland v San Marino Photo Album

Queen of the South v Linfield

Linfield v Ballinamallard United

Coleraine v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders


After yet another disappointing at Windsor Park against Portadown, Linfield will have been glad to be on the road. If they could choose any ground to visit, it would be The Oval. To say that Linfield have a good record there in recent years is a bit of an understatement.

Form in recent years would suggest this good run would continue. In the past two years, Linfield have gifted Glentoran a point at Windsor Park and then won the remaining fixtures. Glentoran’s league position suggested that a fourth League meeting between the sides at Windsor Park in April won’t be happening.

As supporters entered The Oval, there was one name that the away fans were talking about, Alex Moore. Who? I hear you say. Don’t worry, I asked the same thing. He’s an 18 year old goalkeeper making his debut after (i presume) injuries to Roy Carroll and Gareth Deane rather than a pie related disciplinary issue at the club.

To add to the goalkeeper crisis, the unofficial third choice goalkeeper Mark Haughey was also injured. Coincidentally, his penalty heroics against Glenavon was a year ago this weekend.

Haughey missed the Portadown match and was replaced by Chris Casement. Casement was then demoted to the bench and replaced by Reece Glendenning, who scored a hat-trick against Portadown in a reserve game last week. I don’t that that’s what he was in the team for today, but it would be nice if he did that.

Moore played in the Steel and Sons Cup Final over Christmas, so he had some sort of big match experience going into this. It was telling that Jamie Mulgrew won possession in his defensive third in the first minute and headed back to him, just to give him an early touch of the ball.

He would get further touches of the ball in the early minutes by having to keep out a speculative shot from the byline and having to come out and catch a low cross in the six yard box. Jimmy Callacher probably would have cleared, Moore was not taking any chances and dealing with the danger himself.

Linfield were slow getting into the game, but their first moment of quality almost brought a goal when Niall Quinn got clear and his low cross evaded both Cameron Stewart and Andrew Waterworth.

Paul Smyth wasn’t really getting into the game. For some reason, Linfield attack stands rather than sides. For example, left in the first-half and then right in the second, or the other way around. All the attacking in the first-half by Linfield was down the left hand side, meaning Smyth wasn’t involved as much.

Glentoran’s tactic was to stop Linfield by stopping Jamie Mulgrew, usually by illegal methods as he extended his lead at the top of the Most Fouled Irish League Player In History Chart.

They weren’t even honest fouls, they were cynical fouls with no intention of getting the ball, just to stop the man. While the referee’s yellow card stayed in his pocket, it only encouraged Glentoran more.

It was clear that, like in the recent Irish Cup tie, Glentoran were set up to try and snatch a 1-0 lead in the first-half and then hold onto it in the second-half.

That 1-0 lead that Glentoran desired almost came a counter attack when Steven Gordon knocked the ball past Moore, only to see Reece Glendenning get back in time to clear it on the goal-line.

Stephen Lowry fired agonisingly wide from the edge of the box while Linfield should have had a penalty for a handball from a Niall Quinn cross. A football match had finally broken out, 40 minutes late.

Despite ending the first-half well, Linfield needed to play so much better to get the points in the second-half.

Linfield were much better at the start of the second-half, not that it was hard. Paul Smyth was getting more and more involved in the game. The correlation between getting Paul Smyth on the ball and Linfield looking more likely to score is a very simple one to understand.

It looked like Jimmy Callacher would be the man to give Linfield that lead when his header came back to him, perfectly set up, but he volleyed the ball over.

Paul Smyth then fired just wide as Linfield’s pressure began to increase.

Ironically, Linfield got the goal just when the pressure had died down, a header from a free-kick falling perfectly to Andrew Waterworth to just about finish from a few yards out. As long as Linfield did nothing stupid in the final half hour, it should be enough to secure the points.

Sean Ward came on as a sub for Stephen Lowry, and he had a header go wide from just inside the box as Linfield looked for the second goal that would secure the points.

Aaron Burns made a welcome return off the bench after a month out through injury, while Ross Gayno came on for Paul Smyth. It seemed that Niall Quinn would be the obvious player to go off for Gaynor to come one.

Quinn did go off. Not subbed or sent-off, but injured. The end result being that Linfield would play the final minutes with only ten men. They started to get defensive, inviting unnecessary onto themselves.

The best that Glentoran could offer were a couple of speculative shots in the same attack, one which was blocked by their own player, and the other saved by Moore.

Thankfully, Linfield held onto the ball and made sure Glentoran couldn’t hurt them, seeing out the game to win 1-0.

It was Linfield’s ninth successive win at The Oval, eight in the League and ten if you include the “home” match against Crusaders in April 2015. Thirteen unbeaten against Glentoran there and fourteen if you consider the 2012/2013 County Antrim Shield Final to be a draw. Isn’t it great to be arguing about winning/unbeaten run stats?

Considering our poor results at Windsor Park in recent months, perhaps we should play all future home games at The Oval. (Clarification. Just a joke. For the avoidance of doubt, just a joke)

The only two teams to win a League match at Windsor Park this season, Cliftonville and Coleraine played out a 0-0 draw at Solitude, meaning Linfield extend their lead over 3rd place Cliftonville to eleven points.

I would expect that even if our title challenge fails, at least Linfield won’t be having to participate in the ridiculous UEFA Cup Play-Offs.

Even if Linfield lose to twice to Cliftonville in the run-in (We won’t. I know we’ve lost twice to Cliftonville this season, but we won’t lose the next two to them. They’ve downed tools since their Irish Cup exit and are preparing for Play-Off games in May, just like last season) it will be hard to see Cliftonville overturn those remaining five points considering they have only won two (five draws and three defeats, if you care) of their last ten games. Two out of twelve if you include friendlies against Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers.

It also maintains Coleraine’s unbeaten run, albeit ending a run of eight successive wins. The only reason I want Coleraine to maintain their good run of form is that they play Crusaders at the end of March.

Just Crusaders luck to avoid playing Coleraine while they are on a winning run of form. Even bigger luck that their postponed (due to Ballymena’s involvement in the League Cup Final) taking place in the midweek before that game.

Talking of Cliftonville, they will be Linfield’s next League opponents, on Monday 13th March, a game you can see live on Sky Sports. The problem is, it’s up against Chelsea v Manchester United on BBC One at the same time.

It’s great that games are on Sky Sports but I don’t think they’ve picked a good one. Unless Glentoran are visiting on Boxing Day, any game at Windsor Park will be showcasing empty seats in the North Stand due to the camera position.

It would have been better if Sky had waited until the live FA Cup games were picked by BT and BBC before picking an Irish League game that weekend to show.

The bad news for Linfield is that Cliftonville had two players, Paul Finnegan and Jamie McGovern, sent-off. For some reason, Linfield always play badly against teams who have multiple players missing through suspension and/or injury

As I type, the teatime kick-off between Portadown and Crusaders finished 1-1. I know, i’m as shocked as you are, that a team who got a heroic result against Linfield followed-up with a result that helps Linfield.

The gap at the top of the table is now back to seven points, as you were from last Friday teatime but two games further on. When you and a rival both drop points in a title race, you’re caught between agonising over points thrown away and relieved at the situation not being worse.

Linfield get a break from League action next weekend, but it’s not a weekend off, as they travel to Seaview in the Irish Cup. It’s a game that Linfield will have no fear in due to the head to heads this season.

If we play like we do in the previous four meetings this season, we’ll be fine.

Linfield have written the book on how to play against Crusaders this season. Other clubs are more than welcome to have a read. Hopefully, there’ll be another chapter added next weekend.

Photo Album