ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC 0-2 IFK NORRKOPING 11.7.2019

My summer of Scandinavia continued with a trip to Richmond Park while I was in Dublin, to see St Patrick’s Athletic take on Norrkoping in the UEFA Cup.

All I know about Norrkoping is that it was a host venue at Euro 92, hosting games between Scotland, Germany and CIS. If you can’t remember what CIS was, it was the Soviet Union version of Beady Eye.

It was a stroke of luck I was at this game. I knew I would be in Dublin on a European night, but there would be only one Dublin team in the UEFA Cup. Then Waterford weren’t able to enter and got replaced by St Patrick’s Athletic, meaning there were two options.

Then both them and Shamrock Rovers were drawn to be away on 11th July. Flip sake. But things were saved due to UEFA not being keen on two games in the same city on the same night (although Belfast staged two games on Thursday) and the legs of this tie were switched, so off to Richmond I went.

That would have been bad news for Pat’s fans, as I am a bit of a jinx for them. My previous two visits to Richmond Park had brought two 0-0 draws, while they failed to beat Linfield at Windsor Park when I saw them in 2008 and 2010.

And then there was a 5-1 mauling at Dalymount Park in 2016.

I’m willing to listen to offers if Bohs, Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers fans are wishing to crowdfund for me to go to all their matches. Obviously i’ll need travel, ticket and loss of earnings from working half-day every Friday to be paid for.

This wasn’t my first UEFA Cup game in Dublin. My previous one was a bit more grand, the 2011 Final at Lansdowne Road.

It wasn’t even first time i’d seen a team from Republic of Ireland take on a team from Sweden, having been at the match between the respective national sides at Euro 2016.

The top five things I love about Richmond Park:

1. It has a programme shop.
2. It has a programme shop.
3. It has a programme shop.
4. It has a programme shop.
5. It has a programme shop.

I had a look around. There are a few Linfield bargains to be had, and not all the programmes are matches against St Pat’s.

Both teams started off nervously, both sets of players making basic mistakes.

It was summed up by Mikey Drennan leaving a through ball he could have got, Norrkopping’s defence and keeper leaving it for each other, inviting Drennan to chase it, resulting in a tackle which conceded a cheap throw.

Despite enduring a frustrating half, Drennan caused enough concern in the Swedish defence for one of them to get a yellow card for a cynical foul as he advanced goalwards.

The standout name on the away teamsheet was Jordan Larsson, at the centre of everything Norrkopping did in an attacking sense. The ball stuck to him every time he got it. On his left foot at least, he really needs to go to the Right Foot Shop to get one.

I’m sure his dad will be happy to offer him advice, former Manchester United loan signing Henrik Larsson.

Despite Larsson troubling them, St Pat’s held their own in the first-half. A quick free-kcik resulted in a shot that went just wide across the goalkeeper.

They also had a couple of penalty appeals turned down. I didn’t think they were penalties, but my view was a minority where I was. They were the sort of ones you will appeal for, but not for me.

Early in the second-half, Norrkoping went 1-0 up with a low strike from Simon Thern. The irony was, with all the focus being on the son of an ex Celtic player, it was the son of an ex Rangers player, Jonas, who opened the scoring.

Larsson was determined to make it an Old Firm juniors double, but would be denied and frustrated. The closest he would come was from a shot which hit the post.

With just minutes remaining, Norrkoping got a second when a header was deflected in off a Pat’s defender.

I was behind the goal, and you could agonisingly see the ball change direction, and nobody could do anything about it.

Norkopping wanted more and a series of saves by Brendan Clarke stopped the scoreline from being worse.

Not totally out, but up against it, I think St Patrick’s Athletic fans would have preferred the 0-0 scoreline I usually bring them when I visit Richmond Park.

Photo Album

St Patrick’s Athletic v Drogheda United 2013

St Patrick’s Athletic v Sporting Fingal 2010

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MAGAZINE ARCHIVE : MATCH – 28.2.1987

Dundee United take on Barcelona in the Quarter-Finals of the UEFA Cup, and this is reflected on the cover of Match, with both sides represented.

There is a double page profile of the game, as well as a list of all the Quarter-Final games in the three competitions across Europe.

Alan McDonald answers questions from readers about plastic pitches, as his club QPR plays on one.

Another big debate is Play-Offs, introduced in 1987, with Match interviewing players and managers from clubs who could be affected on what they think of the idea.

Colin West gets a full page to tell Match he intends on staying at Rangers, while there is a full page profile of Manchester United player Nicky Wood, while Norwich City and Nottingham Forest get club profiles.

In Scotland, Graeme Souness isn’t coming out of international retirement. Also not playing for Scotland is Australian born Craig Johnston, who turned down the opportunity to play for Scotland.

Staying in Scotland, there is a full page profile of new Celtic signing Anton Rogan, who says he enjoys living in Glasgow more than living in Belfast.

As the season enters it’s final stages, Match gives it’s predictions for how the season will end, revised from their prediction in August.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : NOVEMBER

November got off to a dramatic start, as I headed to Mourneview Park to see nine man Linfield come from 2-0 down to get a late draw against Glenavon.

I was back on the road a few days later to Ballymena to see Linfield record a 4-1 in win.

Up next was a trip to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland record a 4-0 win over Azerbaijan, before continuing Linfield’s road trip with a 4-0 over Dungannon Swifts before a midweek date at Windsor Park for Northern Ireland’s last game of 2016, a 3-0 friendly defeat against Croatia.

I was back at Windsor Park for Linfield’s only home game of the month, a 2-1 defeat to Cliftonville.

The following weekend, I went to see my first and second games at Old Trafford with Jose Mourinho as United manager, doing a double header of games against Feyenoord and West Ham United, with a trip to Bury (via Broadhurst Park) sandwiched inbetween.

As a bonus, I even got pictures of stickers left around Manchester by Feyenoord fans.

Glenavon v Linfield

Ballymena United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan

Northern Ireland v Azerbaijan Photo Album

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Croatia

Northern Ireland v Croatia Photo Album

Linfield v Cliftonville

Manchester United v Feyenoord

Manchester United v Feyenoord Photo Album

Feyenoord Stickers

Bury v Millwall

Bury v Millwall Photo Album

Broadhurst Park

Manchester United v West Ham United

Manchester United v West Ham United Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : JUNE

The previous two seasons for me began in Bray. Not this time, it was the Stade De France to begin 2016-2017 with the opening match of Euro 2016 between France and Romania.

It was one of three Euro 2016 matches I attended, taking in Northern Ireland v Poland and Republic of Ireland v Sweden during my time in France.

Back home, it was the earliest start ever to a Linfield season, June 30th, and a UEFA Cup tie against Cork City, where I attended the home leg at Windsor Park.

France v Romania

France v Romania Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Poland

Northern Ireland v Poland Photo Album

Republic of Ireland v Sweden

Republic of Ireland v Sweden Photo Album

Linfield v Cork City

2016 IN PICTURES – JUNE

June 2016 was a month that was dominated by Euro 2016.

The early days of the month were spent chronicling a mural in East Belfast to commemorate Northern Ireland’s qualification, getting pictures of the final piece upon my return from France.

Oh yes, I was in France. Wasn’t that fussed about France as a country, but loved the three matches (France v Romania, Northern Ireland v Poland, Republic of Ireland v Sweden) I was at.

I also got some Street Art photos in Paris, and London, as I flew back from Gatwick due to there being no Paris-Belfast flights on a Tuesday.

Not a lot else happened in the rest of the month. That was, until, the final, when I attended two Belsonic concerts.

Belsonic? Yes, this year, it moved to June (though there were later concerts in August) and I went to see Elli Goulding and Stereophonics.

And it was at a new venue, Titanic Belfast.

There was even some domestic club football this month, as the last day of the month saw Linfield lose 1-0 at home to Cork City in the UEFA Cup.

Pride, Passion Belief

Pride, Passion, Belief Photo Album

Paris Street Art

Paris Street Art Photo Album

France v Romania

France v Romania Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Poland

Northern Ireland v Poland Photo Album

Republic of Ireland v Sweden

Republic of Ireland v Sweden Photo Album

London Street Art

London Street Art Photo Album

Ellie Goulding live at Titanic Belfast

Ellie Goulding live at Titanic Belfast Photo Album

Stereophonics live at Titanic Belfast

Stereophonics live at Titanic Belfast Photo Album

Linfield v Cork City

MANCHESTER UNITED 4-0 FEYENOORD 24.11.2016

Recently, I headed to Old Trafford for the first time this season, my first glimpse of Mourinho’s United in the flesh, for the UEFA Cup tie against Feyenoord.

This was a game that United needed to win just to stay in the competition. Although a draw still would have had United’s destiny in their own hands in the final game, defeat would have eliminated them from the competition, following Fenerbache’s win over Zorya at teatime. with a game to spare.

Their recent record against Dutch clubs wasn’t great, losing three and drawing one of their last four games against Dutch clubs. One of those defeats came in their open group game, away to Feyenoord in September.

It is the away form that left United in this situation, even a draw in either Rotterdam or Istanbul would have made life so much easier going into this game.

This Jeckyll and Hyde form in Europe isn’t a Mourinho problem, Moyes and Van Gaal also endured it.

United haven’t lost at home in Europe in 14 matches, dating back to 2013, but have only won 1 of their last 10 away matches, dating back to 2013.

This match meant I had seen United take on Holland’s “Big Three” at Old Trafford. I had seen Feyenoord before, at the end of the last century in 1999 taking on Liverpool in a Pre-Season Friendly.

My excuse is that I was there to watch Linfield v Glentoran which had taken place before, and then just decided to stay, like when you are a fan of the support act at a concert but just decide to stay for the headliner anyway.

United went straight on the attack, issuing a statement of intent, Paul Pogba heading over in United’s first attack.

It was very much attack v defence, most of United’s play coming through some Scottish lad making his debut called Henry McItarian.

You got the feeling that if United could get one early on, they could power through and win the game with something to spare. The problem was, just getting the one.

I had great view of it, in the front rows of the Stretford End. The downside was, I almost got hit by a wayward Paul Pogba shot.

Feyenoord looked like getting a goal on the counter against the run of play, but Sergio Romero was forced into a double save, the second with his legs.

The goal United fans craved wasn’t long in coming when Wayne Rooney burst down the left wing and played it to Zlatan Ibrahimovic who waited, and waited, before playing Rooney in, to dink it over the keeper.

It briefly looked offside (it all happened very quickly) from where I was, but TV replays showed that it wasn’t.

More United pressure followed and continued into the second-half, with Henryk Mkhitarian hitting the side netting, before Juan Mata eventually made it count by finishing from close range to make it 2-0, his last involvement in the game before being subbed for Marcus Rashford.

United then made it 3-0 with a Brad Jones own goal, even though Ibrahimovic will try to claim it.

At that point, United fans taunted their rivals with “You’re just a shit fucking Ajax”.

If you come to Old Trafford and sing You’ll Never Walk Alone, you’d better be good, Feyenoord were not good.

Jesse Lingard made it 4-0 in injury time, as United head to Zorya for their final game knowing that a draw will be enough to go through.

Hopefully, United can win that game and top the group (need Fenerbache to slip up in Rotterdam though) while Dundalk win their last game to finish second. You know what i;m thinking?

Thursday 6pm game, book a day off work and be in bed at a reasonable time.

First of all, just get the result in Ukraine.

Photo Album

LINFIELD 0-1 CORK CITY 30.6.2016

Just like Christmas advertising, it feels like the early rounds of European competition get earlier and earlier each year. It was June 30th for crying out loud. Unless there’s a dramatic run of postponements in the Winter months, it will mean that Linfield will have played in every month of 2016.

The opposition, were the closest team they could face – Cork City, only the 266 miles away.

Both teams were hoping to secure a trip to Sweden. That’s the more modest ambition of a 2nd Round tie against BK Hacken, rather than the Final in Stockholm.

Cork had the better of the early exchanges and got the first shot on goal when Steven Dooley fired into the side netting.

Linfield were able to see off the danger in those opening moments, but they were having to get bodies in the way.

Eventually, Linfield got more into it, causing problems for Cork from a series of set pieces.

In fact, Cork caused problems for themselves when Karl Sheppard almost headed into his own net, forcing goalkeeper Mark McNulty to tip it over the bar.

McNulty saw himself as a showman, even standing on the halfway line when Cork attack. Sadly, Linfield didn’t get the chance to make him pay for his exhuberence.

Paul Smyth had the best of Linfield’s chances, heading over from close range after a flick-on.

Picking up from last season, Smyth was the focal point of Linfield’s attacks, forcing Cork into cynical fouls as the only way to stop him.

The half-time whistle blew and Linfield were holding their own. Neither side were dominating.

Just after the hour, Cork got a penalty for a foul by Stephen Lowry. It was a stupid tackle to make on a wet pitch when the Cork player was going away from goal.

Roy Carroll, making his Linfield debut just five days after being on the bench for Northern Ireland at Euro 2016, had saved a penalty in two of his last three appearances at Windsor Park.

It wasn’t to be a hat-trick for Carroll as Sean Maguire made it 1-0 to Cork.

In the immediate aftermath of that goal, it looked like Cork were going to get a second goal.

Stephen Lowry atoned for conceding the penalty by heading off the line when a goal seemed certain.

Paul Smyth was surprisingly substituted as Linfield chased an equaliser. Ironically, just after he was fouled.

For what it’s worth, no pun intended, but I would have had Michael McLellan on as a sub to bring some fresh impetus to Linfield’s attacking play, especially as Andrew Waterworth was struggling on his own.

Linfield were able to stop Cork getting a second, but unfortunately, Cork were able to stop Linfield getting an equaliser.

It was an awful game were neither team really looked like scoring in open play, with the only goal coming via a penalty.

Not that Cork will care. I know I wouldn’t be caring if Linfield were on the right side of a 1-0 scoreline.

Sadly, a Linfield supporter died at the ground after taking ill when the teams were warming up, just two weeks after a Northern Ireland supporter died at the match against Ukraine, and just nine months after a Linfield supporter died at a match last season.

With regards to the second-leg, i’m still not sure wether to go. I’m looking at travel and accommodation at the moment, but still non committal.

Cork is a city I would love to visit, and have had it in the back of my mind to go. It’s hard to get a decent hotel price at short notice though. I have been to Cork before, in 1999.

There is an event in Cork I always keep an eye out for the line-up, Live at the Marquee. It’s a Cork version of Belsonic, set in a tent in Cork’s docks.

The line-up generally falls into two categories, popular Irish acts (Christy Moore, Damien Rice, The Coronas) and acts who can flog a Greatest Hits Set.

This year’s line-up is awful, to be honest.

I’ve always hoped to have a line-up with two decent gigs on successive nights, and then fit a Cork City and/or Cobh Ramblers match in while i’m there.

Maybe in 2017.

If I don’t go to Cork next week, there is still one other avenue for an international away day for Linfield, as they’ll be joining the Scottish Challenge Cup at the 4th Round stage in November. I’ll be keeping an eye out on seeing if Linfield can get a decent (and easy to get to) away day.

In terms of Manchester United games, i’ve already booked to go to the home game against Hull City on Wednesday 1st February 2017, doing Tuesday to Thursday travel.

On the Tuesday, i’m hoping to go to a game in the North-West of England on the Tuesday night. There’s no League One or League Two games scheduled (postponements and rearrangements could see some be played that night)

There is a full Championship fixture list, including Wigan Athletic v Norwich, and get to see the famous and almost mythical Will Grigg (‘s On Fire, your defence is terrified) in the flesh.

……. and then Zlatan the next day. Oh yes!!

Hopefully, he does better than when I saw him in Euro 2016. Even though he had a rubbish game, he still set up a goal.

Once the UEFA Cup Group Stage draw is done, i’ll see if I can get a decent price to go Thursday-Monday and take in two home games, as well as a game in North-West England on the Saturday afternoon.

Ideally, not on Matchday 6, as it would mean i’ll have to miss Cast’s gig at The Limelight in December,

A 1-0 home defeat isn’t ideal, but it is retrievable.

June might have only just finished, but the 2016-2017 is already in full swing.

Hopefully, it will involve Linfield v BK Hacken in a few weeks.

Photo Album

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – JUNE/JULY

There was only two weeks between the end of 2014-2015 and the start of 2015-2016. It was a horrible two weeks.

This season, like last season, began in Bray.

I was on a day trip to Dublin in late June, so I took advantage of the teatime kick-off and close location.

It was a bottom of the table clash, and it was unsurprisingly tense, as Bray managed to dig out a 1-0 win.

Towards the end of the following week, was my first Linfield match of the season, a UEFA Cup tie against NSI Runavik.

I’d have to wait three weeks for my next Linfield match, the 2nd leg of the 2nd Round tie against Spartak Trnava, which Linfield lost 3-1, and 5-2 on aggregate.

Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers

Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers Photo Album

Linfield v NSI Runavik

Linfield v Spartak Trnava

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF A FOOTBALL YEAR : 2015

My football watching for 2015 is now over, so, it’s time for a statistical look back at the football I watched.

Games : 54

Goals Seen : 143

Red Cards : 10 (Doesn’t include Caoimhin Bonner being sent-off in the tunnel after the game)

Missed/Saved Penalties : 6

Hat-Tricks : 2 (Andrew Waterworth, Linfield v Dungannon Swifts. Andrew Waterworth, Linfield v Warrenpoint Town)

Teams Seen : 40

Arsenal, Ballinamallard United, Ballymena United, Bray Wanderers, Carrick Rangers, CE Europa (1st time), Cliftonville, Coleraine, Crusaders, Dundee (1st time), Dunfermline Athletic (1st time), Dungannon Swifts, Espanyol (1st time), Finland, Glenavon, Glentoran, Greece (1st time), Heart of Midlothian, Hibernian, Hungary, Institute, Latvia (1st time), Linfield, Manchester United, Masnau, Northern Ireland, NSI Runavik (1st time), Partick Thistle (1st time), Portadown, PSNI, PSV Eindhoven (1st time), Qatar (1st time), Rangers, Romania (1st time) Scotland, Sligo Rovers, Spartak Trnava (1st time), Tobermore United, Valencia (1st time), Warrenpoint Town

Stadiums Visited : 23

Ballymena Showgrounds, Carlisle Grounds, Drumahoe, East End Park (1st time), Estadi Cornella y Prat (1st time), Ferney Park, Fortwilliam Park (1st time), Gresty Road (1st time), Hampden Park, Ibrox, Milltown, Mourneview Park, Newforge (1st time), Nou Sardenya (1st time), Old Trafford, Seaview, Shamrock Park, Solitude, Stangmore Park, Taylor’s Avenue (1st time), The Oval, Tynecastle, Windsor Park

Competitions : 13

European Championship, European Cup, FA Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League, Irish League Championship, La Liga, League of Ireland, Scottish Championship, Scottish League Cup (1st time), Scottish Premier League, Tercera Division (1st time), UEFA Cup

Curiousities :

No real curiousities, other than a match with kick-off delayed for an hour due to the weather

UEFA 102 Club : Espanyol, PSV Eindhoven, Valencia (now at 35 clubs)

2015 IN PICTURES – JULY

Not a lot happened in July, two football matches – that was it.

The first of those matches was on the 2nd of the month as Linfield faced NSI Runavik in the UEFA Cup. The match allowed me the opportunity to get a look at the internal work going on at Windsor Park.

Linfield won the match 2-0, and the tie 5-4 on aggregate.

As a result, they went through to the next round to face Spartak Trnava. Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Linfield fans turned up at Windsor Park hopeful of seeing their side reach the 3rd Round of the UEFA Cup.

Things were great at half-time, with Linfield 1-0 up and leading on away goals.

Unfortunately, Spartak Trnava scored 3 goals in the second-haalf to win 5-2 on aggregate.

Linfield v NSI Runavik

Linfield v Spartak Trnava