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.

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PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : FEBRUARY

February’s football watching began for me with a midweek trip to Warrenpoint to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint Town.

That was followed four days later by Linfield’s 0-0 draw with Dungannon Swifts.

Two away games followed for Linfield on the following weekends, against Cliftonville and Ards, before finishing the month with a midweek home match against Glenavon.

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Cliftonville v Linfield

Ards v Linfield

Linfield v Glenavon

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON : DECEMBER

December’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park, a place where I would spend four of the five Saturdays during the month, to see Linfield scrape a 1-0 win over Dungannon Swifts.

Postponements would then frustrate my football watching, as Linfield’s trip to Carrick was postponed, as was the FA Cup Replay between Crewe Alexandra and Blackburn Rovers, which I had planned on attending.

The reason for this was that I was in North-West England to see Manchester United take on AFC Bournemouth, my first visit to Old Trafford of the season.

I then headed to Windsor Park on successive Saturdays to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint Town and Cliftonville.

That was then followed by a Boxing Day trip to The Oval, the less said about that, the better.

After that, it was back to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Crusaders. The less said about that, the better.

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Manchester Untied v AFC Bournemouth

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth Photo Album

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Cliftonville

Glentoran v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

2017 IN PICTURES – DECEMBER (SO FAR …)

Here we are, the final photo round-up of 2017, looking back at my adventures in December. Well, December so far.

December began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Dungannon Swifts.

That was followed by a trip to Ulster Hall to see The Divine Comedy in concert.

I was hoping to follow that with a trip to Carrick to see Linfield play Carrick Rangers, but that was postponed due to snow.

I decided to make the most of a football free Saturday, by going out and getting pictures of the snow in Belfast.

There was one final concert for 2017, as I headed to The Limelight to see The Charlatans.

The following day, I flew to Manchester, to see United take on Bournemouth primarily, but I also managed to squeeze in some Street Art photos from Manchester and Salford Quays.

Upon my return, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield play Warrenpoint Town and draw 3-3.

The following Saturday, it was another visit to Windsor Park to see Linfield beat Cliftonville 2-0.

There’s still eight days left in December, i’ll be at The Oval on Boxing Day, and then back to Windsor Park next Saturday for more photo adventures.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series looking back at 2017 In Pictures. I’m already looking forward to see what 2018 will bring in terms of photo adventures.

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

The Divine Comedy live at Ulster Hall

The Divine Comedy live at Ulster Hall Photo Album

Belfast Snow December 2017

Snow – Friday 8th December Photo Album

Snow – Saturday 9th December Photo Album

Snow – Sunday 10th December Photo Album

The Charlatans live at The Limelight

The Charlatans live at The Limelight Photo Album

Manchester Street Art

Manchester Street Art Photo Album

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth

Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth Photo Album

Salford Quays Street Art

Salford Quays Street Art Photo Album

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Cliftonville

LINFIELD 3-3 WARRENPOINT TOWN 16.12.2017

The last time Linfield met Warrenpoint Town was in September. Linfield won 4-1 and went to the top of the League. The following day, they were knocked off the top by Coleraine, who have stayed their since. Linfield haven’t been close to toppling Coleraine since.

Three months on, Warrenpoint came to Windsor Park in a must-win game for Linfield, especially as two of the sides above them faced each other. With guaranteed point droppage above them, Linfield had to take advantage if they wanted to have serious ambitions of winning a second successive title.

It was Warrenpoint who had the first chance of the game from the break down the right was fired over from close range. It was a warning that Linfield didn’t heed.

Linfield were slow and sluggish, especially when going forward. Warrenpoint were finding it far too easy to defend. It would be easy to say that the postponement of last weeks’ game away to Carrick Rangers caused Linfield to lose some momentum. The truth is, they were continuing on with the poor performance against Dungannon two weeks ago.

Warrenpoint took the lead when a corner from Conor McMenamin evaded everybody and went straight in, to the shock of everybody. The scoreline may have been a shock, but Warrenpoint deserved.

Linfield’s response wasn’t immediate, but it came whenever a cross was headed home by Andrew Waterworth to make it 1-1. It was his fifth goal in six games. Belatedly, due to injury, his goalscoring run looks like it is getting going.

A few minutes later, a corner fell to Kirk Millar, whose cross was handled. Some may have been surprised by the Andrew who was to take the penalty. Andrew Waterworth tooke Linfield’s last penalty, against Coleraine in mid November, but Andrew Mitchell had scored two in August, and as he was on the pitch this time, he did the honours and put Linfield 2-1 up. It looked like normality had been restored.

Warrenpoint were not to be downhearted by going 2-1 down, and went about getting an equaliser, and had a shout for a penalty when Chris Casement and Stephen Murray came together in the box.

Warrenpoint’s players were incensed with the non award of the penalty, and seemed to lose their discipline for a few minutes. Darren Murray was booked for dissent, and was looking set to emulate his sending off at The Oval in September when he got two quick bookings for dissent, until this time, his team-mates were able to bundle him away from the scene.

It is incidents like that which show why he is playing for Warrenpoint rather than a Top 6 team. The talent is there, there’s no doubt about that. We would get a glimpse of that before the half was out.

Roy Carroll punched a free-kick only as far as Darren Murray at the edge of the box, who was able to get his feet into position to shoot goalwards, his shot being deflected and looping into the net.

Questions have to be asked of Carroll’s positioning after punching the ball away, He was way too far off his line when Murray was lining up his shot. There was no need for him to be on the penalty spot.

Mark Stafford tried to head the ball away but was restricted in what he can do as he couldn’t handle it. A goalkeeper in that position would have caught the ball or at worse tipped the ball over.

With ten seconds, literally, ten seconds of the half remaining, it was a ridiculous goal to concede. Despite not playing well, Linfield had fought back to get into a winning position. Now they would have to do it again.

Jordan Stewart fired just wide for Linfield, but it was Sean Mackle of Warrenpoint who came the closest when he returned a poor kick from Roy Carroll goalwards, which needed to be cleared off the line.

There would then be a lengthy hold up as Roy Carroll suffered a leg injury. With no goalkeeper on the bench, he was going to have to tough it out. While this break was ongoing, Linfield made a sub when Cameron Stewart coming on for Jordan Stewart.

There could be a case for Cameron Stewart coming on, but this was far too early for it. If Linfield were to make an attacking sub, it had to be Ryan Strain, considering the impact he made coming off the bench against Dungannon two weeks previously.

Chris Casement had a low shot saved, before Strain was eventually introduced, coming on for Andrew Mitchell.

Linfield didn’t help themselves with poor crossing all afternoon. Sometimes, they weren’t even getting that far, taking an extra touch they didn’t need when the crossing opportunity was there, the extra touch meant it was gone.

Stephen Fallon came on for Niall Quinn as Linfield made their final sub in search of the win.

Fallon looked like he would win the game for Linfield when he fired home from close range after Andrew Waterworth ran goalwards and crossed to him.

There were two Linfield players in the six yard box but thankfully Waterworth saw the run of Fallon.

Warrenpoint shot from kick-off, to try and see how injured Roy Carroll was. He seemed to be struggling to get across, but thankfully, the shot went well wide.

Soon after, Warrenpoint would be getting to test Carroll from twelve yards when Ryan Strain tried to win possession after his miscontrol and conceded a penalty. Martin Murray made no mistake. Any injury to Carroll didn’t affect the penalty, he didn’t get close to it.

Due to the stoppage for Carroll to receive treatement, six minutes on injury time was signalled. It wouldn’t have mattered if there were six hours, Linfield didn’t look like getting a winner.

After eleven defeats out of eleven to Linfield, Warrenpoint could argue that they were due a result. On the basis of the game, they could justifiably say they deserved a result.

However, to concede goals so late in both halves, and to throw away a winning position twice was unacceptable. This was two points thrown away. All three goals were bad goals to concede. They were gifts. It’s become a recurring them this season that Linfield are gifting points and goals to opponents.

Elsewhere, Crusaders, Coleraine and Cliftonville all won. Linfield are in the same situation they were in after the win over Glenavon three weeks ago. They’re undone the good work they did in late November when they beat Coleraine and Glenavon back to back.

Cliftonville visit Windsor Park next Saturday, and Linfield know a win will see them overtake Cliftonville into 4th.

Curiously, Linfield’s last four games have seen two brilliant performances against the top two, while putting poor performances against bottom six teams.

If we played today as we did against Coleraine and Glenavon, we would have won comfortably.

If we play against Cliftonville, Glentoran, Crusaders and Coeleraine as we did today, we’ll be lucky to win a throw-in.

Linfield’s title ambitions aren’t over, but they’re hanging on for life. Four wins between now and New Year’s Day will breathe new life into the season ahead of the defence of the Irish Cup.

Last week’s postponement against Carrick denied me the opportunity to post my wishlist. Regular readers will know that I always want a lower league team away from home.

I got that, but the tie against Glebe Rangers has been switched to Windsor Park. Very disappointing, as looking at pictures online, the ground looks more than capable of staging the tie.

Without sounding arrogant, it’s a tie you would expect Linfield to win.

If they do, the next round offers some potentially decent away days such as Knockbreda/Institute, QUB/Dundela, Loughgall/PSNI and Newry/PSNI. Nowhere too far, as i’m going to Shed Seven that night.

In midweek, both League Cup Semi-Finals were postponed, and rescheduled for mid January. It’s an awful shame they weren’t rearranged for this midweek, even though it is the fair thing to do, it would have put a strain on teams facing Linfield in coming weeks.

It does inconvenience Linfield in a way.

If Cliftonville win their game, that will mean Linfield will have a free weekend on the weekend of the Final, just as Glenavon would, with both teams having an outstanding game against each other to arrange, we’ll have to wait a month to find out if we can do that.

And then there is the matter of getting the game against Carrick that was postponed last weekend slotted in somewhere.

Some international football news, Brussels has withdrawn from hosting Euro 2020 and has been replaced by London. It has been paired with Glasgow. Dublin, if I go to a game there, will host Group E games. The London venue will be Wembley, which will host the Semi-Finals and Final.

If London was to host group games, it might have made more sense to keep Wembley for the final games and have group games at The Emirates or Spurs new ground just to save Wembley for those final games.

I’ll wait to see what the tournament schedule is like before making arrangements to attend games.

Before that, is the draw for the UEFA Nations League, and the seedings have been confirmed as Pot 3 in League B and can draw Wales (yes please) and Republic Of Ireland (No thanks)

I’m no Mathematician, but the rankings make no sense. Holland have failed to reach the last two tournaments but are in League A. Republic Of Ireland are seeded below two teams they beat and finished above in the World Cup Qualifiers, and above the team that beat them 5-1 in the Play-Offs.

Meanwhile, the team who won their group is in League C. Hmmmm.

League of Ireland fixture announcement is on Tuesday, i’ll be keeping an eye out for a possible day trip or weekend to Dublin and take in a game amongst other touristy stuff.

Euro 2020 can wait, it’s 2018 that matters. Hopefully, Linfield can recreate last season and use a draw at home to a team at the bottom end of the table as a springboard to a winning run.

Photo Album

2016 IN PICTURES – MARCH

March began for me at Solitude, to see Linfield take on Cliftonville in the Irish Cup, and get their first win there for four years.

The following week, Glentoran were the opponents, but the result was the same, a 3-0 win for Linfield.

After that, it was Solitude again, with Linfield only managing a 2-0 win this time.

Over the Easter Weekend, I went to see Northern Ireland take on Wales in Cardiff, and decided to make a trip of it between Bristol and Cardiff, getting some Street Art photos, and see Bristol Rovers take on Cambridge United.

Upon my return, I headed to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Slovenia.

The next day, I headed to Warrenpoint to see Linfield take on Warrenpoint, ending a busy Easter period of football watching.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Cliftonville v Linfield

Bristol Street Art

Bristol Street Art Photo Album 1

Bristol Street Art Photo Album 2

Cardiff Street Art

Cardiff Street Art Photo Album

Wales v Northern Ireland

Wales v Northern Ireland Photo Album

Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United

Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Slovenia

Northern Ireland v Slovenia Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – MARCH

March began for me at Solitude, seeing Linfield beat Cliftonville 3-0 in the Irish Cup.

The following saw another 3-0 win for Linfield, this time at home to Glentoran.

It was back to Solitude the following week, this time for a league match, Linfield only managing a 2-0 win.

Over the Easter Weekend, I went to see Northern Ireland take on Wales in Cardiff, before heading to see Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United the following day.

Upon my return, it was matches on successive days on Easter Monday and Easter Tuesday – Northern Ireland’s home match against Slovenia, and Linfield’s trip to Warrenpoint.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Glentoran

Cliftonville v Linfield

Wales v Northern Ireland

Wales v Northern Ireland Photo Album

Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United

Bristol Rovers v Cambridge United Photo Album

Northern Ireland v Slovenia

Northern Ireland v Slovenia Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

That match against Slovenia saw a pop-up shop appear in the Railway Stand for fans to be sold Northern Ireland merchandise.

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – OCTOBER

October began with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield and Cliftonville draw 3-3, amidst unceratinty over the future of Linfield manager Warren Feeney.

Five days later, I was at Windsor Park to witness Northern Ireland get the win they needed against Greece to send them to Euro 2016.

The party continued for a few days, but the Irish League was back to work, as Linfield faced Glentoran at Windsor Park less than 48 hours later.

By now, Warren Feeney was gone, and it was apt that it was Warren(point) where his successor David Healy took charge of his first game in charge.

The final two games of the month saw Linfield take on Carrick Rangers and Dungannon Swifts.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Greece

Northern Ireland v Greece Photo Album

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Dungannon Swifts v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – SEPTEMBER

My football watching for September began in sunny Fermanagh, watching Linfield get a 1-0 win away to Ballinamallard, to keep up their 100% start to the season.

Two days later, it was Windsor Park to see if Northern Ireland could get the win they needed to reach Euro 2016. They didn’t get it, but a late 1-1 draw sent the crowd home more than happy.

The following Saturday, I went to Seaview to see Linfield lose their 100% start to the season with a 3-0 defeat.

Thankfully, Linfield were able to return to winning ways over the next two Saturdays, getting wins against Warrenpoint Town and Glenavon at home over the following two Saturdays.

Ballinamallard United v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Hungary

Northern Ireland v Hungary Photo Album

Crusaders v Linfield

Linfield v Warrenpoint Town

Linfield v Glenavon

WARRENPOINT TOWN 2-6 LINFIELD 29.3.2016

David Healy returned to the scene of his first match as Linfield manager, the focus on three points, as the Irish League season reached the milestone point of the last game before the split.

It wasn’t going to be easy, as Milltown was a ground Linfield usually struggled at, despite winning all three of their previous visits.

Their first visit in January 2014 saw three late goals saw Linfield win 3-2. Later that year, in November, Linfield again needed a late winner after coming from behind.

Both those goals were won with a goal from Mark Haughey. Warrenpoint would have been glad to know he was suspended for this game.

Such is the strength of Linfield’s squad these days, that this absence was easily covered with Sean Ward going into central defence, with his place in midfield going to Stephen Lowry, his first start since returning from injury.

Linfield’s other win at Warrenpoint, in October 2015, was David Healy’s first game in charge. Though the score was 3-0, Linfield struggled for large parts of that game, surviving a penalty miss at 1-0, before clinching the game with two late goals.

Linfield were straight on the attack, issuing a statement of intent when Ross Gaynor agonisingly firing across goal in the first minute.

There wasn’t long to wait until the opening goal, as Aaron Burns fired home after a cross from Kirk Millar on 3 minutes.

Millar himself was on the scoresheet after 9 minutes when he scored from close range after a Jimmy Callacher header was cleared.

Inbetween those two goals, Callacher had a header saved on the line.

Given recent struggles at Warrenpoint, Linfield fans would have been happy to be 1-0 up after 9 minutes, never mind 2-0 up.

Despite the early goals, Linfield struggled after that, with Warrenpoint having chances, only to be thwarted by a combination of their own indecisiveness and last gasp defending by Linfield.

On 30 minutes, Ross Gaynor put the result beyond doubt when he drilled home from the edge of the box.

Despite that, no matter what the score, if a team trailing gets an early second-half goal, they’ll believe they came come back to win the game.

An early goal did come in the second-half, but it was for Linfield, a penalty after Kirk Millar was fouled.

Having both scored penalties in recent weeks, Aaron Burns and Ross Gaynor had a more civil discussion than the one that preceded Burns penalty against Glenavon at the end of February, settling the arguement with a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors.

Burns had the penalty taking ability to back up his playground games ability and made it 4-0 to Linfield.

Soon after, it was 5-0 when Andrew Waterworth was unable to get on the end of a cross, it fell perfectly for Kirk Millar to score from close range.

You have to take every advantage you can in the title race, and Linfield knew they needed to make every goal count to give them a goal difference advantage over Crusaders.

There were three more goals in the game, unfortunately, two of them came for Warrenpoint, with David Kee’s goal to put Linfield 6-1 up sandwiched inbetween.

If only Warrenpoint’s consolations were the worst part of the night, as supporters left the ground that Crusaders had won at Ballinamallard with a 94th minute goal in a game coincidentally refereed by Raymond Crangle.

That keeps Crusaders five points clear of Linfield, but with the sides meeting on April 9th, Linfield know that could be down to two with four games to play.

Tellingly, Linfield have the better goal difference by 2 over Crusaders. If Linfield win their remaining 5 matches and Crusaders draw 1, Crusaders will have to win by an aggregate of at least 8 goals in their 3 remaining games.

It might seem like a tough challenge, but in his short reign so far, David Healy has proved his team are up for whatever is thrown at them.

Talking of that game at Seaview, it was announced it would be all-ticket soon after the final whistle at Warrenpoint.

Not that surprising, but why was this not announced as soon as the game was confirmed last week, before the actual positions going into the split were confirmed.

Linfield fans who work during the week only have one Saturday to get get a ticket for this game, and they can only get it if they are inside Windsor Park attending the match against Lurgan Celtic.

It’s not exclusively Linfield’s fault, they have to get tickets from Crusaders. This eventuality should have been foreseen in advance as Linfield and Crusaders pulled away at the top two. Provisional arrangements should have been put in place.

As soon as the date was confirmed (before Linfield had actually secured a top two placing pre-split), arrangements should have been in place to have them on sale over the Easter period, when Linfield had a home match, and a lot of supporters were off work.

Once again, supporters are being inconvenienced. Those that do manage to get a ticket for this game will be hoping they are witnessing the day the title race turns.

Photo Album