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 – FEBRUARY/MARCH

February 2020 was a strange month of football watching, a month which began and ended on a Saturday, both of which were football free. The football matches sandwiched inbetween were quite good though.

My first football match of the month saw Linfield get a win over Dungannon Swifts to go top of the table, and then cement their place with a win at Warrenpoint Town the following Saturday.

The following weekend, I spent my birthday in Ballymena. Grim, I know. It wasn’t all bad, as Linfield secured a 4-1 win.

Four Goal Fridays continued the following weekend, as Linfield hammered Crusaders 4-0 live on TV.

Usually, these photo round-ups cover one month at a time, but I only got to go to one match in March 2020 because of you know what, a trip to Taylor’s Avenue to see Linfield beat Carrick Rangers.

Leaving Taylor’s Avenue that day, looking forward to the match against Larne the following weekend and the title run-in, unaware of what was to follow.

March was still a better month than April, not a single football match attended. Not even a single photo taken, football or otherwise.

Or May …. Or June.

I had anticipated being at Euro 2020, instead I was stuck indoors as my football watching for the season was officially confirmed as over, and I have no idea when i’ll be in a football ground again.

Be positive, you have to. I’ve already booked to do a Dublin/Bray break to try and blag a ticket for the Last 16 match of Euro 2021 in Dublin.

As I won’t be going to Edinburgh in August, i’m hoping to do a mini tour of Scotland towards the end of the year. I may take in a game while i’m there.

The problem is, waiting to see when crowds are allowed in, I can’t book any football specific trips. When the fixtures are released, I immediately jump in to book a trip to Old Trafford knowing i’ll get a good price. There’s no point booking if I don’t know if i’ll get in.

So, that was 2019-2020, ended prematurely in exceptional circumstances.

Usually, I sign off Photo Diary Of A Football Season by saying i’ll continue to take photos the following season.

There’s no guarantee of that, but as soon as i’m allowed back into a football ground, you know i’ll be taking photos.

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Ballymena United v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – JANUARY

A new year, but same old football related photo adventures.

Thankfully, a home game to see in the new year (didn’t really fancy the 212 on New Year’s Day) against Institute, and a 3-0 win for Linfield.

My first Saturday game of the year saw me visit a new ground for the first time. The less said about Linfield’s trip to QUB, the better.

Things got a bit better on the pitch, the weather less so, as I headed to Solitude nine days later in the middle of Storm Brendan to see Linfield go top of the League with a 2-1 win against Cliftonville.

Linfield’s inconsistent form continued with a 0-0 draw at home to Dungannon Swifts the following Saturday.

The following midweek saw my first football trip of the year, to Old Trafford to see United lose to Burnley.

While I was there, I was able to take in another match, Salford City v Accrington Stanley in the EFL Trophy, which meant I was able to visit another new ground for the first time, the second of the month.

The following Saturday, I headed to Windsor Park to see Linfield hammer Glenavon 8-1.

That was then followed by a trip to Larne the following midweek, my first visit to Inver Park since 2005, to see Linfield lose 3-1.

Linfield v Institute

Queen’s University v Linfield

Cliftonville v Linfield

Linfield v Dungannon Swifts

Salford City v Accrington Stanley

Salford City v Accrington Stanley Photo Album

Manchester United v Burnley

Manchester United v Burnley Photo Album

Linfield v Glenavon

Larne v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – DECEMBER

I had to wait seven days for some football watching, heading to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Cliftonville.

That was followed by a road trip to Warrenpoint to see Linfield get a 2-0 win.

The end of the month got a bit busier heading to Windsor Park to see Linfield draw with Crusaders. The following Saturday saw me head to Coleraine to see Linfield get another draw.

Sandwiched inbetween that was the traditional Boxing Day game against Glentoran, this season held at The Oval. The less said about that, the better.

Linfield v Cliftonville

Warrenpoint Town v Linfield

Linfield v Crusaders

Glentoran v Linfield

Coleraine v Linfield

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – NOVEMBER

November’s football watching began with a trip to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers.

That was then followed by a first trip of the season to Old Trafford to see Manchester United take on
Partizan Belgrade.

The following Saturday, came another football trip, but it was a relatively short one Foyleside, to get some photos of the abandoned stadium at Drumahoe, and then Linfield’s match against
Institute.

After that, it was a dash back to Belfast on the 212 to see Northern Ireland play Holland in aEuropean Championship Qualifer.

The month ended with Linfield’s matches against Glenavon and Larne.

Linfield v Carrick Rangers

Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade

Manchester United v Partizan Belgrade Photo Album

Drumahoe

Drumahoe Photo Album

Institute v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Holland

Northern Ireland v Holland Photo Album

Glenavon v Linfield

Linfield v Larne

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

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – SEPTEMBER

It took a week for September’s football watching to start, with a trip to Solitude to see Linfield beat Cliftonville on their return to domestic action after their European exploits.

That was followed 48 hours later (well, 52 hours and 44 minutes later, to be precise) with a trip to Windsor Park to see Northern Ireland take on Germany in a Euro 2020 Qualifier.

It was Windsor Park again the following Saturday to see Linfield beat Glentoran, before a nine day wait to see Linfield take on Carrick Rangers on a wet Monday night live on TV.

The month ended with a goalfest, as Linfield hammered Glenavon 7-0.

Cliftonville v Linfield

Northern Ireland v Germany

Northern Ireland v Germany Photo Album

Linfield v Glentoran

Carrick Rangers v Linfield

Linfield v Glenavon

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – AUGUST

August’s football watching began in dramatic fashions with three games in the first three days of the month.

The 1st of the month saw me head to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on HB Torshavn in the UEFA Cup.

The following day, I headed to Edinburgh for a short break. It would have been rude not to take in some football.

On Friday 2nd, I headed to see Dunfermline Athletic take on Dundee, while on Saturday 3rd, I went to see Hibernian take on St Mirren.

The rest of the month was a residency at Windsor Park, seeing Linfield’s League matches against Institute and Coleraine, and their UEFA Cup matches against Sutjeska and Qarabag.

Linfield v HB Torshavn

Dunfermline Athletic v Dundee

Dunfermline Athletic v Dundee Photo Album

Hibernian v St Mirren

Hibernian v St Mirren Photo Album

Linfield v Institute

Linfield v FK Sutjeska

Linfield v Coleraine

Linfield v Qarabag

PHOTO DIARY OF A FOOTBALL SEASON – JULY

The 2019-2020 was always going to be memorable, due to the contrasting emotions watching Linfield ranging from the highest of highs to the most ridiculous of lows. I’d hoped it would end at Old Trafford before beginning 2020-2021 a few weeks later taking in a couple of European Championship games in Dublin.

Of course, it became memorable in a way that nobody could imagine. My matchgoing season is now officially over, although I had accepted that fate a long long time ago.

At the end of each season, I do a month by month look back at the season just past, so I might as well look back at this most eventful of seasons.

My 2019-2020 football watching season began in mid July at a very wet Windsor Park, seeing Linfield take on Rosenborg in the European Cup.

With the July holidays, I took the opportunity to spend a few days in Dublin. As luck would have it, there were a few football matches on, St Patrick’s Athletic v IFK Norrkoping and Bray Wanderers v Limerick.

Upon my return to Northern Ireland, I headed to Wilgar Park to see a much changed Linfield side take on Dundela in a Pre-Season Friendly.

Linfield v Rosenborg

St Patrick’s Athletic v IFK Norrkoping

St Patrick’s Athletic v IFK Norrkoping Photo Album

Bray Wanderers v Limerick

Bray Wanderers v Limerick Photo Album

Dundela v Linfield

LINFIELD 4-0 CRUSADERS 21.2.2020

Linfield and Andrew Waterworth are really enjoying February 2020. The good news is, it has an extra day this year. The bad news is, the next match isn’t until 7th March.

After three successive wins from games they were expected to win, now Linfield faced a game that they must win. Or certainly, do not lose.

Too many times this season, Linfield have failed to deliver when presented with the opportunity to pull clear of a rival. Kicking off eight points clear of Crusaders, albeit with a game more played, Linfield knew that if they won, they could have some justification is regrading the five team title race as a four team title race.

Crusaders were there for the taking, both sides recent forms was going in opposite directions. Linfield had won their last three games while Crusaders had lost their last two.

The pre-match team news saw mixed injury news for Linfield – one in and one out, luckily in the same position as Jamie Mulgrew returned for Kyle McClean.

Straight from kick-off, Linfield looked to get the ball to Joel Cooper. Not a bad tactic considering his recent form.

Linfield were already putting Crusaders under pressure, a statement, winning a corner in the first minute.

Gerard Doherty punched the corner away to Joel Cooper, whose sliced volley fell to Mark Haughey.

The temptation for Haughey would be to help the effort goalwards, but he sent the ball left to Kirk Millar.

Millar’s cross has headed in by Jimmy Callacher, who got in front of his man, to put Linfield 1-0 up with just ninety seconds on the clock.

The man who Callacher beat to the ball incidentally, was his own team-mate, Mark Haughey.

It kept up an incredible run, that this was the ninth successive League goal for Linfield against Crusaders scored by a player whose first name began with J.

It was a run that began when Josh Robinson put them 1-0 up after a minute in December 2017. Linfield would be hoping to kick on and avoid a repeat of the 2-1 defeat they suffered that day.

Cameron Dummigan got a yellow card ten minutes into the game, a surprise considering the unwritten rule that Referees aren’t allowed to issue a yellow card in the opening fifteen minutes of an Irish League game. Even more reason to get Joel Cooper on the ball.

It looked like a second goal was going to come when a cross fell to Andrew Waterworth in the penalty area. Unfortunately, the ball hit him as he tried to control it, and bounced into Gerard Doherty’s arms. A moment of frustration for Linfield.

Crusaders did have sights of Linfield’s goal. Paul Heatley had a left foot shot saved when he would have been better trying to cut in and hit it with his right foot. Rodney Brown saw a header from a free-kick tipped over by Rohan Ferguson.

A satisfactory first-half for Linfield, mostly nullifying Crusaders attack and getting a lead of their own. Now they needed to kill the game off in the second-half.

Linfield went out in the second-half determined to secure the points as early as possible.

Andrew Waterworth had a shot which forced Gerard Doherty into a spectacular save. The respite was only brief for Crusaders.

As Crusaders tried to counter attack, Jamie Mulgrew wasn’t having any of it, winning back possession and starting Linfield on another attack.

That attack saw Joel Cooper run at Crusaders defence and pull the ball back. There was a bit of a scramble, but when the ball fell to Andrew Waterworth a few yards out, there was only going to be one outcome, as Linfield went 2-0 up.

That goal gave Linfield control of the game, but it was almost wiped out straight away when Jamie McGonigle had a free header from a cross, but the ball went straight into Rohan Ferguson’s arms.

Linfield made the most of their escape, applying more pressure on Crusaders goal in search of a third goal just to be sure.

Chris Casement had an effort saved while Stephen Fallon had an effort go just over.

There wasn’t long to wait for the third, as Jimmy Callacher headed home from a corner to make it 3-0. As with the other two goals, it was a case of the Linfield player wanting it more and reacting quicker to the ball when it was in the six yard box.

Even someone as cautious as me knew that the points were in the bag. It was now a case of how many for Linfield.

The three goal lead allowed Linfield to make use of their bench.

Having missed the match against Ballymena through injury, Shayne Lavery came on. Surprisingly, not a straight swap for Andrew Waterworth, but for Jordan Stewart. Why not throw on an extra striker when you’re 3-0 up?

Lavery almost had an instant impact when he got in behind Crusaders defence, but his first time effort was saved by Gerard Doherty while under pressure from a Crusaders defender.

With two more subs to make, Daniel Kearns was introduced to give him game time, having not featured much recently.

For the same reason, it was a bit surprising that Bastien Hery didn’t get a brief cameo, as Rory Currie was Linfield’s final sub, coming on for Andrew Waterworth.

The night got worse for Crusaders when Howard Beverland got a second yellow card for a foul on Shayne Lavery on the halfway line.

When Beverland got his first yellow card, someone beside me was screaming for a second yellow. Beverland is one of those players that you just always think is on a yellow card, even if he isn’t.

I know you always want your team to fight to the end and all that, but Beverland would have been better off letting him go and hope a team mate can cover for you. Now he is suspended from his side’s biggest match of the season.

Not that it is of any concern to Linfield.

Shayne Lavery had an opportunity to make it 4-0 in injury time, but he dragged his shot wide.

Just as against Glenavon last month, Linfield had a counter attack with thirty seconds to go. Just as then, they managed to get a goal in that timeframe, with ten seconds to spare this time, as Stephen Fallon passed a low shot into the back of the net.

Just as with the first three goals, it was about Linfield players wanting it more, Fallon making that run to make something happen, even though the game was long won.

Not important in terms of the result, but it could be by the end of the season.

At kick-off, Linfield’s goal difference was only two better than Crusaders, the only team close to them in this regard. This was effectively an eight goal win, as Linfield’s advantage over Crusaders in terms of goal difference is now ten goals.

The most pleasing thing about this game was the clean sheet, a first in five matches. Wins, goals and clean sheets are good habits to get into at this time of year.

Linfield fans went to bed on Friday night safe in their knowledge their team was now nine points clear at the top, though that would change after Saturday’s games.

The lunchtime game didn’t give them the shock result they were hoping for, as Coleraine beat Institute 4-0.

The 3pm games were a lot kinder for Linfield, with Glentoran (v Glenavon) and Cliftonville (at home to a Ballymena side who had lost seven games in a row. Absolute textbook post 2014 Cliftonville) both drawing.

The five team title race isn’t as exciting as Neutrals are hoping for. Glentoran, Crusaders and Cliftonville are having to argument to say they are part of the title race.

You can’t fully assess the League table until everybody has played the same amount of games, as Coleraine, Cliftonville and Crusaders have a game in hand on Linfield.

Those games are scheduled to take place on Tuesday 3rd March. I won’t be thinking about them that night as i’ll be seeing Blossoms in concert at The Limelight.

The good news for Linfield, is that Crusaders face Cliftonville, so only one of those will win that night, if any. At eleven points behind, this is a title eliminator. Even the victor being eight points behind will be needing a spectacular run of form and a lot of help from others.

Glentoran are eight behind and up against it but not out. They face Linfield twice still, so they can cut that deficit to two. They will need to win all their remaining games just to be part of the title conversation.

Their next three games are against Crusaders, Cliftonville and Linfield. Those first two games will represent further point droppage for Linfield to take advantage of

Coleraine are the main worry for Linfield. Seven points behind but with a game in hand, and with one trophy in the bag.

If Linfield keep winning, it doesn’t matter what the others do. They will need to keep winning just to keep up, and they can’t all win if they play each other.

That game against Glentoran incidentally, has tickets on sale now. It’s good to see that tickets are on sale four weeks in advance of the match. I don’t think this is because of my constant moaning.

Supporters will have two home games, a free Saturday morning, and another Saturday morning on the day of a relatively short away trip to purchase tickets, which is very convenient. I’d better get a move on and get mine.

Here’s a pointless stat for you. A list of how many times Linfield have scored 4 or more goals in a League match under David Healy.

6 – Dungannon Swifts
5 – Warrenpoint Town
3 – Glenavon, Cliftonville, Glentoran, Ballymena United, Ballinamallard United
2 – Crusaders, Portadown, Ards
1 – Coleraine, Institute

Only three teams have avoided such a fate. Linfield face two of them, Carrick Rangers and Larne in their next two games.

Not being greedy. I’ll take a 1-0 win in those two games, and every game remaining this season.

The other club who haven’t conceded four goals in a game to Linfield under David Healy? A bit surprising, Newry City.

I’ll be heading to that game at Carrick by train, hopefully. Assuming that Northern Ireland still has a Railway Network in two weeks time.

Talking of trips, i’m looking at Warsaw maybe for later in the year. Most likely a Saturday-Tuesday on Ryanair. Hopefully, i’ll take in a game while there.

Before Linfield play again, is the UEFA Nations League draw. You should know my views on the “Competition” is that it is a farce. But while we’re in it, a trip to Scotland, midweek game please. It’s been a while since I was last in Glasgow.

So, February 2020 has been a good month for Linfield. Hopefully, March and April will be likewise.

Photo Album