Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Institute 0 Linfield 1

Riverside Stadium

IPL, Riverside Stadium, 1st December 2007

Team: Mannus, Douglas, McShane, Gault, Murphy, Mouncey, Ferguson, Bailie, McAreavey, O’Kane (Dickson), Thompson Subs not used inc Stewart...

Scorer: Ferguson

Attendance: ca. 1000 (150 Stute?)

The big crowd builds

Out come the teams

My last game before another period of exile, and tbh, after that I won't be missing it too much . EBB summed it up more succinctly than me much sooner, so here's his comments:

Pathetic, just about sums that up.

Only two players to come out with any credit...

Michael Gault, who was awesome and Tim Mouncey. Mounce wasn't brilliant, but he put himself about and at least tried to play a bit of football.


3 points


Pat McShane, he's done
The entire defence... woeful
Maccers. Looked lost.
Delivery from crosses.
Hoooof football...


Substitutions Wtf

Spike was f****d, yet he managed to complete yet another 90 mins

Dickson comes on for O'Kane (who admittidely wasn't that good) but **** me, it was blatantly obvious that Spike (and to an extent Peter) were wrecked.... why not replace either of them or both?

We were crying out for a positive change, to get us going again... yet we get a right footed centre forward thrown on to play left midfield

All the football today, came from Institute.


It's two days since the game and I'm still too annoyed to comment. DJ predictably came out and said the pitch was hard, he'd have taken a 1-0, 3 points in the bag blablablah. Not good enough. Institute outplayed us for long periods, ok we should have had the game wrapped up early on, and missed some sitters, but as a side containing 6 full-timers, against a very average side, we simply shouldn't be labouring in such a way.

The Dougster, on his side!

Oh, and long live the Dougster, I've changed my mind, emptyhead he may be, but he tries.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Linfield 4 Coleraine 0

IPL, Windsor Park, Tuesday 27th November 2007

Team: Mannus, Douglas (Ervin 76), Murphy, McShane, Mouncey, McAreavey (Stewart 59), Gault, O’Kane (Curran 46), Ferguson, Thompson Subs not used : Lindsay, Dickson

Goals: Ferguson 3, Maccers

Attendance: ca. 800 (ca. 100 Coleraine fans)

Super performance from the Blues. Maccers properly back to what he is capable of; good passing football, on the ground, skills from maccers, mouncey, thompo and spike creating space and chances. In particular:

- Dougie had another great game, great tackling, good crosses in, linking up well going forward
- Thompson's work, linking-up, and movement outside the box is excellent; he looked short of confidence when through on goal, twice wasting it with attempted crosses when he should have wrecked it
- Spike was great again, but I think DJ believes his fitness to be superior to what most do
- Mannus made at least 6 top-drawer saves, having said that, 4 were in the same move in the space of about 5 seconds!
- Gaulty was everywhere again
- Stewart gives us an extra dimension playing through the middle, esp on as sub

Still don't like our high offside line, can see the Glens and Hamilton punishing us for it on Boxing Day. And Turkington is a pathetically bad referee. Some of his decisions, both ways, and what he let Coleraine off with, were an absolute joke.

Crowd was pathetic too. Putting it up against CL TV fixtures involving ManU and Rangers on a wet Baltic night is senseless. Seriously though, this league is dying on its feet.

Very poor highlights here:

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Linfield 2 Donegal Celtic 0

IPL, Windsor Park, Saturday 24th November 2007

Team : Mannus, Douglas, Murphy, Bailie, McShane, Dickson (Mouncey 63), McAreavey (Stewart 77), Gault, O’Kane (Curran 66), Ferguson, Thompson Subs not used : McCann, Lindsay

Scorers: Thompson, Bailie

Attendance: approx 2500 (130 DC fans)

Good first half, bad second, pretty much sums up this game. We played some nice stuff in the first half, a few dangerous crosses flung in from Dougie and O'Kane, Maccers was back on form, good passing, backheels and all, and we should have gone in at the break more than one ahead. Mannus had to make one good save when the DC striker, through on goal, knocked it too far ahead of him. I thought Dougie was our MOTM, bursting forward, getting great crosses in, heavily involved, and not too many mess-ups.

DC fans

The second half was just dire. DC drummers in the stand made a lot of noise, and there were a few cultural ditties from kids at the back of the Kop, but that was about it. Oh, and Noel scoring a peach with his right.

Oh, and we went with the Raven club to Dungannon Ladies' Xmas do in the evening, great night, good crack, appearances and speeches from DJ and Winkie, shame there weren't more players there.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

End of Tour Report

Well almost. As it's international weekend, and as I'm going back into Exile in 2 weeks' time, I thought I'd do a quick review of the players so far this season, a quarter of the way into the league season.

Alan Mannus: one of our better performers, and South Stand Says Player of the Month for October. Still prone to the odd blunders (see Cliftonville Sky match) and kicking could be better, but still a great shot-stopper.

Steven Douglas: one of those who divides the Blues' support. I'm not a fan, and still believe wee Jim should be in the team, though both are equally mediocre. For every good thing Dougie does, he does 3 or 4 bad things. His throws are good, he can link up well with Mouncey, he covers the CBs well, but passing, crossing, and general play are iffy.

Pat McShane: Came straight back into the team after regaining fitness, and has been a shadow of his former self. Particular shcokers came against Dungannon and Newry. I'd drop him for O'Kane if we had an alternative at LM. I fear his time has gone.

Winkie Murphy: dropped for a while by DJ, but has been his usual solid best since, except for that Swifts match (like everyone else) culminating in an unfortunate OG. Lost a bit of pace?

Noel Bailie: has been beset by injuries, but I really do think this is a season too far for him, he's had numerous shockers, his legs have gone, the sharp anticipatory brain is still there, but often the body can't do what he wants it to fast enough. Sad to see.

Kris Lindsay: started off stormingly, but has fallen back in recent weeks. Really is 'The Future', always a goal threat, strong in the air, and likes to bring the ball out from the back, perhaps a little too eagerly at times, and needs to stop diving in so much.

Aidan O'Kane: another one that polarises fans. Started at LB but moved to LM after the return of McShane and the poor displays of Curran. His free-kicks and corners are as dangerous as ever, but I still feel he's not an IL midfielder, too small and goes missing too often, and doesn't have the pace or skill to beat full-backs and whip in those crosses. But he's been ok.

Michael Gault: has played well this season, the old energy levels are back, he's everywhere, covers every blade of grass. Control, passing and shooting still poor, but scored a lovely rare goal WITH HIS LEFT vs the Whites!

Paul McAreavey: Hmm. Has finally showed signs of promise in recent games against Newry and Larne, controlling the tempo, putting the foot on the ball, showing the old skills, but prior to his, he's been a huge disappointment. Fitness levels are still shocking, and his mobility is not that of an IL midfielder. Fingers crossed.

Tim Mouncey: generally very good, back to RM and back to his active, bustling best, beating men, getting crosses over and looking hungry. Good to see.

Damian Curran: Disappointment of the season. Maybe expectation level was too high, but he looks one-paced, has no perceptible skill to compensate, his passing is poor and his set-pieces have been, well, not very good. A poor man's O'Kane. We tracked him for 2 years and I can't see why, apparently he's not a LM, something we need, and he's not good enough to replace our CMs, so I don't see the point. I fear he'll never make it at the Blues.

Jamie Mulgrew: very stop-start, not really getting the chances he deserves after his apparent great form last year. Good and average performances intertwined. Currently injured, and apparently unsettled. Needs to cut the hair, the opposite of Samson!

Mark Dickson: not been playing well so far, which has disappointed me as I only heard good reports about him last season and saw him score in the ICF. Maybe a victim of his success at RW, where he is now being played every week, despite it not being his natural position. Form in last 2 weeks been more promising.

Glenn Ferguson: Player of the Season so far, belying his advanced years. Strong and creative as ever, the flicks etc have been pleasingly lacking and he's stuck to the simple stuff. Goals have dried up in recent weeks, but he's still the focal point of our team, and most of DJ's tactics seem to go through Spike. Still being exceedingly overplayed, IMO. A 38 year-old should not be playing 180+ minutes per week when we've younger blood waiting in the wings.

Peter Thompson: Very poor start to the season, his goal vs Portadown seems to have got his confidence up, and now he's banging them in, producing a top quality display vs Larne. Still oges to ground far too easily, and his turn inside is far too predictable imo, but the old verve and sharpness is back. Needs to work on his shooting though.

Thomas Stewart: another that divides fans. Some say too lazy and disinterested; some say, give him a decent chance as striker, then comment, he has skill to burn. I'm a fan, but think DJ soesn't fancy him and that he'll end up at the Gurns next season, he face just doesn't seem to fit. I do feel he has looked uninterested in his substitute appearances at LM, esp compared to Dicko, but also think he's been promised things that the management haven't delivered. I think he needs 5 games in a row upfront before we can judge, but i don't think he's going to get them. Scored against Larne as sub last week, but also missed two sitters. He's not the striker that will run through brick walls that many Linfield fans demand, and to me he still looks a bit too 'weak' for the IL, but I fear that if he goes to the Dark Side, he'll punish us.

Tim McCann: sporadic substitute appearances. Some think he's useful to have around; I don't think he's Linfield standard.

Stephen Garrett (on loan - Newry): scored 6 goals and according to Newry fans, has been a revelation, speed, trickery, finishing. I fear we'll not see him back at Windsor, which I think is a huge shame.

DJ: needs to shut up, stop channelling all play through Spike, be a bit more sensible with substitutions, and stop writing off inept tactical displays as 'a bad day at the office'.

Overall: we're third in the league, 3 behind the Glens, and in the final of the League Cup, but we're far from firing on all cylinders, and I feel too much has been placed in Conor Downey and Oran Kearney coming back to full form and transforming us into a wonderful footballing outfit. Our superior fitness will tell eventually, but I still feel we should be seeing more for the quality of playing staff we possess. Apparently NI u-21 striker Andrew Waterworth is coming in the January transfer window, my sources tell me he'll be a good 'un. Think our priorities lie elsewhere, though. Oh, and would like to see the potentially huge Billy Joe Burns get a chance, esp as Noel is close to the end and Winkie is possibly not too far behind.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Larne 1 Linfield 5

On the way home

Inver Park, 10th November 2007

Team: Mannus, Douglas, McShane, Gault (Mouncey 79), Murphy, Bailie, McAreavey, Dickson, O’Kane (Curran 66), Ferguson, Thompson (Stewart 73)
Subs not used : Lindsay, Ervin

Goals: Thompson 3, Ferguson, Stewart

Attendance: ca 1000 (approx 950 Linfield fans)

A much improved Linfield performance, with Thompo FINALLY approaching close to the heights he reached in the Clean Sweep season with a sparkling, lively, penetrative performance. Linfield were simply too strong for Larne, who, despite their weaknesses, still have 2 skilful players upfront in Verner and Hunter.

No-one really played poorly for the Blues, despite critics sceptical about the defence, was impressed with Maccers, and Tommy Stewart looked lively when he came on, although he did miss two sitters.

Social club

Was my first time in Larne since 1994/5, and they really are in need of a new ground, Inver Park has a certain old school charm, with the slopiest pitch I've ever seen in 'top level' football, and a nice wee social club, but it does have the feel of what it is, a condemned ground.

A nice 2-week break now should allow Jamie to get fit again, Conor to continue his path to fitness, and allow Spike a rest, playing a 38 year-old for 90 minutes just 3 days after he played 120 is folly, and it will count against us come the end of the season.

Other news: Andrew Waterworth is apparently a cert to sign in January, which would be ok if we didn't have 6 strikers already at the club, including Stephen Garrett who is banging them in on loan at Newry City, 6 already. I don't think we'll see him back at Windsor, hardly surprising when even the NI u-21 captain can't get on.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Newry City 1 Linfield 1 (3-4 on penalties)

CIS Cup Semi-final, Mourneview Park, Wednesday 7th November 2007.

Team: Linfield Team : Mannus, Douglas, McShane (Curran 60), Gault, Murphy, Mouncey (Dickson 70), Ferguson, Bailie (Lindsay 95), McAreavey, O’Kane, Thompson Subs not used : McCann, Stewart (surprise surprise)

Goals: Thompson

Attendance: est 1200 (approx 400 (noisy) Newry fans)

On reflection, I actually think it was a pretty good game. I didn't really at the time; again, our football was long, high and the predictable everything-towards-spike's-head dirge, while Newry showed us how it is done with simple yet effective passing football, yet we still availed. We must have had about 25 corners, most of which I filmed but deleted due to our ineffectiveness at them, and we missed many many chances, had at least 3 cleared off the line, plus their keeper played well. But take nothing away from Newry, they played well and with a wee bit of luck could have sneaked it, Feeney missing a great chance late on.

Here were my various other thoughts:

Opinions were divided on Dougie, for me, he really does oscillate very quickly from the surprisingly good to the shockingly bad. Jim is equally as bad, but still my preference.

Curran won't make it at the Blues. Yes he was one of the few looking for the ball last night and yes he tried, but his passing's poor, his shooting's poor, his tackling's poor, he's slow, and his touch is poor, what does he offer us? Having said that, he seems to be a confidence player, and some of the abuse dished out at him from the stand every time, before he even received the ball, was nothing sort of a disgrace. After the game, by all means.

DJ playing Spike and Maccers for 120 minutes was madness. I thought both played rightly last night, I was especially pleased by Maccers, not all his passes came off, but he was back to beating men with skill and is still the only one who'll put the foot on the ball, dictate the pace and pick out passes.

Both Thompson and Spike worked their socks off and did well, Mouncey showed flashes but I still feel he's a wee bit too weak. Pat and Noel had shockers, both need changed for Saturday.

Was impressed with Newry's crowd, was pleasantly surprised by our turnout, and Mourneview is a cracking wee ground.

Can't get all the penalties onto Windows Movie Maker, so Doog's winner will have to do.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Linfield 2 Distillery 1

IPL, Windsor Park, 3rd November 2007

Team: Mannus, Douglas, McShane, Gault, Murphy, Dickson, Ferguson, Bailie, O’Kane, Thompson, McAreavey (Curran 85) subs not used : Lindsay, Ervin, McCann, Stewart

Scorers: Dickson, Thompson

Couldn't be bothered writing much. This was it:

"Pretty poor show. Only real positives were the 3 points, and the fact that Conor Downey played for the Swifts today.

Still not impressed by Maccers. Dougie needs dropped.

And Malcolm is a fu cking clown."

Atticus posted a better analysis:

"Some uncomfortable truths reconfirmed.

- Our substitutes are nothing but a time-wasting exercise. Nothing else.
- Tommy Stewart's face doesn't fit. Otherwise why not get him on when one forward missed a handful of chances and the other was going through the motions?
- Maccers isn't fit. Plus ca change.
- Our full backs aren't good enough and never will be.
- For every good cross from Douglas and O'Kane, there's at least two bad ones.
- Gault can't play football.
- Ferguson doesn't like playing against tight marking. But he'll run his ass off for nothing balls going into the corner in stoppage time.
- Mannus is the best keeper in the league.
- The wrong players get scapegoated for rubbish team performances.
- Davy Malcolm is an attention-seeking tube who bottles the big decisions. Looks like he's been on a "Learn How to Play Advantage 101" course during the week, though."

Highlights here:

Probably a more entertaining game, at least until we got bored after 10 minutes at how shite it was and headed to the VL to watch Arse-ManU, was the Supporters' match. 'High'lights, including some goalkeeping classics and lethargic midfield performances, can be watched here:

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Dungannon Swifts 4 Linfield 0

IPL, Stangmore Park, Saturday 27th October 2007.

Team: Mannus, Douglas, McShane, Lindsay, Murphy, O'Kane, Mouncey, Gault, Dickson (Stewart 58), G.Ferguson, Thompson Subs not used : Bailie, McCann, Ervin, A. Ferguson

Attendance: est 1500 (1000+ Linfield fans)

From our best performance of the season to unquestionably our worst, as the Swifts recorded their first ever win over us, and fully deserved.

Being brutally honest, that was pathetic, embarrassing, and a long time coming. Let's be honest here, Tuesday night was a blip in an otherwise under-par season. Dungannon could have done the same to us at Windsor earlier in the season with a bit more luck. Granted, they did have a bit of luck and everything came off for them, but you make your own luck, we were singularly second to every loose ball and in every tackle, and they wanted it more, pure and simple.

NONE of the players, nor the manager, come out with ANY credit whatsoever for that excuse they served up today. We didn't have a shot on goal worthy of mention in the 1st half, when the wet windy conditions were screaming for shots from all angles. No, instead we served up our favourite tactic on tight pitches when we're given no space like Tuesday night, hoofball up to Spike and feeding off the scraps. But when Spike's having an off-day, we've no plan b. There was one time in the first half when Lindsay tried to come out and play it from the back, had NO outlet (badly let down by our anonymous midfield), played a loose pass, gave possession away and then got booked for a bad recovery tackle. Nobody wanted to know, or had any idea what else to do when it was clear Spike was off-colour. This makes me fearful for the future, Spike's not going to go on forever, and when all we have are workmanlike runners lacking inspiration, and no discernible idea of tactics from the bench, we're in trouble.

One of those days. Embarrassing.

We left shortly after 3-0, when it was clear we had given up the ghost and were never getting back into the game. Our folly in having 4 defenders on the bench, none of whom naturally came on despite all of the back four having shockers, was painfully exposed.

I thought it was a nice wee ground, and decent social club, although the away fans' bar was more like a beer hall, and 2.50 a pint is a bit steep for a provincial club, even Linfield is much cheaper. The fans mixed well, only the weather and my own team's abject performance put a dampener on things. The next few weeks will tell whether it is the rocket up our asses that kickstarts our season, or a worrying portent of the season to come.

Goals to come.

Linfield 5 Distillery 1

CIS League Cup Quarter Final, Windsor Park, Tuesday 23rd October 2007


Mannus, Douglas (Ervin 72), McShane (McCann 72), Gault, Murphy, Mouncey, Ferguson, Lindsay (Bailie 62), O’Kane, Thompson, Dickson Subs not used : Stewart, Hogan

Scorers: Ferguson 2 (1 Pen), Thompson, Gault (!), Murphy (!!)

Attendance: est. 500 (45 Whites fans)

Far and away our best performance of the season, as we took the surprise team of the season apart, with quick, incisive passing football. We played some great stuff, one-twos, give and gos, we looked hungry, very encouraging. It has to be said though that the Whites came to play football and thus gave us the time and space to do our thang.

A big big mention to Beckenbauer Murphy and the white Vieira! 4 of our goals were top drawer, I only managed to film Thompson's goal (oue second):

Unfortunately it looks like Ali didn't record the game. Shame, we'll not get to see re-runs of Gault scoring with his LEFT, Spike's great shot after a nice move, nor Winkie's Tony Adams-esque burst through the middle, lovely one-two, then control in the box and finish with the outside of his foot, sublime.

Shows what a passenger Maccers has unfortunately become, and how awesome we could be with everyone back Terrible crowd, though playing it on the same night as Rangers - Barcelona on the telly was a stupid move. Even more stupid is the fact that the semi, vs Newry at Mourneview, is on the same night as the corresponding fixture. The words piss-up and brewery spring to mind.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Good Old Days

Coleraine vs Linfield abandoned after 2 sendings-off and missiles fired onto the pitch.

Linfield - Glens: 3 Glens players off, seats broken and fired onto the pitch, a full scale free-for-all between the players, Linfield fans getting lynched in Midgley.

Ahhh, the good old days. Nice footage though, good work MB.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Armagh City 1 Linfield 3

IPL, Holm Park, Saturday 13th October 2007

Team: Mannus, Douglas, McShane, Murphy, Lindsay, Mouncey, Gault, McAreavey, O'Kane, Ferguson, Thompson

Subs not used : Curran, Dickson, Mulgrew, Hogan, Miskimmon

Scorers: Mouncey 2, Thompson

My first visit to Armagh City and Holm Park, and I was pleasantly surprised. BN had warned me that it was a shithole beforehand and I was expecting ploughed field-esque conditions, but it was actually a neat, tidy wee ground, surrounded by fields and cows. Ok, so it is a bit basic, no terracing at all, and a tiny 3-row grandstand, but it was friendly.

The real jewel in the crown was the social club, on the first floor overlooking the pitch, and you don't have to pay to get in there! Beers were cheap, about 2 quid, and the staff were friendly, we got there well early at 1.30 (would have been earlier except MB led us in the wrong direction, and signposts were non-existent) so we got the best seats in the house, and a few pints in before the queues started. It did get very busy, and there wern't enough staff on, but I could watch the match inside while supping a pint, superb. Chris Walker, ex-shadow dweller, walked in during the first half and took dog's abuse from the Bluemen, 'You are ugly' being one of the more printable ones, but it was all in good spirits. I stayed there till the end of the first half when I needed to pee, lost my seat, then went out and stood with BN on the terraces in the 2nd half.

So, onto the match itself. I thought it was a pretty entertaining affair, and that we played alright. We created a lot of chances, some just wide from Thompson and Spike, and scored 2 early goals from O'Kane corners, the first a header at the near post from Mouncey, the second another Mouncey header from the rebound of Spike's header that crashed against the bar. But City were creating chances themselves and pulled one back soon after with a peach of a goal, Hawthorn bringing the ball down, fooling Winkie to create space and blasting home from about 20 yeards.

We were never in danger though and Thompson scored a good 'un not long into the second half to more or less make it safe, then Mouncey (yet again) missed a penalty for his hat-trick. After that, we were on the back foot, Armagh played some good stuff and it took two goalline clearances, one from Maccers, one from Dougie to save us. Strange we didn't bring on any subs.

Positives? Mouncey was back to his old best, getting involved, being everywhere, taking on and beating players. Spike wasn't far behind him, he's still got it, and Gaulty was his industrious hard-running best.

Negatives? Our defence looked very shaky in the 2nd half, I don't think Pat is back to full form yet, Maccers was average again, he's easily beat and still struggles for fitness, how anyone on the radio can call for him to be in the NI squad baffles me, and O'Kane for me isn't a LM (I'd play him at LB and drop McShane). Not bringing on any subs.

Unfortunately, no pics, as I realised my formerly-broken-and-thought-fixed camera didn't actually work in the daylight after all. D'oh. Highlights possibly to follow.

Thompo's as usual excellent pics of the day here. No idea how big the crowd was, maybe 1000 Bluemen there?

Nice day all in all, AND I predicted the right score, sweet.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Linfield 1 Portadown 0

Irish Premier League, Windsor Park, 6th October 2007

Team: Mannus, Douglas, McShane, Murphy, O'Kane, Bailie, Gault, Ferguson, McAreavey (Mulgrew 87), Thompson, Mouncey (Dickson) Subs not used :Stewart, McCann, Lindsay

Scorer: Thompson (24)

Attendance: approx. 3000 (300 Ports fans)

Well apparently the Blues played well, and with good football, in the first half, creating a host of chances, and a rejuvenated Thompo scored a good goal to put us into the lead. Typically, I missed all this, and what I witnessed was poor, with Linfield second best, maybe I am a scud after all. I got in about 40 minutes as I was otherwise engaged in the North West, and watched the final 5 minutes from the Viewing Lounge, seeing Miskelly make a great save from Thompo after Spike put him through well.

But like I said, in the 2nd half, I thought Portadown were the better side. If the Ports had had a little more luck, they would have got a point, we looked lethargic and back to the same old hoofball, the Ports ominously seemed to be able to go through us easily, they missed one or two good chances, esp 2 goalmouth blocks from a corner right at the death, and we offered little outlet except for one superb run from Thompo, when he hit the side netting when a square ball would have seen us home. Turkington was crap, some bizarro decisions, simply inept.

More like it from Peter Thompson yesterday. Gaulty, as usual, worked his socks off and was everywhere, and I thought Noel played well. Don't know what to make of Maccers, another Emptyhead needless booking, the mantle has been passed on...

Poor quality highlights here for the moment:

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Linfield 3 Limavady U 0

Windsor Park, 29th September 2007

Team: Mannus, Ervin, McShane, Mulgrew, Lindsay (Murphy 46), Bailie, Gault, Ferguson, Curran (O'Kane 60), Thompson, Stewart (Mouncey 46)

Scorers: Ferguson 2, O'Kane

I missed this one as I was at a stag do in Cologne, so I'll leave the analysis to the trusty East Belfast Blues, whose opinions I nearly always agree with (except O'Kane!):

Didn't get out of second gear, with the first half again proving that we can't play 4-3-3. STOP ****ING PLAYING IT!Second half was better, depsite the opposition being poor.Mouncey again made the difference, time for Tim to start.


Thomas Stewart (why was he subbed )
Michael Gault... the Gaulty of two seasons ago, outstanding
Jamie Mulgrew... hopefully he's alright, he's been fantastic lately
The return of Winkie, depsite not having an awful lot to do
O'Kane's goal Why the **** isn't he starting ahead of Curran
Tim Mouncey. When he's on we play football, he seems to be back to his best
Spike... magnifco


4-3 f***ing 3... time to knock it on the head
Pat McShane's passing
Damien Curran... i'm sorry, but he really is woeful, how does he get on ahead of O'Kane
Stupid substitutions, which led to us finishing with 10 men.

3 points and job done, but we can play a lot better than and will have to throughout the course of the season.

Highlights thanks to Mitchell Ali here:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cliftonville 2 Linfield 2

Irish Premier League

Solitude, Monday 24th September 2007

Linfield: Mannus, Ervin, McShane, Gault, Lindsay, Mulgrew, McAreavey (O'Kane 90), Dickson (Mouncey 52), Ferguson, Stewart, Bailie. Subs not used : Douglas, Murphy, McCann

Goalscorers: Ferguson (57), Stewart (72)

The author managed to become an Exile for this game, the IPL's first ever live on Sky Sports, once more despite having a ticket by 'misplacing' his passport and thus missing his flight on the morning of the game :cry: So it was a friendly Irish pub in the centre of Berlin for me (I was the only one watching)...

Here's my thoughts:

Watching it on TV on your own, away from your sphere of influence, certainly seems to have an effect on your perception of the game.

I thought Spike was one of our better players, but agree with DGIG as I said on Sunday, we still relied on the hoofball FAR too much, and unless DJ changes the way he thinks about things like tactics, we're in big trouble once Spike goes.

I thought Gault was terrible, I texted Bluenose at HT with the phrase 'Gault is not a footballer', his passing is simply atrocious, and I swore I saw him knock the ball too far once last night so he he could tackle it to his fellow player, his best pass, I felt.

Maccers was decent, he's still the only one to put the foot on the ball and (at least try to) pick out a through ball and pass, contrast Cliftonville's passing cutting us open at will in the 1st half, with our laboured efforts.

Dicko is way off the boil. McShane had a shocking first half, a bit better in the second, but his set pieces and play were terrible, what must O'Kane be thinking?

And Noel... was poor. As with O'Kane, Winkie must be scratching his head.

Liked the look of Tommy up front, both our goals were well-worked. I was disappointed we didn't win as well. Their first? Mannus maybe at fault, but it was a wicked inswinger, a cracking free-kick. And I wouldn't blame Mannus for the 2nd, their sub came on and no-one seemed to notice him or pick him up.

I thought it was a great advert for the IL. Can't comment on the singing though, only Oirish/ folk music in Berlin for me.

Highlights here:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ballymena 0 Linfield 3

CIS group stage, 15th September 2007

Team: Mannus, Douglas, Lindsay, Bailie, McShane (Hogan 83), Mulgrew, Gault, Dickson (Mouncey 66), Curran (O’Kane 66), Ferguson, Thompson (subs not used: McAreavey, Murphy

Goals: Thompson (10), Ferguson (45), Mouncey (69)

I have to admit from the start that I wasn't at the game, as I was, err, surfing in Portrush, ahem, free food and drink on work was involved too...

According to my reliable sources, the Blues played well and controlled things, without ever really getting out of 2nd gear against a poor Ballymena side. The midfield, minus the rested/ dropped Maccers, were really good, esp Mulgrew and MOTM Gaulty in the centre. Curran had another, erm, 'quiet' game, Pat McShane and Noel Bailie returned, and yet again, opinion was divided on the contribution of Ferguson, dominant and everywhere on the one side, too many fancy flicks and no more pace and drive on the other. Thompson finally got back on the scoresheet, and apparently Mouncey was great when he came on.

Well done to Liam Hogan, a left-back/ central midfielder, whose impressive performances for the Swifts earned him a call-up, and a first appearance for the first team as sub, the first of hopefully many.

On a related topic, the Ballymena fan protest against David Jeffrey never materialised.

Poor quality highlights available here, again Mitchell Ali isn't recoding them with his super-duper technology, so you're left with me filming the TV with an average digital camera:

Next up, the Reds at Windsor on Tuesday in the 2nd round of the CAS. Bring it on.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Nostalgia Time

Linfield 0 Glentoran 2

Windsor Park, Tuesday 2nd February, 1988.

A non-descript game, you might think, but anyone who was there would probably not forget it. Not necessarily because of the game itself, but because of the weather.

I have NEVER experienced anything like it in my long life as a football fan. I was only a kid at the time, and I still remember it as if it were yesterday. As a prelude: The original game, the Boxing Day 1987 game, was abandoned after 47 minutes because of fog, with the Blues leading 2-1 (I forget the scorers now, maybe someone could enlighten me, McCleod and Burrows?) and rightly so, we were standing on the Kop and couldn't see past the halfway line.

The return game witnessed the worst conditions I have ever seen at a football match. It was like a tropical storm in the middle of winter. Complete with non-stop torrential rain and Arctic sub-zero temperatures, combined with a strong wind. Again, I was in the Kop, I remember loads leaving at half-time as it was too cold, I remember huddling with my dad at the wall to the North Stand as it provided a modicum of shelter. I don't remember why they wouldn't let us go into the North Stand for shelter and dryness from the elements, were Glenmen in there? And some of the players were treated for exposure, they didn't have to just stand in it for 90 minutes. I was soaked to the skin. I remember little from the game, only that the Glens played better and deserved to win, the ball flew like lightning over the wet surface, any long high balls were pointless and a lottery in the wind and rain, and that the match should probably have been called off, but as it was already a re-organised game, they probably didn't want to. Didn't we lose the league that season by only a few points? Such is life.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Exile Interviews - Sin

September's Exile on South Stand Says is the opinionated, outspoken, South-West Laandaner, sin:

Exile Interviews - Sin

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Linfield 1 Dungannon Swifts 1

CIS Group Stages

1st September 2007, Windsor Park

Team: Mannus, Douglas, O’Kane (McCann 77), Murphy, Lindsay, McAreavey, Gault, Ferguson, Curran (Stewart 77), Thompson, Dickson (Mulgrew 77)

Scorer: Ferguson (21)

Attendance: ca. 1000


I thought it best to wait till now to post, I was too p*ssed off after the match.

Back to the usual hoofball up to the forwards, meat and drink for any IL centre-half worth his salt, mainly cos we couldn't string 3 passes together all day. Typical of this was our last passing move of the day, the awful Douglas, having already sliced/hoofed/mishit x balls to anyone but someone in a Blue shirt all game, decided to play a long ball across the back, which, via another Lindsay long ball, went straight out into touch. Classy.

Another big minus was DJ's bizarro substitutions. I'd have brought off:

Thompson: has been awful of late, his game is so predictable and he resembles Bambi on ice at the moment.
Maccers: I have never seen a more sluggish, unfit full-timer. His passing was terrible today too. He should have walked for that x-rated tackle (as should McCabe for the reaction).
Douglas: see above. Jim Ervin must be wondering what in God's name he has to do.

Admittedly, Jeffrey could have brought off 6 or 7, but to bring on Tim McCann, to bring off Dicko and to put on Tommy Stewart YET AGAIN at left-wing where he clearly isn't up to the task, beggared belief. How Thompson and Dougie lasted 90 mins astonished me. And to start Spike again is nonsensical (although I thought he played ok).

The Swifts had at least 4 100% chances, hit the bar, missed a one-on-one sitter, Tim McCann put McAlister off with a last-gasp challenge, and that shitebag Campbell hit the post when it was harder to miss. Make no mistake, we were lucky today. Terrible crowd as well.

We have a LOT of work to do before the league starts. Our passing and football has gone to pot. Hard to watch.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Winkie Murphy Testimonial Match

Linfield Legends 3 Digger's Select 0

As part of Winkie Murphy's Testimonial year, a match was organised at Paisley Park up the Shankill yesterday. A team of Linfield Legends triumphed 3-0 over an IL Seniors select.

I got the bus up there with the Raven club, a couple of wee drinks on the way to warm me up. There were about 3-400 there, I'm terrible at crowd estimates; bouncy castles and football for the kids, burger van, beer and Magner's at cheap prices.

It was great to see so many Linfield heroes on display, among others:

Wes Lamont
Alan Dornan
John Garett
Jeff Spiers
Tommy McDonald
Tony Gorman
Pat Fenlon
Martin McGaughey
Stephen Beatty
Philip Mitchell
John Easton (though he never played :( )

And Digger's side had some household IL names, including Billy Caskey, Ray Morrison, Paul Kee, Davy Nixon, Surgeon etc.

The years and the pounds have caught up with a few, it was only 30 minutes each way, and Linfield had the better younger fitter performers (including Spiersy, still not retired at 39, and Tony Gorman looking as sharp and fit as ever) but some good football was played; as we said there, they've all still got it in their heads, it's just the bodies can't correspond.

Unfortunately I missed filming the first half action, and my camera can only take films, so no photos. McGaughey had a brilliant bicycle kick saved by Kee (eejit, should have let it in) and Phil Mitchell opened the scoring with the best goal of the day, a 25-yard screamer.

Second half goals here:

Number 2, finished by Tony Gorman

Number 3, finished by a mate of Winkie's?

After the game, most retired to the Pony Club, where a cabaret was held, ballot, auction, singsong etc. We stayed in front to watch the Utd- Spurs game, then mosied in after. Lots of players and fans in attendance. I can't remember too much of the night. Wrote. Great day though, and apparently lots of money was raised for Winkie, so happy days.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Glenavon 0 Linfield 1

CIS Group stages, Friday 24th August 2007

Mannus, Ervin, O'Kane, Murphy, Lindsay, McAreavey ( Mulgrew ) , Gault, Mouncey ( Ferguson ), Curran ( Stewart ), Dickson, Thompson

Not a great performance, but we were very comfortable, many thought we played crap, but I think they're being a bit harsh, maybe my expectations are lower, but I thought we were ok, some nice moves and we were never really in danger.


Kris Lindsay (if he keeps fit, he really is The Future)
O'Kane (still pulls out too often for me, but great cross for the goal and worked hard)
Dickson: Works tirelessly, great at holding up, controlling the ball, turning, and running at defences, maybe a mini-Spike?
Mouncey/ Ervin combining down the right in the 1st half, less so in the second
Cheapish pints
Being able to drink pints outside in the sun on the terraces while watching the game, more please


Curran: Jury's out. Set pieces awful. A poor man's O'Kane. If he can't play LM, he shouldn't have been signed
Maccers: off the pace, ineffectual
Thompo: Not running for him at the minute, wrong options chosen, loses possession too easily
DJ's substitutions: STOP PLAYING STEWART ON THE LEFT WING. And moving our best striker to the right wing.
9 quid in.

I managed to film Kris Lindsay's winning goal here:

That's us all but qualified for the Quarter Finals now. Was nice to be back.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

BBC NI in Postitive Linfield Report Shock!

Great radio report about Linfield, the True Blues initiative, its moves to eradicate sectarianism, and the changing perception of the Blues. Great interviews with Maccers (Vive le Maccers) Pat McShane and David Jeffrey:

BBC Radio Ulster Linfield Article

Listen from 1h 40 in. Good stuff.

Makes a change from non-existent TV coverage and pushing the NIO Long Kesh stadium agenda, but refreshing nonetheless.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dungannon 0 Linfield 1... and Tommy Stewart

CIS Group stage, 19th August 2007

Mannus, Douglas, O’Kane, Murphy, Lindsay, Mulgrew (Mouncey 60), Curran (McCann 78), Gault, McAreavey, Stewart, Ferguson (Thompson 55)

Scorer: Stewart (63)

Apparently a comfortable enough win, with good performances from Curran and Douglas just failing to edge out Michael Gault as Man of the Match.

Tommy Stewart got the winner after getting a rare start at his favoured position up front, but his performance has been much-criticised on ILF.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: some fans should give him a break, as well as a chance. He stands accused of being brushed off the ball too easily, of not getting stuck in enough and of being too scared for the IL. But it's what he could offer to the team that excites me. He's big, fast, has bags of skill, can run at and terrorise defences, and certainly knows how to score goals, as his Setanta efforts against the Glens showed.

I am very much in the camp that believes the lad should be given a fair crack of the whip in his favourite position, an extended run up front. He's not been given that, but DJ finally seems to be showing signs of dropping Spike and giving the others a chance, and rotating, though perhaps too much.

Anyway, this exile will get an extended chance to see his heroes live in the flesh, starting from this Friday away at Glenavon. I predict an edgy 2-1 Blues win, Thompo and Dicko to get the goals. Expect plenty of match reports, photos and videos to come...

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Season Starts Here...

CIS Cup Group Stages, (h) vs Ballymena

I predict a 3-1 win for the Blues, Thompo, Spike and Maccers.

If you fancy a crack at predicting Blues' results over the season, enter SSS's Prediction League.

One more piece of news: Linfield have signed some 19 year-old Maltese, David Fenech, who plays on the left apparently. Another one for the future, along with McSkimmon, Ferguson, Burns, Dick, etc etc...

Bring it on!

Season predictions:

We should at least win the league again. A triple double is possible, but will be very difficult. Would take one of the 2 minor cups, and at least a semi-final spot in the Setanta. Our squad is slightly stronger than last year, but it depends how DJ uses his resources. Noel and Spike MUST be used sparingly, and imo, Kris Lindsay and Tommy Stewart have to have a crack ahead of them. Can't wait for Conor Downey and Oran Kearney to get back from injury after Christmas, some sexy football with Maccers and Downey in centre mid has me drooling with anticipation...

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Exile Interviews Part 2 - Lewis

From New Zealand to Bahrain this month for the next Exile Interview on South Stand Says, with the venerable Lewis.

The interview.

Great stuff.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Elfsborg 1 Linfield 0

25th July, 2007

Team: Mannus, Douglas ( Mouncey 77 ) Curran ( Ferguson 75 ) Bailie, Lindsay, O'Kane, McAreavey, Gault, Mulgrew ( Stewart 65 ), Thompson, Dickson

So it wasn't to be. Good effort by Linfield on the night, but if we're being really honest with ourselves, we didn't relly deserve to go through. We had two 100% chances to get the equaliser and progress, Noel and Thompo both missing sitter headers that they should have buried, and Dicko had a snaphot well saved, but Mannus made at least 3 outstanding saves, and the woodwork saved us on at least 2 occasions.

We can blame lack of match fitness and 'what if' chances all we want, but realistically, such small things make the difference, and time and again, we are found wanting in Europe.

Always next year.

VERY brief highlights here:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Elfsborg - Linfield Live Online!

OK, you have to part with 4 of your finest Pounds Sterling, but it's still well worth it, imo. I'm like a kid on Christmas day. Top effort, Elfsborg!

Here's the link:


Enjoy! Come on the Blues, with a bit of luck, and a cheeky early away goal, we can get through. Let's just hope Winkie is fit to play.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Linfield 0 Elfsborg 0

UEFA Champions' League, 1st Qualifying Round, 1st Leg

Windsor Park, Belfast, 17th July 2007

Linfield: Mannus, Douglas, O'Kane, Murphy, Bailie, McAreavey (Mouncey 77), Gault, Mulgrew, Curran, Dickson (Ferguson 87), Thompson (Stewart 79)

Subs not used : McKendry, Lindsay, McCann, Ervin

I listened to the match, first on SR, Swedish Radio (the South Stand was its usual vocal self!) and then on Radio Ulster MW, given a rare outing online, hats off.

Apparently the Blues gave a good account of themselves, despite some breakaways after Linfield's high defensive line playing for offside failed in Europe YET again, luckily Alan Mannus continued his excellent shot-stopping form of last season and bailed us out. Then apparently we had a real go at them in the second half, Jamie Mulgrew should have done better with a close-range header after an O'Kane cross, and Thompo had a chance; then we were fortunate near the end.

But a clean sheet, and a real chance going into the return leg, even if I think we're beat. If we score first over there, who knows, and the Exile would be free to go to the away leg of any second round...

Match report on SSS.

Highlights on youtube:

Exile Interviews Part 1- Wellington Blues

A new series of articles on the relaunched South Stand Says features an excellent interview with Linfield's furthest-flung exile, Wellington Blues.

The interview.

More great ones to come...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

New Signing

Damien Curran signs, on a 3-year full-time contract.

Photos of the fella also, on the official site.

Apparently a player who can play anywhere across the middle, but prefers CM or LM, I can only imagine we're going to play him predominantly on the left, as Maccers, Gaulty, Mulgrew and Downey when he gets back have CM sorted. I'm not convinced tbh, but Newry fans speak very highly of him.

A big hand for the Players' Fund, whose tireless fundraising provided the money for the (reported) £10000 transfer fee.

Other less pleasing rumblings surrounding Linfield FC have been emerging from various sources over the last few days. Of course, it has to do with the new National Stadium, Linfield's long-term contract with the IFA, and the willingness of the latter, combined with the NI Assembly and the NIO, to waggle their way out of the contract. A long drawn-out fight seems to be on the cards. Cue accusations of financial msimanagement, attempts to reduce Windsor's capacity by any means as to render it unsuitable for international football, all sorts of restrictions and Health and Safety demands that would not be applied elsewhere, etc etc. Interesting times ahead.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Linfield on the WWW

Mate in Berlin, Endi, found this on the web today and sent me it, it's an article in German about Linfield, I'll translate it here:

Linfield yet again

The best football club in Europe are called FC Linfield Belfast... they won their national championship for the 52nd [sic] time this year, more often than any other club in Europe...

...update: OK, I found out more. In the text beside the badge on Wikipedia, it states that Linfield, with "more than 200 trophies - 46 of those league championships alone", are the most successful team in the world. I can't be bothered counting out the exact number of championships [le: I put him right :) ], it's a lot. What is interesting is that as well as League and Cup, there are 6 other competitions stuffing the calenders of Irish footballers.

Like I said, it's now 47, 52 will take another 5 years :)

There's also an interesting interview (in German) that derStandard in Austria did with Michael Boyd, IFA Community Relations Officer, about the IFA's Football For All scheme and attempting to eradicate sectarianism in the Irish League and for the national team. I can't be assed translating it here, maybe later. The most interesting part for Linfield fans is here:

derStandard.at: Can Windsor Park (home stadium of the national team, but also of Linfield Belfast with a staunchly loyalist fanbase) offer a welcoming environment to Catholic fans for Norn Iron games at the moment?

Boyd: Yes!

: Is it foreseeable that a neutral anthem will be played before international matches, instead of the British National Anthem?

Boyd: Yes.

In other news, Linfield are apparently in for Damian Curran from Newry City. Doesn't inspire me, we don't REALLY need a CM who can also play LM. What inspires me even less is DJ's apparent comment that other than Curran the Blues do not have "a specific transfer target". That can't be serious. We're crying out for a new centre-half. Leaving successful teams to go stale by not adding quality reinforcements in close seasons has been our downfall before.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Transfer And Friendlies Update

Not much news to report.

In: none.

Out: Gregg Shannon -- Crusaders
Mark Magennis -- Dungannon Swifts


David Scullion (though Glentoran and Newry City are sniffing around him)
Mark McAllister (possibly in a swap for Timmy Adamson)
Steve Harkness (approach made, but signed a new 1-year deal with Kidderminster)
Sam Morrow (Hibs striker, no concrete news as yet)

On the friendlies front, the news is none-too optimistic either, with most attractive opposition unavailable due to us having such an early season start with Champions League qualifiers coming so soon.

Newbuldings away
TNS (Wales) home
Bangor away

Not much to whet the appetite.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Nostalgia Time

When back home in May, I came across a old programme. It was from the Linfield - Portadown 92/93 league game, our last game of the season. Effectively, we had won the league the week before with a come-from-behind win versus the Glens at the Oval, and these are what most of the black and white blurry (sorry, no scanner, just a digital camera) pictures here show.

I don't remember too much about this team and trophy win, even though I must have been at the game, must have been from the 91/92 season...

However, these photos bring back a lot of happy memories. This was Anderson's first league win, and he took over as manager from Bowyer at JUST the right time, any later and it would have been too late to win the league. I loved this title run-in, our team wasn't really good enough at the time, imo, but we showed a lot of guts, Anderson moulded them into a team, and made some inspired loan signings in Dessie Gorman, Martin Bayly, (not so inspired) Geoff Twentyman [oh, and Graeme Harvey, how could I forget? Cheers MB].

You can just see in one of those photos Dessie converting a penalty away to Ballyclare at Dixon Park on Easter Tuesday. I was at that match, and will never forget it, someone threw an apple onto the pitch from the shed on the side we were on, Dessie picked it up, took a bite and then threw it back off again! Classic.

Anyway, enjoy...

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Contract Update

The following players received new contracts for next season:

Noel Bailie 1 year
Steven Douglas 1 year
Stephen Garrett 1 year
Glenn Ferguson 1 year
Aidan O'Kane 2 years
Tim McCann 1 year

Personally, I'm not sure about the last three. I'd have given O'Kane 1 year, for me, he's only a replacement at best at both LB and LM; I don't think McCann is good enough, and I'm sure there must be a better LB out there; and I'd have let Ferguson go, or just given him some kind of coaching position. I'm surprised Garrett signed a new contract. It's clear that DJ loves Ferguson and pretty much played him every time he was fit last season, except for the Setanta games (and then played him in the final, shitting on the admirable Tommy Stewart from a great height) and will probably continue to do so next season, leaving the ambitious Garrett as continuing to be minimum fifth-choice striker at the Park, behind Ferguson, Thompson, Stewart, Dickson (sixth if we count Adamson). I think playing Ferguson will hold good ambitious strikers at our club back, and I can only hope DJ resists Spike's ego and makes good on his alleged promise to make Tommy Stewart one of our 2 main centre-forwards next season, otherwise I can see Tommy going elsewhere, something we will regret in the medium to long term.

Mark Magennis was released by the club after struggling for fitness, and Greg Shannon had a tranfer request accepted. Best of luck to both for the future, and hope the former doesn't come back to haunt us...

In other news, Winkie Murphy and Paul MacAreavey were arrested by Spanish police for bieng in possession of counterfeit Euros while on a stag do. Not good news.

On the dark side, another comedy week, as Glenturd appointed a new manager, only to turn around 2 days later and tell him he wasn't their new boss after all, as he didn't have the necessary coaching badges, and Glenturd couldn't have entered Europe with him in charge; so they've appointing inexperienced first-team coach Allan McDonald as their new manager instead. Happy days, you really couldn't make this stuff up!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Another One Bites The Dust

This week saw the demise of Paul Millar, Glentoran's ill-starred manager, the second manager David Jeffrey has seen off in 15 months.

Millar's tenure, in Linfield fans' eyes, will be remembered for the following:

1. "We scored one, we scored two, we scored 6 more goals than you"
2. The 2-1 2006 Cup final win to complete the Clean Sweep, the first time we'd beaten the Glens in the Cup Final since 1945.
3. Various rants and foolish boasts in the local press, suggesting that there had been a sea change in IL football, that the IFA sponsored Linfield, etc etc.
4. Dodgy allegations regarding his private life.
5. The 'Ask yer ma' rant at a Glentoran fan at Distillery.
6. This classic video, including the immortal line 'Our main aim this season was to stop Linfield winning the Clean Sweep, and we've done that':

DJ's record against Millar should have been better, the 0-0 at Windsor in the league at the tail end of the 05/06 season was the first match I can remember where the Glens failed to register a single shot on target; though I thought we were lucky on Boxing Day 2006. Millar's solitary win was on penalties in the semi-final of the CIS last season; it was to be his last.

Here's the record:

DJ: P9 W4 D4 L1 F17 A 8

28/02/06 SC (a) 3-3
03/04/06 SC (h) 6-0
15/04/06 IL (h) 0-0
06/05/06 ICF (n) 2-1

07/11/06 LC (h) 0-0 (3-4 pens)
26/12/06 IL (h) 1-1
05/03/07 SC (h) 1-1
14/04/07 IL (a) 2-1
17/04/07 SC (a) 2-1

Millar will be missed by Bluemen. The Glens were a mess with him at the helm.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Setanta Sports Cup Final 2007, Linfield - Drogheda


Linfield 1 - 1 Drogheda (Drogheda win 4-3 on penalties)

Windsor Park, Belfast, 12th May 2007.

So it turned out to be a game too far for the Blues, as they played their second 120 minutes of football in a week and finally ended up gallant losers to the Drogs, who won their second Setanta in a row.

I managed to listen to it in the end, thanks to the highly entertaining LMFM of Drogheda, their 2 commentators were like crackerjacks and kept ILF members highly amused all match. Smurf also did a great job in his last and unfortunately losing outing as live web updater.

To be honest, from what I could hear, Drogheda deserved it. I don't remember us having a shot on goal in the first half, whereas Alan Mannus was in world-class form, saving us on countless occasions; the woodwork and some close shaves also saved us in the first period.

Sure enough, we scored with our first worthy shot on goal, headed in by Maccers after Winkie had nodded back an O'Kane corner. We continued to ride our luck and eventually, two Drogs substitutes combined for Tony Grant, a former thorn in Linfield's side, to turn and shoot past Mannus for the equaliser. We were much more in it in the second half and in extra time, amazing considering it was our 53th game of the season, and Dickson had a good chance, but neither side could score, so it went to penalties.

We took the penalties first:
Ferguson SCORED
Mouncey SCORED
Dickson MISSED

Whereas Drogs only missed their first. So they walked away with the prize and the big money. Linfield fans, superb throughout, gave the Drogs a deserved standing ovation.

Well done Drogheda. Well done Linfield. Another great season in which you have done yourselves and the Irish League proud. It just wasn't quite enough tonight. We'll have to make do with a Double (Double).

Sometimes It's Hard To Be An Exile...

This is something I'm sure those Bluemen in Oz, NZ, England and elsewhere can empathise with. Today, Linfield play in the final of the Setanta Sports Cup. It's always frustrating when you can't be there in person to roar on the boys in Blue, as I was luckily able to do last weekend. (In fact, I should have stayed at home for a week longer and pulled a sickie, as I hardly had any hours of work this week and was actually ill, but I'm trying not to think about that right now).

For the exile, therefore, there remains few channels of communication open to them to keep in touch with live events during games:

- Text updates of course are the most direct way, but they're expensive and intermittent.

- Watching the game on Setanta Sports would be a possibility; except Setanta Ireland is scarcely available outside Ireland, and a no-no in Berlin.

- Watching a live stream via a service such Live Football Online is sometimes possible, but hard cash needs to be stumped up in advance.

- Live radio coverage is the most frequent option, but for some reason Radio Ulster only broadcast RU FM online, and this rarely has live football coverage, especially not evening games nor Cup Finals. This is a particular pet hate of mine, and I have complained about it on more than one occasion, only to get this response:

F/M is our premier service which is why it is used online. There are occasions when we switch, but with Sport we sometimes only obtain M/W rights, instead of F/M.

Today, there are no listings for the Setanta Final, some Gaelic language programme is scheduled for the time of the second half, so that option is ruled out. Of course, it's easy to point out that Radio Foyle provide much better coverage for Derry City in all competitions, but that's another beef for another day.

Which leaves us with the Godsend that is Smurf, the Linfield official site and his invaluable live updates. Plus the input of those fans in NI watching the game on TV and reporting back on ILF (esp Glentoran Oldie, who posts up the goals etc almost immediately after).

It's far from ideal, but there's no other option open to us. Not even any Drogheda Radio station is broadcasting the game. I know it's the final of a cup sponsored by a rival broadcaster, but I think it's a joke that the BBC and UTV give this essentially all-Ireland Champions decider such criminal coverage.

Such is the lot of the neglected exile :(

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Classless FC

Unnoticed by many, but not the greater ILF community, was the presence of various Glentoran players at the Irish Cup Final on Saturday. No problem with that, you might say, and normally I'd agree. But what if the Glentoran player in question was a half-time PITCH INVADER? To wit (thanks to aquascrotum for the pics):

The evidence is tenuous enough, but Glenmen have confirmed that it was their left-back, Kyle Neill, was dressed as Osama for a bit of 'zany' 'japery'. In addition, Bluemen were warned that Neill, his drinking buddy Gary Hamilton and their clique had something like this planned, a week in advance, so it was most definitely not a case of drunken hi-jinks.

The action itself was harmless enough, one of the three came up to the Bluemen in the Kop and bared his ass, but most just found it funny. That's not the point, though. It just shows the depths to which Glentoran FC, aka Classless FC, have plunged.

Can you imagine an opposing player from any other league in the world staging a pitch invasion at the nation's premier footballing occasion? John Arne Riise bouncing onto Wembley next weekend at half-time during the Chelsea-United match and running around with a mask on? And even worse, getting away with it? As yet, no statement from Glentran has been forthcoming. Then again, that's no surprise from a club that allows its manager to say to HIS OWN SUPPORTERS 'Ask yer ma' when questioned about what's going wrong with the team, and who has a whole score of embarrassing actions this season alone.

What's even funnier though, is that Neill, or one of his cronies, find nothing wrong with what they did, in fact, think they lit up the cup final and did their club no harm in the process! To wit, here is Neill/a pal of Neill's on ILF, under the pseudonym of 'batman', defending himself:

lighten up you sound like a boring know it all!! the irish league needs a few characters! (i bet your some crack) so if it was neill well done, i was there it was brill!!!!!!!!!

9 pages on kyle Neill. All you guys should wise up. The cup final is always a bit of crack everyone there for a day out a drink and a laugh! so what if he runs about with mask on? hes got sum balls to do it anyway. i duno about you guys but i was in absolute tears laughing at the three nut cases! all you guys are just ones who dont like the windy millar set up. to tell ya the truth i think that was one of the funniest things this country has saw in a long time. go take a chill pill!

there was no harm done, no one was hurt and people laughed. Starting up another convo about getting children interested in football is a different matter and trying to use Kyle Neill as a scape goat is useless. Children will want to play football regardless. if you really wana get children involved in irish league football go set up irish league youth teams at all clubs not just the big 2. I do honestly think clubs in this country do nothing for the youth in this country, look at the way the GAA is set up and the following it gets!!!

Remember, this is a paid employee of Glentoran, representing Glentoran in public, who did this LIVE on TV. It gets better: he's officially injured at the moment, yet on Saturday, he had to leap a 2-metre moat to get onto the pitch! You couldn't make it up!

Pat McGibbon called Glentoran 'Ragarse Rovers' upon leaving them last season, and never has a description been more apt. Just to show you that such a lack of class and notion of professionalism runs right throughout the club, here's a picture of the Glens management signing their sponsorship contract with Danepak:

And this went on their official site! Classless FC - Always In Our Shadow.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Irish Cup Final 2007, Linfield - Dungannon Swifts

Windsor Park, Belfast, May 5th 2007
Linfield 2 Dungannon Swifts 2 (Linfield win 3-2 on penalties)

Phew. That was a bit close. Apparently a great game for the neutrals, but I was a bit disappointed with our performance. We took an early lead through Mark Dickson, but then took the foot off the pedal, Dungannon deservedly equalised after an apparent error by Mannus, his clearing header landing right at the feet of Hamill, who slotted it into the empty net; to be honest, there wasn't too much that Tino could do after Ervin lost possession. Ferguson put us ahead again with a turn and shot on the left, I thought it looked a weak effort and their keeper should have got it, then shortly after, a free-kick from just outside the area levelled things; this time, I thought Mannus was at fault, he went down VERY slowly and should have stopped it.

After that, it was more or less all Linfield, but some criminal finishing and wonderful keeper from my MOTM meant no further goals.

So it was onto the lottery of penalties. I usually can't watch, after bad previous experiences (Gillingham play-off 99 springs to mind), but after we missed our first two penalties (Ervin and Stewart the culprits) and they scored theirs, I thought fu ck it, and watched. Cue the comeback, Ferguson, Dickson and McShane slotted home, and McAllister's kick was saved by Mannus, who turned from villain to hero. I actually missed the last penalty, as I was trying to help a guy who had fallen from the top tier over the wall down onto the steps. He was wrote, but he must have shattered his shoulder. It was a disgrace that no stewards were in the stand, and that it took so long for help to arrive.

Jamie Mulgrew was awarded man of the match, and I thought he was brilliant, running the midfield and driving the Blues forward, but I thought wee Jim Ervin was outstanding, tackling well and getting forward and linking up with Dicko.

The celebrations continued long into the night in the bar below the Viewing Lounge, then in the Edinburgh club. Yet again I fell asleep, but fortunately a lot later than last year... a big thanks to all the ILFers I met and had a drink or 10 with.

Match Highlights

DJ acting the eejit again

The cup being presented

The Dungannon fans in the North Stand

South Stand

Kop Stand

Exile's banner

South Stand banners and flags

The mother of all banners

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Linfield 1-0 Cork City

Setanta Sports Cup semi-final

Windsor Park, 30th April 2007.

We're through to another final! Our second Setanta final in 3 years of the competition, at home to Drogheda on May 12th.

And boy did we mug them! Have a look for yourselves (thanks to Glentoran Oldie for copying the highlights):

Monday, April 30, 2007

Linfield From Afar - (h) vs Crusaders, IPL, 28.04.07

I thought it was time to start a new blog about my obsession with all things Linfield FC. I'll start off with a few videos of the 2006/7 Champions. First, the manager DJ leading a singsong on the pitch. No doubting his passion, but a bit cringeworthy nonetheless:

And again in the bar afterwards:

And here's the trophy presentation:

Plenty more photos, videos and scans coming soon.