keresaspa: (Robb Wilton)
I mentioned a previous excursion to the Diamond in Rathcoole on here a couple of years back and, once again, a visit to the match there today ended in another abandonment. Admittedly this one was rather less dramatic as, rather than a pitched battle between the two sides today's was on safety grounds after a Barn United player accidentally caught a ferociously struck clearance right in the face and was knocked spark out, prompting the two managers to eventually agree that the 70 odd minutes played would do and the result could stand. Ambulance and everything, so good luck to the lad.

Still it was a slightly anti-climactic ending to my own season as, so far as I can see, this will be my last game of the season before the summer shutdown. Having attended 57 games as a live spectator I'm one short of equalling my record but it's still a good return, encompassing 33 different grounds, including first ever visits to Dixon Park in Belfast, the Old Spotted Dog in London, Adie Moran Park in Bury, Plumpton Park in Bradford, Pennypit Park in Prestonpans, Ainslie Park in Edinburgh and of course Central Park in Cowdenbeath, a place that I'll be keen to get back to ASAP, even if relegation happens. There was also long overdue returns to Tynecastle and the Oval, both of which had been missed these last few years, as well as Houston Park and Aircraft Park, neither of which have. I even managed my first taste of European football since 1996 watching Bayern Munich destroy poor old Hibernian in the Women's Champions League.

I was perhaps a little less attentive with regards to following Donegal Celtic as I missed a couple of home matches for various reasons (something I haven't done in a few years) and largely eschewed any away games that were outside of easy access. I'm still trying to figure out why that was the case - perhaps my legendary love of the underdog means that a season of comparative success and being one of the big fish in the tiny pond of the Premier Intermediate League hold less appeal than the struggles of the last few years. Who knows?

Either way it has been a productive season all round for yours truly although, for once, I'm rather prepared for a few weeks away from it all and am not dreading the summer the way I usually do. Check in with me in a fortnight or so to see if that's still the case (I doubt it very much) but for now 2016-17 can be put to rest with a fond farewell and I can put my feet up for a while.
keresaspa: (Percy Sugden)
It has often been stated that, had it not been for the 1964 betting scandal, Nobby Stiles would not have played in the 1966 World Cup but rather his place as the hard-tackling midfield destroyer would have been taken by Everton's Tony Kay, one of those to be banned in the aftermath of the gambling-based naughtiness. Well, having seen them all first-hand I can guarantee that there was no Nobby Stiles amongst their number, but it's still something of a shock that the five men suspended in local football's latest betting scandal are all known to me personally, having been five of the seemingly never-ending slew of players to have made the move from Donegal Celtic to Crewe United these last few years. Ciaran Burns, a talented defender with an eye for a goal, bug-eyed full back Paddy Fox, one of the heroes of that last-day survival job at Loughgall, Ciaran Carson, a stocky ball-of-rage and regular captain in midfield (and probably the most Stiles-like of them all), Pearse Devine, a midfield maestro who still follows me on Twitter and Michael Henderson, about whom I admittedly remember very little, all banned for betting against their own team in what was probably the biggest match in Crewe United's history. Silly boys and a terrible waste for five players who still had plenty to contribute. Fortunately it was after they had all left DC so it will have no impact on our ultimately failed attempt to gain promotion but it's a real shame and further evidence of what a fundamentally destructive gambling really is.
keresaspa: (Seagull)
A very early kick-off for Donegal Celtic in Ballyclare today conspired to deny the chance to attend their match for the second week running. But Saturday football has become such an ingrained habit now that it simply must be and so I searched around for an alternative. DC were in action in the truly pointless Steel and Sons Cup, a competition for the worst League and best non-league clubs from (approximately) counties Down and Antrim so, glancing at the fixtures I decided a half two kick-off between Glentoran Under-20s and Dundela in that competition would satisfy my requirements.

I have no particular love for Glentoran but they have one asset that appeals and that is their home ground, the Oval. Housed in the back streets of east Belfast, deep in the heart of UVF territory, it's a big, ramshackle, decrepit old ground that gives off the vibe of being really rather unsafe. But I love it and reckon it's everything a football ground should be. When the first team are at home it can get pretty raucous but for me it's best appreciated when the reserves are playing and there is an eerie calm to the place.

And so )


Aug. 6th, 2016 08:44 pm
keresaspa: (Percy Sugden)
All things considered it has been a peculiar close season. It is normal that in an even year I find the break more bearable thanks to televised tournament football but the Euros largely passed me by this time for some reason and indeed not since the 1994 World Cup (when I was still in my painful teenage intellectual phase, trying to force myself to hate football - worra wanker) have I paid so little attention to a finals. Happen regularly attending live matches has ruined the TV version for me, maybe it's a general distaste for the overpaid multimillionaires that populate the sport or it could be that as my distaste for "patriotism" gets worse with age national team football has rather lost its appeal. Either way, didn't really get into it and the conclusion, with a very limited group of moaners and cheats in Portugal winning, seemed apt somehow.

Still today marked a return (of sorts) to genuine competitive football locally. Due to certain personal circumstances and an unwritten rule I have that I don't leave the confines of Greater Belfast for a pre-season friendly I have missed the entirety of Donegal Celtic's build-up and instead have had to content myself with, apart from my previously discussed London escapades, matches at Cliftonville, Crusaders, Immaculata, Harland & Wolff Welders and Dunmurry Rec. Glamour doesn't begin to describe it. I even managed just after last season to squeeze in my first and only women's match, as I watched Cliftonville and Newry City's ladies teams play out a 2-2 draw at a standard of football that could charitably be called basic. To be fair one of the goals was good and there are some fine female footballers about (the girl Marta for instance) but our local version? Oy! In saying that I might well go again given the chance as you can't fault their commitment and you get in for nitto.

But today it was back to the real deal. Well, sort of. The top division began today but I didn't fancy any of them so I opted for a League Cup match between the PSNI and Banbridge Town. Bad idea. What a pile of rubbish it really was. The filth were a bunch of leaden-footed cloggers, stomping about like Uncle Oojah whilst Banbridge tried to cover up their complete lack of skill by being the biggest bunch of niggling, gamesmanship-driven moaning minnies you've ever encountered. Seven notes to get in and they don't even offer you a cup of char. ACAB. That and the long, narrow and pavement-free road up to their ground could, I felt, have been a bit more dangerous as there were actually a few seconds when I didn't think I was about to get ran over by the passing traffic.

But I mustn't grumble. I'll finally get back to my own lads as DC face Dundela next Saturday in the first game of the league campaign and, handily enough, old Wilgar Park is nobbut a cockstride away (well, three miles but that's nowt to a slender chap like me). Close season has been quite the slog and my first game back was less than auspicious but getting back to the ones that I know and the team that is mine should make it all worthwhile. Hopefully.

2015 thing

Jan. 1st, 2016 09:03 pm
keresaspa: (Lester and Eliza)
Two days running? God, it's been years since that sort of rot. Anyway:

1. What did you do in 2015 that you'd never done before?
Left the Atlantic Archipelago (that's British Isles to you imperialists).

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Never do, never will.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Two of the Donegal Celtic mob died - one from cancer, the other took his own life. To be honest though I didn't know either of them that well.

5. What countries did you visit?
France, Scotland and England. I actually visited a personal best of 24 towns and cities this year, with Larne, Newry, Dun Laoghaire, Banbridge, Paris and Dunfermline all new to me.

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?
Cash on demand, same as every year.

7. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I'm very stereotypically male about remembering dates so none.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

9. What was your biggest failure?

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Usual haemochromatosis plus my vertigo has kicked into overdrive to the point where massive turns are now a daily occurrence and some can last for several hours. I've started having the odd fall as well.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
As noted recently, Mirel Wagner albums.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Oh, you're all great.

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Here's a shock - Sinn Fein. I'm not sure if I mentioned that at any time last year.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Music as ever. Trips and that too I suppose.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Don't be silly.

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?
"The Road and the Miles to Dundee" by Jim Reid And The Foundry bar Band or "Pasties and Cream" by Brenda Wootton. Neither are available online though so I can't link to them (is it just me or has YouTube removed about half of its music videos in the last week or so?).

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? about the same
b) thinner or fatter? ditto
c) richer or poorer? ditto

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Nothing in particular.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Again, nothing springs to mind.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
It's already over so....

21. What was your favourite month of 2015?
No idea. August maybe.

22. Did you fall in love in 2015?
Don't be daft.

23. How many one-night stands?
Mind your own business.

24. What was your favourite TV programme?
I've pretty much given up on TV these days. I don't even bother watching the football on Saturday nights sometimes any more.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
I don't think so, although my opinion of Simon Danczuk is really starting to harden.

26. What was the best book you read?
No idea. Been mostly short stories and non-fiction this year. Of the former William Beckford's "Vathek" was probably the best.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Mirel Wagner, as discussed yesterday.

28. What did you want and get?
A new article to get published in When Saturday Comes (in shops 14th January).

29. What did you want and not get?
The new Extreme Noise Terror album, although a copy is winging its way to me from Germany. I'll believe it when I get it and not before as it's fast becoming the new "Things may Come and Things May Go, But the Art School Dance Goes on for Ever" for me.

30. What was your favourite film of this year?
I think I saw a total of two films on TV this year (Midnight Run on ITV Four one night and Despicable Me dubbed into French in Paris) and none in the cinema. Any interest I ever had in films has long since died off.

31. What did you do on your birthday?
Watched Nortel defeat Mossley 4-2 at the Mossley playing fields in the second round of the Border Regiment Cup. It was even less glamorous than it sounds.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
As ever, isn't this essentially the same as question six?

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?
I wouldn't. I haven't changed a lick of my image in years but to call it a "fashion concept" would be completely ludicrous. If pushed I'll go with "man who looks a lot older than he is dressing to his wrongly assumed age".

34. What kept you sane?
Assuming I am sane, then the match.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Demi Lovato. I may have the makings of a dirty old man. But come on, eh?!

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The quiet death of Irish republicanism and its rebirth as Tory collaborationism, all with the tacit approval of the victims of this development.

37. Who did you miss?
Cigs as ever.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
Can't think of anyone. I've not really met anyone new this year.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
"Poor old horse, he must die".


Jul. 17th, 2015 09:43 pm
keresaspa: (Reiko Ike)
Is this thing still on? Only one way to find out I suppose:

London )
keresaspa: (Jimmy Edwards)
Yesterday was spent on a wild goose chase of sorts, trawling out to Twinbrook on the off-chance of catching a match. When I got there, sure enough Glaston were indeed playing Sandy Row in the Brooke Activity Centre as promised (albeit with kick off fifteen minutes earlier than promised), but there was no access for spectators and so I was forced to watch it through a fence. Five minutes of that did me until I thought "swive this" and buggered off, content in the knowledge that even I'm not desperate enough to endure 90 minutes of the second tier of the South Antrim League. As such I must face the crushing reality that for me the football season is most likely over.

Still, I can't really complain I suppose because it has been a thrill ride if you like that sort of thing (which I do). 54 matches in all was a slight drop on last season's probably unmatchable total of 58 but it still represented a good haul of live football, starting on 28th June 2014 with Crusaders playing Airbus UK Broughton in a friendly and ending last Saturday with Brantwood wrapping up the Ballymena and Provincial League campaign with a 4-3 win over Newtowne. During the course of the season I witnessed 187 goals (give or take one or two when I got distracted) and visited 28 grounds including first ever trips to Holm Park in Armagh, Inver Park in Larne, Celtic Park in Glasgow, Dennyfield in Bradford, Imperial Fields in London and New Victoria Park in Newtongrange as I endeavoured to spread my tentacles into Britain a bit more.

There were good times and bad times. For the bad times I will do well to forget: a Monday night hammering for Donegal Celtic up in the mountains of Knockbreda in the League Cup in August; an undeserved 1-0 defeat at Harland & Wolff Welders soon afterwards (the first of many matches where DC played well but still lost); the horrors of Islandmagee the following Saturday where the crowd have to be the biggest load of agrestic, ugly, bigoted, small-minded shitkickers I've ever had the misfortune to encounter; the futile attempt to get a bus from Celtic Park whilst having to wait with all the drunks in Glasgow; the near funeral atmosphere at Seaview whenever Newington were playing and their three supporters turned up; and hearing a home side committee member refer to their only black player as "the N*gger" at Shankill United a few weeks ago. But then there are always the highs: the aforementioned Crusaders-Airbus match when anything would have done to break the monotony of no football but where they contrived to serve up a 3-3 thrill-ride; the 3-1 win at Newforge Lane the day after my birthday when a DC promotion challenge seemed a possibility; being the last man standing at Dundela when the rest of the travelling support deserted a 3-1 defeat during which DC were forced to play in a late 90s Carrick Rangers away kit; the crazy atmosphere at Armagh City, again despite defeat; the traditional ball-freezing conditions at the annual post-Boxing Day beano that is the Border Regiment Cup final; my annual day out to Paisley Park to see Albert Foundry; getting fed like a fighting cock in the boardroom at Bangor; my annual day out to The Diamond to see Rathcoole; seeing Colin Valley destroy 18th Newtownabbey OB 8-1 at Valley Park having attended the reverse fixture earlier in the season and been unimpressed by the toxic atmosphere 18th had created at their ground; and of course, above all, the final day at Lakeview Park, Loughgall when, against the odds, DC stayed up.

So, barring a minor miracle (rumours abound of a match next week in Portadown, although I'm not sure I want to shell out the fare just for a Mid Ulster League match, whilst there may be play-offs) the football season is now over in terms of my live attendance. Until the final week in June (hopefully) or the first week in July (hope not) I am forced to find something else to fill in the gaping maw of ennui that is Saturday afternoon, something made all the worse by the year ending in an odd number. If I really start to lose the thread I may have to bite the bullet and take in a couple of Wednesday night Women's League matches at Seaview and/or Solitude but we'll cross that bridge when we can to it. Until then, so many memories and roll on next year.


Apr. 26th, 2015 03:17 pm
keresaspa: (Ben Turpin)
I had already accepted that relegation for Donegal Celtic was a reality, even if I had claimed otherwise in my previous post. Survival required DC to be Loughgall away and for the PSNI to fail to beat Larne. The former seemed a reasonable assumption given that Loughgall had nothing to play for but neither did Larne so the latter seemed unlikely. Sure enough, whilst DC easily took care of a disinterested Loughgall 3-0, the PSNI eventually took the lead in their match to ensure the inevitable drop.

Or so it seemed until, in the 87th minute, news filtered through that Larne had equalised. Such a combination meant survival but the nerves were frayed as another goal for the PSNI would change things again. The Larne match apparently had some injury time as the wait seemed like forever but in the end, against the odds, DC had done enough and avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth. To say that the scenes were chaotic is an understatement but the relief was palpable as a crazy day ended in an unexpected triumph.

The inevitable uncertainty now follows, with several players expected to leave in the summer for pastures new, but for now the elation of yesterday remains and I may even have to scale back my hitherto discussed hatred of Larne given their hand in it all. It was eleventh hour stuff and no mistake but who cares - we are staying up!
keresaspa: (Tinker's rucksack)
I'm nothing if not a man of my word so I can't get into the reasons behind this but I just have to say that Track Records in Ballymena is undoubtedly the finest independent music shop I've ever encountered and it is ran by two of the finest blokes on earth. If you ever find yourself down Ballymena way get in there post haste and support that wonderful place. Had to get the off my chest, folks.

Tomorrow meanwhile will be spent, as is often my wont, at the Suffolk Road home of Donegal Celtic. This time however it will come with the extra piquancy of the club facing down the spectre of relegation to the bottom division. Not so long ago DC had been comfortably ensconced in mid-table obscurity, with some even whispering about the possibility of moving onto the fringes of the promotion battle. But no more. In the ten league matches played in 2015 the lads have managed one win and, despite performances generally being good (a 6-2 home mauling off Harland & Wolff Welders excepted), they slipped into the relegation zone mid-week after PSNI won one of their games in hand.

As the situation stands we lie 13th out of 14 with two games to go. Mathematically everybody up to and including Knockbreda can still go down but realistically the Gestapo and Ballyclare Comrades are the only ones likely to be in touching distance. Tomorrow we face high-flying Carrick Rangers at home whilst the other two have each other. Carrick have gubbed us twice already this season and I expect them to make it three tomorrow and if that happens even a draw for Ballyclare will be enough to see them safe. The Filth meanwhile have another game midweek, although the only silver lining is they too must face the mighty Carrick Rangers, who are surely due a promotion back to their more natural surroundings of the Premiership.

There isn't a way that we can be formally relegated tomorrow although if results go against us it may end up being a mere formality. To have a realistic hope of survival DC need an unlikely result against the Rangers tomorrow, either a draw or preferably a win. Being one of life's pessimists I hold out little hope and I've already rationalised the positives of relegation (we'll get to visit new and different grounds, admission prices will be lower, we'll get a genuine local derby with Sport & Leisure, we won't be the only all amateur concern so we might actually have a chance, etc.) but if you could keep my little club in mind tomorrow between 3 and 5 BST that would be nice. Here's to the great escape!
keresaspa: (Heckle and Jeckle)
A big boo to the Northern Ireland Football League who, for the second year running, have decided that Boxing Day derby matches should be the privilege of the top division and nobody else, with the rest of us having to settle for the usual humdrum of a Saturday afternoon. As if Boxing Day isn't a big enough waste of time was it is, the one possible escape has been removed by the league bean-counters, who it seems would be much happier to return to the one division structure with which they persevered for so long and for whom the teams below might as well not exist.

I did briefly toy with the idea of getting a ticket for Cliftonville-Crusaders anyway but the needless difficulties it involved precluded me in the end. I did take a run up to the Solitude last week but the club that claims to be the best run in Northern Ireland didn't bother having anybody there so it was a wasted trip, whilst their website tells me only that tickets could be purchased from their social club during "usual opening hours". Inevitably what these hours are is absent from said website so unless you live next door (which I don't) you just have to guess. Why is Northern Ireland so shite at the internet? I wouldn't mind, but theirs is actually one of the best in the league. Apart from anything, these last few years of following DC have hardened my attitudes towards Cliftonville so much that I would probably have been rooting for the Crues anyway.

So it seems Boxing Day will come and go without any football as there are no alternatives with the non-league shutting down until January (well, there's Linfield-Glentoran but I really don't fancy a UDA v UVF riot, thanks). As a consequence I will also miss the Border Cup final, traditionally played on 27th December, as it will clash with a full lower league programme and so I'll be in the wilds of Lambeg whilst it's on.

A job well done by the NIFL, with the supporters of 29 clubs denied their traditional Boxing Day derby thanks to your obsession with the top division at the expense of the others. What a bunch of idiots they really are.
keresaspa: (Cynthia of Witching Hour fame)
You may well remember that in the chaos that was summer 2013 Donegal Celtic forgot to apply to enter any cup competitions, such was the uncertainty about their future. With an altogether calmer close season this time out such oversights were not repeated and so on Saturday the club finally made their return to the Irish Cup fourth round with a home tie against Ballyclare Comrades (I checked, they were formed by ex-soldiers not fellow travellers).

Given that the local game decrees DC take part in five knockout competitions (League Cup, Steel & Sons Cup, County Antrim Shield, Irish Cup, Intermediate Cup) I'm generally rather blasé to the whole affair but that turned to outright hostility when I went to pay in and found that the usual admission price of a fiver had been bumped up to eight quid. Apparently the tie required the best referees that money could buy, meaning a nigh on tripling of ref fees to £590 and a 60% increase on the gate in an (ultimately failed) attempt to make up the difference. Sod that for a game of soldiers.

Inevitably given how much he cost the ref was, well, as crap as they always are. He booked DC players seemingly at random, didn't even book any Ballyclare Comrades players after a 22 man melee broke out, disallowed a perfectly good goal for reasons unknown and his linesman awarded a Ballyclare goal that was about three yards offside. The usual in other words. Mind you, DC only have themselves to blame for the eventual extra time defeat as they were 2-0 up at one point and had a penalty saved after an extremely tame effort. On balance Comrades were worth their 3-2 win and no amount of crap refereeing can disguise that fact. It was especially disappointing given that the week before the exact same match had happened in the league and DC had destroyed their south-east Antrim opponents 4-1.

C'est la vie, I suppose. If Irish Cup games are to mean an extra three knicker on the door then I'm not particularly bothered about going out of it. It'll also mean a couple of free weekends as, as much as I've enjoyed missing only one DC match all season (and even then I was in Bradford so it was unavoidable), I'm rather starting to experience withdrawal symptoms from the non-league fayre I also took in last season and so will relish the odd free Saturday to reacquaint myself with the delights of Paisley Park, Skegoneill Avenue, the Diamond, Good Shepherd Road and the rest. An Intermediate Cup tie away to Carrick Rangers awaits on Saturday (probably a defeat in that one too) before the first blank Saturday of the year and a chance to return to lower levels. After all, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without the Northern Amateur League, now would it?
keresaspa: (Cynthia of Witching Hour fame)
I've had my fingers burnt a fair bit in recent years by albums by ageing artists that I've hitherto enjoyed. 13 by Black Sabbath, Kate Bush's 50 Words for Snow, Leonard Cohen's Old Ideas and Hole's Nobody's Daughter (OK, Courtney is younger than that lot but with her hard-living she might as well not be) all proved very disappointing and soured me a tad on dabbling with the old 'uns still trying to do it. As such during my recent trip to Scotland I passed on by when, whilst dawdling in the Glasgow HMV, I came across a copy of a new album by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Given too that Browner has dabbled with some really rather poor electronic stuff down the years I was doubly put off and let it lie.

I thought no more about it until Saturday when, over an hour too early to venture forth and witness Donegal Celtic's latest defeat (an admittedly narrow effort to a Bangor team that look a decent bet for promotion), I decided to kill a few minutes in Head. Sure enough there it was, Zim Zam Zim by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and, after much deliberation, I succumbed and got the bloody thing. Well, colour me tickled pink because it turned out to be a belter. It's a lot more minimalist than the early classics and, inevitably given his roots as a soul singer, his voice is significantly weaker than it was but he's used that to his advantage, putting in a performance that combines his madcap antics with the worldly wisdom of age. Undoubtedly the high point is "The Unknown":

He may be looking like the love child of Catweazle and June Brown these days and I rather get the feeling that I would be very keen to get away if he sat beside me on the bus but, by jingo, he can still churn the goods out. Lemmy managed it last year with Aftershockand now Art has also shown how an old git album should be done. Brilliant stuff.
keresaspa: (Wil Cwac Cwac)
I believe I'm on record as being no fan of cricket as a sport. Never trust an Irishman who is, I always say. Or indeed anybody not from England, the Antipodes, the Subcontinent or that bit of Africa that likes it, come to think of it. But nevertheless there are times when even I can't ignore what I see. Today, for instance, after rolling in from the mountains where I watched DC draw 1-1 with Knockbreda in a match that, but for profligacy, they would have won six or seven to one, I turned on the increasingly ridiculously named Sky Sports News HQ to find out the other scores, only to be met with something called T20 Cricket instead. Aping the tomfoolery of North American sport, apparently the teams have silly names tacked on the end of county names. This one bore the regrettable moniker of Lancashire Lightning but even more regrettable was their choice of badge:

Now mayhap I'm being a paranoid leftie - and God knows it wouldn't be the first time - but for me that is pretty much a ringer of the following:

Really somebody has to tell them as I can't imagine for a second that Lancashire CCC deliberately chose to copy the emblem of the British Union of Fascists as their T20 logo (and if you take the version in the top left of this fascist site as the template then the similarity is even ore obvious). I know Mosley's sex fiend of a son is a big wheel in Formula One so had they done so I wouldn't be surprised but as far as I'm aware cricket is fairly clean of fascist association these days. Either way, very bad show chaps. Just not cricket in fact.
keresaspa: (Max Miller)

See that? That's me wanting the season to start, that is. As much as I enjoy watching Crusaders labouring to a 1-0 win over Harland & Wolff Welders because every other match in Belfast has been cancelled thanks to rain (yup, summer in Northern Ireland) I want the proper season as much as Yebin wants her ice cream.

Buoyed as I am by the fact that Donegal Celtic have won all five of their pre-season friendlies (admittedly against the hardly stellar line-up of Camlough Rovers, Ballynahinch Olympic, Immaculata, Colin Valley and Newry City) I am even of the mind that the team might actually do something this season. Inevitably that will fade as the postponements start to rack up and the team huffs and puffs its way through three matches a week (or the board decides it doesn't want promotion again) but for the time being I am uncharacteristically optimistic and await Saturday's jaunt to Carrickfergus on tenterhooks. Right now nothing short of a title win and two cups will be good enough although when it's all over I suspect a season on the fringes of the promotion hunt will just about satisfy. Either way, the sooner the better.
keresaspa: (Cynthia of Witching Hour fame)
It was probably a little silly of me to attempt two matches in one day, what with Belfast being in the grip of roadblocks caused by bicycles and slack-jawed gawpers incorporating torrential rain, but I decided to make the effort nonetheless. Ordinarily I would have been satisfied, or at least satisficed, with attending Sport & Leisure Swifts' crunch relegation decider in the afternoon but other things forced my hand. Saturdays in Belfast allow unlimited bus travel for two quid so I was excused walking duty but I was aware that the chaos was due to ensue once afternoon descended and so I resolved to get my bones out west as early as possible.

Inevitably bus travel was already a bit banjaxed with the hordes descending early and roads already getting blocked but by and by I made it to the salubrious environs of Poleglass, a huge sprawling housing estate (although some residents will tell you it's actually four or five small housing estates) sandwiched in between west Belfast and Dunmurry in a sort of no-man's land that is neither one thing nor t'other. An 11AM kick-off was the order of the day as advertised but when I arrived there was a half an hour wait on account of the visitors getting delayed in the roads melee. Nevertheless, despite the driving rain and the saturated nature of the pitch, Colin Valley reserves kicked off their match with their Bryansburn Rangers counterparts and before long it was raining goals as well as - well - rain. Valley took the lead in the first minute before Rangers took charge. They were 4-1 up at half time and it ended 5-2 in their favour, a shame as I have a bit of a soft spot for Colin Valley. But it's always good to see some goals for your trouble, I suppose. As a Division 3D Northern Amateur League match it is the lowest level of match I have attended and it also represented my third time watching a Bryansburn Rangers side this season. Total goals from the three matches - 23. Must try to catch them again next season.

After the appetiser (and a quick lunch that I just about had time to gobble down) it was time for the main course as I made my return to Glen Road Heights for the first time since November 2012. With my attentions firmly on DC, Sport & Leisure Swifts had fallen by the wayside but I still cocked the odd eye at their results and felt it was a shame how they were heading meekly out of the league. Then former DC manager Pat McAllister took over and, after a slow start, they dragged themselves up and going into the final match they needed a win to be guaranteed survival, having looked dead and buried about a month ago. A decent crowd by Swifts' standards had turned out to watch the crunch match against the mighty Chimney Corner (great name, pretty ropey club) and they were treated to a nervous, but wholly committed, display by the home team. Swifts' number 11 summed them up - a tiny man (5'4" if he was lucky) with little real skill but a bundle of energy who ran the feet of himself and was always after the ball. Their efforts were rewarded in the end as they took a narrow 2-1 to get the win they so needed. As it turned out it didn't really matter after all as their closest rivals, Killymoon Rangers, were roasted by Tobermore United and so will be relegated but the sense of relief in the home ground was palpable and I must admit I got caught up in it a bit myself, notwithstanding the presence of rather distracting nuisance children running wild. Not what you want when you're already a bath of nerves.

One more match awaits as I'll be up at Brantwood on Tuesday night cheering on yet another of the minor teams that I sympathise with as they attempt to beat Dollingstown and secure a long overdue return to the league in place of Killymoon. Still, barring a minor miracle, that's my lot for Saturday matches until the pre-season friendlies get going. Contemplating what I'm going to do with Saturday afternoons when my last blank weekend was in early July is giving me the cold sweats but for now I would prefer to look back on a grand year of 57 matches following DC and beyond. Ah, there's nothing like it. Roll on next season.
keresaspa: (Finlayson)
And so it ends just as it began, with an unexpectedly competent display in east Antrim. But where Donegal Celtic began the season with a creditable draw after a tumultuous summer, they finished up with an unlikely 4-3 win in the effulgent seaside sun over high-flying Billy big-times Carrick Rangers. That a team that was right in the battle for promotion until last week could be on the end of a 4-1 scoreline spoke of the ability and dedication of DC's young tyros, although that it ended up 4-3 spoke equally of the fragility of the side.

As seasons went this was certainly an eventful one. After that early promise the club, robbed of all their experienced players and relying on a scratch team of unpaid youth players and cast-offs, struggled to make an impact, falling down the table until that glorious day in late September when Coagh United were dispatched 6-1. With the club finding some stability home form took an upturn, albeit with the away results mostly making grim reading, until a fine win at Harland & Wolff Welders hinted at a renewed resurgence on the road.

Then came the gap. A combination of not being in any of the cups and rain (and the state of the pitch is still an issue that needs to be obviated) meant that the club went into virtual hibernation for the winter months. Two matches in December, one each in January and February, were the sum total of winter action, a depressing quirk given that we had a snow-less winter. Beating Loughgall away at the end of February hinted that it mightn't matter but inaction took its toll and a full programme of sorts in March saw only one point gained. Successive home defeats (5-0 and 3-0) at the start of April made the spectre of a second successive relegation a very real one as the club were reduced to using outfield players in nets due to an injury crisis coupled with poor decision making (sending your back-up keeper out on loan is a daft idea at the best of times).

But then last Thursday the clouds broke as DC welcomed high rolling Dundela to Suffolk Road and promptly dispatched them 5-3 with a masterful display that arrived from nowhere and cheered the watching several after an extended period of malaise. Losing away at Coagh and a 6-1 shellacking from Ballyclare at home mattered not as survival had been secured and today's fun was simply the icing on the cake, a hard fought and well earned victory in the hostile environs of Taylor's Avenue as the boys cocked a truculent snook at the rest as if to announce in Lutheran tones "here we stand".

DC being DC means that there is bound to be further upheaval in the summer as uncertainty about the future ownership of the club means we are bound to start next season back on the rack. Nevertheless I'm strongly anticipating the restart as it has been a wonderful roller coaster ride this season in which I was an ever present at home and missed only five away matches (three in the middle of nowhere, one I couldn't get to and the Coagh game that I decided to sit out given safety had just been secured). The lower leagues have another fortnight to go and Brantwood have a play-off that I'll probably have a shufty at so the horror of close season isn't on me quite yet but my peregrinations with DC are over for this season. I'll be hoping for a better run next year but either way I expect I'll be there throughout and wouldn't want it any other way.

In my day

Apr. 19th, 2014 07:50 pm
keresaspa: (Corporal Jones)
Donegal Celtic's shock 5-3 win over Dundela on Thursday night ensured that, after a terrible recent run, the club were now effectively safe from relegation, barring a series of results so unlikely that the Grimms themselves would have rejected them as too far-fetched. As a result I was able to decline the opportunity of schlepping out to County Tyrone to watch them lose to Coagh United and stay more local. In the end I settled on Malachians v Kilmore Rec, a match that allowed me to tick off the Greencastle ground from my list of grounds in Greater Belfast to visit (only one to go now). A 3-0 win for Kilmore was the final result, something of a let-down as I always support the Belfast side in these instances but such is life.

Staying relatively local meant that I was able to have a brief look at the tail-end of what a couple of them were doing for Record Store Day. To be honest I'm not a huge fan of Record Store Day. For one, it uses the Americanism "store" rather than the correct "shop". For two, it encourages rarity for its own sake with its limited edition releases. And for three, I may be alone in this but I'm not a fan of music shops thronging with people as it does inhibit one's ability to examine the merchandise in whatever order one chooses.

As I think I mentioned recently Belfast has three independent music shops now. I was aware Dragon Records was hosting an acoustic session with some very boring singer-songwriter and, knowing how cramped it is in there at the best of times, I went there yesterday to pick up a copy of the recent Link-Absolutist split and gave it a miss today. I also stayed away from the recently opened Sick Records as I was also in there yesterday and their selection is far too hip for an old man like me. I did briefly pay a visit to Head but I didn't stick around. The prices of the limited edition stuff were making my eyes water (ten quid for a single?!) and none of it appealed to me much anyway. Meanwhile a disc jockey was blaring out loud techno and even as a youth that old rhubarb didn't appeal to me so I beat a hasty retreat, content to wait for a few days until it has quietened down a bit.

Surprisingly though HMV, who don't really qualify given their chain status, had the only promotion worth bothering about. No limited editions at stupid prices, rather they simply had 40% off all their vinyl for one day only. As I said before I'm not really a purchaser of new vinyl given the expense but I am at heart a skinflint so when a significant chunk is knocked off I am prepared to stump up. Carcass and GBH albums at a one-off knock-down price were enough to tempt me to part with some green. Quite why more music shops don't run similar one-off deals instead of getting caught up in the whole "it's an album you already own but it's on green vinyl so you have to buy it and never listen to it" crap is beyond me (and alas I didn't make it to the one day half-price sale at Track Records in Ballymena). A day that celebrates exclusivity and pointless gouging is not for me but give me a deal and I'm happy to get involved. Otherwise I'll be glad when they all get back to normal and you can have a bit of time to look in relative calm without gangs of hipsters standing on your toes and caterwauling indie no-marks bellowing in your earhole.
keresaspa: (Miki Sugimoto)
It's a right nuisance when a door handle gives way and suddenly it becomes impossible to close said door without a whole irritating rigmarole. Mind you, what makes it that little bit worse is when you remove half of the offending handle and you're left with a little man sticking his tongue out at you.

It is, I'm informed, a broken spring in the handle although I have neither a replacement nor circlip pliers to hand and so a trip to the locksmith/door handle shop will be required. Expect brown warehouse coats, unintelligible jargon and air being sucked in through teeth immediately prior to the quoting of ridiculously high prices. All this in a week when I have to find time to squeeze in two evening matches up at Donegal Celtic. Lousy minor setbacks.
keresaspa: (Dora-Kai Lan-Kitty)
As night follows day so it is inevitable that the weekend brings rain and, whilst I for one avoided its brutal onslaught as it fell overnight, nevertheless it rent its path of destruction and brought about the inevitable postponement of the latest in a long line of Donegal Celtic home matches to fall at the altar of precipitation. Mind you, a light drizzle cancels matches up the Suffolk Road nowadays and my mind is boggling at just when they're actually going to finish their programme at this rate. Heck, if the club weren't poorer than a church mouse's bankrupt uncle I would suggest leaving the old place to its fate and seeking alternative accommodation but that's about as likely as Alka Yagnik deigning to become my good lady wife so the cycle of rain-postponement-rain-postponment will continue.

Still, I did have an alternative as my old friends Albert Foundry were at home and, given that they play on a high elevation grass pitch, weather causes little concern for them (in direct contrast to DC, whose pitch is grass and is located at a high elevation). I knew that today the challenge that awaited them was Dromara Village, a little club from the wilds of County Down, about twenty miles straight up the road from me. So far this season I had yet to have the pleasure of watching Dromara in action, despite my peregrinations, but I had heard the rumours and read some of the results - an 8-1 home defeat from Foundry, 12-0 away to Ards Rangers, 6-0 against an otherwise hapless Islandmagee. So as I approached Paisley Park in the dear old Highfield estate today I did so with two results in my mind: East Belfast 0-6 Derriaghy and Colin Valley 5-4 Bryansburn Rangers, the biggest win and highest aggregate scores I had ever seen. Could they be outstripped?

Well, stone the crows, for no sooner had the match kicked off than Dromara took the lead. As occurrences went it was right up there with the time Iain Duncan Smith experienced pity in the shock stakes but it galvanised Foundry into action and soon they swept. A goal was ruled out unfairly for offside before they genuinely equalised and then ran riot, racing into a 5-1 lead after 25 minutes and going in 6-1 up at half time. Frankly it was a painful watch at times. Dromara were even worse than I could have imagined, second to every ball, passing back to Foundry on the rare occasions when they did get the ball and unable to perform even the most basic of football stuff. That they appeared to be playing with five defenders instead of the more usual four made it even worse, as the Foundry players swarmed like skaven on a dwarven stronghold (were said stronghold made of bone china and straw and defended only by Jack Duckworth's pigeons). Had Foundry made three substitutions and brought on me, Professor Stephen Hawking and Misao Okawa Dromara still would have been ludicrously outclassed. I lost count of the number shots Foundry had but fifty would be a conservative estimate and the fact that they "only" managed an 8-1 win was as much due to their own profligacy as anything Dromara managed. In the end it became like the Christians and the lions and when the final whistle went it was a blessed relief that the lions finally swallowed the last bit of God-fearing gristle. Never in my life have I witnessed such a one-sided match and the sooner Dromara are relegated the better as this was a bit of a waste of time for both clubs. Mind you, the miser in me was satisfied as, having paid three quid to gain entry, I was paying only 33.33 recurring pence per goal and that's my idea of value.

So in all a fun diversion, even if a team of cardboard cutouts would have given Foundry about as much trouble as Dromara did. Derriaghy's record disappears as Foundry-Dromara is now the biggest kicking I've ever witnessed and the Colin Valley-Bryansburn goalfest is equalled. DC allegedly face Institute next week although there's every chance a passing roustabout may spit in the direction of DC Park, flooding the pitch beyond use in the process and thus forcing me to find more Amateur League thrills. If that's the case then more of the same please.


Mar. 8th, 2014 08:33 pm
keresaspa: (Diggory)
Butter my arse, but what an absolute pisser of a day that turned out to be. Gnash and stamp.

As yesterday was yet another in my catalogue of blood-lettings (getting mighty sick of that shite) I consoled myself with the thought that at least today I could return to the Suffolk Road and watch my first Donegal Celtic home game for the first time since last year. So off I set, nice and early by my own standards, full of the joys of spring on what proved a fine sunny day. I should have known something was going awry when I reached the town and saw yet another rumpus involving those fucking Nazi flag protest dickheads outside the City Hall who appeared to be in a tussle with a group looking to do something for International Women's Day (Socialist Party, hang your collective heads in shame for running like shite from a group of loyalists grannies and press-ganged children). Still it was all good and I headed off to the west, decamping at the bottom of the Suffolk Road as I fancied a bit of stroll. As I passed Falcarragh Drive (about five minutes from the ground) I thought "must have a look at the phone", as I generally ignore the blasted thing on a Saturday. What do I find therein - a collection of messages informing me about early morning shenanigans, culminating in a "match off" text. So there I stood in the middle of nowhere, twenty minutes off three o'clock, only to discover I had got my run for nothing. Bollocks! My own fault in a way obviously as I should have checked the phone before leaving but I'm still mystified as to how a pitch can be waterlogged when we've had hardly any rain. Honest to God, they couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery up there! It's getting to the point where I don't expect to see any more home matches this season because if the pitch is unplayable on a day like that then it'll never be usable again. Why are my anxieties about DC going out of business resurfacing, I wonder?

Reliant as I am on public transport it took me the guts of an hour to get across town to Seaview, more on the off-chance that there might be something going on there rather than with any foreknowledge. Still, Seaview being Seaview, of course there was a match on and, whilst I missed the first half hour due to the Metro bus service being a steaming pile of dogshite, I still was on time to see both goals as Crusaders reserves beat their Coleraine counterparts 2-0. It's strange to think that when [ profile] burkesworks accompanied me there in the summer it was my first visit to Seaview as I am now getting sick looking at the place, given that it is one of the few venues in the city capable of resisting a bit of drizzle. Actually scrub that as I'm not getting sick looking at it at all and am very thankful that it is always there and always has a match available when, as happens so often, one's own team lets one down.

I was out in such good time that I was able to pay a visit to the recently opened Sick Records on my way back. Nice little shop, if a bit hipster for my taste and I generally don't buy much in the way of new vinyl, given how stupidly overpriced it invariably is. Nevertheless their second-hand section, though small, was not without its charms and I was able to touch for a Conflict album and a compilation of Japanese psychobilly. Indeed they had a decent selection of psychobilly at competitive prices which I may well revisit. Classy too that they let you keep the plastic sleeves for your purchases although, given the price of those bloody things, I don't expect that to last too long. Either way, nice addition to the local scene. For breadth of choice I prefer Head (although their recent move seems to have brought about a thinning out of range and a general rise in prices), for good punk stuff and a chance to moan about illnesses I prefer Dragon and for a good old rummage through all sorts of mess and a bit of banter I prefer Track Records in Ballymena but I imagine I'll drop in from time to time and the more choice there is amongst independent music shops the better I suppose.

So not a total loss altogether but nevertheless I am frightfully cross with DC right now. Bloody gits!


keresaspa: (Default)

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