Monday, April 28, 2008

Crusaders 0 Linfield 3 - CHAMPIONS

Team: Mannus, Douglas (Lindsay 63), O’Kane, Murphy, Bailie, Kearney, Gault (Downey 75), McAreavey (Dickson 46), Mulgrew, Ferguson, Thompson
Linfield Subs not used : Curran, Stewart

Scorers: Ferguson 2, Dickson

Attendance: Approx 4000 (ca 3500 Linfield fans)

3-in-a-row Champions, but you would have hardly known it. A crowd that was more akin to a library public. A flat, do-the-minimum-possible-to-win performance against an average side, typical for this season (with notable exception of Spike's goal and the well-worked third). A shambles of a trophy presentation.

I'm not unhappy with the kids on the pitch, in a way it was a shame we actually won the league and got presented with the trophy on the same day.

I'm thoroughly fucked off with

a) the inordinate amount of time it took for the trophy to be presented, resulting in people/kids being over-impatient and wanting on the pitch sooner, meaning
b) the players had no way of getting through the throng to do a lap of honour, meaning I stood extra long behind the goal waiting for, ultimately, sweet FA. I couldn't even really see the trophy and get the chance to applaud the players. And OK, I was pissed off at not being able to give my inflatable hammer to the Dougster, a big empty head who would have appreciated it

The whole day was one huge damp squib, imo. Yes, I do realise I'm a miserable old fu cker who soon will occupy his rightful place in the South Stand, but the game was flat, we yet again did the bare minimum, third goal excepted, against a very ordinary side, the atmosphere was pathetic, it really was like a library at times, even when whispering, I could be heard by those around me, and the farce after the final whistle just summed it up.

HOWEVER. This team and era will go down in history, regardless of opposition and manner of victory. Well done to DJ and the whole squad and backroom staff, now go complete the job next week, make real history in a treble double, and I'll be able to have a proper celebration and hopefully get my hands on a trophy.

Great photos as ever on SSS from Thompo.

Poor quality match highlights here:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Jim Kerr – Out Of Touch, Out Of His Depth

I was present, for my first away trip to Dublin, at the St. Pat’s – Linfield match last night. We had a great day out, bus down with friends and acquaintances, a few shandies consumed, nice feed at the Carrickdale on the way, a good old singsong, an inadvertent tour of Dublin, stress-free walk to the ground, and a police escort to the motorway on the way home. In fact, from my perspective, the only bad thing about the day was the woeful performance of Linfield on the pitch.

Imagine my surprise when I learned on the way home, and when I got home, that there had been some trouble. Apparently there were a couple of minor scuffles outside the ground, during which 4 Linfield fans and 2 St. Pat’s fans were arrested. According to eyewitnesses, the Garda were demanding ID (bizarre) from a section of fans just before kick-off (most fans were long in the ground), started trying to confiscate Union flags and Ulster flags from said fans, during which an altercation ensued, leading to the Garda getting out the batons and being heavy-handed.

The Garda themselves dismissed the crowd trouble incidents as "minor public order disturbances", and said they were brought under control very quickly.

Not surprisingly, the press, never slow to put the boot into Linfield, where blowing things up. My beef here is not really with the press, I’ve come to expect nothing more of the weasels. However, I’d like to point something very briefly at this juncture before moving on: the blatant double standards employed by the media both North and South of the border. To wit:

St. Pat’s – Glentoran: Glens fans arrested, some trouble, net press coverage: virtually none.

Drogheda – Cliftonville: some trouble outside the ground before and after the match, net press coverage: virtually none.

St. Pat’s – Linfield: minor scuffles outside the ground, 4 arrests from a crowd of 800+, net press coverage:

Belfast Telegraph: Six arrested at Linfield match in Dublin

Irish Independent: Ugly face of football as violence flares at cross-border clash

Newsletter: Linfield fans clash with Dublin police

BBC: Trouble flares at Linfield match

At least the Newsletter allowed a Linfield fan to put their point of view across. The double standard meticulously applied to Linfield FC and fans was doubtless inspired by the large numbers of ‘freelance’ press photographers in exactly the right place at the right time, again. To wit, see the numerous photos of:

Press eye

Pacemaker press


Let us recap:

Linfield fans present: 800+

Number of arrests: 4

Newsletter: “The Garda dismissed the crowd trouble incidents as "minor public order disturbances", and said they were brought under control very quickly.

A Garda source added: "It is not clear who started the different
incidents of fighting, but they were separate incidents controlled very quickly."”

Not exactly a major incident, hardly comparable with Dundalk ’79. Remember 800 fans went to the game, watched it and had a good day without trouble. So how does our esteemed chairman react? In an incredibly kneejerk, over-the-top way:

Linfield club chairman Jim Kerr insisted those arrested were drunken hooligans who had tagged themselves on to true Blues supporters.

He added the team is now considering its future in the competition to avoid the team's name being dragged through the mud by yobs.

The club chief said: "The biggest problem was people fuelled by alcohol and people spoiling for a fight.

"I saw people at the grounds I have never seen before in my life being aggressive to security staff. I condemn it utterly.

"Should we continue in Setanta next season then we have to look at busing supporters from Windsor Park... but we will have to look at whether we are going to continue.

"There is no place in football for these people – totally uncalled for."

I find that statement frankly pathetic. It was made no later than two hours after the conclusion of the game, when there was no way that Mr. Kerr could have been in full possession of the facts, and was clearly done, yet again, as a pathetic, sniveling, handwringing apology to the media, to be seen to be doing something, to wipe his hands of the whole matter, in short, to protect the image of the club, yet again, at the expense of the vast vast majority of fans (he’d have been better off saying nothing).

Well Mr. Kerr, I’ve had enough of your lies and gutlessness. I’ve had enough of you coming out in the press and tarring ALL of your OWN fans with the same brush. I’ve had enough of your amateurish gutless dealings with the media. I’ve had enough of the Irish media putting the boot in, only for you, as my club’s ultimate representative, feeling the need to kick me when I’m down, even though I’ve done nothing wrong.

You’re a liar and a gutless coward. You’re scared of the BBC, Stephen Nolan and so-called ‘popular opinion’, and you, in your ivory tower, cannot see that nothing this fine club and its fans do will ever stop these people sniping at us or finding fault in every little thing connected with us. You lied when you said a 3-word banner would get us points deducted. You condemn all of our fans for the actions of a tiny minority who were doubtless provoked, then impose yet more draconian measures on a support already the most controlled in Ireland. You lied that these fans were hangers-on; their faces are well-known as loyal Bluemen.

Your agenda is now clear for all Linfield fans to see: to create a sanitized Stepford Supporters base who you can take anywhere, won’t say boo to a goose, won’t offend anyone in any way, and who you can control.

Well I, along with many others, have had enough. You’re out of your depth, Mr. Chairman. You cannot deal with the media at all, and are just a pandering apologetic puppet. You hang loyal fundraisers for the club out to dry after a smidgen of uninformed criticism from a radio shock jock, without even going on to defend the club’s name. You’re so out of touch with the feelings of supporters, it’s unreal. See the reaction of supporters at the recent Newry and Glentoran matches, belting out ‘Hatchets and Hammers’ almost to a man in defiance of your ‘no longer welcome’ policy, based on cowardice. Now it is your wish that supporters should only travel on Linfield FC-approved buses, with no alcohol and presumably no noise, very much in line with the current ridiculous restrictions still in place if we wish to go to Solitude. I will not be dictated to in this way. I have never committed an offence within or immediately outside a football ground in my life, and I will not be treated like scum BY MY OWN CLUB because you’re scared of our precious public image.

Enough is enough, Mr. Chairman. If you’re not prepared to defend your club or stand up for your members or supporters, 99.6% of whom behaved impeccably last night and had a great time, then do the honourable thing and resign.

St. Pat's Athletic 2 Linfield 0

Setanta Cup, Richmond Park, Tuesday 15th April 2008

Team: Mannus, Douglas, McShane (O'Kane 68), Gault, Murphy, McAreavy, Dickson, Mulgrew, Downey (Curran 71), Stewart (Kearney 63), Thompson

Attendance: approx 1600 (ca. 800 Linfield fans)

A great day out ruined by a woeful Linfield performance.

Men against boys. Any team with pace will trouble us greatly, I lost count of the number of times they tore us a new arsehole, driving holes the size of Jim Kerr's mouth through our defence.

DJ's substitutions are reactionary, knee-jerk, and becoming of a petulant under-12s manager. You just know that one mistake from Stewart, or Downey, in the second half, and he'll haul them off. Stewart's treatment, as a NI under-21 striker, is nothing short of a disgrace.

Tired legs or not, we were second to every ball, were bereft of ideas, resorting to hoofball up to Thompson, who sometimes managed to flick it on to, err, nobody.

I'll ask it again, what is the point of Curran?

McShane should never play in a Blue shirt again, he's done.

Downey and Maccers, too fat and unfit. Downey is one ballgreedy moany so-and-so.

We have one big fucking team rebuilding job in store over the summer. I can see 7 or 8 leaving in the summer.

Thank goodness for Tino.

Oh, and well done Pat's, played us off the park. What a second goal.

Lots of photos from a new source here.

Highlights here:

Monday, April 14, 2008

Linfield 0 Glentoran 0

Hatchets and Hammers polos out in full force, and very well-received they were too

IPL, Windsor Park, Saturday 12th April 2008

Team: Mannus, Ervin (Douglas 24), O’Kane, Murphy, Bailie, Gault, Curran (Kearney), Mulgrew, Stewart (McAreavey), Ferguson, Thompson
Subs not used : Dickson, Downey

Attendance: ca. 8000 (5000 Linfield fans)

I've waited till Monday to write about this. My anger as regards our 'performance' hasn't lessened much. We were woeful, and lucky to get a draw, the only real positive I can draw from Saturday is that we didn't lose and as such, shouldn't lose the league now.

The Glens created the better chances, played some good football, outpassed us, were quicker to the second ball, seemed hungrier and Hamilton really should have won it in injury time. McCabe was by far the best outfield player, but Mannus probably won us the league with that performance and as such was my MOTM. We should have had at least one blatant penalty though, when Maccers was bundled over in the box.


- Tino. Absolutely inspired, and his staying behind at the end to clap the Kop seemed ominous. We're in big trouble if he moves to England, especially if Goose is his replacement. Gulp.
- Peter Thompson. Still doing the running of two strikers, still looking sharp and our most dangerous.
- Good atmosphere, plenty of colour and noise from the Kop. The Hatchets and Hammers flag was out in force, and no-one tried to intervene. More hot air from our MC then.

- Noel Bailie was at his vintage best, and he had to be.


- Spike. He really is done. Still in Leeman's pocket. No mobility, drops back into midfield too much, leaving Thompson with too much running to do and getting in the way of our midfielders. He has played at least 40 full games this year, and it's too much for a 37 year-old. We've criminally overused him this season, and we'll regret it next season.
- DJ's starting eleven and subsequent substitutions. Spike has not scored against Paul Leeman too often in recent years, we always play the same hoof-it-up-to-spike-and-hope-for-flick-ons against the Glens, it's so easy to predict and counter, and thus it was on Saturday. Why is DJ and his cheerleaders the only ones to see that Ferguson was wrecked and practically stationary, and that the way through the Glens defence was through pace?
- Curran. Out of position, but simply not good enough. Too slow.
- Tommy Stewart had another poor game on the wing, too often shirked tackles and looked disinterested, hardly touched the ball in the first half. Should not be playing there anyway. He'll be away at the end of the season, probably go to Portadown or Glens, and will come back to punish us. Again and again.
- Gault and Mulgrew in CM didn't work, they're too similar and seemed to be treading on each other's toes repeatedly.
- I thought Kearney looked slow and unfit when he came on.
- Jim Ervin's injury. Innocuous tackle. Get well soon Jimbo.

EBB's summary, don't agree with one or two, but fair otherwise:

We were woeful

Mannus- Magic. Possibly won us the title.

Ervin- Was playing alright until he went off, hopefully he's not too seriously hurt.
Murphy- Solid, if not spectacular.
Bailie- Rolled back the years with a class performance. Always seemed to be in the right places on Saturday, to stop Glens attacks.
O'Kane- Done his job well, which first and foremost is to defend. Didn't get forward as much as usual, but he was solid.

Stewart- Ineffective, but he isn't a right midfielder. Gets a by ball from me.
Gault- Queiter than usual, but still put in the hard graft.
Mulgrew- Much the same as Gault I suppose. Typical battling performance and always there when he was needed.
Curran- Poor, but like Stewart, he isn't a wide midfield player. Again, gets a by ball.

Thompson- Worked his balls off and was always willing to put in the running. The service was good enough, though and he was feeding off scraps.
Spike- Still in Leepers pocket I think.


Douglas- Despite all his criticisms, I thought he played really well.
Kearney- Gave us an outlet everytime we needed it. Should have started.
Maccers- Showed signs of what we know he can do. No surprise that when he came we looked dangerous. Give him the ball and he'll pick out passes. Probably should have started.

Jeffrey, once again, got the initial team selection wrong and proceeded to get things wrong by leaving Spike on, who was having a nightmare against Leeman. Keeping Stewart on and pushing him upfront would have made much sense.

We're lucky they're not very good, or we would have been beaten.

Great photos as ever on SSS from Thompo.

Highlights of the game available to watch on Forza TV.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Glentoran 1 Linfield 3

Setanta Cup Matchday 2, Monday 7th April, The Oval

Team: Mannus, Douglas, McShane, Gault (Burns 78), Kearney (Curran 83), Lindsay, McAreavey, Dickson, Thompson (Mulgrew 72), Stewart, Downey
Subs not used : Murphy, O'Kane, McKendry, Ervin

Scorers: McAreavey 2, Dickson

Attendance: approx 2000 (approx 1200 Linfield fans)

The scoreline should read Glentoran II 1 Linfield Swifts 3

Men against boys

They had 2 chances, their goal and Mannus's good save at 3-1.

Reading the chatbox, maybe I'm putting too positive a spin on it, but I thought Dougie went some way to exorcising his ghosts of BD and was my MOTM. An excellent 1st half tackle, good crosses, positioning, covering and some silky skills going forward in the the 2nd half.

Thompson and Stewart were busy, harried and held the ball up well, without us ever really playing to their strengths.

Mark Dickson was excellent and unlucky not to score more. 'Dickson? Slide on' said Bluenose before the match. Slide on yourself.

I thought Downey and Maccers controlled midfield, even though I still think they're fairly unfit and slow, especially to react.

Gaulty was solid at CB but is still wasted there. Was lovely to see BJB get a run-out.

Some poor performances, but now's not the time.

Fairly poor crowd,some good singing, new favourite being 'Sit down pinocchio!'

And Glentoran really are breeding some dirty hateful wee scumbags, the pick of the bunch being that repulsive rent-boy Carson. Closely followed by Blow Job, Boyce (what's the score ya wee cunt?) and McGovern. Work those 3 goals up yer bangle, ya provoking wee shitebag. Glendinning never changes either.

Same again Saturday Blues. Despite tonight I'd like to think Gault and Jamie will be our CMs. Still like to see Tommy and Pete up front again.

Oh, and don't you just love the Doc? Comedy goalkeeper!

Video of the goals available via Glentoran's Forza TV.

Roll on Saturday, and the real Big One (title) showdown.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hatchets And Hammers - Not Wanted at Windsor

In the past week, the famous song ‘Hatchets and Hammers’, “inspiring Linfield fans to commit violent acts for over 40 years” (copyright any sensationalist journalist/politician wanting to do Linfield FC down at every turn) was vilified on air by attention-seeking media whore and part-time radio DJ Stephen Nolan. What he particularly objected to was the fact that this song was part of a CD being sold under the counter (a lie) at Windsor Park, and how this song incited violence. Linfield FC, smelling a PR disaster for the club and not wishing to offend others, particularly those going out of their way to be offended by all aspects of Linfield FC, denied knowledge of the contents of the song (a lie), backed down and announced the withdrawal of the CD from official sale.

Throughout the week, fans of the club felt affronted not just by Nolan’s, the Sunday World’s, Sunday Life’s and Gail Walker’s witchhunt, but by the betrayal and lack of courage shown by the Management Committee of their club. This song has been doing the rounds for at least 40 years, and my intelligence is frankly insulted by anyone who suggests it makes me a violent bloodthirsty scumbag wanting to kill or maim. It’s a football song, non-PC for sure, but welcome to football, it’s a competitive passionate sport, and posturing and one-upmanship is part of the deal. I don’t see Nolan going after the record stores for selling rap and hip-hop songs which glorify gangs and gang violence, are sexist, racist and homophobic. But that’s because he has an agenda, and Linfield are an easy target, a club associated with Unionism and Protestantism, and by definition a bunch of bigots. Apparently.

My circle of friends’s annoyance with the demonisation of the club, the fans and the song was such that we decided to mount the ‘Hatchets and Hammers’ flag, a flag funded and made by members of the ‘Hatchets and Hammers’ web forum:

While carrying the banner through to the Kop Stand, a number of people offered us vocal support and congratulated us. The evils from the blazers of the MC were all too obvious as well though. We were in the process of draping it out over the seats in the top right corner, when the Linfield chairman, Jim Kerr, made his way over to us from the other side of the stand. I might as well give the gist of his points/ claims in bullet form:

- he asked us politely to remove the flag, or it would be removed by stewards
- he said that ‘Hatchets and Hammers’ flags would be removed and no longer be tolerated
- he said that the pressure on him all week had been immense, particularly in the past few days from the IFA
- he claimed that we would be under extra scrutiny and that if we committed another offence, we would be docked 3 points, possibly costing us the league, and asked us how we would feel with that on our conscience
- he said that TV cameras were in attendance at our game in anticipation of something happening, that normally they would be at the bigger game of Crusaders – Glentoran (a lie) that it would be a PR disaster for the club
- that from next Saturday at the Glentoran home league game, there would be a ‘neutral IFA observer’ at our games watching our every move and that we’d have to be extra careful
- he went on and on about the 3 points deduction
- he said they were aware of the HnH forum for some years now
- that invoked the memory of David Crawford somewhat distastefully in my opinion as a reason for complying with his wishes
- he said he was prepared to have a meeting with us/some fans to discuss the matter further
- that there were many more goings-on behind the scenes that he would have liked to divulge, but couldn’t
- that he was having a meeting with a PSNI officer immediately after talking to us
- that he was acting on behalf of the MC
- he expressed the desire that the original HnH song should not be sung anymore, but the alternative Nolan/ Mars Bars and Snickers versions
- that they were trying hard to change the image of the club and, when we suggested that some would even take offence at the Union Flag being flown, said there was never any danger of that being removed

We ‘discussed’ the matter for maybe 15 minutes, during which time the steward heavy mob moved into close proximity, and another MC and pal approached Jim Kerr to check if everything was ok. He kept saying that he appreciated we were true Linfield fans, but that the reputation of the club and the League title itself was at stake. We reluctantly agreed at the end to remove the flag – better that than causing a scene with stewards and risking losing it – but expressed our anger and disappointment with the request, and the inability/ unwillingness of the board to stand up for/ defend the fans. We carried the flag back out again, much to anger of the fans we passed. They expressed empathy and word of the decision spread quickly.

On the one hand, fair play to Jim Kerr for having the guts to approach us personally and to try to explain his position and answer our questions/ accusations. I do understand he is in a difficult position, there are legal discussions being held and information he cannot divulge, and I can see how the paper media might have taken yesterday.

BUT: the request was not made in the interest of the fans, or, in my opinion, of the club itself. Let me re-iterate: these people who are sniping at us, be they politicians, the media, or even the IFA, will not stop at a song that has been sung since time immemorial. They wish to see every aspect of Linfield FC and its tradition watered-down or done away with. They have no interest in the fact that we have Catholics at all levels of the club; no interest in the True Blues, or Dunfield, or Windsor Roar initiatives. In their eyes, Linfield FC as an institution is bigoted, represents one of the last bastions of ‘supremacist’ unionist/ protestant culture, and they will never cease to attack it, even when it is innocent. I have supported initiatives to get rid of sectarian singing from IL football, it has no place in the game, even though a song does not offend me. But I draw the line at trying to make me out to be a scumbag thug because of a traditional club song that no-one takes literally except those actively seeking to be offended.

But the club wish to appease these people at every juncture. They say they have to do this to comply with UEFA/IFA legislation, but I have yet to see a list of proscribed songs, nor a ruling that says a banner with ‘Hatchets and Hammers’ on it, a football forum name lest we forget, is an incitement to violence that is punishable by a 3-point penalty. Our board should be standing their ground and defending the club and its fans, not meekly saying ‘yes sir, no sir, please no 3 points off sir’ to every political opportunist that wishes to attack our club. And where do we draw the line? Our colours and the flag we fly at our ground clearly mark us out as belonging to the one tradition, is that unacceptable in today’s ueber-PC World? Should we change our kits to grey, or pink? Windsor Castle on the badge, has it got to go? I am exaggerating of course, but these people wouldn’t find the suggestions all that far-fetched.

Many many Linfield fans feel alienated and let down by their own MC. It’s happened time and again, and with our ticketing restrictions being the strictest on the island and maybe the UK, matters coming to head at the home Derry Setanta game last year when hundreds of home fans were turned away from our home ground despite there being thousands of empty seats. It seems our MC doesn’t trust our supporters an inch and wish to create a sanitised fan base of ‘Stepford Supporters’ (copyright Raff’s Tache), who they can take anywhere and who won’t ‘play up’. Dwindling supporter numbers, even on Saturday, are testament to many people’s loss of enthusiasm for Linfield after having been treating like dirt by their own club again and again. But we, unlike our MC, will not be dictated to on matters where we are not in the wrong. The solidarity shown by the fans on Saturday, almost everyone in the ground joining in ‘Hatchets and Hammers’ and ‘If you hate Stephen Nolan’ after the 4th goal went in, filled me with pride and hope.

I will continue to sing Hatchets and Hammers with pride. I will wear my HnH badge. I hope that hundreds of the small HnH flags are on show next Saturday. I will not be dictated to by people who hate me and my club because they are the intransigent bigots. And I will continue to hope, possibly in vain, that my Management Committee will finally have the courage to stand up to those that hate us. Altogether now…

Linfield 5 Newry City 0

Hopefully the future

IPL, Windsor Park, Saturday 5th April 2008

Team: Mannus, O’Kane, Murphy, Bailie, Ervin, Curran (Kearney 72), Gault (Downey 68), Mulgrew, Stewart, Ferguson (Dickson 64), Thompson

Scorers: Stewart, Ferguson (pen), Thompson 2, Dickson

Attendance: ca. 2000 (26 away fans)

My first game back since December. I've much more to say on pre-match events surrounding a certain Hatchets and Hammers banner in due course, but here's my brief resume of the game:


-Jamie Mulgrew and Gaulty in CM. Controlled things.
-our second half performance
-I thought the subs were spot-on
-Tommy getting a run-out up front
-our supporters letting the MC know exactly the depth of their feelings with big renditions of HnH and 'If you hate Stephen Nolan' after the 4th goal, including the South Stand, I was filled with with pride
-I thought Loughrey had a good game
-Thompson's too hot to handle


-our first half performance
-Spike is done, no mobility, a hindrance
-Curran is no LM
-poor crowd and very muted for much of the game
-the club going against the wishes of their fans to appease those who hate us
-monkey head. he really is done, tried to kick lumps out of Mulgrew and Gault all day but couldn't get near them
-Windsor Roar, presumably the version with one song missing, being played over the tannoy pre-match, hypocritical or what

Thompo's great photos online.

Now for a 2007 repeat performance next Saturday. I just cannot see that Glentoran team beating us.

League table:

1 Linfield 27 21 4 2 66 18 67 48
2 Glentoran 27 20 4 3 64 22 64 42

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Anti-Linfield Witchhunt, 2008-Style

At around 3.30pm on Saturday after the conclusion of the Linfield- Cliftonville Irish Cup game, and the Rangers-Celtic Old Firm game, 2 men were injured in Belfast city centre after an altercation outside a (Nationalist) pub, one seriously after being stabbed in the neck with a bottle. It was an apparently unprovoked, premeditated assault, which I thoroughly condemn, and one from which I hope both men make a quick recovery. Photos from the scene can be viewed on Press Eye.

It didn’t take long for Sinn Fein to apportion blame on Linfield fans:

Sinn Féin said the trouble was started by a crowd of Linfield supporters.

Sinn Féin assembly member Paul Maskey said: "I urge people not to get involved in any retaliation. The people who carried this out need to be ashamed of themselves. They need to be arrested and put behind bars for a very long time." [oh the irony]

The next day, though, it turned really ugly, with the Sunday World and Sunday Life indulging in some disgracefully sensationalist journalism, leaving it in no doubt that it was rampaging bigoted Linfield fans who were responsible.

The Sunday World’s headline read:

Fenian Hating of football club Linfield, known as the Blues

In an instant undoing all the good and tireless work the club has been doing for years to try to eradicate the stigma long given to Linfield fans as intolerant, bigoted and anti-Catholic. This despite the fact that the likes of Paul McAreavey, Aidan O’Kane and Michael Gault are among the most popular players with the fans at Linfield FC.

The Guardian, a well-known nationalist rag, published the following sensationalist article:

A Celtic fan was seriously ill in hospital last night after his throat was slashed during a mass loyalist attack on a pub in central Belfast. The supporter was set upon by a mob of up to 70 Linfield fans returning from yesterday's Irish Cup semi-final clash with Cliftonville at The Oval.

Eyewitnesses in Castle Street - a mainly nationalist thoroughfare - said that at around 3.30pm the Linfield supporters alighted from a bus and rushed towards the area.

At first the mob tried to get into the Belfast Bar at the junction of Castle Street and King Street, but were repelled by up to 100 customers who had been watching the Celtic-Rangers Old Firm match on television.

'It was after the Linfield crowd were beaten back from the bar that they singled out a guy in King Street,' said one witness. 'They knew he was Catholic because of his Celtic shirt.'

A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland confirmed they had to deal with serious disturbances in central Belfast yesterday and that one man had had his throat cut. Up to eight PSNI jeeps were still patrolling the area late yesterday afternoon.

Leading Sinn Fein figures, including a former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alex Maskey, and Bobby Storey, a former IRA prisoner and confidant of Gerry Adams, arrived at the scene shortly after to calm rising tensions.

The next day, Stephen Nolan couldn’t wait to stick the boot in, blaming Linfield fans and the sectarianism and violence inherent in local football for the trouble, wondering why Linfield fans didn’t have tighter ticketing restrictions placed on them before the game (a totally fatuous and irrelevant argument, seeing as the violence took place over an hour later, miles away from the game) and calling for tighter controls on Linfield fans, despite them being the most restricted and controlled in the country.

When eyewitness accounts from 1) a man in the pub on the day in question, and 2) a passing taxi driver revealed that there were NO Linfield or for that matter red/white/blue colours on the persons of the gang involved, only people wearing typical casual/ hooligan gear, ie dark colours, faces covered, Stone Island clothing etc, Sinn Fein and Stephen Nolan backtracked, making themselves look ridiculous in the process.

1. Sinn Fein changed their story to allege that in fact the attackers were wearing Linfield SCARVES. Aha. So, notwithstanding the fact that you had originally alleged that Linfield shirts were on display, you’re now totally disregarding the widely-known fact that football firms don’t wear colours and saying that the eyesight of the (SF) witnesses were that good that they could see the words ‘Linfield FC’ on a red/white/blue scarf? Dead on.
2. Nolan changed tack, seemingly realising that Linfield fans and Linfield FC weren’t responsible for the trouble, and went on the attack with regards to a well-known Linfield FC song apparently glorifying violence, “Hatchets and Hammers”. Obviously, having been made to look silly in his original line of attack, he’d dug and shitstirred to find anything else possibly linked to Saturday’s events, and found that Linfield fans sang the following song:

My old man, said be a Linfield fan
And don’t dilly dally on the way
We took the Oval in half a minute
We took Coleraine and all that’s in it
With hatchets and hammers, Stanley knives and spanners
We’ll show the b*stards how to fight!
If you can’t beat a Glenman in half a minute
Then you’re not a Linfield fan.

Slightly violent admittedly, but then football fans are tribal and posturing, and this song has been doing the rounds for 40+ years, during the whole course of the Troubles, without anyone insulting mine and other people’s intelligence by suggesting that it incites football fans to violence. Ban Rocky! Ban Eastenders! Ban any TV violence, otherwise I’m going to go out and stab someone! Wise up.

Nolan then revealed that a similar version of the song is available on the ‘Windsor Roar’ music CD in the club shop, and that by implication, Linfield FC are partly responsible for the violence! What a crock. The Windsor Roar initiative was established to raise funds for the club and to help create a noisy, non-sectarian atmosphere inside Windsor Park. His allegations would be taken more seriously by myself and others if it weren’t for the fact that he is a Glentoran fan. He even said on the radio that he’d be at next Monday’s Setanta game at the Oval between Glentoran and Linfield. Hopefully he’ll be welcomed with big licks of ‘Hatchets and Hammers’, and have a few suitable songs and banners aimed at him. All in the interests of non-violence, of course. They're gunning for the Forum 'Hatchets and Hammers' too. Good luck with that boys.

Strange too that Nolan hasn't got onto Manchester United about their singing of this song and claiming of it as their own:

What has Linfield’s response been to all this? The Chairman, Jim Kerr, at least went on the Nolan show on Monday to re-iterate what the police said, ie that Linfield FC and fans were not connected to the city centre violence, it was unconnected to the game and in amy case, Linfield FC can’t tag fans and control their every action (yet).

However, no official representative went on the show on the Tuesday to stand up for the club, it was left to a prominent fan to back us up. After Nolan’s promptings and slurs, the club released the following statement with regard to the CD, totally backing down and yet again pandering to the handwringers and anti-Linfield merchants who have no love for our club, its traditions and traditions of the fans, but only want to attack it at every turn and demonise it in accordance with their clear anti-everything-that-is-ostensibly-unionist agenda:

Withdrawl [sic] of CD

Linfield Football Club have withdrawn a CD containing twenty songs one of which contained material which could offend and may be deemed to encourage violence.

We would make it clear that this CD was produced independently by supporters.

Once we were made aware of the contents of this song, the CD was immediately withdrawn.

An embarrassing climbdown, in my eyes. They were happy to take over 8k from the person who made the CD, a diehard Linfield fan who stood in all weathers for years selling the CDs and badges to raise money for the club he loves. Hopefully now they'll return all the money, though I wouldn't hold my breath.

Their statement regarding Saturday’s violence was commendable, but still didn’t go far enough:

Statement on weekend violence

Linfield Football Club unreservedly condemns the mindless and unprovoked acts of violence that occurred in Belfast City Centre on Saturday afternoon.

Those who perpetrated the violence may or may not have been soccer fans, but in no way could they be described as true supporters of the game. They must be brought to account and face the full rigour of the law.

So far, there has been no evidence to suggest that the people involved in this attack were in any way involved with Linfield Football Club, as senior PSNI officers have confirmed.

The genuine concern of Linfield Football Club is extended to the unfortunate victim who sustained serious injury and we would hope that he makes a full and speedy recovery.

Linfield Football Club is dismayed at press and media reports, and statements by public representatives, over this incident and we would reiterate that it is always been the policy of this club to abhor violence from whatever quarter.

More than three thousand Linfield supporters attended the Irish Cup semi-final tie at the Oval on Saturday and together with the Cliftonville fans, they behaved in an exemplary manner.

Relations between Linfield and Cliftonville are excellent, as they are with all other Irish League clubs and we have cooperated closely in ensuring that all games played between our clubs are conducted in a peaceful and sporting manner.

Let’s remember, Linfield fans were described thus IN THE TITLE:

Fenian Hating of football club Linfield, known as the Blues

And to top it all off, now rumours are doing the rounds that the away game vs St. Pat’s Athletic in Dublin on May 15th is going to be moved to Windsor Park, thus screwing up the plans of many many people and making us out to be uncontrollable thugs, despite the fact that we have to jump through hoops to get tickets for any game of significance.

So who do I think was responsible? A loose ‘firm’ of Scottish, English, and N. Irish ‘hooligans’, probably affiliating themselves to Chelsea, Rangers and Linfield, taking advantage of the two Protestant-Catholic derby games in NI and Scotland that day to test themselves and show some strength. A member of the ‘Our Wee Country’ forum made the following observations: [Edit: I do not concur with this poster's following assertions , I'm merely including them here as a Point Of Information]

lets get the facts from the fiction, something that other patrons and admin should have done by sunday at the latest!!


There was not a bus load of Linfield fans left of at the top of castle street, the SW journo should be sacked for such crap.
There is no connection with C18/NF/BNP/Neo Nazis etc etc all that crap died away years ago.
No one involved in this attack was wearing Linfield or Rangers gear.
The time of the KO did not play any part either, however I do think it was the right call to play it early. (and yes I was at the Linfield game and support Rangers)
The IL does not suffer from secterian violence and for people to say it is has are talking crap. The IL have had problems but is mainly major conflict with the 2 main protestant clubs (blues & glens) Linfield and Glentoran have both been to DC, Cliftonville and to the Republic without any serious problems if any at all!!


On friday night catholic youths from the lower falls and carrick hill attacked brown square, the police had millfield closed for an hour. (for those who dont know the city, its the same area as saturdays attack)
There was english guys with this group although Im not sure where they were from.
There was a few === members involved, who considered it as pay back for the night before.
A very small section of Linfield fans (well known to everyone) were involved.
Cosgroves Bar was well aware of what was happeing, as were Sinn Fein and the IRA.
Within less than 10 minutes Bobby Storey and Eddie Copeland where on the scene!!

What I do know is that it was not anything to do with Linfield FC or any of its over 3000 fans who were at the match on Saturday, and the agenda of Sinn Fein, the Sunday World, Nolan et al to drag our name and club through the mud, to demonise our club and its fans is clear for all to see, and should be disregarded as such. But I know it won’t be by the general populace. This incident, unconnected with us, has put us back years. And our Management Committee continues to bend over backwards to appease these people, instead of defending and supporting its true loyal fans. Their priorities are ALL wrong, and they are alienating their own through their appeasement tactics. Theirs should be the motto of the fans:

No-one likes us, we don’t care.