Archive | March, 2009

Northern Ireland v Poland

30 Mar

A few pictures from Ali and me at Saturday’s World Cup Qualifying encounter with Poland in Windsor Park. A 3-2 victory courtesy of Arthur Boruc.


Arthur Boruc


The Riots

Sadly I forgot to stop and take pictures of what many of our readership would find the most interesting part of our excursion. En route to IFA Headquarters to collect our tickets we found ourselves inbetween Northern Ireland fans, Riot Police and the visiting Poles whilst glass bottles flew over our heads. I have to admit it was rather scary and I don’t know all the ins and outs of what happened both preceding and following kick off. However, PSNI officers were blaming the infamous Polish fans for instigating the violence which marred the build-up to the game and the post-match celebrations. Supporters of Poland are known across Europe for thuggery and organised violence yet they are still allowed to participate in international fixtures? If English fans were guilty of the same misdemenours they would be thrown out of competition fast than they could shout “We won the War!” FIFA should be acting not against an isolated idiot from Northern Ireland, who threw a coin at the linesman before being swiftly ejected by stewards with the support of the crowd, but rather against the Polish FA who have allowed their Neo-Nazi hooligans to rampage unchecked. Act now FIFA!


Yes I’m beginning to dream again…

FIFA World Cup European Qualifying : Group Three Table
Saturday, 28 March 2009 21:40 UK
    P W D L F A GD PTS
1 Northern Ireland 6 3 1 2 11 6 5 10
2 Slovakia 4 3 0 1 8 5 3 9
3 Czech Republic 5 2 2 1 5 2 3 8
4 Slovenia 5 2 2 1 5 3 2 8
5 Poland 5 2 1 2 8 7 1 7
6 San Marino 5 0 0 5 1 15 -14 0

Snow Patrol

27 Mar

Support act #1 – The Lowly Knights



A lovely bunch of people.

Support act #2 – Iain Archer


Didn’t really get any good photos. Didn’t really care.

Snow Patrol…






Not quite Ward Park maybe, but still really good. The visuals were great throughout, like the people walking around the Odyssey during How To Be Dead. The Lightning Strike was quite spectacular, I’m not going to do it the dis-service of posting a Youtube video of it. Open Your Eyes was a favourite, as ever.

Next up…The Fray. Whose album I bought today and should make for some fun listening tomorrow on the bus.

Pro-Choice 200 Years Ago

23 Mar


(HT: Take Your Vitamin Z)

The Fray Review

19 Mar

alirollestonThis is the second part of Alistair Rolleston’s double album review, not a review of Joel’s violent attack caused by his comments on U2’s latest work.

“…If you are a U2 fan, sure, buy this album (No Line on the Horizon). You may be, as I am, disappointed with it, but at least you won’t write them off on the basis of this.

Or, better idea, you could buy The Fray’s new album.

BONUS review – The Fray

10 tracks of pure musical Genius. Well ok, 9. There’s one song there I’m not really fussed on…

The Fray were placed in a rather unfortunate situation when their debut album became an international best seller and was almost universally critically acclaimed. Some of you may be wondering how I’m coming to that conclusion but bear with me and I shall explain myself. A debut album is the band at their earliest beginnings. They often haven’t had the time to grow accustomed to success. To suddenly be thrust into a world of stardom and not to crash and burn takes some serious character, but thankfully The Fray seem to have coped very well with suddenly becoming world wide superstars. The other issue is the musical one; with a band being at it’s beginnings they’re naturally expected to get better over time, so The Fray setting the bar so high for themselves the first time around may not have been the smartest thing in the world to do.

Isaac Slade and the boys, however, have gone and done it again. From the piano introduction of “Syndicate” through to the final guitar chords of “Happiness” this is a fantastic piece of work from the Denver four-piece.
The album starts out with “Syndicate”, a cheery little number that is instantly up-lifting and setting a good tone for the rest of the album. Moving on in through “Absolute”, a song about two people who desperately want to know each other, the album hits “You Found Me”, the lead single. Instantly recognisable from the piano intro, it is this song where The Fray’s Christian background is perhaps most audible. Slade talks about his disappointment and almost anger with God in a way similar to Job, talking about a time in his life shortly after his girlfriend was involved in a serious accident. This song alone gains more depth that the entire of “No Line on the Horizon” put together I’m sorry to say.


Perhaps my personal favourite song on the album is “Enough for Now”, written quite possibly about Slade’s grandmother. The song talks about how his grandfather always wanted a son and only ever had a daughter, and his anger and disappointment with this, illustrated in the lines,
“Left my mother’s mother,
Without so much as a kiss”

The song strikes a real chord, and the muffled intro at the end of the previous song, “Where the Story Ends”, is a masterful touch.
Maybe the one dud song on the album is “Ungodly Hour”, still haven’t quite figured out what that one’s about… After which the album moves into its finale, with the penultimate track sounding slightly Chris Martin-esque, and the final track flowing on from it. “Happiness” is another stroke of genius, talking about how we’re always running after what we want and never catching it, whereas if we just try first and foremost to serve God happiness will find us. It’s not often you find good biblical advice in a pop song, so this song is a rare treat.

From start to finish, I love this album. I love the songs, the lyrics, the harmonies, the piano and the way they all fit together, the way they all just work. It’s really fantastic to see a Christian-influenced band doing well. I was disgusted that this album entered the charts at number 8, it deserves so much more. This is my little bit of publicity for it. If you head into HMV tomorrow, wondering what to buy, buy this. You will not be disappointed.”

Psalm for Northern Ireland

18 Mar


Murdered: Mark Quinsey, Stephen Carroll, Patrick Azimkar

I love how God has given us the Psalter with praises we can sing in any situation. Perhaps this should have been Northern Ireland’s national anthem over recent days.

Psalm 10

Why, O LORD, do you stand far away?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked hotly pursue the poor;
let them be caught in the schemes that they have devised.
For the wicked boasts of the desires of his soul,
and the one greedy for gain curses and renounces the LORD.
In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him;
all his thoughts are, “There is no God.”
His ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of his sight;
as for all his foes, he puffs at them.
He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
throughout all generations I shall not meet adversity.”
His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.
He sits in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places he murders the innocent.
His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket;
he lurks that he may seize the poor;
he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.
The helpless are crushed, sink down,
and fall by his might.
He says in his heart, “God has forgotten,
he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

Arise, O LORD; O God, lift up your hand;
forget not the afflicted.
Why does the wicked renounce God
and say in his heart, “You will not call to account”?
But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation,
that you may take it into your hands;
to you the helpless commits himself;
you have been the helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;
call his wickedness to account till you find none.

The LORD is king forever and ever;
the nations perish from his land.
O LORD, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.

No Line on the Horizon Review

16 Mar

alirollestonGuest writer Alistair Rolleston with the first part of a double album review.

“‘If this isn’t our best album, we’re irrelevant’

Oh dear, dear Bono. In future let’s not be so hasty in making comments, shall we?

I think I need to apologise. Many are not going to like this review. Why? Because many people out there are U2 fans. This is a good thing. It shows that people in this world still have decent taste. It allows me to retain my shred of hope in humanity. Sometimes that’s no easy thing, let me tell you. So let me get this over with now, before I digress further.

This album is simply dire.


Album cover

It pains me to say that, it really does. I am a die hard U2 fan, I inherited that from my mother. U2 to date have released 14 studio albums, and in there, there are some gems. I am a U2 fan in every sense of the word. I have their albums, I have their posters (literally) stuck on my wall. In my humble opinion they are the greatest rock band the world has ever seen. I’m a wee bit ashamed to think they created this album.

Some of the tracks are catchy. The driven guitar of “Get on your boots” and “stand up comedy” certainly grab attention, but Bono’s lyrics fail to hold it. Bono is perhaps at his strongest lyrically on “White as Snow”, which is good because there’s precious little else in the track to divert your attention from the words (not that that’s a bad thing).

The album does pick up in places and there are some stand-out tracks. “Moment of Surrender” and “Magnificent” are perhaps the two strongest tracks on the album, with the former being about as close to a slow ballad as I feel the album gets, the latter being the a love song of sorts. Unfortunately Brian Eno saw fit to place these two tracks together on the album, so this moment of mild genius is short lived, and is rather unfortunately followed by “Unknown Caller”, a song in which the chorus requires the vocal range of a teaspoon and just sounds like a chant. It began to irritate me on the first listen through, which is never a good sign.

If you asked me to simply review this album without knowing who had created it, I may have said it was a half decent effort. By U2 shouldn’t be producing half decent albums. They’re one of a few bands in a world who have to produce consistent greatness, and that I feel is a great burden on their shoulders.

I sincerely hope this is not U2’s last album, it would be an abysmal way for them to bow out of music. For those of you out there who do not know much about U2, I offer this piece of advice. If you take the trip to your local music store, and are looking at the latest U2 album, stop and think for a moment. Look past that album, to the ones behind it. There you will see a rather odd look black covered album entitled “The Joshua Tree”. Pick it up, and take it to the till instead. Because THAT, that is an album of the like the world had not heard before or has since. If you have not heard U2 before, that is the album for you. That will show you what they are capable of, what they have achieved, and hopefully what they will at some point achieve again. If you are a U2 fan, sure, buy this album. You may be, as I am, disappointed with it, but at least you won’t write them off on the basis of this.

Or, better idea, you could buy…”

Find out Alistair’s alternative suggestion of an album to purchase in the second installment coming later this week.

Northern Ireland Rejects Recent Violence

13 Mar

At Wednesday lunchtime people from across Northern Ireland took to the streets to present a united front in response to the dissident Republican murders of two members of the armed forces and one police officer. Protestors stood in united silence against the sudden resurgence in terrorist violence over the previous few days.

Andy in Belfast


 Andy in the crowd. Photo from the front of the Belfast Telegraph


Cromie Robert, who apparently was interviewed on Radio 1


Outside City Hall




James in Lisburn


James Scott, one of thirty Friends’ pupils to walk down to the Silent Vigil.
 “A silent vigil will be held here today: 1pm to 1:30pm, in respect to those killed and injured in the last few days”




During the vigil one young man stepped forward and raised a piece of paper which was greeted with sporadic applause.


It read “RIRA SCUM!!! CIRA SCUM!!!”


 Jeffery Donalson MP being spoken to by a journalist whilst the Mayor is also interviewed.


A Christian…

12 Mar

Greetings Faithful Readers and True Believers, this is a story given to me by a friend from school (just in case you thought I had a minute of creative genius and made it up!) So I thought it would be great to share it with you.


Several years ago, a preacher from out of state accepted a call to a church in Houston, Texas. Some weeks after he arrived, he had an occasion to ride the bus from his home to the downtown area. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him a quarter too much in change.

 As he considered what to do, he though to himself, “You’d better give the quarter back. It would be wrong to keep it.”  Then he thought, ‘Oh forget it, it’s only a quarter. Who would worry about this little amount? Any way, the bus company gets far too much, they will never miss it. Accept it as ‘a gift from God’ and keep quiet.”

When his stop came, he passed momentarily at the door, and then he handed the quarter to the driver and said, “Here, you gave me too much change.” The driver, with a smile, replied, “Aren’t you the new preacher in town?” Yes, he replied.

“Well I have been thinking a lot lately about going somewhere to worship. I just wanted to see what you would do if I gave you too much change. I’ll see you at church on Sunday.”

When the preacher stepped off the bus, he literally grabbed the nearest street lamp, held on, and said, “Oh God, I almost sold your Son for a quarter.”

 Readers, our lives are the only Bible some people wille ever read. This is a very scary example of how much people watch us as Christians, and will put us to the test. Always be on guard, and remember, you carry the name of Christ on your shoulders when you call yourself a Christian.

Watch your thoughts; they become words.

Watch your words; they become actions.

Watch your actions; they become habits.

Watch your habits, they become character.

Watch your Character, it becomes your destiny.


Coldplay- The Puppet Masters

5 Mar

Buoyed by the success of the original song on the Viva la Vida album, including the accolade of being used in the Senior Camp 2008 Compilation Video, Coldplay’s Life in Technicolor II actually has some words. More importantly it has this utterly amazing video.

Church Squirrels-To Brighten up your Day!

2 Mar

There were five houses of religion in a small Texas town: The Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, the Catholic Church and the Jewish Synagogue.


Each church and Synagogue was over run with pesky squirrels.


One day, the Presbyterian Church called a meeting to decide what to do about the squirrels. After much prayer and consideration they determined that the squirrels were predestined to be there and they shouldn’t interfere with God’s divine will..


In The BAPTIST CHURCH the squirrels had taken up habitation in the baptistery. The deacons met and decided to put a cover on the baptistery and drown the squirrels in it. The squirrels escaped somehow and there were twice as many there the next week..


The Methodist Church got together and decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God’s creation. So, they humanely trapped the squirrels and set them free a few miles outside of town. Three days later, the squirrels were back..


But — The Catholic Church came up with the best and most effective solution.They baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the church. Now they only see them on Christmas , Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday and Easter.



Not much was heard about the Jewish Synagogue, but they took one squirrel and had a short service with him called circumcision and they haven’t seen a squirrel on the property since.