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The Lisbon Lions: when Celtic’s pure, beautiful, inventive football reinvented the European game

May 25, 2018

The Lisbon Lions led by captain Billy McNeill take to the pitch on May 25 1967

(This was originally published in the New European newspaper last year)

The smoke from the green and white pyrotechnic flares wafted across the stadium as the crowd passionately erupted into song in the 67th minute of Celtic’s final game of the season against Hearts in Glasgow on Sunday afternoon.

Led by the fanatical ultras supporters group the Green Brigade in the North Curve section of Celtic Park, nearly 63,000 fans, from the very old to the very young, belted out the song which has marked Celtic’s 2016-2017 season:

 “67/ In the heat of Lisbon/ The fans came in their thousands/ To see the Bhoys become champions.”

Just as it had accompanied an impressive and colourful Tifo display that decorated all four stands prior to kick-off, The Heat of Lisbon reverberated loudly for five minutes, refusing to die off. Read more…

Good piece by Mark Rainey in the Belfast Newsletter about my book

April 19, 2018

Newsletter.pngYou can read the interview here.

Today’s tracks: Mark Eitzel and Nick Ellis (Vinyl)

April 10, 2018


All the E’s with exemplary and emotive singer songwriters Mark Eitzel and Nick Ellis on vinyl.

Eitzel’s performance includes perhaps the only song written by an American about Mr Humphries from camp the British sitcom Are You Being Served.

Ellis’ ‘A Girl Called Desire’, atmospherically recorded in the Scandinavian Church in Liverpool, is the final track from his brilliant Adult Fiction album and brings a little modern twist on Merseyside legend Billy Fury.


Chris McQueer’s ‘Hings’ and Darren McGarvey’s ‘Poverty Safari’ are two of the best books I have read in a long time

April 10, 2018

HINGS MATTER… Chris McQueer’s Hings is an early contender for book of the year

THESE are the books I’ve read away from work so far since the start of the year. Just sticking them up as a record for myself, as much as anyone else.

The highlight of my year so far has been Hings (2018) by Chris McQueer, a collection of riotous short stories that share influences with both Limmy and Irvine Welsh’s The Acid House.

They are written in Glaswegian dialect by a young author raised in Springboig in the East End of the city and who has a keen ear for how ordinary people talk. But, many people have done that, what separates Hings from other books is McQueer’s utterly anarchic sense of narrative, character and punchline. Read more…

Critical regionalism: the lessons from Merseyside and Brittany for Northern Ireland post-Brexit

November 7, 2017

I did a paper for Ulster University’s Centre for Media Research on Critical Regionalism and Brexit this year. There were a number of other, much better contributors and I hope something substantial comes from an examination of both Brexit and what it means to regional and national identity.

View this document on Scribd

The quest for the authentic voice: Donald Trump, evangelism and the DUP

November 7, 2017

I gave this paper this evening about the profound ideological links between the DUP and the evangelical Christians that supported Donald Trump in the 2016 US Presidential election.

The overall points were:

a) there is little ideological fealty between the European right and Trump’s doctrine, such as it is, beyond being anti-immigration and despite the rhetoric around anti-globalism and anti-supra-national groups, and,

b) where you see the most profound ideological congruence is with the DUP, many of whose members and supporters represent a curious outlier of American evangelism in Europe, but, crucially (perhaps tenuously), hold the reins of power in the Northern Ireland assembly.

View this document on Scribd


Have fun with the Tory conference “…is a bawbag” game for all the family

October 4, 2017
Play the Tory Party Conference “…is a bawbag” game.
Simply watch the TV news and wait for a Tory talking head to appear and respond to their introduction with the words “…is a bawbag”
For example,
“On this day of turmoil for the PM we welcome Iain Duncan Smith” at which point you shout “…is a bawbag”
“Former foreign secretary, William Hague… “…is a bawbag”
“Godfather of Tory political spin, Sir Bernard Ingham… “…is a bawbag”
“Philip Hammond…” “…is a bawbag”
Hours of fun guaranteed.

Spin & Marseille: French TV does politics in vivid technicolour

April 5, 2017


Spin 2

Grégory Fitoussi (left) and Bruno Walkowitch in More 4’s French political drama Spin

In this, the year that France goes to the polls to elect a President amid the meltdown of the left and the rise of the right, you could do worse than watch two Gallic TV shows to learn about the ideological minefield that is French politics.

Spin, which was first broadcast in 2012, and Marseille (2016), Netflix’s first foreign language production, illustrate the shifting loyalties and corruption that appear to be more nakedly evident in French politics than most other places. Read more…

Damien Dempsey: The poet laureate of Ireland’s forgotten

October 25, 2016

Damien Dempsey beats his chest and exhorts you to feel the pain and love he feels

I’m very grateful that a version of this review appeared on the brilliant Liverpool music website Get Into This. They are great supporters of live music and music writing in the city.

DAMIEN Dempsey is a big, bruising boxer with the beautiful heart of a poet.

He’s a modern bard who links the historic ballad tradition in Irish folk music to a youth culture equally at home with hip-hop, reggae and rave.

He is a genuine one-of-a-kind: a sympathetic, ruggedly sentimental singer songwriter who has managed to make folk music relevant again in an Ireland ravaged by the negative aspects of globalization and corporate greed.

On Sunday evening in the Liverpool Philharmonic Music Rooms, amid the dancing bodies and the throaty communal football chants of “Damo! Damo! Damo!”, he was the perfect closing act for the 2016 Liverpool Irish Festival. Read more…

PODCAST: Ian Lynch of Lynched – the best folk band working anywhere today

October 12, 2016

Lynched are an absolutely spellbinding folk band who have gained plaudits for their album Cold Old Fire, a remarkable mixture of old Dublin music hall songs, traditional ballads and original compositions.

Coming from a punk tradition, they found folk music later than many, but it hasn’t held them back and as a live act, they are almost without compare.

I spoke to Ian Lynch about how the band started, their repertoire of songs and the new traditional scene in Ireland today.

Lynched appear at the 2016 Liverpool Irish Festival on Sunday, October 16 in the Philharmonic Music Rooms. Tickets and further details available here.



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