14/02/1914 Middlesbrough England 3-0 Billy Lacey (2), Billy Gillespie
Fred McKee, Bill McConnell, Alex Craig, Harry Hampton, Pat O’Connell, Mickey Hamill, David Rollo, Sam Young, Billy Gillespie, Billy Lacey, Frank Thompson
England 0–3 Ireland
For the game at Middlesbrough Ireland made four changes: Harris was injured and was replaced by Dubliner Harry Hampton (Bradford City); Belfastman Micky Hamill (Manchester United), who had been ‘indisposed’ for the game against Wales, was recalled, as was Johnny Houston, previously a soldier in the Royal Irish Rifles but at that time playing with Linfield in the Irish League; and Frank Thompson replaced Brookman on Ireland’s left wing. Thompson, from Ballynahinch, had played a crucial role in creating the Bradford City goal that beat Newcastle in the 1911 FA Cup final replay. In the event, Houston did not start and Rollo, originally one of the players dropped, came back into the side at outside-right; he had been wing-half against Wales.
Rollo adapted well to his unusual position before a crowd of more than 27,000 at Ayresome Park, except that he was frequently offside. Within five minutes of kick-off, however, he and Thompson had set up an attack that was finished off by Lacey with a shot past England goalkeeper Sam Hardy (Aston Villa). Hardy, winning his sixteenth cap, was judged to be England’s best player on the day, followed by his two equally experienced full-backs, Rob Crompton (Blackburn Rovers) and Jessie Pennington (West Bromwich Albion). The latter allowed a cross from Thompson to go over his head before half-time, however, and Gillespie got inside him to beat Hardy with a low shot to give Ireland a 2–0 lead at the interval. The Irish boys, wearing blue shirts—England were in white—continued to dominate the game in the second half, and when Gillespie got around Pennington again he set Lacey up to score his second for a 3–0 win.
England’s best chance was a shot against the post by inside-forward Danny Shea. Born in London’s East End to parents from Cork, Shea’s move from West Ham United to Blackburn Rovers the previous year was the first to break the £2,000 transfer barrier. England’s centre-forward, George Elliott, had scored 21 goals for Middlesbrough that season but made no impression on the game. Crowds had come from all parts of Cleveland to see him play for England, but the Middlesbrough Standard reported that, while they conceded that their hero was entitled to the occasional off day, they ‘were disgusted with the England team’.
The London Times agreed that Ireland was the better side and deserved to win, while the Manchester-based Athletics News, the voice of English football, agreed fully in its more detailed analysis of the game. In Lacey, it affirmed, Ireland had the best player on the field; Craig was ‘cool as a cucumber’ at full-back, Hamill ‘a tireless worker’ at wing-half and O’Connell ‘as steady as a rock at centre-half’. But as well as outstanding individuals, Ireland played together as a unit and worked harder, with ‘two blue shirts to one white one in the vicinity of the ball’. The Freeman’s Journal argued that two successive wins over England meant that Ireland was now a force to be reckoned with in international football. The Irish Times, while repeating its claim that the 1913 win had been a lucky one, acknowledged that ‘on this occasion full credit must be given to the Hibernians accomplishing what was a wonderfully fine performance’.
Author: Colm Kerrigan
Athletic News report: “Last season, the representatives of Ireland created a sensation by defeating England for the first time in the history of international Association football. On Saturday they caused a thunderbolt to burst by their audacity in actually trouncing the English 11.”