25/03/1998 Belfast Slovakia 1-0 Steve Lomas
Alan Fettis, Iain Jenkins, Aaron Hughes, Steve Lomas, Colin Hill, Steve Morrow, Keith Gillespie (Jon McCarthy), Neil Lennon, Iain Dowie, Michael Hughes, James Quinn (George O’Boyle)
Belfast looked at its least attractive on 25th. March. Grey clouds hung low over the city and rain fell without respite on the brave fans who splashed through the drab streets towards Windsor Park.
Other spectators willing to be heard were the enthusiastic crowd on the new Spion Kop stand. (I refuse to call it ‘The West Stand’) They taunted the sheepskin coat brigade in the North Stand for not singing. And when they still didn’t sing, the Koppites responded with the chant of “Boring, boring North Stand!”
These enthusiastic fans had obviously taken the advice of TAWSIE to get behind the team and their singing and chanting were the highlight of a rather low key evening. But even they were stunned into silence when our ‘keeper, Alan Fettis, proved to be a complete butter-fingers, as he dived over a dangerous cross from the left, and then was relieved to watch it skim wide of goal. Another spectator holding his breath was Slovakian forward, Attilia Pinte, who was put through on the right and cleverly chipped the ball over Fettis. He watched, waiting for his lob to dip into the net. But something in the damp Belfast air made it climb over the bar. Hard cheese, Attilia!
The all singing, all clapping, all chanting fans at the Kop end deserved the treat which skipper, Steve Lomas served up in the 51st minute. Our Steve, dribbled in from the right, before drilling a low, left foot drive from twenty-five yards past the visitor’s keeper for the winning goal right in front of the ecstatic Kop choir.
The spectator who seemed least involved all evening long was our wonder-winger, Keith Gillespie. He did very little on the pitch. But near the end he livened things up by taking a swing at a defender and sparking off a brawl. As five or six players from each side rushed to join in the “argy-bargy”, our Keith slipped out of the mayhem with the ball and watched the fight from a distance, while keeping warm with a game of “keepy-uppy”. Yes, it was a great night for spectators.
Author: Cunningham Peacock
25/03/1981 Glasgow Scotland 1-1 Billy Hamilton
Pat Jennings, Jimmy Nicholl, Chris Nicholl, John McClelland, John O’Neill, Sammy Nelson, David McCreery, Sammy McIlroy, Terry Cochrane, Gerry Armstrong, Billy Hamilton (Derek Spence)
Scotland’s Steve Archibald struck a post and had a shot headed off the line in the first half, Northern Ireland’s Billy Hamilton headed against the junction of post and crossbar early in the 2nd half before putting his side ahead on 70 with a glancing header following Sammy McIlroy’s free-kick, but John Wark equalised 5 minutes later by taking a through-ball from Willie Miller and slipping it under Pat Jennings. The match was Scotland captain Archie Gemmill’s 43rd and final international appearance.
Northern Ireland made their trip to Hampden Park, having not won there since 1974.
Jimmy Nicholl – “… the Irish support that night was tremendous. We put on a real show and gave Scotland a roasting. Billy Hamilton scored for us and we were leading 1-0 with only seven minutes to go when John Walk equalised. A draw was disappointing but we took a lot from that display. Billy [Bingham] foxed Scotland by putting John McClelland in front of the back four to stop Graeme Souness putting the ball into [Kenny] Dalglish’s feet. Scotland went wide and their crosses were easily dealt with by Chris Nicholl and John O’Neill.”
Billy Hamilton – “We’d worked on that particular plan in our last training session before the game. And on the night it worked like a dream. I couldn’t believe it when I found I had so much room.”