12/05/1951 Belfast France 2-2 Ray Ferris pen, Billy Simpson
Ted Hinton, Len Graham, Alf McMichael, Danny Blanchflower, Jackie Vernon, Ray Ferris, Billy Bingham, Kevin McGarry, Billy Simpson, Billy Dickson, Johnny McKenna
The match took place to celebrate the Festival of Britain.
Billy Bingham made his debut in this game, and was inspirational as one local press headline raved ‘IT WAS BINGHAM’S DAY’. The rest of the Ireland’s Saturday Night article stated Northern Ireland had ‘spasmodic flashes of dazzling football when everything seemed to go right for them … But for the most part they took too much out of the ball – a most unprofitable method against the fast-moving Continentals.’
Describing Bingham’s performance; ‘This was Billy Bingham’s match. He is still the same irrepressible Ballymacarrett boy. Billy was up against the bald headed Roger Marche, a first-rate full-back, but in spite of that he had a sparkling national debut. With any luck at all his perfect crosses should have produced goals.’
The unnamed reporter summed up the game; ‘France came, saw – but did not conquer. The 2-2 draw was a fair enough result. It enabled the French to maintain their seasons unbeaten record in the international arena. They played some delightful football. It was clean, precise, fast, and brainy – particularly forward, where, in Kargu and Hann, they had as good a left-wing session as we have seen for many a day. The French teamwork was first class, especially their positional sense play. The ball invariably went to the man. No time was wasted on fancy tricks. The direct way was always their way. The Irish worked hard, but a good deal of it was an unproductive effort. Through they made more scoring chances than the French, their finishing certainly was not good.’
Trivia – Only until very recently this match was billed as being (Northern) Ireland’s first full international against foreign opposition. However, it has since been proven that in fact this was the FOURTH match against a foreign side. The reason for this was due to ‘disputed internationals’ which have now through research been classified by FIFA as full internationals.