19/05/1973 Liverpool Wales 1-0 Bryan Hamilton
Pat Jennings, Pat Rice, Dave Craig, Allan Hunter, Terry Neill, Dave Clements, Bryan Hamilton (Bertie Lutton), Tommy Jackson, Sammy Morgan, Martin O’Neill, Trevor Anderson (Roy Coyle)
Northern Ireland went into this match in good form having defeated Scotland in Glasgow 2-1 a few days earlier, although their first match in that years championship was lost to England a week earlier at Goodison Park. Both the England match and this match against Wales were ‘home’ matches for Northern Ireland as they were playing their home games on the British mainland due to ‘The Troubles’ back home in Belfast.
Irish Football Association President and FIFA Vice President Harry Cavan was not impressed with the current format of the British Home International Championship taking place at the end of a long hard season in May. “Originally, I thought it was an ideal arrangement, but, in the light of present experience, I’m not so sure that this is the best format. After an exhaustive season, in which clubs have to play far too many games, players are tired and lack enthusiasm.”
The public could possibly have felt the same way as a meager 4,964 crowd witnessed this match, the lowest ever recorded for a Home Championship match (not helped that Northern Ireland were playing home games away from home of course!). The influence that Harry Cavan had with the other home nations must not have been portrayed as the format remained virtually the same until the tournaments ultimate demise in 1984.
A 25 yard goal after 14 minutes from Bryan Hamilton (Ipswich Town) was enough to give Northern Ireland a narrow victory.
Northern Ireland finished with 4 points and on the same day England faced Scotland at Wembley. A draw or win would give England the championship outright while a Scotland win would bring with it a three-way tie for the tournament with England, Scotland and Northern Ireland sharing the trophy. England however, won the game with a solidity goal coming from Martin Peters. England therefore won the tournament and Northern Ireland finished a credible second.
Wales finished bottom of the group having lost all three of their matches failing to score in the process. A Pat Jennings (Tottenham Hotspur) save onto the bar from a header by Welsh player Wyn Davies (Manchester United) and a shot from Reece (Cardiff City) which also hit the crossbar were the closet Wales had come to scoring in the tournament.
* Trivia –
Player-Manager and captain of Northern Ireland Terry Neill (Hull City) had announced his retirement from playing after some criticism from football pundit Jimmy Hill earlier in the season. This was Neill’s fifty ninth cap for his country but he still managed the side until 1974.
This match played at Goodison Park as Northern Ireland at that time were forced to play their home games on the British mainland due to the ‘troubles’ back home.