20/05/1980 London England 1-1 Terry Cochrane
Jim Platt, Jimmy Nicholl, Mal Donaghy, Chris Nicholl, John O’Neill, Tommy Cassidy (David McCreery), Sammy McIlroy, Billy Hamilton (Terry Cochrane), Gerry Armstrong, Tom Finney, Noel Brotherston
A meager Wembley crowd were provided with further evidence, following the chastening defeat in Wrexham, that although England’s first team were a match for anyone, their understudies were simply not up to standard. In the space of three and a half days, England’s mood had changed drastically, and now their immediate concern was to avoid the British wooden spoon. Only Cherry and Brooking were retained from the starting line-up against Wales, but even with nine changes, the performance was worryingly similar. There is no doubt that they badly missed their German-based stars, Keegan and Woodcock, who were obliged by their clubs to miss the whole Home Championship.
Northern Ireland, having suffered several heavy defeats to England in recent years, understandably approached the match in slightly apprehensive mood, and sat back for long periods. This allowed England to have a lot of possession, but they lacked a killer instinct. Johnson and Reeves were not incisive in attack, so all the probing of the likes of Brooking and Wilkins counted for little. The Irish rarely threatened England’s defence, which allowed the likes of Cherry to play further forward on several occasions. Indeed, Cherry had a shot cleared off the line by Jimmy Nicholl on the stroke of half-time.
Brooking wasted a good opportunity for England, but in the last ten minutes, just as the crowd were giving up hope, the game sprung into life. A centre by Hughes was touched on by Sansom, off an Irish defender, and was turned in at the far post. Johnson and Brotherston had gone for the ball together; the ball seemed to hit Brotherston last, but Johnson has been credited with the goal; he now had a fantastic England record of six goals in six games. The Irish, though, had always threatened on the break, and hit back within two minutes. Jimmy Nicholl instigated the move, and the ball came to Cochrane who scored a fine goal. Hughes was Wolves’s first England captain since 1964; there has not been one since.
Terry Cochrane (Northern Ireland goal scorer):
“If you’d have killed me then, I’d have died happy … It was the goal of my lifetime. I don’t think Ill ever score a more crucial goal … I played my part and I’m grateful that I was able to feature in a piece of history.”
“I thought I’d worn the green jersey for the last time, but thankfully Billy Bingham gave me a fresh chance. Danny Blanchflower was manager and he was a nice guy but he was senile. We were playing at Windsor Park one day [19/05/1979 v England] and Gerry Armstrong kicked me up the backside, so I hit him. We made up and there was no problem but in the dressing room at half-time, Danny came up to talk to us both. ‘What’s gone is gone. Let’s not make any more of this.’ Not that me and Gerry were going to anyway. ‘Now you’ he said pointing to me, ‘Get in the bath’…”
* Trivia –
Terry Cochrane’s wife was playing Bingo in a local club in Middlesborough and the MC stopped the game to announce that Terry had scored. A huge cheer went up in the hall, despite the goal going against England.