29/05/1999 Dublin Republic of Ireland 1-0 Danny Griffin
Maik Taylor (Roy Carroll), Darren Patterson, Aaron Hughes, Mark Williams, Barry Hunter, Stephen Robinson, Jon McCarthy, Neil Lennon (Danny Griffin), Iain Dowie (Adrian Coote), James Quinn, Steve Morrow, Keith Rowland (Damien Johnson)
Gerry McDermott in the Irish Independent the morning of the game: “While Northern Ireland won’t want to be turned over by the Republic, it seems unlikely, given the vast chasm in class, that they will emerge from Lansdowne Road with anything other than a moral victory.”
A friendly international it might have been (in aid of the Omagh Bomb Fund) but when super Danny Griffin put the ball in the South’s net it was the first time that Northern Ireland had defeated the Republic away from home and the first time in 20 years in any match home or away.
The attendance at the match was only 12,000 as it clashed with the Scottish Cup Final between Rangers and Celtic.
The game kicks off and Northern Ireland start well, so well in fact that its hard to believe that we had played so poorly against Canada. Things never seen or heard before were happening. “Jesus Christ, we’re playing football!” was heard and the cheering of successive passes happened several times. Just bizarre. The crowd is lively as well and is in good voice, although one of the head stewards looks a bit worried for some reason and calls for a couple of Garda. There was no bother though, just another paranoid steward.
The first half ends goalless but the good atmosphere continues during half time. A £50,000 donation to the Omagh fund made during half time was well received by all. Take a dander about half time to talk to a few people, and see any banners. Marty decides to video the banners, while some steward slabbered “Is dat banner bigger dan yours?” several times in the background. You weren’t funny the first time mate. All the usual were out, City of Armagh, Larne and Newcastle.
Second half starts and early on there’s a goal, not at Lansdowne but at Hampden. The Norn Iron supporters celebrate anyway, and an early rumour that the Argentinean (Amato) has scored is later corrected when we hear that it was the Argentinean Rod Wallace who scored! Some bloke is so happy he dances round the terracing with his mobile phone above his head. Never trust people with radios from Cookstown.
Northern Ireland continue to play well in the second half with some top individual performances. John McCarthy put in the sort of hard working quality performance we just don’t expect from Keith Gillespie, and hopefully he’ll keep his starting place. Roy Carroll, on as a half time sub, was faultless – crosses, shots, through balls all no problem. In midfield, Lennon had his best game for ages, and Robinson recovered from a quiet start to play very well.
Then came the goal. Its the dying minutes and despite playing very well we’d be happy to take a draw. The ball breaks loose and Danny Griffin throws himself at ball. The ball loops high and slow towards the goal, one of those loopy shots that seems to take forever. Is it over the keeper? It is. Its going over the bar – fuck its in!! Mayhem in the stands, real mayhem. That temporary seating got a good shakedown for the next five minutes. Wild celebrations went on, including a quality bit of jumping while twirling a scarf by ‘supporter A’, perfectly captured by the television cameras, and some vodka drinking hood in the row behind tries to lift me up. A bit lucky it may have been, but I doubt if a goal was ever celebrated so much. The Ballysillan Diehard nearly ended up on the pitch.
We hadn’t realised the second half had started late and we were wondering where all the injury time was coming from, but the game eventually finished at 4:55pm. Of course we had to stay in the ground a while to celebrate and the stewards didn’t seem bothered about getting us out. Eventually we leave the stand after more singing and dancing, and make our way slowly out of the ground accompanied by the City of Armagh drummer. Northern Ireland fans now seem to have taken over most of the pubs around the ground. Back at the pub which had been taken over on the way in, there seemed to be even more NI fans this time around. People were dancing about, even in the middle of the road and the Garda had to move in when the traffic was being blocked! Old friends popped up everywhere and much celebratory hugging took place.
29/05/1996 Belfast Germany 1-1 George O’Boyle
Alan Fettis, Danny Griffin, Nigel Worthington (Keith Rowland), Colin Hill, Barry Hunter, Keith Gillespie (George O’Boyle), Steve Lomas, Jim Magilton, Gerry McMahons, Michael Hughes, Iain Dowie
Early preasure by the attack of Gillespie Hughes Dowie and McMahon led to a couple of corners, one of which by Hughes was just punched off the line by the German goalie the next one he came for and dropped the ball but unfortunately out of harms way. The Germans then had their first attack, the left winger cut the ball back behind Klinsmann, Lomas and Magilton, the referee blew for a penalty, Klinsmann hadn’t gone down and never even looked at the ref to ask for it. Crowd were in uproar, Lomas nearly got himself booked, Klinsmann hit the spot kick wide of Fettis’ right hand post, although Fettis had guessed the right way.
More Norn Ireland pressure, a couple of very cynical fouls by the German defense, the left back especially took out Gillespie and later McMahon when both had got the better of him, he was booked for the second one. The right back then did a similar job on Hughes after he got the ball behind the defense and would have been clear if he had both legs to run with, he also was booked. From the free kicks McMahon would have scored had he been 5′ 8″ instead of 5′ 6″ and the next one Magilton and Worthington worked a bluff move to leave Worthington to cross in without anyone quite getting on the end of it.
Dowie was taking some abuse from the big center half and should have had a penalty for pushing on at least one occasion. Danny Griffin of St.Johnstone played well at right back and really impressed, he then got cleaned by a German going over the top and getting himself booked.
Then Scholl went round Worthington, and Nigel pushed him over to concede a second penalty, the number 7 took this one and hit it over the bar, again Fettis had gone the right way.
The few Germans (about 2-300) started shouting ‘Deutshland Deutshland’ and the Spion Kop (being used for the last time before it is demolished and turned into a stand) responded with the theme from the ‘Dambusters’, more subtle than their usual.
Second half was again a pattern of Norn Ireland frenzy taking the match to the Germans, Wothington was replaced by Rowland so big Dowie got the captain’s arm band, and was even more psyched up than usual.
Gillespie dropped out of the game and wasn’t taking on his man quite the same so he was replaced by George O’Boyle, two St. Johnstone men now playing. O’Boyle used to play for Linfield so he had the crowd going every time he got the ball and he looked comfortable on it. Then came the moment of glory a corner from Hughes went by Dowie and O’Boyle volleyed in from 6 yards.
The Germans responded immediately and after the attack seemed to have fizzled out the ball went out of the box and the defense came out leaving 3 Germans behind, Scholl hit a shot that went through some players and into Fettis’ left hand corner.
Dowie had another good chance and Fettis made the only save he had to make late on.
Author: David Gault
* Trivia –
This was the last game in which standing was available in the Spion Kop end of Windsor Park. A new ‘West Stand’ was due to be built in the weeks after this match.
Germany missed TWO penalties during this match.