08th June – Today In Our Footballing History

08/06/1958 Halmstad Czechoslovakia 1-0 Wilbur Cush

Harry Gregg, Dick Keith, Alf McMichael, Danny Blanchflower, Willie Cunningham, Bertie Peacock, Billy Bingham, Wilbur Cush, Derek Dougan, Jimmy McIlroy, Peter McParland

Author: By Martin Harris

IN THESE modern times the story of Northern Ireland’s participation in the 1958 World Cup finals seems almost too improbable to comprehend.

Beset by tragedy and controversy even before departure the common belief of the time was that this was when the fairytale would come to an end.

Peter Doherty’s side had already eliminated twice winners Italy, had only played once since – a draw with fellow qualifiers Wales – and found themselves paired with reigning champions West Germany as well as the highly-rated Czechoslovakia and Argentina.

Throw into the mix the absence of Jackie Blanchflower, still recovering from the Munich air disaster and meaning only 17 players travelled, and the controversy back home surrounding the age old issue of Sunday football – two of the games were arranged for the Sabbath thus casting doubt on our very participation in the tournament – and it’s not hard to see why little was expected.

The journey to their Tylosand base wasn’t easy either. First a flight to Copenhagen, then a ferry across to Malmo before an arduous bus journey to the headquarters near the town of Halmstad.

The fans, too, went to extraordinary lengths to get there.

Many stories persist but the most celebrated of these must be tale of Mickey McColgan and Leslie Nicholl who travelled to Tylosand via scooter and set up camp – literally – on the lawn of the team hotel! Another fan – Billy Malcolmson – ended up being drafted as an assistant kit-man and part-time masseur!

Once settled the Swedes took Northern Ireland to their hearts and vice versa.

Legend has it that to ease the boredom between games the players served behind the counters of local shops while a local lad – Bengt Jonosson (13) – was a permanent fixture at the training camp, running errands for the players and becoming very much the 18th ‘member’ of the squad.

The squad that travelled reads now like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Northern Ireland legends.

Goalkeepers: Harry Gregg (Manchester United), Norman Uprichard (Portsmouth)
Full-backs: Dick Keith (Newcastle United), Alfie McMichael (Newcastle United)
Half-backs: Danny Blanchflower (Tottenham Hotspur), Willie Cunningham (Leicester City), Bertie Peacock (Celtic), Tommy Casey (Newcastle United)
Forwards: Billy Bingham (Sunderland), Wilbur Cush (Leeds United), Billy Simpson (Rangers), Jimmy McIlroy (Burnley), Peter McParland (Aston Villa), Derek Dougan (Portsmouth), Fay Coyle (Nottingham Forest), Jackie Scott (Grimsby Town), Sammy McCrory (Southend United)

Unfortunately, even before a ball was kicked, they were reduced to just 16 in number when Simpson picked up an injury in the very first training session thus ruling him out of the rest of the competition.

Their first game was on June 8th – a Sunday – against Czechoslovakia in Halmstad. With the Swedish crowd urging them on Northern Ireland secured a famous victory thanks to a 21st minute header by Cush from a McParland cross.

Source: irishfa.com

NORTHERN IRELAND SQUAD

MANAGER: Peter Doherty

1 – HARRY GREGG (Manchester United)

10 caps, 10 goals conceded.

Completed 4 of Northern Ireland’s last 5 World Cup games, conceded 3 goals, with one clean sheet.

F.A. Cup finalists.

2 – WILLIE CUNNINGHAM (Leicester City)

16 caps.

Completed all four qualifiers and 5 of Northern Ireland’s 7 World Cup games.

3 – ALF McMICHAEL (Newcastle United)

29 caps.

Completed all four qualifiers and 9 of 10 Irish World Cup games.

Escaped relegation to Second Division on goal-average, from Portsmouth and Sunderland.

4 – DANNY BLANCHFLOWER (Tottenham Hotspur) – Capt.

30 caps.

Completed all four qualifiers and 9 of 10 Irish World Cup games.

Footballer of the Year.

Captained London in European Fairs Cup Final.

5 – DICK KEITH (Newcastle United)

3 caps, but no World Cup appearances.

Escaped relegation to Second Division on goal-average, from Portsmouth and Sunderland.

6 – BERTIE PEACOCK (Celtic)

15 caps.

Completed 4 of Northern Ireland’s last 5 World Cup games.

Scottish League Cup Winners.

7 – BILLY BINGHAM (Sunderland)

28 caps, 4 goals.

Completed all 7 of Northern Ireland’s World Cup games, scoring opening goal in Lisbon.

Relegated to Second Division on goal-average, behind Newcastle United and Portsmouth.

8 – BILLY CUSH (Leeds United)

11 caps, 3 goals.

Completed all four qualifiers and 6 of Northern Ireland’s 7 World Cup games.

One World Cup goal, against Italy, which eventually took Northern Ireland to Sweden.

9 – BILLY SIMPSON (Rangers)

11 caps, 5 goals.

Completed final three qualifiers and 5 of Northern Ireland’s 7 World Cup games.

One World Cup goal, against Portugal.

Scottish League Runners-Up and scored in Scottish League Cup Final.

10 – JIMMY McILROY (Burnley)

26 caps, 4 goals.

Completed all 7 of Northern Ireland’s World Cup games.

Northern Ireland’s top scorer in qualifying, with two goals, one from a penalty.

11 – PETER McPARLAND (Aston Villa)

14 caps, 2 goals.

Scored twice on debut, in 1954 qualifier, at Wrexham, but no goals since.

Completed 3 of Northern Ireland’s last 5 World Cup games.

12 – NORMAN UPRICHARD (Portsmouth)

15 caps, 31 goals conceded and no clean sheets.

Completed final qualifier on World Cup debut against Italy, conceding a consolation goal.

Escaped relegation to Second Division, on goal-average, from Sunderland.

13 – TOMMY CASEY (Newcastle United)

8 caps, 1 goal.

Completed first three qualifiers and scored opening goal against Portugal.

Escaped relegation to Second Division on goal-average, from Portsmouth and Sunderland.

14 – JACKIE SCOTT (Grimsby Town)

Uncapped from Second Division.

15 – SAMMY McCRORY (Southend United)

1 cap, 1 goal.

No World Cup appearances.

Joint-top scorer in Third Division South.

16 – DEREK DOUGAN (Portsmouth)

Uncapped.

Escaped relegation to Second Division, on goal-average, from Sunderland.

17 – FAY COYLE (Nottingham Forest)

3 caps.

Completed opening qualifier in Lisbon.

18 – ROY REA (Glenavon)

Uncapped goalkeeper.

Irish League Runners-Up.

19 – LEN GRAHAM (Doncaster Rovers)

13 caps, but none since 1955.

Completed final two qualifiers in 1953-54.

Relegated to Third Division.

20 – SAMMY CHAPMAN (Portsmouth)

Uncapped.

Escaped relegation to Second Division, on goal-average, from Sunderland.

21 – TOMMY HAMILL (Linfield)

Uncapped.

Irish Cup finalists.

22 – BOBBY TRAINOR (Coleraine)

Uncapped.

MISSING:

Jackie Blanchflower (completed first and last qualifiers)
Eddie McMorran (3 World Cup appearances and equalised against England, at Goodison Park, in 1953)

DESPERATE DEFENCE SAVES IRELAND: ONE GOAL SUFFICIENT

The Times – Monday 9th June

HALMSTAD, JUNE 8 – Playing their typical do-or-die brand of football here to-day, Northern Ireland beat Czechoslovakia by a goal to nothing in the World Cup, to become the only United Kingdom team to claim success in the opening series. A crowd of 20,000 in the Orjeansvall Stadium cheered the green-shirted Irishmen to the echo as they fought, desperately, in the closing stages to cling to a slender lead, given them after 15 minutes’ play by Cush.

Nine Irish players fell back in defence at one stage towards the end, and a succession of free kicks awarded to Czechoslovakia, all just outside the penalty area, almost saved the day for them.

Source: freewebs.com/glenish

Victory For Irish

Halmstad 8 June 1958. Northern Ireland against Czechoslovakia at Örjans vall in Halmstad. Wilbur Cush of Northern Ireland did the only goal 20 minutes into the game.

AUTHOR: PRESSENS BILD/SCANPIX/ARKIV

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Northern_Ireland_vs_Czechoslovakia_FIFA_World_Cup_1958.jpg

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Northern Ireland Footballing Greats

footballdatabase.eu

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One response to “08th June – Today In Our Footballing History

  1. Leslie Nicholl was a distant relative of mine. Lovely man.

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