15/06/1958 Malmö West Germany 2-2 Peter McParland (2)
Harry Gregg, Dick Keith, Alf McMichael, Danny Blanchflower, Willie Cunningham, Bertie Peacock, Billy Bingham, Wilbur Cush, Tommy Casey, Jimmy McIlroy, Peter McParland
NORTHERN IRELAND LEAD TWICE AGAINST WEST GERMANY
The Times – Monday 16th June
MALMO, JUNE 15 – In a hard-hitting match here this evening Northern Ireland, to their great credit, drew with western Germany after twice leading. The play was exceptionally fast from beginning to end, and on a firm ground, under a still hot sun in the first half, it proved the fitness of both teams. West Germany, with four points, have now won Group I and are in the quarter-finals, but Ireland must play off with Czechoslovakia, who this evening beat Argentina 6-1. The match will be on Tuesday in Malmo.
Ireland, with Casey at centre forward, had an unenviable task before them at the start. Germany had Rahn on the wing obviously in form, and three inside-forwards who could well help Germany to win the Cup again. But Ireland had their tails up from the start, never looked as if they had ever thought of losing, and by the end were well on top. It was a fighting performance, perhaps the best by a British team so far, for every man did his bit and no side could have a better captain than Blanchflower.
If every Irishman earned full marks, there was no praise too high for Gregg. In every way he was magnificent. Time and again he had 22,000 applauding loudly his superlative and often daring saves, and half the crowd must have been Germans. Gregg twisted his ankle and hurt a shoulder, but remained the inspiration of those in front of him. Blanchflower was his usual quiet, idiosyncratic self, pinpointing his passes, always shadowing and worrying his man, always up behind Bingham and Cush, always quick to change defence to advantage. McIlroy and Cush never spared themselves, and Peacock came out well from his duels with Walter…
After 15 minutes Ireland scored. Casey, hobbling temporarily out of position in midfield, pushed the ball through to Bingham, whose high centre scraped Cush’s head and landed on McParland’s waiting foot. But within 90 seconds a deft pass from Seeler sent Rahn racing in, and Gregg only got his fingers to the shot that went in off a post…
A corner from Cush found McIlroy; a touch to McParland, and he made it 2-1. But just as it seemed that Ireland were heading for the quarter-final, a quick throw-in to Schafer was pushed back to Seeler and Gregg could only watch his shot, from 25 yards out, flash in off a post.
* Trivia –
This was the first time a Northern Ireland football team had played on a Sunday. This was a bone of contention back home as some religious groups had requested that the IFA withdraw the side from the tournament because of the Sunday matches. The Irish FA reminded their players that it was against the IFA rules to play matches scheduled on the ‘holy day’. The players protested, and the IFA scrapped the rule for this tournament only at the very last minute, because the match was not on home turf.
Danny Blanchflower captain of Northern Ireland at the time remembers; “We all went to church on Sunday morning out of respect for those in Northern Ireland who did not want us to play matches on Sunday. Appropriately we sang ‘Fight the good fight’ which we later did…”
Prior to the match a German TV crew had made an impromptu visit to the Northern Ireland hotel and made a request to film the team practice. Danny Blanchflower recalls; “We could not oblige them because the Irish officials had gone fishing in the team’s new track suits. This pleased the Germans. They dashed after the fishing officials to show their German audience that the Irish had different priorities.”
According to Danny, the German TV crew informed them that the Argentinian players had allegedly “…been banished to an island because they had been caught sharing their bedrooms with some lovely Swedish girls.” The Northern Irish were allowed to visit the local nightclub , ‘The Nor-e-cat’, but were transported back to the hotel at midnight by the team bus. The Irish FA officials and Belfast Lord Mayor stayed on at the club, in Danny’s words to continue “their merry dance.”
Our Tactics Have Always Been To Equalise Before The Other Team Score
This infamous quote is of course synonymous with Danny Blanchflower after Northern Ireland drew with West Germany 2-2 in the 1958 World Cup. However, what is less known is that the Irish trainer Gerry Morgan (aka ‘Uncle Gerry’) was the original source when he was quoted as saying to German journalists prior to the same game… “We’ll equalise before the other team scores!” Danny Blanchflower therefore recycled the original phrase said by Gerry Morgan hours earlier!
The full quote is as follows:
“Our tactics have always been to equalise before the other team score. Now I think they scored first and then we equalised, but we equalised the second time before they scored.”