10/09/1968 Jaffa Israel 3-2 Willie Irvine (2), Derek Dougan
Pat Jennings, Pat Rice, Tommy Jackson, Arthur Stewart, Terry Neill, Martin Harvey, David Sloan, Eric McMordie, Derek Dougan (Ray Gaston), Willie Irvine, Eric Ross
The Israel Football Association invited the Northern Ireland FA to Israel as preparation for the Olympics. Northern Ireland aroused much curiosity in the country mainly due to the great Manchester United player George Best, the golden boy of British football and all 21 thousand tickets to the game at Bloomfield sold out several days before the game.
Northern Ireland national team players landed after a long flight from Belfast airport and as they waited many journalists from Israel met them. Northern Irish team manager Billy Bingham, immediately announced: “I got a call from Matt Busby announcing that George Best was injured in a game against West Ham and he was checked by United’s doctor who forbid him to fly to Tel Aviv.”
Northern Ireland stayed at a hotel in Ramat Aviv. The Irish delegation included Northern Irish Association chairman Harry Cavan who was then vice-president of FIFA. Meeting with Israeli media Cavan promised that FIFA would oppose all discrimination and politics in football. The statement came after the request of a number of Muslim countries in Asia to expel Israel Football Association from the Asian continent.
Northern Ireland chose to have training at Shimshon Tel Aviv F.C next door to hold it to its inaugural training. Goalkeeper and player in the English league with Tottenham Hosspur, Pat Jennings, asked journalists from Israel how far it is from Tel Aviv to the Suez Canal. The ‘keeper explained that the morning papers were mentioning the ditch between the Egyptian army armed forces, an incident spoken by guests at breakfast. Jennings said that the match against Israel serves as preparation for his team for the game against the Turkey national team in World Cup Qualifiers as part of Mexico in 1970.
Northern Ireland players were promised a win bonus of £60, which were 540 Israeli pounds in those days. Journalists from Northern Ireland said that the value of the eleven players playing against Israel is £385,000, as the most valuable player of the team was Captain Terry Neil was worth £80,000, followed by Derek Dougan who was worth £60,000 and the ‘keeper Jennings worth £50,000.
Before the game team coach of Israel, Emanuel Schaeffer spoke to the Israeli media: “I hope I can draw conclusions about the players. Who does not live weapons training is not able to fight the main battle and prove himself.”
On September 10, 1968 reached 21,000 spectators in the Bloomfield stadium. The referee was Dittmar Huber from Switzerland. The Israeli team included Haim Levin, Sharga Bar, Zvi Rosen, Yeshayau Schwager, Menahem Bello, Shamuel Rosenthal, Rahamin Talbi, Gyora Spiegel, Yoshua Feygenbaum, Mordechai Spiegler and Reuben Young. The subs were Shamuel Malika and George Borba. The composition of the Northern Ireland team was Jennings, Rice, Harvey, Neill, Stuart, Jackson, Sloan, McMordie, Dougan, Irvine and Ross. The sub was Ray Gaston.
Already in the fifth minute the visitors scored. Levin top goalkeeper’s kicked McMordie and while lying on the grass spun a square ball. Willie Irvine from Preston easily knocked the ball into the net and put Northern Ireland one nil up. The Israeli team, especially Spiegler, were given several opportunities to get a goal but their shots found the hands of the ‘keeper Jennings. In the 20th minute Wolves’ Derek Dougan scored. He overcame Zvi Rosen has also Yeshayau Schwager and kicked the ball into the far corner of the new past Levin. On 38 Minutes Dougan kicked the ball, Levin guessed incorrectly and Irvine’s easy header set the halftime score 0:3 to the guests from Northern Ireland.
During recess, the Israeli coach during his briefing replaced the ‘keeper Levin with Shamuel Malika. On 52 minutes Israel were getting back into to the game during an impressive spell. Yoshua Feygenbaum passed to defender Menahem Bello who raced forward. He held left and Mordechai Spiegler gave a short cross and made the score 1:3. The Israeli team took over the game and the pressure on the defense of Northern Ireland was organized and continuous.
On 63 minutes another Israeli attack, when Rahamin Talbi of Maccabi Tel Aviv stood 22 feet from the goal when suddenly he sent the ball towards goal which landed with great force between the posts past Pat Jennings, 2:3.
Attempts to even the score later failed and Northern Ireland players left from the pitch satisfied with the victory and the Israeli players consoled themselves respectable result and improve the level of their game. After the game the coach said Moshe Assis Boost of Maccabi Tel Aviv and Captain of Hapoel Tel Aviv Nouriel that they remain in the country and will go to the U.S. and Mexico Olympics.
Willie Irvine: “It was all long grass and red soil. It was amazing and the trip was a lot of fun. We had some really great players in the side…”