17/10/1961 Belfast Greece 2-0 Jimmy McLaughlin (2)
Harry Gregg, Jimmy Magill, Alex Elder, Danny Blanchflower, Terry Neill, Jimmy Nicholson, Billy Bingham, Jimmy McIlroy, Billy McAdams, Wilbur Cush, Jimmy McLaughlin
N. IRELAND BREAK LOSING SPELL: TWO SENT OFF IN WORLD CUP TIE
The Times – Wednesday 18th October
Northern Ireland, with 11 defeats behind them, broke the spell at Windsor Park, Belfast, last night by beating Greece in the second leg of the World Cup tie.
It was, however, a most unsatisfactory match, for 15 minutes after half-time play was held up for fully five minutes with a general melee taking place in midfield. This ended with the Italian referee, Mr. Bonetto, sending off the Irish left-half Nicholson and the Greek inside-left Sitheris.
Then Mr. Bonetto called the captains together and the situation became more orderly. Mainly it had seemed a clash of temperaments rather than a case of intentional fouling which had caused the rumpus.
Throughout it all, Ireland played the better football in this scrappy affair and well deserved their win. Blanchflower, who held things together in midfield with his calming influence, was outstanding and the Shrewsbury left-winger, McLaughlin, took his chances well.
He put Ireland ahead after a mistake in the Greek goalmouth in the first half and drove in a second 12 minutes after the interval. Defeat for the Greeks ended their slim hopes of going to Chile for the finals next summer, for west Germany are now certain winners of the group.
This was the return World Cup Qualifying international after Greece hosted Northern Ireland in May of the same year. A gale-force wind was sweeping through Windsor Park from the Divis Mountain direction. Northern Ireland sat in their dressing room 10 minutes prior to kickoff and let the Greeks sample the delightful Belfast weather. As previously mentioned in the match report for that game Wilbur Cush had a score to settle with a certain Greek player. Cush got his man as he said he would but the aggressive nature of the match was apparent from all players. Jimmy Nicholson who was checking the damage caused by Cush was subsequently sent off after a fist fight broke out between himself and Greek forward Jorgos Sideris.