20/10/1923 Belfast England 2-1 Billy Gillespie, Tucker Croft
Tom Farquharson, Andy McCluggage, Jack Curran, Sam Irving, Bert Smith, Billy Emerson, Jack Brown, Tucker Croft, Bobby Irvine, Billy Gillespie, Joe Toner
An embarrassing defeat for England, in so much as they were not only beaten, but beaten well and deservedly. During the last half hour in particular, Ireland were attacking continually, and would have won by more but for a good display in goal by Taylor. Bradford and Chambers did both hit the Irish post in this period, but an equaliser would have been most harsh on Ireland.
This was despite the fact that the English FA had restricted the number of players with English clubs allowed to represent Ireland. One of the players who played only as a result of this ruling was Croft of Queen’s Island, who ironically was one of the best players on the pitch. He later spent four years (1924-28) playing for various teams in the American Soccer League before returning home for second spells with both Queen’s Island and Glentoran. Queen’s Island only spent eight years (1921-29) in the Irish League, before being voted out after conceding 130 goals in just 26 games in their final season.
This match had started so well for England, as Bradford gave them an early lead. However, once Gillespie (the Irish captain) had got his usual goal against England, there was only ever going to be one winner. It was no surprise when the Irish did take the lead, through a fine individual goal from the aforementioned Croft.
* Trivia –
‘Tucker’ Croft who scored the winning goal against England knew nothing about the goal. He took the ball around English right-half Tommy Meehan three times, then goalkeeper Eddie Taylor rushed to his near post, leaving a gaping hole in the goal. Croft however, did not go for the simple goal into the unoccupied space, he contemptuously chipped it over Taylor’s right shoulder.
‘Tucker’ arrived in the dressing room just twenty minutes prior to kick-off, whispering to a teammate, “I’m just after having four pints of porter.” He then sustained “a rather serious injury” leaving doubts about whether he would be fit to restart after half-time. Still, he scored the winner, remarked on by teammate Jack Brown as “the best I ever saw.”
20/10/1934 Belfast Scotland 2-1 David Martin, Jackie Coulter
Elisha Scott, Alex Mackey, Bertie Fulton, Walter McMillen, Jack Jones, Billy Mitchell, Harry Duggan, Bill Gowdy, David Martin, Alec Stevenson, Jackie Coulter
In the days when Belfast utilized trams as a mode of transport, on this particular day there was an overhead cable fault at Shaftesbury Square which brought the service to a halt and delayed thousands of fans from getting to Windsor Park in time for kick-off.
The majority of fans had arrived in time to witness the first goal of the game, unfortunately for the visiting Scotland team! Patsy Gallagher netted from close range to put Scotland one up.
Scotland nearly scored a second goal but for Ireland and Liverpool goalkeeper Elisha Scott who produced a good save from Connor’s header. Ireland however, had chances of their own most notably from David Martin and Alec Stevenson who both brought out good saves from the Scotland goalkeeper Jerry Dawson.
Scotland took their lead into the half-time interval but Ireland were not out of the game. The home crowd however, thought differently prior to the game restarting when they noticed Elisha Scott was missing for Ireland who only had 10 men on the field. Scott had picked up an injury towards the end of the first-half and because substitutions were not permitted in those days he was replaced by an outfield player, Manchester United’s wing-half Walter McMillen.
McMillen turned out to be an able deputy to Scott as he produced outstanding saves from Scotland keeping the score at only one nil. He saved at the foot of the post from Cook and also tipped Connor’s thundering drive round his post. Other saves followed from Herd and Cook attempts at goal.
Even with only 10 men Ireland kept searching for an equalizing goal. The Scottish goalkeeper saved well from both Harry Duggan and Alec Stevenson shots. Ireland’s best player on the day was Linfield’s Bill Gowdy who brought both attacking and defensive play to his team. There had been some criticism aimed towards him when he was selected for international duty but his selection was justified on this performance.
David Martin missed a sitter to draw the teams’ level while Jackie Coulter cracked a shot against the crossbar. There was 85 minutes on the clock when Ireland got their deserved equalizer from Martin, who made amends for his earlier miss by shooting home from close range, the assist coming from Harry Duggan.
The crowd would have been happy with a draw considering they had a man less for the entire second-half but Ireland were not finished. Bill Gowdy picked up the ball in midfield, went past two Scottish players and sent in an inviting cross across the face of the Scottish goal where Jackie Coulter met it with his head and steered the ball into the roof of the net past a stunned Jerry Dawson.
The Windsor Park crowd went wild, scarcely believing that Ireland’s 10 men had not only secured a famous victory against Scotland but came from a goal down at half-time to do so! Hats were thrown into the air and nobody cared if they ever got them back again!
20/10/1926 Liverpool England 3-3 Billy Gillespie, Hugh Davey, Bobby Irvine
Elisha Scott, David Rollo, Billy McConnell, Joe Gowdy, Gerry Morgan, Sam Irving, Andy Bothwell, Bobby Irvine, Hugh Davey, Billy Gillespie, Joe Toner
Over the past few years, international football had not lived up to its domestic counterpart in terms of skill and excitement, but this was a fine match, albeit not a good result for England. England were, though, unlucky, hitting the woodwork on more than one occasion, and coming up against an inspired display of goalkeeping by Scott. Ireland took the lead inside five minutes, as Gillespie scored with a good rising shot. It was the sixth different match in which Gillespie scored against England – still a record. His closest challenger is Lawrie Reilly of Scotland, who scored in five different matches against England from 1949 to 1955. Three minutes later, England were level as Brown scored a similarly good goal following a free kick.
Walker then produced a glorious drive which nearly snapped the crossbar in two. England were utterly dominant at this point, Scott making several brilliant saves, and seeing an overhead kick cleared off the line. Right on half-time, Ireland scored totally against the run of play. Davey’s shot from 20 yards was certainly a good one, but McInroy really should have saved it.
The second half had barely begun before England were level with yet another fine goal, this time from Spence. Minutes later, Irvine put Ireland in front for the third time, and the Irish hit the woodwork soon after as well. England then produced another lengthy period of dominance, and finally got their reward with a goal from Bullock. For all of England’s positive play, though, they could well have lost, as Davey found himself unmarked in front of goal in the closing minutes. His shot was wild, though, and so a superb game finished all square.