22/10/1927 Belfast England 2-0 Herbert Jones o.g., Jackie Mahood
Elisha Scott, Andy McCluggage, Billy McConnell, Sam Irving, Gerry Morgan, Tom Sloan, Jimmy Chambers, Bobby Irvine, Hugh Davey, Billy Gillespie, Jackie Mahood
This remains the only occasion that England have gone to Ireland (north or south) and lost by more than one goal. After such a promising 1926-27 season, this was a very poor start to what would be a nightmare season. It should be noted, though, that they had no luck. Hufton broke a bone in his forearm after 20 minutes, though he struggled on manfully until half-time. Hill was also injured in the first half, but played on. Ireland played well prior to those injuries, though, and deserved their win.
A record crowd had been anticipated, but in the end the attendance was affected by the dreadful weather. Gillespie, despite a rare failure to score against England, was dangerous throughout. Ireland took the lead shortly before half-time. A shot from Irvine may have been beating Hufton (given that Hufton by this time had only one good arm), but Jones, in trying to deflect it away, managed only to get his name on the scoresheet with an own goal. A lucky goal it may have been, but one that, on the balance of play, Ireland deserved.
Hufton did not reappear after half-time, and centre forward Ball took over in goal. It was an unfortunate turn of events for a man playing his only international. He was the last man to play both in goal and outfield for England. Despite only four forwards, England attacked with regularity, but the Irish defence played well. Dean, having scored at least twice in each of his previous five appearances, failed to find the net this time, although he tested Scott with a close-range shot in the second half. After 72 minutes, Ireland clinched the win. Mahood’s long-range shot was dipping, but would have not been a problem for a regular goalkeeper. Ball, on the other hand, was completely deceived, and so ended a bad day at the office for England.
Hugh Davey recalled this match for which the players received a £6. “I have the jersey I wore and a photograph of the team … That victory was the greatest and most satisfying I experienced in international football because in those days England were just as difficult to beat as they are now. It is impossible to put into words the emotion and delight you feel when winning against England in front of your own countrymen.”
22/10/1921 Belfast England 1-1 Billy Gillespie
Elisha Scott, Bill McCracken, David Rollo, Robert McCracken, Johnny Scraggs, Billy Emerson, Billy Lacey, Billy Gillespie, Jack Doran, Alan Mathieson, Louis Bookman
England made a stuttering start to their Home Championship campaign, as they could only manage a draw in Belfast. They couldn’t blame the pitch or the conditions, which were perfect for football. They had more chances than the Irish, and they had, in Wilson, the best player on the pitch, but their main downfall, not for the first time, was hesitancy in front of goal. They were also frustrated by the fact that the Irish full backs, Rollo and Billy McCracken, played the offside trap to perfection, often coming forward at just the right time.
English goalkeeper Dawson was a virtual spectator for much of the match, but it was nonetheless he who conceded the opening goal of the game. Clay conceded a corner, from which Gillespie, fast becoming England’s bête noire, scored. It was his fourth goal in four matches against England; it would not be his last.
England responded quickly, with Kirton heading the equaliser from Simms’s cross. Both Kirton and Simms were making their debuts, but neither played again. England continued to boss the game after half-time, but found the Irish defence unbreachable. Ireland also had a couple of decent chances of their own, but it must be said they would have been pushing their luck to hope for a win. Both goalscorers were amongst the six Billys and Bills on the pitch.