09/11/1996 Nuremberg Germany 1-1 Gerry Taggart
Tommy Wright, Ian Nolan, Gerry Taggart, Colin Hill, Barry Hunter, Kevin Horlock, Steve Morrow, Steve Lomas, Iain Dowie (Phil Gray), Neil Lennon (Anton Rogan), Michael Hughes
Northern Ireland traveled to Nuremburg to play newly-crowned European champions Germany – many were predicting a tanking (even though we had a long unbeaten run against them and had drawn with them just before Euro 96) however, Tommy Wright played his best ever game in the Northern Ireland jersey with a series of first-class saves. Northern Ireland actually took the lead and managed to hold the European champions to a 1-1 draw on their home turf. After the match, with the players celebrating in front of the Northern Ireland traveling contingent, Barry Hunter cut in behind manager Bryan Hamilton being interviewed by Stephen Watson and shouted gleefully “What about Our Wee Country?!”.
We had flags and banners from Cookstown, Dungannon, Newcastle, Armagh, Bangor, Londonderry and even a Port Vale Union flag displayed! The Germans paraded the Euro 96 trophy before the game to the Three Lions song, which they seemed to have adopted as their anthem. This was their first home game since winning it. Drinking all day and with beer available in the stadium, (I wonder how many 1.F.C. Nuremberg ping glasses were pinched that night?), my memories of the match are pretty much a blur so you will have to make do with the excellent report in The Times which is reproduced over the page.
What I do remember is seeing John Taylor MP with Ards scarf on. (does he ever take it off?) Mr Paisley, well somebody in a Paisley mask, and of course the pandemonium that greeted Taggerts goal. People were jumping about, falling and getting stuck in between the rows of seats, hugging total strangers basically going mental. It lasted 90 seconds. I wonder if anybody had time to get a photo of the scoreboard? I didn’t have the heart to tell the fella in front of me who was still celebrating that the Germans had scored.
The second half seemed to go on for ever. One headbanger beside me was singing “Can we play you every week” and “Easy easy”, nobody joined in. The home fans were getting bored and started a Mexican wave, we were just watching the clock on the scoreboard. You knew it was going to be our night when Klinsmanns header came off both posts and into Tommy Wright’s arms. I think the Germans knew it too. Old favourite Anton Rogan came on with five minutes left and was cheered, it was that kind of night!
When the final whistle went, it was as if we had scored again, more pandemonium. We sung “Football’s coming home”, “Dambusters”, “You’ll never beat the Ulster”, “One Tommy Wright” and of course the anthem of the trip “Cheer up Berti Vogts”. The team and the staff came over and the match ball ended up in with us. Armenia and Ukraine were forgotten about and we stayed in the ground for about 20 minutes after the final whistle, singing and just trying to take in what we had just witnessed.
Author: Martin Lowry