22/11/1961 London England 1-1 Jimmy McIlroy
Vic Hunter, Jimmy Magill, Alex Elder, Danny Blanchflower, Terry Neill, Jimmy Nicholson, Billy Bingham, Hugh Barr, Billy McAdams, Jimmy McIlroy, Jimmy McLaughlin
This was not a particularly good day for England. In front of the lowest crowd yet for a Wembley international, they produced a very disjointed performance to claim just a point against a lowly Northern Irish side. Most of this England team had been involved in the thrilling exploits of the previous season; it was a most inexplicable fall from grace. England showed the talent, but not the character. Blanchflower, captain of Northern Ireland for the 40th time in his 50th international, led by example with a wonderful display.
The England forward line had two new caps. Byrne was the first Crystal Palace player capped by England since 1923, whilst Crawford was the first Ipswich Town player to be capped by England ever. Byrne was the one England player to live up to his reputation, but Crawford did not deal well with the few chances he was afforded. McLaughlin and McAdams both missed good chances for the Irish inside the opening 20 minutes. England then began to take control. Haynes missed a sitter, but then Charlton scored a typical goal – taking the ball, creating space and unleashing a rocket into the top corner. Sadly, he would barely get into the game again after that.
The game was scrappy for some time thereafter. Shortly after half-time, Crawford missed an absolute gift of a chance, hitting the bar from in front of an open goal. Ireland showed their perennial spirit, and were rewarded near the end. Elder, Nicholson and McAdams combined to set up McIlroy for the equaliser. It was just reward for McIlroy, who, after Blanchflower, had been the most influential player in Ireland’s colours. The large Irish contingent in the crowd were understandably delighted. The best England could now hope for was a share of the championship title. For that, they would have to win at Hampden.