24/11/1965 Tirana Albania 1-1 Willie Irvine
Pat Jennings, Jimmy Magill, Alex Elder, Martin Harvey, Terry Neill, Jimmy Nicholson, Jimmy McIlroy, Johnny Crossan, Willie Irvine, Derek Dougan, George Best
Northern Ireland squandered the chance of a play-off against Switzerland by failing to beat Albania away in the Group’s final fixture on 24th November 1965.
No airline would fly the Irish direct to Tirana so they flew to Rome and chartered an aircraft to Tirana. When the party had arrived and disembarked the pilot didn’t hang around and took off on the return journey back to Rome.
The food was so bad within the hotel that the players lived off chocolate bars which they had brought with them. Had Northern Ireland won this match they would have faced a Switzerland in a one-off qualification play-off for the World Cup Finals in England. As it was, the Swiss qualified ahead of them by a point. Perhaps the shock of the country and the food was the reason why Northern Ireland only drew this match and subsequently failed to qualify for the World Cup Finals in 1966.
24/11/2000 Ballymena Wales 2-1 Sammy Morrow, Christopher Kingsberry
Northern Ireland 2-1 Wales
Northern Ireland’s Under 15 schoolboys’ team have won the Victory Shield for the first time.
They beat Wales in a dramatic finish at Ballymena Showgrounds on Friday night.
Wales were leading 1-0 with just a few minutes left and that would have been enough to give them the trophy outright.
Their goal was scored on 55 minutes by Rys Carpenter who followed up well after keeper Lee Windrum has blocked his first shot.
But Northern Ireland staged a remarkable revival in the closing stages.
First, skipper Sammy Morrow fired in a free-kick from the edge of the penalty area.
Then, in the third minute of injury-time, Christopher Kingsberry got the trophy-clinching winner.