Tag Archives: Belfast

14th December – Today In Our Footballing History

14/12/1996 Belfast Albania 2-0 Iain Dowie (2)

Tommy Wright, Ian Nolan, Gerry Taggart, Colin Hill, Barry Hunter, Kevin Horlock, Steve Morrow (Gerry McMahon), Steve Lomas, Iain Dowie (James Quinn), Neil Lennon, Michael Hughes

Addressing Albanian journalists Northern Ireland manager Bryan Hamilton said: “I wish you a safe journey home, a happy Christmas – and hope I’ll still be in the job when we play you in Tirana.”

Later the manager claimed: “I was joking – unless you have heard something different … I think we can maybe qualify after this result. I’ve always said this is the Group of Death and events are proving me right. Now bring on Portugal – we’ll stuff it to them on a wet night in March.”

Iain Dowie confessed: “I would have been overjoyed to knock in a goal with my backside. It has been a long drought.”

Dowie leads from front while defence holds firm

Dowie’s double delight



Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


13th December – Today In Our Footballing History

13/12/1983 Belfast Scotland 2-0 Norman Whiteside, Sammy McIlroy

Pat Jennings, Jimmy Nicholl, Mal Donaghy, Gerry McElhinney, John McClelland, Ian Stewart, Norman Whiteside, Terry Cochrane (John O’Neill), Billy Hamilton, Sammy McIlroy, Paul Ramsey

Scotland fielded a team consisting of only Scottish based players with the exception of Graeme Souness. Graeme Souness shot beat Pat Jennings but smacked against a post for Scotland on 6, at the other end Northern Ireland took the lead on 17 when Billy Hamilton beat the defence on the left and slid in a ball for Norman Whiteside to slot home. Souness was again unlucky on 26, having a goal disallowed after the referee had already blown for a foul by Peter Weir. The 2nd Irish goal came on 55 when a chip into the box was taken down by Sammy McIlroy who then drove past Jim Leighton. Aberdeen’s Doug Rougvie played his one and only match for Scotland, Davie Dodds (2 caps) and Peter Weir (6 caps) made their final appearances. Jock Stein admitted; “The better side won, the Irish played well for each other and worked harder than we did.” Billy Bingham said; “It was the continuation of a good run of results against quality teams. You could say 1983 has been a vintage year.”

Source: homepage.ntlworld.com/carousel

The 1983–84 British Home Championship was the one hundredth anniversary of the British Home Championship and the final football tournament between the Home Nations to be held, with both England and Scotland announcing their withdrawal from future competition, citing waning interest in the games, crowded international fixture lists and a sharp rise in hooliganism. Although the football competition was instituted in 1884, it was only the eighty-seventh tournament to be completed due to a five-year hiatus during World War I, a seven-year gap in World War II and the cancellation of the 1981 competition following threats of violence during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The tournament was surprising in its outcome, as the favourites in England and Scotland actually played each other into a 1–1 draw in the final game, thus allowing Northern Ireland to claim victory on goal difference, with Wales second. This was only the third time in 87 tournaments that (Northern) Ireland were undisputed champions and the fifth time goal difference was used. The trophy was permanently awarded to the Irish FA.

Source: wikipedia.org/wiki

Windsor Fairytale A Nightmare For Scots

Malcolm Brodie - 100 Year of Irish Football [Blackstaff Press Ltd (Jun 1980)]

Malcolm Brodie – 100 Year of Irish Football [Blackstaff Press Ltd (Jun 1980)]


Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


05th December – Today In Our Footballing History

05/12/1931 Belfast Wales 4-0 Jimmy Kelly (2), Willie Millar, Joe Bambrick

Elisha Scott, Joe McNinch, Bertie Fulton, Billy McCleery, Maurice Pyper, Billy Mitchell, Jimmy Chambers, Bobby Irvine, Joe Bambrick, Willie Millar, Jimmy Kelly

Kelly Helps Irish Turn Back Wales Score Three Goals in 4 0 Victory in International Soccer

Only included in the Irish team at the last moment Kelly, of Derry City, helped them win the international soccer match against Wales on Saturday. Kelly himself kicked three of Ireland’s four goals and was a constant threat. Bambrick of Linfield, completed Ireland’s tally, while Wales, made no reply. The first half of the match was close with both goalies doing good work after Kelly had opened the scoring. Scott, the Irish custodian, alone prevented his goal being penetrated with vicious shots from close in. In the second half with the Welsh on top, with a brilliant finish Kelly scored twice and with the Welsh dumfounded Bambrick practically walked through them to get Ireland’s fourth.

The teams were:

Ireland – Goal Scott Liverpool, right back. McNinch. Ballymena. left back. R Fulton. Belfast Celtic; right half Mitchell. Distillery; centre half. M Pyper. Linfeld: left half Mc-Cleery. Linfield; right otiUide. Chamber:. Notts Forest; right inside. Irvine Derry City; centre. Bambrick. Linfield. left inside Miller. Barrow. left outside Kelly, Derry City.

Wales -Goal. Gray. Tranmere Rovers. right hack. Lawrence. Swansea. left back. Foukes. West Bromwich: right half. Bennion. Manchester United; centre half. Griffiths, Everton; left half. Emry S. Ellis. Oswestry; right outside. Jones. Sheffield Wednesday; right inide. James. West Ham; centre. Bamford. Wrexham; left inside. Robbins. Cardiff, left outside, Psrris. Bradford

Source: newspapers.com

Wooden Spoon For Wales

Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


04th December – Today In Our Footballing History

04/12/1957 Belfast Italy 2-2 Wilbur Cush (2)

Harry Gregg, Dick Keith, Alf McMichael, Danny Blanchflower, Jackie Blanchflower, Bertie Peacock, Billy Bingham, Jimmy McIlroy, Billy McAdams, Wilbur Cush, Peter McParland

This fixture was originally scheduled as a World Cup qualifier, but the Hungarian referee and his linesman were stranded at London airport in the fog on the morning of the match. The Italians would not accept neutral British officials and so the match went ahead as a ‘friendly’ with a local referee. The 60,000 crowd who turned up, expecting to see Northern Ireland qualify for the finals, were angered by the announcement made just 5 minutes before kick-off that the match would be non-competitive and, during the course of the game, the Italian team became resentful of the charges on their goalkeeper made by the Irish forwards. A sending off of an Italian player in the last minute led to an ugly pitch invasion at the final whistle with police truncheons flying and Italy’s defender Ferrario being carried to the dressing room injured after being attacked by the mob.

Source: homepage.ntlworld.com/carousel

It was to be Northern Irelands most important game to date. A win against Italy would see us trough to the World Cup finals in Sweden for the first time. The Italians, World Cup winners in 1934 and 1938 only needed a draw. Unfortunately the Hungarian referee and his two linesmen, were fog bound in London after missing their connection to Belfast the previous evening. All morning, efforts were made to get the party flown from an alternative airport to Belfast but the fog blanket on the mainland prevented this. In the Midland Hotel the IFA and Italian manager were meeting to discuss the alternatives. Meanwhile Lurgan referee Tom Mitchell and linesmen Sammy Carswell and Willie Strange were put on stand by and asked to report to Windsor Park.

As the kick off time approached and it became obvious that the referee would not make it, a decision had to be made. Under World Cup rules the referee had to be from a neutral country so the IFA and Italian management agreed the match was to be a friendly using Tom Mitchell and his linesmen. The World Cup game to decide the place in Sweden would be played at a later date. Rumours buzzed thought the 50000 crowd making their way to Windsor for the 2:15pm kick off. At 2pm an announcement was made over the PA system to those already in the ground by Billy Drennan the IFA secretary.

“The Hungarian referee has not arrived. A further announcement will be made later”.

It was also indicated that the Italians had agreed to a local referee. Five minutes before the kick off a further announcement was made.

“Due to the unfortunate circumstances of the non-arrival of the referee and linesmen an agreement has been reached whereby this match will be considered as a friendly international. The cup match will be played here on a date to be arranged. This is all that can be done in the circumstances to maintain friendly relations between the Associations.”

The atmosphere was electric and the crowd had drowned out the second half of the announcement with boos and catcalls. For almost 5 minutes this booing was kept up with those in the stand stamping their feet and jeering.

As the Italian team came onto the pitch they were booed, but as the teams lined up for the National Anthem calm was restored. God Save the Queen finished only for the jeering to start up again, drowning out the Italian anthem! The match started 5 minutes late and straight away the Italians showed they were not particular in how they stopped the Northern Ireland attacks. The crowd grew more incensed, and every decision to the Italians was greeted with boos. Soon Northern Ireland had the Italians under serve pressure. In the first 15 minutes they attacked 12 times compared to the Italians twice. Personal battles were beginning to develop. Bingham and Cervato, Keith and Montuori, McParland and Corradi.

The Italians took the lead in the 30th minute, only for Cush to equalise 3 minutes later. Cush was then laid out by Segato. All this was going on with a background of booing every time the Italians touched the ball, even the taking of Italian goal kicks were booed.

At half time as the Italian team walked to the dressing room they were subjected to a shower of orange peel and apples. They got the same treatment as they returned first to the field in the second half. The first Northern Ireland attack saw the Italian goalkeeper, Bugatti, bundled over his line. He then kicked the ball into the crowd. The crowd went into a frenzy! Another attack ended in a fist fight with only Gregg not involved. The Italians scored again on the break but this was soon answered by another Cush goal. Keith and Gratton then became involved in a pushing match during the goal celebrations which raised the wrath of the excited crowd even more.

The last 30 minutes saw no let up in the action, with both teams going for the third goal. The crowd roared their approval as Keith put Gratton on the floor, tempers on and off the pitch were at boiling point. The excitement was spine tingling.

Bingham was then fouled in the penalty area but only a free kick was given which came to nothing. With two minutes to go McParland was trough on the keeper when Chiapella made a two footed running jump tackle into his back. This resulted in another fist fight between the players and Chiapella was ordered off, but refused to leave. Only with the persuasion of the Italian officials and the RUC escort did he leave the pitch. Even then some spectators still tried to attack him, others threw more apples and orange peel at him.

Two minutes later the final whistle blew and the players started shaking hands. The match itself even with the constant fouls and fights, had been one of the best seen at Windsor.

The Italians made an attempt to go trough the then usual continental drill of lining up in the centre circle to salute the crowd. About 2000 of the crowd at this point were spilling onto the pitch with the intention of saluting the Italians back Ulster style! The bubbling resentment among the supporters over the game being declared only a friendly and the rough tactics of the Italians had spilt over. The Northern Ireland fans started attacking the Italian players!

Ferrario, the main target, fought a rear guard action as several of his team mates went down under a hail of fists and boots. Danny Blanchflower was picking off like flies the spectators who were clinging onto Ferrario’s back. In the end Ferrario passed out under the barrage of fists and boots and was carried from the pitch unconscious by several RUC men. Other policemen and even some of the Northern Ireland players fought with the supporters on the pitch to ensure no further attacks on the Italians. As they rushed to the dressing rooms the Italians once again came under a barrage of items of fruit. RUC reinforcements, batons drawn, soon rushed onto the pitch, made several arrests and restored calm.

Meanwhile a RUC guard was placed on the Italian dressing room in which the unconscious Ferrario lay. After being out cold for over 5 minutes Ferrario recovered enough to walk unaided onto the Italian team coach.

The Irish FA barred manager Peter Doherty and the players from talking to the press afterwards and the Italian FA president Dr Barassi also declined to comment. That evening, however, at a meal in the Grand Central Hotel Dr Barassi stated that the reception of the Italians was “Something like meeting the enemy”. Questions about if the World Cup match would be played in Belfast were being asked. Would the Italians even come back to Belfast?

The Italian press and public went mad. The ‘Gazzetta Dello Sport’ said “An atmosphere of prejudice hung over Windsor Park. The scenes were wild and disgraceful.” Turin’s ‘Gazzetta Del Popoolo’ stated “This match was the most disgusting ever recorded in soccer history.” In Milan the ‘Corriere Bella Sera’ added “We never saw such a way of playing and never met such a people.” The Rome newspaper ‘Messaggero’ called the Northern Ireland fans “Barbarians of a primitive epoch”.

The British press also had their say. The Daily Telegraph saying that it was “one of the most disgusting exhibitions of mob hooliganism ever seen at a British football ground.” The Times added that “The baying of the crowd, mass hysteria, anger growing blindly, the whole becoming an evil infection.”

Questions were even asked in the Italian senate over the incident as well as at Stormont. Even the Government in the Republic got involved with it’s Charge d’Affaires in Rome pointing out that it was a ‘six county team’ playing! Closer to home Frank Hanna an Independent MP for central Belfast apologised on behalf of the nationalist people of Belfast for the riot. The reaction of Hanna and the Republic government makes very interesting reading today.

As far as I can discover the IFA escaped punishment over the trouble but got blamed in the press for not getting the referee to Belfast sooner and not delaying the game for 24 hours. In the end, the Italians returned to Belfast the following month and without further incident were beaten 2-1 to send Northern Ireland to the World Cup finals for the first time.

Author: Unknown

Source: ourweecountry.co.uk






* Trivia –

Referee Tommy Mitchell who officiated the game because the Hungarian referee Istvan Zoltz and his linesmen were stranded in London due to fog:

“My gear had not even been laundered from the previous Saturday. I rushed home to get it together and clean my boots. Then it was off to Windsor by car and a hectic dash from Lurgan. I thought the stand was going to come down round those sitting in it such was the volume and ferocity of the foot stamping. I had to call in their [Italian] captain and eventually managed to calm things down but there was plenty more rough stuff and the late Wilbur Cush had his stocking ripped.”

Spectators Invade Belfast Pitch – Italian Players Attacked

The Battle of Belfast: Northern Ireland legends recall infamous clash

Down Memory Lane: Battle of Belfast was far from a golden moment

Mitchells involved in piece of football trivia



Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


28th November – Today In Our Footballing History

28/11/1962 Belfast Poland 2-0 Johnny Crossan, Billy Bingham

Bobby Irvine, Jimmy Magill, Alex Elder, Danny Blanchflower, Terry Neill, Jimmy Nicholson, Billy Bingham, Johnny Crossan, Derek Dougan, Jimmy McIlroy, Bobby Braithwaite


The Times – Thursday 29th November

Northern Ireland progressed to the second round of the European Nations Cup at Windsor Park, Belfast, last night by repeating their 2-0 success of the first leg game at Katowice last month against Poland. Crossan made a successful return to international football, scoring the first goal and helping to make the other. Crossan, now with Sunderland following the recent lifting of his suspension by the Football League, stamped his personality on the game soon after the start when he hooked home a splendid shot. He showed his trickery at inside forward throughout the match and consolidated his side’s 1-0 interval advantage when combining with McIlroy to give Bingham the chance to score Ireland’s second goal midway through the second half…

Russia are the holders of the European Nations Cup and the final of the present competition is not due to be played until the summer of 1964.

Northern Ireland win 4-0 on aggregate.

Source: freewebs.com/glenish


Johnny ‘Joby’ Crossan had endured three years in exile, banned from British football for alleged transfer irregularities. Almost immediately on his return to British football, Crossan was awarded an international recall. He marked the occasion, a European Nations Cup clash against Poland, with perhaps the pick of his ten international goals. A Billy Bingham cross from the right found Crossan on the edge of the box and he struck the ball at waist height with his right foot. The stunning 25-yard volley sailed into the goal at the Kop end, setting Northern Ireland on the way to a 2-0 win. “It’s all like a fairy story,” recalls Crossan. “And what a wonderful ending … I got both feet off the ground continental style and volleyed it home … It was one of the most memorable goals of my career.”

Johnny Crossan: “It was the night before my 22nd birthday and the first goal since my suspension was lifted. I had only hit the bar for Sunderland. Sadly most of my relatives didn’t see it. They had been involved in an accident en route to Windsor Park and got in too late. There was no television at the game and I’ve seen very few photographs of the goal. But so many people can describe it vividly. I suppose it might have been a bit special. Billy Bingham knocked in our other goal and I did some of the work. But nobody seems to recall that one.”

Source: nifootball.blogspot.co.uk

* Trivia –

Danny Blanchflower received a gold medal after the match marking half a century of caps for Northern Ireland. The Polish squad chipped-in with a cigar box as their tribute to a true footballing great.

N. Ireland Through

The forgotten story of … John Crossan’s ban from football

Jobby was our one in a million


Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


21st November – Today In Our Footballing History

21/11/1979 Belfast Republic Of Ireland 1-0 Gerry Armstrong

Pat Jennings, Jimmy Nicholl, Sammy Nelson, Allan Hunter, Chris Nicholl, Vic Moreland, David McCreery, Martin O’Neill (Tommy Cassidy), Gerry Armstrong, Sammy McIlroy, Derek Spence

Gerry Armstrong scored the only goal of the game on 54 minutes at the end of 10 minutes of non-stop Northern Ireland pressure, though their keeper Pat Jennings was man of the match having made two brilliant saves before half-time. The Republic’s Gerry Daly needed three stitches to a head wound after being struck by a stone thrown from the crowd. Danny Blanchflower resigned as Northern Ireland manager immediately afterwards; “When I spoke to the committee during the week I got the impression they would like me to go and this time I have decided I will go. I believe Northern Ireland have a possible chance in the 1982 World Cup and a younger man should be given the chance.” The win for Northen Ireland ensured England their place in Italy.

Source: homepage.ntlworld.com/carousel

Danny Blanchflower on the eve of the match: “What’s all this fuss about? It’s only two teams from England playing each other, after all.”

Gerry Armstrong:

“Neither of us amounted to much then in the big wide world. We’d earlier been hammered 4-0 by Denmark, then 5-1 by England, and the Republic’s results hadn’t been great either. It was competitive enough, I was in a Spurs-Arsenal battle … Manchester United lads were on opposite sides. We all wanted to be the ones who were doing the crowing afterwards.”

“This time it was our turn to wear green jerseys… Again, we were on our best behaviour. Some lunatic in the crowd chucked a missile and the fans actually caught the guy and passed him over to the police. It was he most sensible reaction I ever saw from a crowd.”

“I can well remember big Mick Kearns leaving his line and calling loudly: ‘Keepers ball.’ But he made a fatal mistake. He did not move to gather the ball and I nipped in from of him and glanced a header into the net. The goal was at the Kop end, and the crowd adored it. You see, we’d gone out looking the underdogs. I knew there and then that we had won the match and if the fans were happy, the players were delirious. We had done a professional job. Our pride was intact.”

“It was after the game that Danny Blanchflower resigned… Ten minutes after the game Danny revealed in the dressing room ‘”This is goodbye, lads. I’m resigning.'” We were stunned. After such a victory it was the last thing we expected to hear. There were tears shed.”

“Danny was unlike any other manager – a bit of a mystic and dreamer. But his love of the game was obvious and we loved him. The match was forgotten as he went round shaking hands. I was especially sad as Danny had given me my chance in the team. I’ll never forget him saying before my debut – ‘”Go out and enjoy it. I picked you so I take the responsibility.'”

Photographer: Roy Smyth

1979_nov_northernireland_repofirelandPhotographer: Roy Smyth


Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


19th November – Today In Our Footballing History

19/11/2008 Belfast Hungary 0-2

Maik Taylor (Jonathan Tuffey), Chris Baird, Jonathan Evans, Michael Duff (Niall McGinn), Ryan McGivern, Keith Gillespie, Michael O’Connor (Dean Shiels), Sammy Clingan, Chris Brunt (Martin Paterson), Kyle Lafferty (Warren Feeney), David Healy (Peter Thompson)

Nigel Worthington –

“It was hugely disappointing, very poor – there was a lack of energy, a lack of imagination from my team. It was 40 minutes before we put four passes together. If we turn up in that condition and that frame of mind we might just get a big disappointment in San Marino [in February’s World Cup qualifier].”

“It was very evident that we had players out there tonight who are not playing for their teams that need to put more work in, simple as that. It’s between players and the clubs whether they move or not but they have to do extra work at their clubs because the performance tonight was disappointing, very disappointing.

“There’s a transfer window coming up and I thought it was a tremendous stage for some of them to put in a performance. It is straightforward, black and white. It was embarrassing. We have short-changed the fans, especially with Christmas coming up. That’s as bad a performance as I’ve had since taking charge.”

Northern Ireland produced a below-par performance and fell to defeat at home to Hungary in Wednesday’s friendly at a wet and windy Windsor Park.

Worthington hits out at players.


Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


18th November – Today In Our Footballing History

18/11/1981 Belfast Israel 1-0 Gerry Armstrong

Pat Jennings, Jimmy Nicholl, Mal Donaghy, Chris Nicholl, John O’Neill, David McCreery, Noel Brotherston, Tommy Cassidy, Billy Hamilton, Gerry Armstrong, Sammy McIlroy

40,000 packed into Windsor Park to watch the Irish confirm their place in the Finals. Needing only a draw, they made certain of qualification when Gerry Armstrong scored, what proved to be, the only goal of the game after 27 minutes. A free-kick wide on the right was floated into the area by Jimmy Nicholl and Billy Hamilton rose above the defence to nod the ball down and Armstrong met it first time on the turn and the Irish had their lead. This Armstrong/Hamilton partnership was becoming crucial to the team’s success, and more was to come.

Northern Ireland had qualified and conceding just 3 goals. Bingham had tightened up the defence and this proved to be the cornerstone to their success. In the previous twelve months before he took over they’d conceded 17 goals in 8 matches.

The draw for the finals in Spain was held on 16th January 1982. The 24 qualifiers would be drawn into six groups. Northern Ireland was drawn into Group Five along with hosts, Spain, Yugoslavia, and first time qualifiers, Honduras. With two to qualify, everyone was expected to beat Honduras, so the Irish knew they needed to get something out of the Spanish or Yugoslav games in order to progress.

Author: Pete Spencer

Source: franklymrspencer.blogspot.co.uk

Down Memory Lane: How Gerry Armstrong rocked the Kop to fulfil our dreams.

Armstrong Clinches Place For Ireland


100 Years of Irish Football by Malcolm Brodie [Blackstaff Press Ltd (Jun 1980)] 100 Years of Irish Football by Malcolm Brodie [Blackstaff Press Ltd (Jun 1980)]



Northern Ireland Footballing Greats



The Formation and History of the Irish Football Association

Founded in the Queens Hotel, Belfast back on 18th November 1880 the Irish Football Association is the fourth oldest governing body in the world behind the other three home associations.

At the invitation of Cliftonville Football Club, clubs in Belfast and District created a unifying constitution and set of rules, adhering to those laid down by the Scottish Football Association which had been formed seven years earlier in 1873.

The aims of this embryonic organisation were to promote, foster and develop the game of football throughout Ireland. The new association elected as its first President, Major Spencer Chichester and agreed to stage an annual Challenge Cup Competition which would later be known as ‘The Irish Cup’.


It is said that Scottish sailors in Coleraine, while waiting for their cargo to be loaded, first played football in Ireland. This may be fact but one name will be always be linked with the origins of organised football on the island, John McAlery.

McAlery was reputed to be on his honeymoon in Scotland when he came across a group of youngsters playing football, a game which was then strange to him. He took the time to learn something of it and then armed with the rules of this new sport, he set about introducing it to Ireland. Personally I could have found other things to do on honeymoon, but I guess this was Victorian Britain.

At McAlery’s invitation, two of Scotland’s leading clubs at the time, Queens Park and Caledonians, came to Belfast to play an exhibition match at the Ulster Cricket Ground on the 24th October 1878. The reaction from the general public to the fixture seemed to be enthusiastic.

McAlery was there to capitalise on that enthusiasm. He went on a soccer pilgrimage throughout Ulster and as a result of his fervent preaching was the establishment of Irelands first club, Cliftonville FC. They were followed by Ulster FC and gradually other clubs sprung up.

The growing popularity of football demanded further organisation and once again McAlery stepped into the picture. He convened a major meeting at the Queens Hotel in Belfast on the 18th November 1880 and from this came the formation of the Irish Football Association. McAlery was the Association’s first secretary with Major Spencer Chichester the first President.

Fifteen months later on the 18th February 1882, Ireland played their first international game. England were the opposition at Knock FC in Bloomfield east Belfast, and ran out 13-0. Ireland’s hapless captain was, yes you guess it, John McAlery!

Meanwhile in the south of the country football was slowly catching on. In 1883 Dublin Association were formed and later that year played Dublin University in Dublin’s first football game.

Belfast and the Northeast of Ireland was the hotbed of football although Dublin was the capital of the country. Dublin didn’t host an international game until St Patrick’s Day 1900, a 2-0 defeat by England. Only one southern Irish player made the team that day and Ireland wore blue shirts with a shamrock badge. In fact up until the First World War, Dublin only hosted 5 out of the 42 home international games Ireland played. The IFA became affiliated to FIFA in 1911.

In 1913 Ireland gained their first long awaited win over England. A year later they then recorded their first Home International Championship, recording wins over England and Wales and a draw against Scotland.

The years during and following the First World War saw major changes on the island of Ireland. Political relationships between north and south Ireland were strained to breaking point eventually leading to island to split. The creation of independent parliaments in Belfast and Dublin after the dividing of the island into Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State in 1921 also meant changes to the football hierarchy. The Football Association of Ireland based in Dublin was formed on the 1st September 1921. This came about after a series of incidents:

  • The Intermediate Cup holders, St James’s Gate refused to defend the trophy after the IFA reneged a decision to play the final in Dublin due to civil unrest in the south.
  • The Irish Cup Final was thrown into turmoil after Shelbourne would not travel to Belfast for their replay with Glentoran.
  • Northern players refused to leave the dressing room for an amateur international against France in Dublin after spotting nationalist flags in the crowd.
  • For two years the FAI remained without recognition. However following a meeting of the International Board comprising of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, meaning the Belfast based IFA, they were granted recognition. This was on the condition that their name would be changed to the Football Association of the Irish Free State. Later that year in August 1923 the FAIFS was accepted into membership of FIFA.

    The 1920’s and 1930’s are not recalled with relish by supporters. A committee was selecting the players and therefore the team suffered, the only highlight of that period was the 7-0 demolition of Wales in 1930. Joe Bramick of Linfield scored six of the goals. In 1931 the IFA change their shirt colour from blue to green.

    By now the Irish Free State and Northern Ireland should have been separate entities as far as international competition was concerned. This was not the case however; the IFA in Belfast was able to continue to pick players from the Free State. Tom Farquharson, who had been capped by both Ireland (Northern) and the Free State in the 1920’s declared in 1931 that he no longer wished to be picked for Ireland (Northern). This didn’t alter the situation and even after the Second World War the IFA continued to pick players from the Free State. In 1946 Johnny Carey of Manchester United played for both countries against England within 3 days of each other!

    In 1949 the Free State declared itself a republic, the FAIFS was then able to get an undertaking from all of its members that they would not play for any country other than the Republic of Ireland. FIFA then cleared up the last bone of contention between the two Irish Associations. There had been constant confusion and bitterness over the fact that both North and South insisted on being called Ireland. FIFA ruled that from then on the IFA would use the name Northern Ireland and the FAI would use the name Republic of Ireland. 1954 saw the IFA become affiliated to UEFA.

    The post war years where a boom time for the crowds at Northern Ireland games with 50000 plus the norm. In August 1951 Peter Doherty was appointed as team manager and after a couple of years of hard work, patience and enthusiasm he turns the fortunes of Northern Ireland side around. With a team including such great as Harry Gregg, the Blanchflower brothers, Bertie Peacock, Billy Bingham, Peter McParland and Jimmy McIlroy, Northern Ireland defeated England at Wembley for the first time and qualified for the 1958 World Cup.

    The defeat of England at Wembley was a tribute to Danny Blanchflowers captaincy. Twice he ordered tactical dispositions on the field in response to the changing phases of the game. Sammy McCrory of Southend Utd scored the second Northern Ireland goal. In that mornings papers Duncan Edwards of England had asked “What is an old man like McCrory doing in a game like this?” “Not bad for an old man eh?” McCrory said as he passed Edwards on his way back to the centre after the goal. This was McCrory’s, then aged 33, one and only appearance for Northern Ireland. Three months later Edwards was killed in the Munich air crash and Harry Gregg and Jackie Blanchflower’s injured.

    The 1958 World Cup in Sweden saw Northern Ireland reach the quarterfinals. Their first round group contained Czechoslovakia, West Germany, and Argentina. After beating Czechoslovakia 1-0 they were defeated 3-1 by Argentina, a 2-2 draw against the West Germans meant a play off against the Czechs, the winner getting a quarterfinal place. Northern Ireland won 2-1 despite Uprichard in nets playing with a broken hand and an injured ankle. The tired, injury-ridden side went into the quarter final against France and not surprisingly lost 4-0.

    Peter Doherty retired in 1961 and Bertie Peacock took over after Danny Blanchflower had turned the job down. It was Peacock who introduced George Best to international football, he stated “Harry Gregg was really responsible, for he kept telling me what a wonderful player Best was. After his first game against Wales at Swansea it was easy to see that he was going to be one of the world’s greatest players.”

    Equally self-effacing was his admission that he was to blame for the failure to qualify for the 1966 World Cup. A win against nonentity’s Albania would have meant a play off with Switzerland. “I made a terrible mistake” Peacock confessed, “I watched Albania in Holland and Switzerland but I should have gone to see them in Albania. We were not prepared for the conditions. If I had known we would have taken our own food, because the players couldn’t eat the food they got and therefore weren’t in the right mood for the game.” A 1-1 draw in a comic opera game, ruined by a fussy Bulgarian referee who made George Best stand to attention when he spoke to him, put us out. Even then the team tried to keep spirits high. A singsong was arranged in the team’s hotel in Tirana, the only hotel in the city then, but an Albanian official who announced that singing was strictly forbidden silenced even this!

    Peacock resignation in 1967 saw Billy Bingham take over. After resounding victories over Turkey home and away, and a home draw with the Russians a 2-0 away defeat ended the Mexico 70 dream. Bingham stayed for another year before moving overseas to manage the Greek national side.

    Terry Neill then player manager of Hull City took over the running of the side in 1971. Neill also had the honour of scoring the winner over England at Wembley in 1972. Northern Ireland football was entering perhaps its most difficult phase as Neill took over. Due to the civil conflict between 1972 and 1975 the international side was unable to play it’s home games in Belfast. Such English cities as Hull, Liverpool, Coventry, Sheffield and London all played host to Northern Ireland ‘home’ games.

    Neill’s contract wasn’t renewed as he had commitments with Spurs and in 1975 Dave Clements took over. Clements management saw the return of international football to Windsor Park with a 1-0 win over Yugoslavia in April 1975. The following month England and Wales returned, the Scots didn’t return until 1980. After a disastrous Home International campaign in the spring of 1976, 3 defeats and no goals scored, Clements resigned. In March of that year he had joined New York Cosmos, playing along side Pele, and unsuccessfully tried running the team from the states.

    Danny Blanchflower arrived that summer and in his first game in charge provided the highlight of the seventies. In a World Cup qualifier against the Dutch in October 1976 Northern Ireland came away with a 2-2 draw. This was against a Holland team that included Cruyff, Krol and Neeskens. Typical Northern Ireland however, 8 months later in the same qualifiers, they lost to Iceland.

    The end of the seventies saw Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland drawn together in a European Championship qualifying group. In Dublin on the 20th September 1978 the first game between to two teams in Ireland ended in a 0-0 draw, by all accounts a dull encounter. Off the pitch the game passed off peacefully apart from a few minor incidents. The 2000 travelling Northern Ireland fans booed the Soldiers Song and chanted “What a load of rubbish” at the Irish police band! A year later in Belfast, a single Gerry Armstrong goal separated the sides after a thrilling end to end encounter. Gerry Daly needed 3 stitches in a head wound after he was felled from an object thrown from the crowd. The Republic failed to bring a single supporter to the game. This victory also saw the departure of Blanchflower and in 1980 the reappointment of Billy Bingham as manager.

    An away 0-0 World Cup draw in Israel in his first game in charge gave little hint of what was to follow. That spring, for the first time in 66 years, Northern Ireland won the Home International Championship. In the IFA centenary year a victory over Scotland a draw with England and a victory in Wales clinched the title for Northern Ireland. After a summer tour of Australia the squad returned to World Cup business and in November 1981 in front of 40000 Bingham guided Northern Ireland to a 1-0 victory over Israel to qualify for the World Cup in Spain the following year.

    Northern Ireland’s World Cup adventures in Spain started with two draws, Yugoslavia 0-0 and Honduras 1-1. The Yugoslavia game saw Bingham include Norman Whiteside in the team. Whiteside became the youngest player ever to play in the World Cup finals, he was only 17 and 51 days, younger than Pele in Sweden 58. Spain, the hosts, stood between Northern Ireland and the second round. On the 25th of June 1982 in the Luis Casanova Stadium Valencia, for my generation, was Northern Irelands greatest 90 minutes. A partisan crowd, a referee who didn’t know what he was doing, and down to 10 men for most of the second half Northern Ireland won 1-0. Gerry Armstrong scoring just after the start of the second half.

    The second round in Spain saw Northern Ireland drawn with Austria and France. A 2-2 draw against the Austrians meant that victory over France would see Northern Ireland in the World Cup semi finals, 1958 all over again. An early Martin O’Neill goal was ruled out unfairly for offside and Northern Ireland then went on to lose 4-1. The dream was over.

    Bingham had taken Northern Ireland to another level in world football but it was to get better. West Germany, the World Cup runners up, came to Belfast in November 82 and for the first time in their history were beaten in a qualifying game for a major championship. Ian Stewart scoring the only goal of the game. In the return game of the Euro 84 qualifiers they were beaten again 1-0 in Hamburg, Whiteside scoring. Typical Northern Ireland but, a draw in Albania and a defeat in Turkey meant they missed out on Euro 84 by goal difference.

    1984 saw the final Home International Championship. A victory over Scotland a defeat by England and a draw against the Welsh left Northern Ireland on 3 points. A draw between Scotland and England also left them on 3 points. As this was the last championship it had been decided that for the first time goal difference would be used to decided the winners. Northern Ireland having scored 3 and conceded 2 goals were crowned British Champions.

    The Mexico 86 qualifying started with a defeat in Finland. Home wins over Rumania, Turkey and Finland followed leaving us needing 3 points from the final two games. Unfortunately these 2 games were away to Rumania and England. An unexpected 1-0 win in Bucharest meant we went to Wembley needing only a draw against the English. Battling against constant English pressure Northern Ireland held on to draw 0-0 and qualify for Mexico 86.

    Mexico saw the end of six glorious years as a Northern Ireland supporter. A draw with Algeria in the opening game was followed by defeats from Spain and Brazil. The Brazil game also saw the retirement of Pat Jennings from the Northern Ireland goal after 119 caps. At that time a world record.

    With many of the team joining Jennings in retirement after Mexico the team went into a downward spiral. Euro 88, Italia 90, Euro 92 and USA 94 came and went without us getting anywhere near the finals. This period also saw our lowest ever crowds, sometimes lower than 4000, and such delights as 1-1 home draws against the Faroe Islands. Looking back over that period the only highlight was a 1-1 draw against the Germans in Bremen prior to Euro 92. It was that bad! Bingham retired after a 1-1 draw against the Republic just failed to stop them qualifying for USA 94. With hindsight perhaps Bingham lived on the glory years of the early eighties too long.

    Bryan Hamilton took charge in 1994 and over saw some bizarre results which have now become Northern Ireland trade mark. The Euro 96 qualifiers saw us beat Austria in Vienna and then get hammered by the republic at home. We then drew with them in Dublin, beat Latvia away and then lost at home to them. We then went to Portugal, drew 1-1 and then beat Austria 5-3 in Belfast. The 5-3 Austria game, played in a downpour, was the best performance supporters had seen by the team in recent years. As it was, the defeat by Latvia cost Northern Ireland a play off spot for Euro 96.

    The failed France 98 campaign ended Hamilton reign and provided us with yet more bizarre results. 1-1 at home against Armenia followed by holding the Germans, European Champions at the time, 1-1 in Nuremberg. The result sealed Hamilton’s fate was the defeat away to Albania. Played in Zurich due to internal problems in Albania, Northern Ireland lost 1-0. After the defeat in Portugal a month later Hamilton was told his contract was not going to be renewed.

    Supporters were split on the decision, some feeling he should have been given another chance. Unfortunately Hamilton wasn’t strict enough with the players and discipline was lacking in the squad. Players seemed to be treating away games as a chance of a piss-up. This was reflected by the results.

    Spring 1998 saw the appointment of Northern Irelands first ‘foreign’ coach, Englishman Lawrie McMenemy assited by Joe Jordan and Pat Jennings. Once again supporters were split, one side pointing out as assistant to Taylor at England he failed, the other saying that he was enthusiastic and would being discipline to the squad. At first results were favourable, defeats of Switzerland and Slovakia but the Euro 2000 group games started with defeat, 3-0 in Turkey. Hopes were raised with a 1-0 home victory over Finland. A 2-2 home draw against Moldova followed by a hiding from Germany and a 0-0 away draw in Moldova saw the Euro 2000 chance gone.

    An injury time equaliser in a friendly against Canada saw the first signs of disquiet from supporters but a win over the Republic in Dublin in another ‘friendly’ has lifted expectations once again. The final three games in the Euro 2000 qualifiers all finished in heavy defeats. 0-3 at home to Turkey and 4-0 and 4-1 away to Germany and Finland.

    Although the IFA offered to extend the contract of McMenemy, he declined. At the end of November 1999 the mangers job was open to application. On the 4th of January 2000 it was annouced that 88 time capped Sammy McIlroy was to be the next Northern Ireland manager.

    January 2000

    Author: Unknown
    Source: ourweecountry.co.uk

    17th November – Today In Our Footballing History

    17/11/1982 Belfast West Germany 1-0 Ian Stewart

    Jim Platt, Jimmy Nicholl, Mal Donaghy, John O’Neill, John McClelland, Ian Stewart, Norman Whiteside, Martin O’Neill, Billy Hamilton, Sammy McIlroy, Noel Brotherston

    Coming off the back of a Quarter-Final place at the World Cup that Summer defeating the hosts Spain in the process, you could be forgiven to believe that things couldn’t get any better for the Northern Ireland football side. However, the great form carried on into the 1984 European Nations Cup qualifiers and the best example came on a rain swept Windsor Park against West Germany the current European Nations Cup champions and previous victors against England the previous month at Wembley. Northern Ireland themselves had lost away to Austria in their first qualifying match.

    Prior to kick-off Billy Bingham had followed the West German star Karl-Heinz Rummenigge out onto the soaking Windsor Park pitch: “There he was … this Rummenigge, with his lovely suede shoes and his lovely suit, his hair slicked back, squelching onto Windsor Park. His shoes went slosh, slosh, the water was coming over his heel, and I followed him all the way out. His face was a picture of misery, and I came back into the dressing room with the rest of the players and said, ‘They don’t want to know. Put them down on their arses in the wet. They see this as the worst place they could possibly come to.’”

    From the onset Northern Ireland took Bingham’s words onboard and went on the offensive. Northern Ireland nearly scored as a Noel Brotherston took a short corner to Martin O’Neill and crossed to John O’Neill, whose shot hit the upright of Harald Schumacher’s goal.

    Norman Whiteside nearly scored as he cut inside from the left and hit a 35 yard left-foot drive that Schumacher could only push out as he was unable to collect the ball due to the ferocity of the shot. It wasn’t long however, until Northern Ireland scored. A Jimmy Nicholl long cross ball to Billy Hamilton who subsequently flicked the ball into the path of Ian Stewart on the edge of the box. Stewart took the ball round Manny Kaltz before rolling the ball into the net.

    Northern Ireland still dominated for most of the remaining first half but the West Germands did have their moments. The German winger Pierre Littbarski was the source of West Germany’s attack. In one play he beat four Northern Irish players on the left wing and took a shot on goal but goalkeeper Jim Platt was able to tip his shot over the crossbar. Lothar Mattaus and Hans-Peter Briegel also brought saves out of Platt but Northern Ireland were able to finish the half still a goal in front.

    The West Germans started the second half with some urgency. Littbarski had a goal ruled out correctly for being offside, but Northern Ireland also had more opportunities of their own, none more so than through Billy Hamilton who missed a great chance to double Northern Ireland’s advantage.

    The home side were never outplayed even with intense pressure from the Germans especially in the final 10 minutes of the match as they sought an equaliser. The heavy rain and subsequent soaked pitch didn’t help the Germans and their slick passing game, but they couldn’t use this as an excuse at the end of the game. Northern Ireland held on for a famous victory and those fans who were soaked to the skin didn’t care as they celebrated with their flags and songs.

    It is interesting to note the Northern Ireland bench for this match and that Billy Bingham did not feel the need to use any of the players sitting beside him during the game. Pat Jennings, Chris Nicholl, David McCreery, Tom Finney and Nigel Worthington who were all great players in their own right were not required in defeating the mighty West Germans that night.

    Jupp Derwall (West Germany Coach) – “My congratulations tone Northern Ireland team. They played fighting football and maintained it throughout he match, and by dedicating themselves to a total fight they made it very hard for us. Perhaps we couldn’t quite cope with the the extreme, Irish fighting spirit while conditions [heavy rain] were possibly against our style of play. We had too many stray passes. [Ian] Stewart’s goal was a beautiful one. I have no excuses. This was the team that I would field against any opposition.”

    Ian Stewart (Northern Ireland Goal Scorer) – “It gave me a lot of satisfaction, but it was a great team performance … there were no failures on the night. West Germany were the European champions and were beaten in the final of the World Cup … they were quite a side.”

    Source: Magheramesk


    Football Came Home

    In 1980, the then West Germans were crowned European Champions in Italy, with a highly accomplished team, that 2 years later were to become runners up in the World Cup. Many of the stars of this German team were world renowned, and included such famous names as Rummenigge, Allofs, Littbarski, a young Voller and an even younger Matthaeus, and of course the infamous Schumacher. Norn Iron were due to meet this German side in their first Euro home fixture in late 1982.

    Norn Iron also had a famous side in this year, with their performances in the World Cup becoming legendary. However, a defeat in their first match of the Euro campaign (Austria 0-2), had both the critics and some fans doubting their ability to continue the form shown in Spain. Some even believed that the World Cup exploits were a one off. However, all the doubters were to be silenced yet again, at a rainswept Windsor Park in November 1982.

    The build up to the game was quite intense, as a few weeks before the Germans beat England 2-1 in a friendly match at Wembley, with their striker Rummenigge getting both goals. This result only furthered the writing off of Norn Iron’s chances. In terms of attractiveness, this game was one of the biggest for years in Belfast, with the Germans boasting a tremendous track record. But more importantly it was Norn Iron’s homecoming, their first game home since the heroics of Spain, and it was sure to be a momentous occasion.

    Like many a youth at that time, I had an interest in this game and was going to make sure I was at it. I was planning it 3 weeks before, foremost was the arrangements with the mates, because everyone appeared to be going and speculating about this match. Then there was the question of parents consent, as a 12 year old this was necessary. The tactic employed was playing one parent against the other. “But dad… mum says it’s alright,… well, if she says so, then I suppose it’s ok!” and vice versa.In the few days prior to the match, public interest in the game increased, but for me personally, on match day things really got cooking. All day at school, it was on my mind, with class mates talking about it. After getting home from school, I called on the mates to see who all was allowed to go.

    There were 3 of us going and we arranged to meet up later. Once I had finished my paper round, I threw my ‘Tele-Sack’ into the house, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and then tried to leg it. However, my dad had just returned from work in the shipyard, and read me the riot act, warning me that if I saw any trouble, to steer clear. (These words were repeated on match night for many a year!) Likewise I was reminded that Northern Ireland wore green & white – and not to take any Linfield scarves.

    I eventually got away, met up with the friends and hastily boarded a Citybus, in this era of public transport, fraudulent practises were common place, with double stamping one’s bus ticket the most common, but tonight we weren’t taking any risks as getting to the match on time was essential. After arriving at the city hall, the wait for the Donegal Road bus seemed forever, but there was a good crowd going to Windsor on this bus, and it was no time before it reached Donegal Avenue. Kick off was fast approaching and there was an urgency to get off the bus. Like many other younger fans, me and the mates bombed up Donegal Ave. once we seen the glare of the floodlights and heard the Windsor roar.

    Donegal Ave was crowded with match goers, and at the Windsor Park end, the traders were cleaning up. A new scarf and the biggest flag I could buy, were bought with the money I had saved for this match. Once purchased, the running began once more, only this time to the Spion Kop via Olympia Drive. After a long queue at the turnstiles we got into the ground just after kick off. The ground was packed and there were still more outside. The attendance was 30000, but with kids doubling up, more likely 35000 a realistic figure. (A far cry from the big gates of 10000 nowadays!)

    Windsor was rainswept, but the atmosphere was terrific with a party feel to it in view of the Spain World Cup heroics. After a few early scares, the home team settled, and the crowd cheered on the World Cup heroes. In particular Whiteside who was making his home debut. An unknown Ian Stewart was also making a home debut.

    We decided to move from the Kop end, onto the Olympia Terracing where some of our friend were. For all you youngsters reading this, the Olympia Terracing was where the North Stand is now. The name of the game was to get yourself seen at the match, and hopefully on T.V. Once through the gates of Olympia Terracing, we found a good view at the Kop end, and stated to watch the game in detail. This was well timed, because almost immediately, about 20 minutes into the game Ian Stewart intercepted a ball on the left hand edge of the box, attacking the railway end. His back was facing us, and I clearly remember seeing him strike the ball from over 20 yards. I recall thinking to myself, He’s not going to try and score from that distance, but I followed the ball, as it bobbled under Schumacher. The crowd had been cheering him on up until he took his shot, but once it hit the back of the net, Windsor erupted and all hell broke loose!

    Like everyone else, I jumped like a lunatic, but being small, I was smothered by the crowd, and carried about 6 terraces down towards the pitch. As usual when a goal is scored against the Germans, the cheering and celebrations seemed to last forever. Ian Stewart ran towards the Olympia end and this added more fuel to the celebrations. Amazingly, we were beating the clear favourites, Germany, and the Spain 82 celebrations were continuing yet again, only this time at a rainswept and deafening Windsor Park. The party was now, literally in full swing! To be honest, I can never recall an atmosphere like it at Windsor, and perhaps I never will.

    This was the acid test to see how far Norn Iron had come in world football, and we were winning. Both this, and the crowds celebrations further inspired the team, and they responded by playing some great football. The first half came to a close with Norn Iron in the lead. At the interval the celebrations were continuing, even at the burger stands. Everyone seemed to be singing.

    The 2nd half just got better, as we were giving the Germans a hell of a game, and as usual the fans couldn’t get enough. Every move was cheered. “Norn Iron were beating the mighty Germans in every department, where the home fans were able to pour scorn on the champions of Europe, particularly Rummenigge.” Ronnie Hanna in Six Glorious Years. The polite way to say they were chanting “Rummenigge’s wife’s a whore”!

    The last 10 minutes or so were very tense as the Germans attacked. However, yet again Binghams boys held out, and victory was achieved. The roar at the final whistle was immense, and the atmosphere reflected the whole game, one big celebration! Jimmy McIlroy reminded everyone that we had just beaten the second best team in the world and the Champions of Europe. Jurp Durwall, the German manager, said his strongest team was beaten by a superb Norn Iron performance and a fine goal.

    After the match, we set off on our traditional route (via Donegall Ave. and Donegall Road) into the centre of town. We sang every Norn Iron football song over and over again, everyone seemed to be singing and celebrating. Perhaps the most satisfaction was gained when people stopped us to ask the score of the match. ‘We beat them 1-0’, we proudly replied, the look on their faces.

    When we reached the city centre it was a mass of fans. Every bus stop was occupied by bus loads and queues of fans waiting to go home (how times have changed!). Our Cliftonville Road bus was packed, with the match being the topic of conversation. We had a safe journey home, no bricks though the windows, and the highlights of the game were watched by me and my family on Sportsnight.

    Going to school the next morning was difficult. My throat ached, my voice was hoarse, a slight cold was gained and no homework had been done. As expected the first class of the day was spent talking about the match, who was at it, the goal etc. As the morning went by, it was forgot about to a slight degree, as everyday school goings on took over. During the lunch break, a commotion took place in the playground. Like most other pupils, me and the mates ran over to witness what we thought was a fair dig! But to our surprise it was Norn Iron’s new hero, Ian Stewart, trying to make his way to the staff common room in the French block.

    This was quite a surprise, and it was soon discovered that Ian was a past pupil at Belfast Inst. and had left at 16 to pursue a successful football career. Like many other pupils, I queued beside Ian outside the staff room, hoping to get an autograph, but there was a mass of bigger pupils pushing to the front, and I was a little lost. At school we had record cards which teachers signed for misbehaviour etc. and mine was already well autographed 2 ½ months into term. Every pupil was trying to get theirs signed, and this signature would have been one on mine I would have welcomed.

    One of the teachers realised the situation and came out of the staff room and called time and Ian was brought into the staff room. Like many others I hung around, but to no avail. When Ian was brought out again he was ushered away and I never did get his autograph. Although a little disappointed, I knew that unlike some who did get an autograph, I was at the game, and the memories were worth more than any autograph.

    Later that evening when I was doing my paper round, the front page of the Telegraph had a picture of Ian in a pose in Top Man, Belfast, with his tracksuit on, and described his goal and new hero status. Like many a soccer star, Ian’s goal made him, but more importantly it helped change Norn Iron’s status in world soccer. After Spain and the success achieved, the German game was the acid test to see how far we had come in world football. Norn Iron unexpectedly delivered the goods and would continue to do so until 1986, with a further defeat of the Germans, another British Championship to retain forever and another World Cup. They continued to prove the critics wrong and gave the supporters of the team, in this era great memories.

    It could be argued that if 1982 was the year when Norn Iron football came home, then the German match was the actual game in which it did so. We had witnessed the heroics in Spain and again we displayed them against one of the finest teams of this era and champions of Europe, West Germany.

    Author: The Ballysillan Diehard

    Source: ourweecountry.co.uk


    Former Ballboy Stuns Germans



    Northern Ireland Footballing Greats



    17/11/2007 Belfast Denmark 2-1 Warren Feeney, David Healy

    Maik Taylor, Gareth McAuley, Aaron Hughes, Stephen Craigan, Jonathan Evans, Keith Gillespie (Ivan Sproule), Sammy Clingan, Steven Davis, Chris Brunt, Warren Feeney (Chris Baird), David Healy

    David Healy: “The game against Denmark, when I broke the record for the number of goals scored in a European qualifying campaign, should never have taken place.”

    “The conditions were atrocious with the rain pouring down on the pitch, but it was declared playable and we got down to business. I got our winner, chipping the ball over the goalkeeper into the net.”

    “Some people asked me afterwards if I’d meant it, thinking it might be a cross. I definitely meant it. It was my 13th goal of the campaign, beating Davor Suker’s record, and it won the game for us.”

    “What pleased me most was it kept our hopes of qualification for the Euro 2008 finals alive. A lot of our fans had booked to go over to Spain for the final qualifier and even though we didn’t make it in the end it was good that they travelled with a glimmer of hope.”

    Northern Ireland striker David Healy scored a spectacular winner against Denmark to become the record scorer in a European qualifying campaign

    Suker salutes Healy scoring feat


    Northern Ireland Footballing Greats



    17/11/1993 Belfast Republic of Ireland 1-1 Jimmy Quinn

    Tommy Wright, Gary Fleming, Nigel Worthington, Gerry Taggart, Alan McDonald, Mal Donaghy, Jim Magilton, Kevin Wilson (Kingsley Black), Jimmy Quinn, Phil Gray (Iain Dowie), Michael Hughes

    On 17 November 1993, Denmark started the day on top of their World Cup qualification group and ended it with elimination from the tournament.

    Denmark, who were hoping to reach the World Cup for only the second time ever, were in Group 3 along with Spain, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Albania. With the top two spots securing passage to the World Cup, the Danes went into the final day of qualification at the top of the group, two points clear of their opponents Spain and one point ahead of Ireland, who were away to Northern Ireland.

    The games kicked off at the same time. Playing in Seville, Denmark looked certain to reach the World Cup when Spain lost Andoni Zubizarreta to a red card in the tenth minute. But despite the advantage, they could not score and instead went down 1-0 in the 63rd minute with a goal from Fernando Hierro. The game in Belfast remained scoreless; in a live table, that combination dropped Denmark into the group’s third spot.

    They got a reprieve, however, when Northern Ireland’s Jimmy Quinn scored in the 74th minute, pushing Denmark back ahead of the Republic for the second qualifying place. But Ireland’s Alan McLoughlin equalized four minutes later and the game ended 1-1.

    Denmark’s 1-0 loss and Ireland’s draw put the two teams level on points and goal differential, but Ireland got the nod by having scored nineteen goals to Denmark’s fifteen. The Irish team reached the Round of 16 before losing to the Netherlands. Denmark, meanwhile, qualified for the 1998 tournament, where they made it all the way to the quarterfinals.

    Source: tdifh.blogspot.co.uk



    Jimmy Quinn –

    “It was a massive game for both teams – the Republic needed a result to get to the World Cup finals and we didn’t want to lose to them. It was Billy Bingham’s last game as manager of Northern Ireland and he’d brought all of the players in that squad through to the senior team. We’d done quite well at that time and got a few good results, but the last thing that we wanted to do was lose at Windsor Park in his last game as manager – particularly as he had done so much for us as players and for the country. We were nervous – people think that as professionals you don’t feel the pressure – but there was a bit of tension in the dressing room. I think Alan McDonald smoked a full packet of 20 cigarettes before the game because he kept disappearing into the toilets.”

    “Stopping them going to the World Cup was part of the motivation too. If roles had been reversed they wouldn’t have been doing us any favours – I have no doubt about that. You play the game to win and we wanted to win the game. When you’re playing for your country that’s all you are focused on. We went into Belfast after the game and we didn’t have to buy a drink – there was champagne flowing everywhere.”


    Late Goal Puts Ireland in Finals

    Published: November 18, 1993

    With British soldiers patrolling outside Windsor Park and a tense crowd watching inside, the Irish Republic qualified for the World Cup finals tonight by scoring in the last 12 minutes for a 1-1 tie against Northern Ireland. But not before the Republic’s desperate players had been knocked to the seats of their bright green gaskins by a Northern Ireland goal five minutes earlier that had threatened to knock the Republic out of the finals.

    As they came off the field, neither the players nor the 10,000 fans and 2,000 security police were sure whether the Republic’s tie was good enough to qualify for the World Cup.

    “I was panicking,” said Tony Cascarino, a Republic striker. But within minutes, the results arrived from Seville, where Spain had just defeated Denmark, 1-0. That meant that the Republic and Denmark had finished the qualifying round with the same number of points, 18, and the same goal differential, 13. But the Republic qualified because it had scored 19 goals to 15 by Denmark, the European champion. The Irish Republic and Spain qualify in Group 3 for the finals in the United States next year. A Peaceful Night

    There was no violence, but the Royal Ulster Constabulary, or police, and British soldiers in combat fatigues, armed with automatic rifles and riding in armored Land Rovers, patroled the area around Windsor Park, which is in a Protestant neighborhood where British flags hang proudly from windows. Police and Army barricades in the neighborhood caused large traffic jams. Fans entering the stadium were frisked politely.

    Northern soccer authorities sought to prevent what is known here as “intersectarian violence” by not allocating any tickets to fans from the predominantly Roman Catholic Republic, so they wouldn’t be tempted to fight with northern fans of this British province of Ulster, which has a Protestant majority.

    But fans from the Republic, who obtained several hundred tickets from friends and relatives in the North, mixed in and watched peacefully. The crowd numbered about 10,000 on this cold night and was necessarily tense and sober as both teams failed to score for the first 72 minutes and no alcohol was on sale. 2d Straight Trip to Finals

    It was the second consecutive World Cup qualification for Ireland, which made the finals for the first time in the country’s history in 1990, when the Republic was eliminated in the quarterfinal round by Italy, 1-0. Tonight’s game was played after several psycho-battles by team officials and coaches — Jack Charlton, the Englishman who heads the Republic, and Billy Bingham, who was ending his 17-year career as Northern coach.

    Bingham had claimed that the Republic was a team of “mercenaries” because most of the players were not born in Ireland, but England, and qualified for the Irish team on the basis of parents’ and grandparents’ citizenship.

    The Republic’s soccer organization had tried to remove the Northern Ireland home-field advantage by getting the game moved to Manchester, England, where many of the Republic players work for English teams. The Republic officials argued that the ongoing guerrilla war in the North was a threat to the safety of its players.

    The first half was dominated by the North, which attacked frequently down the flanks. The Republic goalkeeper, Packie Bonner, made several leaping saves of shots by Jimmy Quinn.

    In the second half, the Republic swept in repeatedly, but failed to get the ball in position for its two strikers, Niall Quinn and John Aldridge. Then Quinn, the leading scorer in the English leagues, where he plays for Reading, made it 1-0. A Bingham substitute, Iain Dowie, looped a pass to Kevin Wilson, who kicked it back to Quinn some 15 feet in front of Bonner’s goal. The shot was high above the outstretched gloves of the goalkeeper.

    But in the 78th minute, one of the Republic substitutes, Alan McLoughlin, took a long cross from the right after it bounced off a defender’s back and kicked it in low, from 20 yards out in front of the Northern Ireland goalkeeper, Tommy Wright.

    Minutes after the game, McLoughlin, who plays for Portsmouth in England, was still panting when he said how he did it: “Chest, foot, in.” It was the shortest comment of the night, and the pithiest, from a Republic point of view.

    Source: nytimes.com

    McLoughlin provides the final touch for Republic: Charlton’s men qualify on goals scored as Spain tame Danes

    The forgotten story of … 17 November 1993 The final night of the old World Cup qualifying system was a sensory overload of drama that included death, ‘murder’, illegal aliens – and Jack Charlton almost chinning Tony Cascarino

    Gentleman and a survivor: Eamon Dunphy meets Billy Bingham on the eve of his exit from football

    We wanted to end Republic of Ireland’s World Cup USA dream: Jimmy Quinn

    Alan McLoughlin on the goal that sealed Ireland’s World Cup place

    Alan McLoughlin: ‘The night I justified my existence’




    Northern Ireland vs Republic of Ireland 17/11/1993 Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham has words with his Irish counterpart Jack Charlton Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

    Northern Ireland vs Republic of Ireland 17/11/1993
    Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham has words with his Irish counterpart Jack Charlton
    Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

    Republic of Ireland vs Northern Ireland 17/11/1993 A view of the scoreboard at the end of the match Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

    Republic of Ireland vs Northern Ireland 17/11/1993
    A view of the scoreboard at the end of the match
    Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland


    Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


    16th November – Today In Our Footballing History

    16/11/1983 Hamburg West Germany 1-0 Norman Whiteside

    Pat Jennings, Jimmy Nicholl, Mal Donaghy, Gerry McElhinney, John McClelland, Ian Stewart, Norman Whiteside, Martin O’Neill, Billy Hamilton, Gerry Armstrong, Paul Ramsey

    This was the West Germany’s first home defeat by a European country in nearly 10 years. Hamburg itself had a greater population than the whole of Northern Ireland! West Germany had never suffered a home defeat in either European Championship or World Cup Qualifers in their history. Not only did Northern Ireland win in Hamburg through a Norman Whiteside goal and erase the unbeaten at home stat of the West Germans, they are still the only side to have ever beaten (West) Germany both home and away in qualifying matches.

    As expected the West Germans had the better of the play with playmaker Karl Heinz Rummenigge bringing out a fine save from Pat Jennings.

    Gerry McElhinney a third division player, was making his debut for Northern Ireland for which manager Billy Bingham was severely criticised for prior to the game for playing such an inexperienced player in a match of such magnitude. He started slowly but managed to take a foothold of the game with a great tackle on Norbert Meier who was in on goal. Ian Stewart who scoffed the wining goal a year previously in Belfast was again torturing the German right-back.

    More world class saves from Jennings came after shots from Meier and Rummenigge respectively and another great tackle from McElhinney on Rummenigge kept Northern Ireland in the game up to half-time.

    Northern Ireland scored on 50 minutes from ‘man-boy’ Norman Whiteside after great work on the left from Ian Stewart who cut in shot at goal. Schumacher was only able to parry the powerful shot into the path of Paul Ramsey who passed to Whiteside who fired the ball into the net.

    As you would expect the West German’s stepped through the gears with great urgency but great teamwork, defence and the luck of the Irish held firm as Jimmy Nicholl cleared the ball off the line from Lothar Matthaus. The resulting counter-attack allowed Billy Hamilton in on goal but instead of shooting he tried to take the ball round Schumacher who smothered it.

    The final whistle went the and small pocket of Northern Ireland fans went wild as did manager Billy Bingham just as they had done at Windsor Park a year earlier!

    * Trivia

    Unfortunately for Northern Ireland however, it was so close yet so far as a 0-0 draw the previous year against Albania allowed West Germany to win the group on goal difference as they defeated Albania at home in their final group game. However, Albania had taken a 23rd-minute lead through Tomori, who then got himself sent off before half-time. Karl Rummenigge had equalised within a minute of Albania’s goal, but Germany would have to wait until the 79th minute to seal the win and top the group. Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham was gardening during the match as he didn’t want to be put through the stress of it all.

    Author: Magheramesk

    Jupp Derwall (West Germany Coach) –

    “We just didn’t have the necessary firepower to get the game and the opposition under control. But then, who could have done that against a Northern Ireland team in this type of form?”

    Billy Bingham (Northern Ireland Manager) –

    “I put it alongside our win against Spain in Valencia. That was more important because it was the finals of the World Cup. Admittedly, this German team was a far superior one than the Spanish. To be honest we soaked up so much pressure I have to admit that we were a wee bit lucky. My heart fluttered too often for comfort. It was a strange experience to hear the German crowd 15 minutes from the end of the game chanting ‘Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland’. The match in Hamburg will live with me for all time. What a magic moment when [Norman] Whiteside scored after a long run by [Gerry] Armstrong, a cross from little Ian Stewart whose shot rebounded for Whiteside to put it into the net.”

    Martin O’Neill (Northern Ireland Captain) –

    “We just have the knack of playing better against the better sides.”

    Ian Stewart (Northern Ireland Player) –

    “I failed to score and that is one of my biggest regrets. I ran half the length of the pitch with the ball, but the keeper saved my shot and big Norman follows up to score. It was another super performance from the side … few teams boast a double victory over West Germany in the space of a year.”

    Norman Whiteside (Northern Ireland Goal Scorer) –

    “The Spain game in 1982 was a real highlight, but nobody who played in Hamburg will ever forget beating the Germans in their own backyard. I actually went up to Rummenigge during the warm-up and asked him if he would swap his shirt with me after the game. I’d never done that before, but there were 70,000 people in the stadium and I was just so taken by the atmosphere.”

    “That [goal] certainly silenced the crowd. Karlheinz Forster hadn’t given me a kick up to that point – he had me in his pocket – but when Ian [Stewart] went on a mazy run down the left the ball fell for me and I managed to force the ball past Harold Schumacher.”

    “I was lying in the bath after the game and Rummenigge arrived at the changing room. We were surprised to see him, but he asked if he could have my shirt. I couldn’t believe it. That was a great German side, but we managed to beat them twice in two years which was a fantastic feat. Ian Stewart scored the winner at Windsor and I remember he absolutely tortured Kaltz that night. We had a really good side back then and were unlucky not to pip the Germans for qualification to the Euro finals.”

    Gerry McElhinney (Northern Ireland debutant) –

    “It was easier than I had imagined. I had something to spare. I didn’t know until a couple of hours before the game that I was actually playing so I hadn’t time to fret. I never imagined for a moment that Billy Bingham intended to play me. I thought I was being brought along for the experience. It was only when I walked onto the pitch and saw the vast crowd that it eventually got to me. I had a few butterflies but settled as soon as the game got underway.”


    With Northern Ireland now thought to be out of contention, UTV only showed the Luxembourg v England match and it was left to BBC1 NI to screen highlights at some point. Bolton’s Gerry McElhinney made his international debut in this game, Norman Whiteside scored the shock winner on 50 after a fine run and shot by Stewart was parried by Schumacher and Ramsey’s follow up re-bounded off a defender to Whiteside who drove low into the net from 8 yards out. It was West Germany’s first home defeat to a European side for nine years, it was also the first time they had been beaten twice by the same opponents in Euro’s or World Cup qualifying group. The Irish now had to hope that the Germans would fail to beat Albania at home in the final group match four days later, Albania did take a surprise lead in that match on 22, the Germans equalised within a minute and Albania then had a man sent off just before half-time, but Northern Ireland were 11 minutes from qualifying until Gerhard Strack gave West Germany the points on 79 to qualify on goal difference.

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    … We took our excellent seats at the halfway line. For anyone who watched Norn Iron away in those days the plan was simple – flood the midfield, if that was breached, then the defence would hoof the ball as far as possible into the crowd. If the defence was breached, then we had Big Pat and if by some miracle they got past him we had Jimmy Nic, who could normally be relied on to be stood on the line where he could make one of his customary goal line clearances.

    That part of the theory was simple, the hard part was crossing the half way line and putting the ball in their net. If we scored first it was goodnight Vienna, eh Hamburg. All we had to do was stare at the enormous clock, shitting yourself for the next 43 minutes. We always seemed to score in the 47th minute.

    And so it came to pass. Not wanting to sicken the Krauts twice, Ian Stewart played a one-two off Schumacher and Big Norm was on hand to park off one of the greatest goal celebrations ever witnessed. Jimmy Quinn v. the UN, Armstrong ’82 and Dowie in Dublin, that type of celebration. If Glendinning hadn’t scored that goal in the ’93 cup final then Harry McCourt’s would be up in there, but I digress.

    The 250 or so of us, plus the Irish rangers shouted themselves hoarse. 43 minuets later and 2 stone lighter Mr Palstai of Hungary blew the whistle and much to the relief of everyone around, particularly Karl Heinz Rummeniger’s wife, it was all over.

    Pandemonium gave way to the sense of achievement. Germany’s first defeat by Ulstermen since Blair Mayne kicked their arses all those years ago. Shame on you if you don’t know who Blair Mayne is. Is suggest you get yourself a copy of “Colonel Paddy”, read it and pass it on. If enough people read it, he may still yet get that long overdue posthumous VC.

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