Tag Archives: Match

21st December – Today In Our Footballing History

21/12/1988 Seville Spain 0-4

Alan McKnight, Anton Rogan, Nigel Worthington, Alan McDonald, John McClelland, Mal Donaghy (Michael O’Neill), David McCreery (Jimmy Quinn), Steve Penney, Colin Clarke, Kevin Wilson, Kingsley Black

There was a big gulf in quality between the two sides and the scoreline reflected this. Billy Bingham had set Northern Ireland up in a 4-5-1 formation with Colin Clarke the lone striker.

Robert, Vazquez and Michel passed in short triangles as the 4-5-1 became more like a 9-0-1 as the Northern Ireland team didn’t pass their 22 metre line. Spain at this point began playing in an aggressive 2-5-3 formation.

Northern Ireland held on until the 30th minute when disaster struck. A pass into the box by Butragueño was accidentally knocked past goalkeeper Allen McKnight who was going towards the ball when his Celtic and international team mate Anton Rogan stuck out a leg perhaps trying to pass back to the goalkeeper and the ball ended up heading in the opposite direction into the net.

The second Spanish goal came from a corner kick on 55 minutes when Butragueño scored. A wild shot by Górriz which was going wide until it hit Alan McDonald in the lower abdomen and fell at the feet of Butragueño to score.

A penalty conceeded by John McClelland in the 62nd minute allowed Michel to make the score 3-0 to Spain.

A few minutes later on 65 minutes Northern Ireland’s miserable night got even worse as Alan McDonald scored the second own goal of the game. A long range shot by Robert towards goal deflected off the Northern Irish defender and past McKnight into the net.

* Trivia –

The Spanish crowd who were frantically waving their Spanish flags throughout the match, began singing the Christmas carol ‘La Marimorena‘ when Spain went 4-0 up! “ande, ande, ande, la marimorena, ande, ande, ande, que es la Nochebuena” sang the crowd.

Author: Magheramesk

Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


15th December – Today In Our Footballing History

15/12/1982 Tirana Albania 0-0

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

Northern Ireland were held to a scoreless draw in Tirana, but West Germany, defeated home and away by Northern Ireland, squeezed through on goal difference thanks to a late 2-1 home win against . . . yes you’ve guessed it Albania.

If Billy Bingham’s men had won in Tirana they would have gone through a point ahead of the Germans. Such are the quirks of fate in sport.

Author: Magheramesk

Irish Hopes Take A Knock

Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


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


11th December – Today In Our Footballing History

11/12/1968 Istanbul Turkey 3-0 Terry Harkin (2), Jimmy Nicholson

Pat Jennings, Dave Craig, Martin Harvey, Jimmy Nicholson, Terry Neill, Arthur Stewart, Bryan Hamilton, Eric McMordie, Derek Dougan, Terry Harkin, Dave Clements

Having defeated Turkey 4-1 at Windsor Park only three month previously Northern Ireland faced the same opponents away from home, and won 3-0, with goals from Terry Harkin (2) and Jimmy Nicholson. This win gave Northern Ireland 4 points (only 2 for a win in those days) and with only two games to play against the USSR fans were confident that we would qualify for Mexico ’70. Sadly two defeats against the Soviet Union meant it wasn’t to be.

Author: Magheramesk

* Trivia –

Bottles were continually thrown towards the Northern Irish bench during the match. The entire bench including manager Billy Bingham had to run for safety upon the final whistle.

Terry Neill contracted hepatitis during his stay in Turkey.

Terry Harkin:

“Billy [Bingham] signed me for Southport, but he was also Northern Ireland manager at the time as well and he gave me my first cap. “It was unbelievable because I went in for the schoolboy trials and the youth team trials but never got picked. “I got an under 23 cap but that was part of the deal when I left Coleraine, they’d get money if I was to play in the under 23’s. But Billy gave me my first cap at the age of 28.”

“I was treated with the upmost respect by everybody there and didn’t have any bother playing at Windsor Park.” “Whenever I was young my uncles used to take me up to Windsor Park and squeeze me in and to think one day I could be playing out there so the first thing I did was rent a mini-bus for everybody to come and watch me.”

“I was brought up supporting Northern Ireland so when I was picked for Northern Ireland; it was great moment, I was so proud.”

Source: thecityherald.info

Northern Ireland Step Nearer Mexico

Northern Ireland Footballing Greats


07th December – Today In Our Footballing History

07/12/1932 Wrexham Wales 1-4 Sam English

Elisha Scott, Billy Cook, Tommy Willighan, Billy Mitchell, Jack Jones, Billy McCleery, Billy Houston, Sam English, Jimmy Dunne, Jack Doherty, Jimmy Kelly

Wales ended up winning the 1932-33 British Home Championship and would win several of the tournaments in the 1930s. Ireland meanwhile had a terrible tournament and finished with three defeats conceding nine goals in the process. Four of the goals conceded were against the Welsh in this game in Wrexham. Wales had to win against Ireland and hope Scotland could take a result against England at Hampden which they duly did 2-1 to award the title outright to Wales. One positive for Ireland is that they only lost 1-0 away to England at Bloomfield Road in their second match!

Wales began on the offensive through William Evans (Tottenham Hotspur), Walter Robbins (West Bromwich Albion) and David Richards (Fulham) it was Ireland who opened the scoring after 26 minutes. Billy Mitchell (Distillery) had passed the leather to Jimmy Kelly (Derry City) who dribbled into the centre subsequently hit an accurate pass to Sam English (Glasgow Rangers) who shot from distance and scored.

Welsh attacks followed from Thomas Griffiths (Bolton Wanderers) and Eugene O’Callaghan (Tottenham Hotspur) with the former failing to score from a few yards out, but the scored remained 1-0 to Ireland at the break.

Two minutes after half-time Wales equalised after Evans had chipped the ball over Mitchell’s head to Robbins resulting in a goal by David Astley (Aston Villa).

From the restart Wales snatched the lead when a great solo effort from Robbins brought Wales’ second goal of the game.

Ireland had lost Jimmy Dunne (Sheffield United) for a period but he returned to the field to see another two goals for Wales by Astley and Robbins to provide an easy victory in the end for the Welsh.

Author: Magheramesk

Wales Winning Rally Against Ireland


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


29th November – Today In Our Footballing History

29/11/1978 Sofia Bulgaria 2-0 Gerry Armstrong, Billy Caskey

Pat Jennings, Jimmy Nicholl, Sammy Nelson, Bryan Hamilton, Chris Nicholl, David McCreery, Billy Caskey, Martin O’Neill, Gerry Armstrong, Sammy McIlroy (Vic Moreland), Terry Cochrane (Chris McGrath)

In the pouring rain Gerry Armstrong put the Irish ahead on 17 taking advantage of a mix up between keeper and defender. The Irish thought they had scored a 2nd on 58 when a Martin O’Neill lob appeared to drop over the line off the underside of the bar, but it was not given. Billy Caskey sealed the win at the end of a corner on 83. Northern Ireland manager Danny Blanchflower declared; “This was the finest performance since I took over as manager. We could have won by four goals. I came here with an open mind about tactics and realised we didn’t have to defend.”

Source: homepage.ntlworld.com/carousel

Terry Cochrane –

“I didn’t get on with Danny’s assistant Tommy Kavanagh. He used to call me The Barfly. He was really running the show, not Danny and at one match in Bulgaria, I right hooked a defender and he took me off straight away. Chris McGrath came on and got nutmegged straight away, went on his arse and got his two front teeth knocked out. ‘Good substitution Tommy’ I said and he just stared at me.”

“Danny once said that we could have played like his 1960’s Spurs team but there was no way. We were at a match somewhere in Eastern Europe once and an orchestra was playing. Danny got a bit carried away and started conducting them, which only served to fire them and their team up even more. He really was senile, I tell you.”

Source: archive.is/RYqMA

Victory Shoots Ireland To Top Of England’s Group

Source: http://www.northernirelandmatchworn.com/product.asp?pID=14&cID=2

Billy Caskey 1978 Bulgaria v Northern Ireland Match Worn Shirt

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