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Double hat-trick legend Joe donated a Northern Ireland cap for the war

By Eddie McIlwaine

Footballer Joe Bambrick (of Linfield and Chelsea fame) found lasting glory the day he scored six goals for Northern Ireland in a 7-0 win over Wales at Celtic Park, Belfast in 1930. Modern day stars of the beautiful game have never equalled or bettered that feat.

But there was another side to Bambrick who died in 1983 at the age of 78 which Colin Rodgers, a former coach and a man who still has a passion for football, has discovered.

Joe donated one of his international caps to a WW2 auction aimed at raising money for the Belfast Telegraph's Spitfire Fund. The cap, now the possession of Colin, raised £21. 15 shillings in old money - about £900 in today's money terms.

Colin has loaned the cap and an accompanying garland to the Ulster Aviation Society which is raising money to fund a full-sized replica of a recently-acquired Spitfire, reveals chairman Ray Burrows. He revealed: "We are proud to be associated with the feat of a sporting hero and with the BT's Spitfire Fund which helped the war effort."

The Belfast Telegraph hoped to raise enough money to pay for one Spitfire – itself a legendary player in the war. In fact the campaign raised enough to pay for 17 Spitfires.

"It was a phenomenal result," adds Burrows. "If Joe Bambrick were alive today, I'd like to think he'd donate a cap for auction in our current Spitfire Fund appeal.

"For now, though, we're going to include his famous cap in our exhibit at the Portrush airshow on Saturday and Sunday September 6 and 7."

Colin Rodgers was given the cap and garland by his father, who had received them in turn from his best friend, Joe Harvey, who died 10 years ago.

It's believed Mr Harvey may have entered the winning bid at the auction.

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