Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

All Our Yesterdays: World Cup Spain 1982

Billy Huddleston and his wife Bertha, of Groomsport, in a happy mood at the Northern Ireland match in Valencia. Billy won two free World Cup tickets taking in all Northern Ireland matches, in a draw organised by Portadown Masonic Recreation Club, in which there were 60,000 subscribers. 26/06/1982

After a rollercoaster World Cup Qualifer, a revival of Northern Ireland's international fortunes and Nigel Worthington building on the phenomenal success of Lawrie Sanchez, I thought this week's archive choice should go back to Spain 1982.

On June 25, 1982, Northern Ireland stole headlines with a sensational 1-0 win over World Cup hosts Spain, in Valencia. This was the first tournament with 24 rather than 16 teams and there were concerns smaller nations would struggle. This was certainly not the case for Billy Bingham's NI squad.

Gerry Armstrong was the man of the match, scoring the only goal early in the second half. He was one of the top five goal scorers in Spain '82 going on to win the British Player of the Tournament award.

What made the victory even more remarkable was that Northern Ireland played the last 27 minutes with 10 men, after the sending off of Mal Donaghy. At 17, Norman Whiteside was the youngest player to appear in the World Cup finals. When the final whistle blew the stadium fell silent apart from a small green patch of ecstatic 'Norn Iron' supporters who would never tire of saying... "I was there!"

By Paul Carson

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