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Bertie Neill's contribution to local game immense

By Stuart McKinley

The man who gave Gerry Armstrong his break in Irish League football and then transferred the Northern Ireland World Cup hero to England has passed away.

Bertie Neill took Armstrong to Bangor from the Amateur League and after just three seasons he was sold to Tottenham for £25,000, before going on to net three goals at the 1982 World Cup, including the famous winner against Spain.

Bertie had played inside left for Bangor, with his most memorable moment coming against Glentoran in 1953 when he scored twice. He went on to sign for the Glens.

After retiring he spent some time as a scout with Linfield and worked in England with Tottenham, Oldham Athletic and Stoke City before returning to Bangor as manager, winning the County Antrim Shield and the City Cup.

He was appointed as manager of Portadown, where he won the Gold Cup in 1978 and also led the Ports to the Irish Cup final later that season, where they lost to Cliftonville.

Bertie's term at Shamrock Park ended just five months later, however, followed by a return to Bangor.

Away from football Bertie ran a sports goods business, specialising in golf equipment, near his home in Lisburn.

He is survived by his wife Doreen, daughters Lorraine and Karen and son Stephen.

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