Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Nations Cup: The Scots could not handle Hamilton

The competitive fixtures between Northern Ireland and Scotland are a fading memory but the old rivals have been competing for bragging rights since 1884 when the Scots triumphed 5-1 at the Ulster Ground, Ballynafeigh.

In fact Northern Ireland took several beatings in those early exchanges and it wasn’t until the 20th match between the sides that the Ulstermen could hold their heads high after a 2-0 win at Parkhead in 1903.

The less said about a 13-0 win for the Scots at Solitude in 1900 the better!

In contrast, Northern Ireland have always struggled to score goals against their cross-channel opponents — the men in green have never managed more than three in one game!

The last time they managed that feat was in 1965 when goals from Derek Dougan, John Crossan and Willie Irvine secured a 3-2 win at Windsor Park.

But in the 1980s both sides really dusted off the gloves and went at each other.

There were no friendly exchanges when the sides met in two qualifiers for the 1982 World Cup.

And few players liked taking on Scotland as much as Billy Hamilton.

Hamilton only scored five goals in 34 appearances for Northern Ireland but his first two came against Scotland.

In May, 1980 Hamilton’s goal earned his country a 1-0 win at Windsor Park in the Home International Championships — and Northern Ireland went on to win the tournament.

In front of 20,000 passionate fans at Windsor Park — who thought of health and safety then? — a Scotland team managed by Jock Stein and containing the likes of Kenny Dalglish, Graeme Souness and Joe Jordan were put to the sword.

And on March 25, 1981, the big striker struck again in the first World Cup qualifier at Hampden Park which finished 1-1.

Scotland came to Windsor Park for the rematch on October 14, 1981 but the game finished scoreless.

Jock Stein also wasn’t smiling at Windsor Park in 1983 when goals from Sammy McIlroy and Norman Whiteside embarrassed Alex McLeish, Gordan Strachan and co.

McIlroy was also on target in a 1-1 draw at Windsor Park in 1982.

Perhaps it’s time to entice Billy Hamilton and Sammy McIlroy out of retirement.

They could certainly inspire Nigel Worthington’s men with a few golden memories.

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