Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Sort out Windsor Park, says Northern Ireland legend Gerry Armstrong

Actor Justin Duff with Billy Bingham and members of his World Cup squad, Jim Platt, Martin O'Neill, Mal Donaghy and Sammy Nelson.
Actor Justin Duff with Billy Bingham and members of his World Cup squad, Jim Platt, Martin O'Neill, Mal Donaghy and Sammy Nelson.
Members of Northern Ireland's 1982 football team with Dana, recording the World Cup song "Yer Man".
Participation in the 1982 World Cup finals has heightened pride in Northern Ireland. Here Mrs. Dorothy McBride, a stitcher in Riverside Textiles, Antrim, works on a World Cup tea towel
Players and officials of the Northern Ireland World Cup squad leave Aldergrove to join up with the rest of their colleagues for intensive training at Brighton, before flying on to the finals in Spain. (From left): Johnny Jameson, Jim Cleary, John O'Neill, David Bowens, assistant secretary I.F.A, George Dunlop, Derek Wade, I.F.A international committee member, Derek McKinley, assistant physiotherapist, and Mal Donaghy.
Northern Ireland striker Billy Hamilton of Burnley (right) and team physio Jimmy McGregor of Manchester United, enjoy a refreshing dip in the Mediterranean waters which lap their headquarters near Valencia. Cool Hamilton now aims to make a splash in the all-important Group Five game against Honduras in Zaragoza on Monday night.
Northern Ireland's 1982 World Cup finals squad
Northern Ireland's Norman Whiteside has some fun during a training session.
Northern Ireland skipper Martin O'Neill and his players listen to a training team talk. Standing along side O'Neill is Mal Donaghy and Noel Brotherston. Sitting - Tommy Cassidy, Bobby Campbell and Jim Platt
The Northern Ireland squad follow striker Gerry Armstrong in a conga-style routine in Spain during World Cup 1982.
The Northern Ireland squad in training during the World Cup finals in Spain 1982.
Norman Whiteside and Billy Hamilton put pressure on Yugoslavian defender Ivan Gudelj as he makes a back pass to his goalkeeper during Northern Ireland's first game in the World Cup, which ended in a scoreless draw.
Martin O'Neill accepts Luis Arconada's bannerette as referee Hector Ramirez of Mexico prepares to toss.
Gerry Armstrong (left) who was a constant thorn in the Spanish defence leaps high to contest the ball in the Spanish penalty area but is beaten by a head by Alonso.
Northern Ireland Gerry Armstrong shoots past the Spanish keeper Arconada and defenders Camacho and Alonso
Billy Hamilton leads the charge to congratulate Gerry Armstrong after his 47th minute goal which stunned 47,000 Spaniards into silence. Hamilton's cross created the opening for Armstrong to beat keeper Arconada and defenders Camacho and Alonso.
Northern Ireland's John McClelland celebrates the win over Spain with the Northern Ireland fans
Northern Ireland fans during the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain.
Northern Ireland fans celebrate Northern Ireland's famous victory over Spain in the 1982 World Cup finals.
Northern Ireland heroes Billy Hamilton and Pat Jennings enjoy the victory over Spain in the 1982 World Cup finals.
John McClelland leading the Northern Irish celebrations in their relief at the final whistle after beating Spain.
Mal Donaghy, banned from tommorow's match against Austria, joined foreign pressmen behind the touchline barriers as the Northern Ireland squad worked on set-piece moves at today's training session.
Norman Whiteside showing some of his fighting spirit as he tackles back in defence against Austrian Gernot Jurtin.
Billy Hamilton heads Gerry Armstrong's cross into the Austrian net as Herbert Prohaska looks on helplessly.
Billy Hamilton and Gerry Armstrong, Northern Ireland World Cup goal heroes, congratulate each other after the 2-2 draw with Austria while Sammy Nelson (left) about to shake hands with Walter Schachner, the man whose two goals in Vienna recently caused a setback to Northern Ireland's hopes in the European Nations Cup.
Billy Bingham and Billy Hamilton jubilant after the Austria game in the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain
Norman Whiteside, seen going close against Honduras, might have been the youngest player in the World Cup but he showed great maturity in the excellent Northern Ireland set-up.
Enjoying the open-air night life at Alcoceber are recently engaged couple, Kenneth Harvey and Jennifer Jones, both from Omagh.
Taking a souvenir picture at Zaragoza is Mrs. Anne McClure, of Belfast. In the picture is her husband Alan, Adrian Moir, Belfast; Mervyn Jones, Finaghy, and David McIlrath and his wife Julie, Newtownabbey.
Mrs. Mandy McGorman, Dundonald, shows off her Northern Ireland colours at Valencia
Writing postcards are Richard Creighton, Sean Donnelly and Raymond Ferguson, all from Cookstown.
A colourful group of supporters from Monkstown with their banners at Zaragoza.
Sporting their sombreros at Zaragoza are Ken Webb, Rathcoole; Howard Allen, Lurgan; Peter Moore, Birmingham; Paul Colgan, Rathfern; and George Swift, Lurgan.
Billy Workman, Carrickfergus, shelters under a palm tree.
Bill Lawrence (left), of Cambridge, who during the World Cup will drive Northern Ireland supporters over 5,000 miles, with Cecil Freeman, of Lisburn, at Las Fuentes
Celebrating her 10th birthday in Spain is Celine Hampton, of Cotswold Avenue, Newtownbreda, with her father Rolly, mother Dorothy, sister Louise (7) and her friend, Gillian Duddleston (11). Mr. Hampton won their holiday in a World Cup draw organised by Ballynahinch Recreation Club.
Sheltering under his sombrero is Paul Duffin, Larne, along with Norman Redshaw and Gordon Ballantyne, also from Larne.
Two former Belfast men now working in New York, Nelson Gaw, from Sydenham, a barman in the Big Apple, and Kevin Massey, from the Shankill Road, a professional singer in the clubs around New York, living it up in Spain
A group of Northern Ireland supporters with the children of a Spanish family in Alcoceber who have adopted the Ulstermen and are now Irish supporters. The children are: Maria Angeles, Maria Victoria, Joaquin and Magdalena Bellver Fernandez. The fans are: Melvyn Purvis, Jim Kerr, Alan Baird, Billy Workman, Ian Downes, Brian Rea, Sam McGorman, Sam Torrens, Robin Alexander, Robert Watters, Gary Helm, Cecil Freeman and Bill Chaps.
Miss Susan Craven (19), a civil servant from Finaghy and Miss Helen Spratt (20), also from Finaghy, who works in a Belfast boutique, soak up the sun in Spain, after watching Northern Ireland's first three World Cup games
In the swimming pool at Las Fuentes are Northern Ireland fans Sean McGowan, Donegal; Gerry Wilson, Craigavon; and John Guiney, Craigavon.
Outside the shops at Valencia are Billy Rea of Dundonald, with his wife Linda, son Stephen (12), nephew David Cathcart (11), Dundonald.
Keeping cool at a beach bar are Jim Nixon and Sam Workman, both from Ballymena.
In the sun at Las Fuentes are Northern Ireland fans (from left): Alastair Patterson, Dungannon; Harold Ritchie, Cookstown; Harry Hetherington and Cyril Kerr, both of Dungannon.
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
At Las Fuentes are (from left): Alan Morrow, Cherryvalley; Brian Rea, Braniel; Alan Baird, Dunmurray; and Sam McGorman, Dundonald
Northern Ireland manager Billy Bingham and his Spain 1982 World Cup finals squad outside the Belfast Telegraph offices
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
Sheltering under his sombrero is Paul Duffin along with Norman Redshaw and Gordon Ballantyne from Larne. 26/06/1982
Celebrating her 10th birthday in Spain is Celine Hampton, of Cotswold Avenue, Newtownbreda, with her father Rolly, mother Dorothy, sister Louise (7) and her friend, Gillian Duddleston (11). Mr. Hampton won their holiday in a World Cup draw organised by Ballynahinch Recreation Club.
Two former Belfast men now working in New York, Nelson Gaw, from Sydenham, a barman in the Big Apple, and Kevin Massey, from the Shankill Road, a professional singer in the clubs around New York, living it up in Spain. 26/06/1982
Writing postcards are Richard Creighton, Sean Donnelly and Raymond Ferguson, all from Cookstown. 26/06/1982
A group of Northern Ireland supporters with the children of a Spanish family in Alcoceber who have adopted the Ulstermen and are now Irish supporters. The children are: Maria Angeles, Maria Victoria, Joaquin and Magdalena Bellver Fernandez. The fans are: Melvyn Purvis, Jim Kerr, Alan Baird, Billy Workman, Ian Downes, Brian Rea, Sam McGorman, Sam Torrens, Robin Alexander, Robert Watters, Gary Helm, Cecil Freeman and Bill Chaps. 29/06/1982
Sporting their sombreros at Zaragoza are Ken Webb, Rathcoole; Howard Allen, Lurgan; Peter Moore, Birmingham; Paul Colgan, Rathfern; and George Swift, Lurgan. 26/06/1982
A colourful group of supporters from Monkstown with their banners at Zaragoza. 26/06/1982
Players and officials of the Northern Ireland World Cup squad leave Aldergrove to join up with the rest of their colleagues for intensive training at Brighton, before flying on to the finals in Spain. (From left): Johnny Jameson, Jim Cleary, John O'Neill, David Bowens, assistant secretary I.F.A, George Dunlop, Derek Wade, I.F.A international committee member, Derek McKinley, assistant physiotherapist, and Mal Donaghy. 01/06/1982
Actor Justin Duff with Billy Bingham and members of his World Cup squad, Jim Platt, Martin O'Neill, Mal Donaghy and Sammy Nelson. 18/05/1982
Members of Northern Ireland's 1982 football team with Dana, recording the World Cup song "Yer Man". 22/02/1982

Northern Ireland World Cup legend Gerry Armstrong has backed the fabled Spirit of '82 to carry the present day side through to a dream return to the Finals stage in Brazil 2014.

He also insisted a Windsor Park fit to match those ambitions must form the launching pad for our next World Cup bid, urging the Irish FA to now speed up the start of work on the planned £26million stadium rebuild to a 19,000 capacity.

The road to Rio begins next September, 30 years on from Armstrong's famous goalscoring heroics as Billy Bingham's team rocked host nation Spain to make the then second group phase of the top 12 teams in the tournament, before eventual elimination by France.

As in qualifying for '82, Portugal and Israel are again in Northern Ireland's Group F, with Russia, Azerbaijan and Luxembourg — a tall order but Armstrong, now 57, believes history can repeat itself.

Upbeat Armstrong said: “Of course, we'll be up against the brilliant Cristiano Ronaldo with Portugal but that should only inspire our boys even more.

“Back in 1981 we were up against it when we needed to beat both Portugal and Israel at home to reach the finals in Spain. We dug deep and fought like mad to get two fantastic 1-0 wins (Armstrong scoring both decisive goals).

“There was a tremendous belief in our own ability, we weren’t overawed by Portugal’s star players then and the Northern Ireland team that plays in the 2014 qualifiers should not be daunted by the challenge that lies ahead.

“The group could have been a lot worse but we’ve got a chance, — we must make sure we take it by winning our home games and starting to get wins on our travels.

“It's also an opportunity to showcase a new stadium, fit for our own home-grown heroes, never mind the likes of Ronaldo, with an atmosphere to match, making Windsor again the daunting fortress it was in my era.”

The prospect of an attractive, competitive group, featuring a crowd-pulling Ronaldo appearance at Windsor should now spur the IFA to ensure they cash in by extending Windsor's capacity from the present meagre 14,000.

Chief Executive Patrick Nelson said: “It's good to have a marquee name and Portugal have got one those in Ronaldo who is one of the best players in the world and that will certainly help us sell tickets.

“We are going to be developing Windsor Park over the next four years anyway so we have to work in our games around that, and it's going to be an exciting time.

“When you are in pot four of the seeds you expect some big teams as opponents and we have got some big teams to play, and some others with long distances to travel.”

Boss Nigel Worthington's current contract expires after the present Euro 2012 tournament and Nelson said any decision on his future would be made after the qualifying campaign.

He added: “We have five games to go and are still very much in it. We play the Faroes next and if we win that then we will be in great place for potentially taking second in this group — there is still a lot to play for in Euro 2012 before we get around to Brazil 2014.”

Worthington also refuses to be drawn on the prospect of signing a new contract but last night he was excited about the prospect of taking on a Ronaldo led Portugal and intimidating Russian outfit in the World Cup qualifiers next year.

“There’s a bit of travelling to do in this group and it will be tough but on reflection it could have been much tougher.

“We know Israel well from having played them in a friendly a couple of years back at Windsor and we all remember how difficult it was to break them down. I anticipate we’ll have to overcome similar problems in the qualifiers.

“Russia have been a fantastic team for years, always reaching major finals. They’ll certainly be tough to beat in Moscow.

“Portugal have plenty of stars — most notably Ronaldo — but we’ve played and beat big teams before.

“We need to take as many points of those three teams as possible. But what is imperative is maximum points from the home and away games against Luxembourg and Azerbaijan. It is never easy until you have actually achieved that.”

The winners of the nine European groups qualify automatically for Brazil and then the eight best runners-up play off for the four places remaining.

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