Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Stuart McKinley: Worthy’s boys can emulate ’85 stars

Romania v Northern Ireland, October 1985.

It may be almost 24 years ago, but I can recall it as clear as yesterday.

Somehow I’d got mixed up regarding the kick-off time and stayed on at school for a while, thinking I’d get back home in time to see the second-half.

What an awful mistake.

By the time I got through the door and switched on the television all I got to see was John McClelland — injured for the game and brought over to Belfast to act as a pundit on BBC — giving his thoughts on how he thought it would have been easier to win away to England than Romania.

Still, I wasn’t totally sure what he was getting at — only on reflection did I fully understand — and I didn’t know for certain that he was trying to tell me that we’d won.

Even as the show ended they didn’t say how the match had finished or show the goal and in the days before we had a television with teletext, I was left in limbo, still not knowing the score.

I don’t remember exactly how I discovered that Jimmy Quinn had given Northern Ireland a 1-0 win, but I know I was pretty pleased.

It’s been talked about already this week — and rightly so because in many ways Poland ‘09 is the Bucharest ‘85 of the modern era.

That is also the last time that Northern Ireland pulled off a big victory away from home. Honourable draws, but not enough wins.

Nowadays though there are more matchwinners in the team. David Healy has been knocked, but come on, his record is phenomenal and Kyle Lafferty, Steve Davis and Grant McCann are also threats.

I know it’s a 7.30pm kick-off this time and I’ll be watching intently — bedtime for children will be postponed.

And I hope I remember this night in 24 years time after another victory and a step towards another World Cup finals.