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How Linfield almost stunned Manchester City in European battle for the ages fifty years ago


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Eric Bowyer at home in Lisburn with one of his medals from his time at Linfield

Eric Bowyer at home in Lisburn with one of his medals from his time at Linfield

Stephen Hamilton

A match report of City return

A match report of City return

Eric Bowyer at home in Lisburn with one of his medals from his time at Linfield

It's the great unanswerable question that has haunted Linfield legend Isaac Andrews and thousands of his club's supporters for 50 years ever since they came within 420 seconds of springing one of European football's most unbelievable shocks against Manchester City.

The Belfast Blues had, against all the odds, been holding the mighty Manchester Sky Blues, with world-famous stars like Francis Lee, Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee in their £1m-plus line-up, to a 0-0 draw at Maine Road in the first round of the European Cup Winners' Cup, but with just seven minutes left on the clock, City scored after Andrews, the rock-solid sweeper at the back, was injured in a clash of heads and had to go off.

The man who broke the deadlock - and Linfield hearts - was Bell, whom Isaac had marked out of the game, and the livewire Shankill Road man, now in his 70s, says: "I always wonder if I hadn't been forced to leave the pitch with a split eye, would we have gone on to get that draw at Maine Road?"