ESPANA 82 – THE PLAYER’S SOUVENIR

A curious thing came into my possession this week, ironically, on 25th June (You should know why that date is important) of a booklet previewing the 1982 World Cup for Northern Ireland.

The front cover features match action from the 1-0 win over Israel in November 1981 that secured Northern Ireland’s qualification.

The brochure is edited by Billy Kennedy and Ivan Little, then Co-Editors of Linfield’s matchday programme, and also co-edited Northern Ireland’s programmes during that period. Billy Kennedy is still currently writing for the News Letter, while Ivan Little now has a weekly column for Sunday Life after a long career with UTV.

The editorial congratulates Northern Ireland on qualifying for the finals, pointing out that the groundwork to a successful campaign began in winning the 1980 Home Championship.

There is an editorial from Dr Michael Scott, Consultant Cardiologist at Belfast City Hospital, congratulating the team on it’s success, and pointing out the benefits of not smoking. There are various anti smoking adverts in the publication from NI Chest Heart Stroke Association.

Despite the title, the publication was available to the public at a cost of £1.20.

Malcolm Brodie writes about how the World Cup has changed during his time covering the event, especially since Northern Ireland’s last appearance, 24 years previously, in 1958.

He notes that the tournament is now more commercialised, in his words, “It is big business, now on a global scale”, and about how there will be increased security surrounding all the teams in Spain.

Brodie signs off with “Reaching the Quarter-Finals would be an unbelievable boost, and in the opinion of many, a miracle. Knowing Billy Bingham’s luck, that may be achieved. You never know, stranger things have happened”

There were no Quarter-Finals in Spain 82, after the groups, there were 4 groups of 3. Northern Ireland were 1 win away from the Semi-Finals, so technically, it was a Quarter-Final of sorts.

There was also a fixture list for the competition, with dates/venues/kick-off times.

What struck me as odd was the volume of group games being played at the same time. For example, Hungary v El Salvador in Group 3 was played at the same time as Scotland v New Zealand in Group 5.

Ironically, the final group games weren’t played simultaneously in Spain 82, though that would change as a result of the Austria v West Germany game.

Honduras and Yugoslavia, two of Northern Ireland’s group opponents get a double page spread. Not knowing much about the Hondurans, Northern Ireland are being helped by Terry Moore, a Canadian international who grew up in Northern Ireland, played for Glentoran, but in 1982, was playing for Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Honduras had beaten Canada for a place in the finals, with Moore bemoaning the fact that Honduras winner wasn’t disallowed for offside. Moore would get the chance to play for Canada in the 1986 World Cup.

Moore would point out that it would feel like an away game due to the Honduran population in Spain, and that they would get support from locals for their games against Yugoslavia and Northern Ireland.

Apart from Nikki Jovanovic, formerly of Manchester United, not much was known of Yugoslavia, though there was an admiration for their manager Milijan Milijanic, in his second spell as manager, after winning two La Liga titles with Real Madrid inbetween.

Bill Clark of Sunday Mirror pays tribute to the role played by two members of Billy Bingham’s backroom team, Martin Harvey and Bertie Peacock.

Some players are lucky enough to get full page profiles with the usual Q and A with footballers.

Sammy McIlroy was chosen by the UK government to front a “Behave yourselves” campaign (England and Scotland also qualified for Spain 82) but stated that Northern Ireland fans will behave, but that such a campaign was worthwhile. He also spoke about his transfer from Manchester United to Stoke City.

A former pupil of Mersey Street Primary School, his favourite football team growing up wasn’t in BT4, but across the city, as he supported Linfield, and Rangers. His favourite singer is Al Green and his favourite comedian is Tommy Cooper.

Chris Nicholl’s favourite singer is Mick Jagger and his favourite comedian is Benny Hill. David McCreery is also a fan of Benny Hill, but his favourite singer is Rod Stewart.

Despite fronting an anti-smoking campaign, Sammy Nelson admitted to having the odd cigar to celebrate Arsenal winning a trophy. Interestingly, he was the first ever ex pupil of Inst, a school with a long Rugby association, to play international football. As of 1982, he was yet to be invited back to his old school. His favourite singer is Bob Seeger.

Mal Donaghy’s brother would be in Spain for the World Cup, but to cheer on Brazil, having formed the West Belfast Brazil Supporters Club.

There is also a mention of his 2 month old baby Ciaran “Mal’s hoping the latest member of the Donaghy clan, baby Ciaran will also be putting his best foot forward onto the soccer pitch”

Ciaran Donaghy has played in the Irish League, most notably with Cliftonville.

Billy Hamilton’s wedding anniversary fell during the 2nd Round of Spain 82, which he hoped he would still be in Spain for. Like Sammy Nelson, who he lists as his favourite comedian, he is a Rolling Stones fan. He states for his post football career, he hoped to own a business, which he did, setting up a Trophy and Engraving shop in Bangor, before selling it to Alan McDonald in 2009.

There is a double page poster of the qualifying campaign, while Billy Bingham gets a page to write about how his team shouldn’t be written off in Spain, despite a tough group, including this prophetic line, in relation to the 1958 team, and his 1982 team

“Who knows, maybe 24 years from now, in the year 2006, Northern Irish people will be talking about the feats of the 1982 team, with the same nostalgia and folklore attached to the 1958 team”

I think in 24 years on from 2006, they will still be talking about the achievements of 1982.

Ivan Little interviews sporting celebrities cheering on Northern Ireland such as Mike Gibson, Sean O’Neill, John Watson and Dermot Monteith. Alex Higgins is hoping that his Snooker schedule allows him to travel to Spain as a guest of ex Linfield player Sammy Pavis.

Martin O’Neill speaks of his pride at being captain, can speak a little French (unlike fellow Derry native Nadine Coyle) and his favourite bands are The Undertones (unsurprisingly), The Horselips and Jethro Tull.

There is a team poster in the middle, while some players have their baby photos featured.

Pat Jennings spoke of his regret that physiotherapist Bobby McGregor, who died the previous November, wouldn’t be in Spain.

There is a full page feature on players on the fringe of the squad, battling for a place such as Pat Rice, George Dunlop and Tom Sloan.

Interestingly, there is no mention in that article, or anywhere in the publication of Norman Whiteside, which would give an idea as to how late and unexpected his arrival in contention for a place in the squad was.

There is also a Smash Hits style lyric poster of the official team song, Yer Man, by Dana.

Sam Butler of News Letter writes a guide on what to do and not to do in Spain, warning fans that there will be a heavy police presence on the streets, and to beware of muggers.

On the back page, there is an advert simply saying “VIVA NORTHERN IRELAND ………… from the winning team at Downtown Radio”

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2012 IN PICTURES – JUNE

Not a lot happening this month, but still managed to get some good photos.

At the start of the month, I went to Amsterdam to see Northern Ireland play, and got some nice photos of the stadium (my seat was too far for match photos) and Street Art within Amsterdam.

Less said about the actual football, the better.

Fantastic city, can’t suggest you visit there enough.

Talking of Street Art, there was a Sandy Row Hall Of Fame mural launched in June, and I went out and got some snaps of the Linfield players featured, as well as Alex Higgins.

Amsterdam Street Art

Amsterdam Street Art Photo Album

Holland v Northern Ireland

Holland v Northern Ireland Photo Album

Graffiti Round-Up

Knitted Art

Sandy Row Hall Of Fame/Rory McIlroy Mural

SANDY ROW HALL OF FAME

Was out for a cycle today. Not in Liege, but in Holylands and Sandy Row.

Managed to get some pictures of new murals.

The first new mural is of Rory McIlroy, in the Holylands.

Meanwhile, en route from Holylands to Sandy Row, I encountered some more Knitted Art (blogged about last week) outside The Empire.

In Sandy row, I got some pictures of a new mural, on Stroud Street.

It’s a street long mural focusing on various aspects of life in Sandy Row through the years.

There is depictions of fruit sellers, and men who worked in the tram depot at Sandy Row, as well as local sporting successes such as various Boxing champions, Alex Higgins, and local footballers such as Grant and Ryan McCann, current Linfield players Daryl Fordyce and Albert Watson, as well as Linfield legends Tommy Dickson and Joe Bambrick.

The image of Higgins is of the iconic of him carrying his young child after winning the 1982 World Championship.

For some, it is not their first time being immortalised in mural form.

Alex Higgins is commemorated on a mural painted immediately after his death outside The Royal Bar, a street away. He frequented, and lived opposite the bar in his later years.

Further on down the Donegall Road, there is another mural of him. This photo was taken in 2007.

Grant McCann features on a mural opposite Days Hotel alongside Warren Feeney Jr (who, as far as I know, doesn’t come from Sandy Row)

Joe Bambrick and Tommy Dickson also feature on a mural of local footballing legends in The Village, while Bambrick’s former home at Roden Street gets a blue plaque, and Tommy Dickson has a mural in Taughmonagh.

Enjoy

Photo Album

ART OF CONFLICT

Got an e-mail last night, unexpected and out of the blue, but definitely worth sharing.

It was from an American TV company looking to get clearance to use this photo of a mural of David Ervine in East Belfast as part of a documentary provisionally titled ‘Art Of Conflict’, looking at murals in Northern Ireland .

I’m presently in the process of signing off the relevant paperwork to approve this.

I’ll keep you updated over the coming months with regards to the progress of this show (If I hear anything) and if it gets broadcast in the UK .

The mural itself was erected in 2008, a year after Ervine’s death. It replaced a mural of David Healy’s goal against England in 2005, based on a photograph by William Cherry. To compensate for that, a new mural of Healy’s goal was painted across the road. The three murals are documented in this blog post from September 2010, A TALE OF TWO DAVIDS

Regular readers will of course be aware that I love my street art and murals, especially getting photographs of them.

To be honest, I’m not as fussed on the paramilitary or political ones. It may shock people, but not every mural in Belfast is a paramilitary or political one.

David Ervine’s son has, in recent years, become a muralist himself. His best known work is one of John Peel in the Cathedral Quarter.

Sport in Belfast also have been immortalised in paint. There was an Elisha Scott mural painted in West Belfast in 2010, Glentoran used to have one on the Newtownards Road . Crusaders have one on St Vincent Street , outside Seaview and there’s an Antrim GAA one in the Lower Ormeau .

Two of Belfast’s most famous sporting sons have the most wallspace dedicated to them. Alex Higgins two World Championship wins were already commemorated on the Donegall Road during his lifetime, and an impromptu mural was painted in the days after his death, outside The Royal Bar, where he frequented in his later years, and across the street from the apartment complex where he lived and died during his later years (There’s a wreath made out like a snooker table outside the building)

George Best was also muralised during his lifetime on the Woodstock Road . That mural has unfortunately gone, but there is one in Blythe Street in Sandy Row. George Best also appears on a mural of Northern Ireland football legends outside Windsor Park.

The other end of Blythe Street features a mural to commemorate the 125th anniversary of Linfield FC, unveiled in November 2011. Linfield are also represented with other wallspace in South Belfast . Taughmonagh sees a tribute to Tommy Dickson, unveiled in 2008 not long after his death, while The Village also features Dickson on a mural, alongside Joe Bambrick and Elisha Scott.

Joe Bambrick’s former home, not far away in Roden Street , has a blue plaque outside to commemorate this.

This blogpost, from August 2010 features Linfield murals ahead of the start of the club’s 125th anniversary season, while this one features the Weavers To Winners launch from November 2011

Just goes to show, there are some hidden gems amongst Belfast ’s murals if you look in the right places.

2010 IN PICTURES – JULY

Not a lot happening in this month, the STLFTEM came right on the very last day when I went to see (for free) Adam Hills live at Mandela Hall.

The first half of the month was obviously spent watching the later rounds of the World Cup, and within days, the early rounds of the European Cup, where I ventured to Windsor Park to see Linfield take on Rosenborg.

I also managed to take in a pre-season friendly between Linfield and Dunmurry Rec, and Dunmurry’s ground was amateur photographer friendly.

Some interesting Street Art also popped up in Belfast during the month, as various stencils of popculture icons appeared in the Woodstock Road, and a mural tribute to the recently deceased Snooker legend Alex Higgins appeared outside the Royal Bar in Sandy Row.

Enjoy.

NEW ALEX HIGGINS MURAL

Got this brought to my attention on Saturday, of a new Alex Higgins mural at the side of The Royal Bar in Sandy Row, where he frequented in his later years and across the road from the apartment where he died.

Apologies for the photo quality, as it was hard to get into a good position due to the traffic passing.

It’s a truly excellent and eye-catching mural and well worth checking out.

The more eagle-eyed of you will have noticed a piece of paper beside the mural.

It isn’t actually a note of condolence, but a note informing people that there is still wet paint there.

Interestingly, whilst I was getting photographs of it, locals were approaching me and talking about Alex Higgins in an affecionate way, under the mistaken impression that I was a journalist photographing it for a newspaper.

Meanwhile, the other mural that I had highlighted last week has had a few licks of paint and a tidy up, which is good to see.

Enjoy

ALEX ‘HURRICANE’ HIGGINS 1949-2010

It was announced today that former Snooker player Alex Higgins died, and unsurprisingly, like a favourite son of Belfast, he is honoured in mural form in the city.

To my knowledge (please feel free to correct if there are any others) there is only one mural of him in Belfast, just off the Donegall Road, where he grew up.

This photo, taken in May 2007, came about as a complete fluke. It was the Sunday of a Bank Holiday Weekend and it was light at a ridiculously late hour, I went out that evening to get photos of as much murals and graffiti in the University, Donegall and Grosvenor Roads.

The reason why I was doing that route was that I had always remembered seeing a plaque in commemoration of Belfast Celtic in the Park Centre and wanted to do a recce to see how to get there on foot.

Incidentally, there is currently an exhibition dedicated to the history of Belfast Celtic in the Park Centre. It’s periodically open to the public, and i’m hoping to try and sneak a visit on the lunchtime of 7th August, when Linfield host Ballymena United.

I was walking back home and spotted the mural, and couldn’t get the camera out quick enough, as I didn’t even know it had existed.

From time to time, i’d usually spot him walking around Belfast, usually in the Univeristy/Botanic/Shaftesbury Square areas, and there was still an aura about him, as other people in the street would stop and mutter to themselves “That’s Alex Higgins”

I actually once served him a beer when I worked in The Globe. Such was the change in his appearance that a work colleague thought I was winding him up when I pointed out that Alex Higgins was in the building.

I’m not sure what the mural is like at the moment as I haven’t ventured into the Donegall Road for a while. Hopefully, it is still there and in good condition.

A typically Belfast tribute to a Belfast sporting hero.