Norman Whiteside, still only twenty years old, is this week’s cover star, as Shoot reveals what he is really like.

As you open the magazine, there is a double page article called Tottenham Scotspur, focusing on the lack of Scottish talent at White Hart Lane, with only youngster Ally Dick being on the books.

Dick is described as a name for tomorrow, but his tomorrow would be outside the UK, most notably at Ajax, where he was a substitute in the 1988 European Cup Winners Cup Final.

Shoot suggests Scottish talent who Spurs should sign, such as Paul McStay, Maurice Malpas, Jim Leighton (who would end up across North London at Arsenal for a short loan spell in 1991) and Richard Gough, who would sign for Spurs the following summer.

In news, Kevin Keegan has quit England to live in Spain so he can play Golf all year round.

Ian Rush uses his column to reveal that new Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish is much tougher than his predecessors Joe Fagin and Bob Paisley.

The FAI invoked a UEFA rule to stop RTE showing live coverage of top flight games in England on a Saturday afternoon, to stop viewers in Northern Ireland watching it instead of attending games at Irish League clubs. Their own domestic league, League Of Ireland, would have been unaffected due to playing on Sundays.

Having suggested possible signings for Spurs earlier, Shoot report that Spurs are looking at signing either Alvin Martin or Steve Bruce.

Bryan Robson uses his column to appeal to referees to stop allowing goalkeepers to move before a penalty kick is taken.

Charlie Nicholas recent goal against Coventry gets a double page photo collage.

Cover star Norman Whiteside gets a double page spread, where he is described as a tough guy with a soft centre, and reveals that he misses Gordon McQueen in the dressing room, who he describes as almost as funny as Jimmy Cricket.

Shoot goes behind the scenes at Aberdeen, where manager Alex Ferguson says the basis of their success (prophetically, considering his future success at Manchester United) is young players brought through the club. He also describes cook Belle Morrison as his bets signing.

When this magazine went to print, there was no coverage of English football on TV (contradicting the earlier story about RTE) meaning no games were filmed. The impact was felt abroad, as Scandinavian fans were now deserting English clubs for Italian and West German sides, with both league now being broadcast there instead.

Brian Clough uses his column to reveal that he’ll miss recently departed Southampton manager Lawrie McMenemy supplying him with strawberries whenever his side visits The Dell, and expresses his opposition to the idea of groundsharing in England.

Lee Chapman of Sheffield Wednesday has a simple ambition for this season, to get more goals than stitches.

Tommy Cannon, described as “The suave half of Cannon and Ball”, gets a full page feature having just joined the board at Rochdale. The story is accompanied by a picture of him posing in a Rochdale kit.

Frank McGarvey, enjoying a successful second spell at St Mirren, tells Shoot he regrets not staying at Liverpool longer.

Steve Hodge, a recent Aston Villa signing, tells Shoot he has joined “A team of the future”. Aston Villa were relegated in 1987, by which point Hodge had left to sign for Tottenham Hotspur.

Charlton Athletic get a feature, as they are forced to moved out of The Valley due to it not being considered safe, and are playing their first match at Selhurst Park. Charlton wouldn’t play at The Valley again until 1992.


An interesting story that grabbed my attention today, was that of the problems of the FAI in selling corporate boxes and seats at the new Aviva Stadium.

I would have some sympathy if it wasn’t for Liam Brady spending so much time phoning Northern Ireland youngsters with his “Mother Ireland” monologue.

Perhaps cutting down on their phone bill would be a start.

When the final verdict was announced in the player eligability case, it was mentioned by some about Northern Ireland fans boycotting the forthcoming Carling Nations Cup as a form of protest to get back at the FAI.

Such a suggestion might have been laughed at, but suddenly, a weakness has emerged, and Northern Ireland fans have something the FAI want, money.

If you can’t sell out games against Manchester United and Argentina, then you need to have a serious look at you marketing strategy, especially, your pricing policy.

It’s very easy to make people want to buy your product, but it’s just as easy to stop people from buying your product (either in terms of making it too expensive, or having to go to a third party),

For Dublin, it could easily have read Lisburn, as the Aviva Stadium, was highlighted by the pro-Maze lobby as the template for the national stadium for our utopian vision of the future.

“But they have a new stadium”

“But they have friendlies against Brazil and Argentina”

“But they have this, but they have that ………”

In other words, the “Keeping up with the Joneses” attitude in Northern Ireland football, where ideas get floated without thought because they have it in England/Scotland/Republic of Ireland, rather than if we actually need it.

Perhaps sometimes, the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere.


It was inevitable, but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing, as the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling on player eligibility means that the FAI now have a green light to basically steal Northern Ireland born players with no blood links to the Republic of Ireland with no recriminations whatsoever.

There’s nothing that I can add that I haven’t already mention on my previous blog. The FAI have been acting like school bullies in this case, and their reaction to this decision will no doubt be smirking and giggling to themselves, like a bunch of school bullies who have been caught red-handed, hauled before the principal ………… and gotten away with it.

Credit to the IFA for fighting this all the way, but the battle may have been lost in the courts, but it still isn’t over.

Sadly, this abhorrition of a ruling means that the FAI are free to rape and pillage the IFA’s player resources, but there is nothing to stop the IFA from encouraging young players to play for them, and resist the lure of the FAI.

Whatever it takes, when a player is brought into the youngest age team, the IFA must double, even triple, their efforts to make sure it is a career-long relationship.

Sadly, when watching the Under-19 Milk Cup Final between Northern Ireland and USA, you couldn’t help but wonder how many of those players would one day play for the senior Northern Ireland team.

Such curiousities are quite normal, but the question sadly isn’t “Will they be good enough to play for Northern Ireland?”, but “Will they be poached by the Republic of Ireland?”

Like I said in my previous blog, this is a sneaky and under-hand way of trying to create a MK Dons-esque “All-Ireland Team”.

Though player defections are the exception rather than the norm, if it isn’t tackled head on, it will become the norm rather than the exception, creating an All-Ireland team, with Northern Ireland being seen as nothing more than a reserve team for this “Utopian Vision”.

It may be hard to take, but I hope the IFA must be strong on this issue, and I hope that any player who comes crawling back after defecting isn’t considered for selection.

It may sound controversial (I fully expect people to queue up to be offended by it) but a clear message needs to be sent out that our national team is not a “1am, any girl will do” option in a footballer’s career, should the fairy story that got fed to them not turn out to be true.

No doubt, people will be quick to counter that by pointing out George McCartney, but there is a difference. George McCartney didn’t refuse to play for Northern Ireland, he refused to play for Lawrie Sanchez.

It’s very naive to suggest that the background of the players they are taking is merely coincidental.

A dangerous precedent is being set with this recuritment policy, potentially dividing our football into “The prads play for da norf and da kafflics play for da souf”

I certainly have my doubts that FAI scouts ventured up to Rathcoole to try and poach Jonny Evans.

After all, a young player tipped for great things at Manchester United would surely be the sort of player you would be interested in if he was available?

It is important to distinguish that religion and nationality are two different and unrelated matters and, shock horror, you can be a catholic and play for Northern Ireland, and be proud to do so, like Jim Magilton, who spoke out against the defections recently in the Belfast Telegraph.

Though ironically in Northern Ireland, those who are quick to total up the quotas of P’s and C’s, are often disinterested in the subject they are totalling.

Put simply, those who are quick to comment about how many Protestants are in the Northern Ireland team, and how many Catholics there are in the Northern Ireland team, don’t actually support or care about the Northern Ireland team.

With the impending Celtic Cup due to take place in 2011, the IFA must consider their involvement in this competition.

Quite how IFA suits would co-operate and cosy up to their FAI counterparts in the organisation of this competition, having been treated so shabbily by them would be beyond me.

If Wayne Bridge can sacrifice playing in a World Cup having been treated with utter contempt and betrayed by John Terry, then there’s nothing to stop the IFA from sacrificing the Celtic Cup.

If you’ve got some clout, why not use it?

Without sounding arrogant, the Celtic Cup would collapse without Northern Ireland (or indeed, any of the other competing nations) in the same way the British Championship collapsed once England and Scotland.

There would certainly be some form of poetic justice if any divisions caused by this happened to the Republic of Ireland team, as Southern born players get resentful of Northern Ireland born players taking their places in the team.

I know that if I was born in the Republic of Ireland, worked hard at football, got a call-up to the national team, then had my place taken by a blow-in with no affiliation to the team, I would certainly be resentful.

And there’s only so long you can supress resentment like that.

Sadly, this has been a lonely battle for Northern Ireland. We’ve had to fight this alone, with no cheerleading from the mainstream UK media.

The final word, or possibly the final three words, deserve to go to FAI Chief Executive John Delaney.

Last November, he was quite happy to talk about ‘fair play’ and ‘integrity’ in the aftermath of the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup Qualifying defeat to France. Sadly, it’s something his organisation preaches but doesn’t practice.

Fair play? Integrity? Don’t make me laugh.


As the build-up to the first international date of 2010 nears, inevitably, there will be much interest into the names of those who get call-ups. It is a World Cup year after all.

Sadly for Northern Ireland, the focus is not on South Africa, but Poland and Ukraine, and the qualifiers for Euro 2012.

But sadder than that, is that the attention is not on who is in the squad for next week’s friendly against Albania, but rather, who isn’t in it.

Shane Duffy of Everton and Marc Wilson of Portsmouth would have been expected to in the squad, if it wasn’t for the fact that they have declared to play for the Republic of Ireland, despite representing Northern Ireland at various underage levels.

So, it appears this agreement in 2007 which the IFA said at the time was “A satisfactory agreement”

Satisfactory? Really?

Is it satisfactory that over two years later, the Northern Ireland national team is still getting shafted in terms of players?

This is a massive test for the IFA, and one that they dare not fail. Having already descended the Irish Cup into farce with their inability to promptly deal with the Newry v Larne violence in an appropriate timeframe, which could see a team paired against Coleraine or Loughgall or Newry or Larne in the Semi-Final draw.

If the IFA roll over on this issue, they will lose the respect and confidence of every football fan in Northern Ireland.

It’s sad that all the work the IFA has done at community level is being undone by the FAI, no doubt taking advantage of Northern Ireland’s troubled history.

Put simply, the FAI are acting like vultures over this issue. Call me cynical, but I seriously doubt the sales pitch they use to impressionable youngsters is that if they work hard and be dedicated, they could one day play on the same team as Sean St Ledger.

There is a massive difference between this and Jack Charlton’s Plastic Paddy’s in the 80s and 90s. The players he picked were all in the mid 20s, and deemed not good enough for the country they were born in. The likes of Wilson, Duffy and Darron Gibson were all wanted by Northern Ireland, yet the FAI just decided to take what they weren’t entitled to.

You would understand players defecting if the Republic of Ireland were serial qualifiers, they’re not. Slovenia, a country with only a couple of hundred thousand people more than Northern Ireland have qualified for three times as many tournaments since 1994 than the Republic of Ireland have.

It’s not as if it’s a case of ‘give and take’ with the player issue, it’s a total imbalance in favour of the Republic. Let’s be realistic here, no youngster from the Republic is going to ever declare for Northern Ireland.

The IFA must stand up to the FAI, nothing more than a bunch of school bullies, who think they can just steal what they like from a smaller kid.

And like any school bully, they are quite good at playing the victim and crying when they get a dose of their own medicine, like in Paris in November.

Feeling hard done after Thierry Henry’s handball in the build-up to William Gallas winning goal, FAI President John Delaney told anyone who would listen that the game should be replayed “For the sake of the integrity of football”

The French response was to shrug their shoulders and ignore the request. After trying to enlist the help of FIFA, they got told that there was nothing they could do.

After begging to get a wildcard entry, the FAI were then subject to worldwide ridicule when Sepp Blatter let the cat out of the bag. It wasn’t a nice feeling.

Well, thats how Northern Ireland fans feel everytime a player switched allegiance.

You would think being shat on from a great height by a bigger nation and finding that those who uphold the rules don’t want to know, the FAI would have some sort of empathy with their Northern counterparts.

Evidently not, they just carry on as they did before, with disregard for the IFA, brushing them aside arrogantly as if Northern Ireland is some sort of footballing non-entity who don’t deserve to have Premier League players play for them.

Put simply, if the IFA want to maintain the credibility of football in Northern Ireland, and their crediblity within football in Northern Ireland, they must stand up to the FAI and ensure this biased injustice and vulture culture is put to an immediate end.