To coincide with the award of the Torrans Trophy to Linfield legend Billy Murray on Tuesday night, 'Look at Linfield' focused on a famous game at the Coleraine Showgrounds when a late 'Minto' goal went a long way to securing the 1984/85 league title.
To conclude this week's celebrations of a superb Linfield career which has been recognised by the award of the Torrans Trophy and Life Membership, Linfieldfc.com reproduces this week's programme review of the April 1985 'league clincher' at Coleraine - ironically days before Linfield's return to the same venue for a vital game in this season's title race. All Bluemen, women and children will hope for a similar outcome.
Audaces Fortuna Juvat
The Games that made our History - by Roy McGivern
Coleraine v Linfield, Irish League, 6th April 1985
In the final look back at a great game from the past for this season, it is appropriate that we feature a vital league game from the 1984/85 season where a certain Billy Murray played a starring role. Billy will be presented with the prestigious Torrans trophy before tonight's game and his valuable contribution to the club's great success in the 1980s will always be remembered.
The Blues were aiming for a 37th title triumph in 1984/85 and a highly impressive four in a row success under manager Roy Coyle. They were facing a stiff challenge, however, from Big Two rivals Glentoran and from a resurgent Coleraine side who were determined to add to their solitary title win in 1974. Linfield travelled to the Coleraine Showgrounds for a vital league clash in April 1985, with both teams level on points at the top of the table and Glentoran trailing in third place.
Linfield fans travelled in big numbers to the North East as they realised that a Linfield win would be a massive step forward in the title race. It was a nail biting occasion but one which the late Malcolm Brodie described a 'stupendous Irish League game.' The home side set a blistering pace in the opening 15 minutes. Eddie McElhinney hit the crossbar with a lob and then Ricky Wade hit a fierce effort just wide of the post of George Dunlop in the Linfield goal. The Blues gradually began to get a foothold in the game and full back Colin Crawford hit a long range effort which was pushed over the bar by Jim Platt.
Whilst the goalless first half was an even affair, it was Linfield who dominated the second half. Felix Healy misplaced a pass which went to ace striker Martin McGaughey and his cross was narrowly headed wide by Billy Murray. George Dunlop then showed his class by saving a fine effort from Raymond McCoy. Stephen McKee hooked a shot wide of the post and then Lee Doherty whipped a free kick just past the upright. The home defence was almost breached when McGaughey's lob beat Platt but defender McDowell headed off the line.
Just when it looked like a draw might be the outcome, up popped legendary winger Murray to grab the winning goal and put the Blues clear in the title race. Colin Crawford produced a great overlapping run on the left and his cross found Murray lurking around the penalty spot. Minto steadied himself before firing into the net with his left foot to send the huge travelling support into raptures. He celebrated by whipping off his shirt and running along the touch line to the acclaim of the Linfield fans. There was no way back for Coleraine and Linfield secured a 1-0 win to go two points clear at the top of the table.
Speaking after the game a jubilant yet modest Murray stated: "It all happened so quickly. The ball came over and I simply toe punted it into the net. I knew it was a goal and I'm so happy."
Manager Roy Coyle added: "We were very professional, well organised and showed determination and real character. It is a significant win but the championship is not yet over. It is performances like this that will win it but if we slacken there could be disaster."
Linfield went on to clinch their 37th league title a few weeks later and that Murray goal at Coleraine was such a crucial one. He enjoyed so many wonderful moments in his Linfield career and it is very fitting that the club is now marking his achievements.
For the record the Linfield team which defeated Coleraine 1-0 on 6th April 1985 was: Dunlop, Mooney, Crawford, Dornan, Gibson, Jeffrey, McKee, Doherty, McGaughey, McKeown, Murray. Sub: Anderson
This is my final 'Games that Made our History' article for 'Look at Linfield'. From next season Dan Brown, author of the popular 'Every Other Saturday' book will be taking over this column and I am sure that he will make a great contribution. I have thoroughly enjoyed researching and writing these articles from our rich and illustrious history.