Last night at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast the Torrans Trophy was awarded in honour and memory of Joe Bambrick, the Linfield and Ireland centre forward of the period between the 2 World Wars.
The trophy is named after one of the founding fathers of the club, John Torrans and is presented to a Linfield personality past or present who in the view of the club's directors has achieved legendary status.
The name Joe Bambrick follows some of the greatest names in this club's history who've also been inducted into the club's Hall of Fame, courtesy of the award of this prestigious Torrans Trophy.
Other names engraved on the prestigious Torrans Trophy before Joe Bambrick include - Noel Bailie MBE, Martin McGaughey, Glenn Ferguson, Tommy Dickson, Isaac Andrews, Alex Russell, Peter Rafferty, George Dunlop, Bobby Braithwaite, Billy Murray and Sammy Pavis.
This was the third time the award has been made in honour of a Legend who is no longer with us, although on both previous occasions, the sons of Seven Trophy Legends Tommy Dickson and Bobby Braithwaite were in attendance to receive the award in honour of their fathers.
In honouring the great Joe Bambrick in this manner, the club’s directors were cementing his place among the ALL TIME GREATS of this club. In a Belfast Telegraph poll chaired by the late Malcolm Brodie MBE to coincide with the 125th anniversary of this club in 2011, the great Joe Bambrick was named in 4th place among the 25 ALL TIME GREATEST LINFIELD PLAYERS. The top 3 included Tommy Dickson, Noel Bailie MBE and Jackie Milburn.
Joe Bambrick achieved immortality on February 1, 1930 when he scored 6 goals in Ireland’s 7-0 win against Wales at Celtic Park, close to his Roden Street home.
Remarkably, his goal scoring heroics that day remain a record for a British Isles Player in international football.
The 90th anniversary of that achievement is approaching early in 2020.
Joe, who was born in November 1905, was honoured by Linfield because of his extraordinary goal scoring exploits in the blue shirt of his local club that he graced with such distinction between 1927 and 1934.
His remarkable goalscoring records with Linfield can be summarised below.
1927/28 - 66 goals
1928/29 - 71 goals
1929/30 - 84 goals
1930/31 - 85 goals
1931/32 - 34 goals (injury affected season)
1932/33 - 75 goals
1933/34 - 74 goals
1934/35 -31 goals
Joe’s goalscoring return in the 1934/35 season ended because of his Christmas transfer to Chelsea.
Joe returned to Linfield for a brief spell towards the end of the Second World War (scoring 2 more goals) and his galaxy of goals contributed enormously to many trophies Linfield won during his glittering career at Windsor Park.
One of Joe’s stand out, eye catching achievements was his 4 goal haul in the 4-3 Irish Cup Final win against Ballymena on March 29, 1930 at the same Celtic Park venue where several weeks earlier, he had scored 6 goals for his country to put his name in the record books for decades to come.
In total, Joe scored 522 Linfield goals in his 357 Linfield games - a truly incredible return which ensured his place among the ALL TIME GREATS of this club.
A portrait of Joe hangs proudly in the boardroom in the Linfield offices in the Railway Stand at Windsor Park and one of the South Stand hospitality suites is named in his honour on Linfield match days.
Joe, who passed away on October 13, 1983, was immortalised in the cry “Head, heel or toe, Slip it to Joe” and his name is a most deserving addition among the Greats whose names are engraved on this hugely prestigious and very special Torrans Trophy.
Announcing / presenting the award and the gist of the text above at last night’s Gala awards event was Linfield honorary secretary Andy Conn and in the absence of a local family descendant of Joe Bambrick, the award was accepted by another Linfield man with Roden Street roots - club chairman Roy McGivern.
Audaces Fortuna Juvat