The year 2020 will herald the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest ties in this club's proud European history - the home and away European Cup Winners’ Cup games against the then holders of the trophy - a Manchester City team featuring amongst others their legends Bell, Summerbee and Lee.
On September 16, 1970 one thousand Linfield supporters travelled to Maine Rd in Manchester to see a Colin Bell 83rd minute goal give the hosts a narrow 1-0 first leg win.
On September 30, 1970 two Billy Millen goals set Linfield on the road to a famous 2-1 second leg win in front of 25,000 supporters at Windsor Park.
City, who'd won the trophy a few months earlier against the Poles of Gornik, progressed to the next round, courtesy of this away goals win against a Billy Bingham inspired Linfield team who'd qualified for the European Cup Winners cup tournament, on the back of the 2–1 Irish Cup final success against Ballymena at Solitude in April 1970.
To mark and celebrate the significant 50th anniversary date of these hugely historical and momentous occasions in this club's proud history, Linfield FC is presently in the early stages of arranging a Man City 50th Anniversary Celebratory Reunion event.
The aim is to have the event at Belfast's Crowne Plaza Hotel on the evening of Saturday September 19, 2020.
Full details of this celebratory dinner will be provided after the club's end of season gala dinner in May but at this stage, the club would like to make supporters aware of the club's intentions with regard to marking this important 50th anniversary of one of the biggest events in this club's history against one of the biggest names in European football, then and now.
The Linfield team in Belfast on September 30, 1970 was: Derek Humphreys, Alan Fraser, Jackie Patterson, Isaac Andrews, Ivan McAllister, Eric Bowyer, Billy Millen, Eric Magee, Bryan Hamilton, Billy Sinclair and Dessie Cathcart. The sub was Phil Scott.
From that list, goalkeeper Derek Humphries was tragically killed in a road traffic accident two years later and Phil Scott sadly passed away a couple of years ago.
The aim of the reunion dinner is to bring together as many of the surviving players as possible and with several living outside Northern Ireland, this is why the club has to make initial plans at this relatively early stage.
Eric Magee and Bryan Hamilton both live in England, while Billy Millen lives in Australia.
Discussions with Billy Millen reveal that he is very keen to return to his native Belfast for this reunion occasion and this has given a huge boost to early efforts to arrange a reunion of as many of the players who represented this club in one of the greatest nights and results in our proud European history.
Linfield FC is intending to produce a souvenir booklet of the anniversary occasion to be made available to those attending the function.
The event will incur significant costs and the club is seeking sponsorship, donations, contributions from our supporters, supporters clubs and businesses to help offset these costs.
In return for such financial support, acknowledgement and appreciation will be provided on Linfieldfc.com and in the souvenir booklet and big screen in the hotel on the night.
Supporters, supporters clubs and businesses wishing to place adverts in the booklet or sponsor players or tables, or assist in any other way with this eagerly anticipated event, are asked to contact club director Jonathan Lamont on firstname.lastname@example.org
The club is aiming to work closely in conjunction with Manchester City for this night of football nostalgia but the availability of some of their players from that era to attend on this date could depend on the English Premier league fixtures for that date and of course they won't be known until the summer.
Nevertheless, the event is very much open to local supporters and supporters clubs of both Linfield and Manchester City, as the event will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the achievements of the greats of both clubs.
Any further enquiries or suggestions can be forwarded to the club's media director Andy Conn on email@example.com
From this website on November 1st last
It was reunion time recently for some members of the famous Linfield team that defeated Manchester City in the European Cup Winners’ Cup, only to be eliminated on the away goal rule. They are from left: Eric Bowyer, Alan Fraser, Jackie Patterson, Dessie Cathcart, Ivan McAllister, Isaac Andrews and Billy Sinclair.
Three of the famous 1970 squad have sadly passed away, Sammy Pavis, Phil Scott and Derek Humphries, while Billy Millen is currently living in Australia and Bryan Hamilton and Eric Magee couldn’t make it over on this occasion from England.
The following article about the second leg was published in "Look at Linfield" in late September 2013.
The Games that made our History - by Roy McGivern
Linfield 2 Manchester City 1
European Cup Winners Cup
September 30, 1970
Linfield have enjoyed many glorious European nights but surely none can surpass the night the mighty Manchester City were defeated at Windsor Park. When the draw was made for the Cup Winners’ Cup tie, no-one gave the Irish League part-timers a chance against City who were one of leading sides in England at the time. City were holders of the competition and had won the old First Division title in 1968 and the FA Cup the following year. It was a true David v Goliath encounter but the Belfast Blues had clearly not read the script.
The first leg was played at Maine Road with over 1,000 Linfield fans making the trip to Manchester. Their journey was not in vain as the Blues lived up to their motto of ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’ to come within seven minutes of holding their illustrious opponents to a draw. Inspired by master tactician Billy Bingham, Linfield put up a valiant defensive display in front of 30,000 fans. England international Colin Bell got the crucial goal after 83 minutes, but only after the inspirational Isaac Andrews was forced off the field with a badly gashed eye a few minutes earlier. Andrews had been magnificent alongside Ivan McAllister in an unaccustomed sweeper role and, but for his untimely departure, the Blues might just have held on. Writing in the 'Belfast Telegraph', Bill Ireland commented:
“Linfield reduced the City superstars to the realms of ordinary mortals. They came within seven minutes of achieving a modern miracle against one of the best club sides in Britain.”
The scene was set for a momentous return leg in Belfast two weeks later. Almost 25,000 fans packed into Windsor Park for the game, many coming to see superstars of the game such as Mike Sumerbee, Colin Bell and Francis Lee. However Billy Bingham’s braves were determined to upset the odds again and they produced one of the finest European performances in the club’s history.
Linfield took a shock lead after only four minutes. A quick pass from Dessie Cathcart to Eric Magee caught the City defence napping and, when the ball was flicked onto Billy Millen, the big striker steered the ball away from Joe Corrigan and into the net. Windsor Park was rocking but the crowd was stunned into silence just a few minutes later when the English side struck back. Colin Bell won possession from Eric Bowyer and played a pass to Francis Lee. The England striker didn’t hit his shot cleanly but the ball unfortunately slipped under the body of Linfield goalkeeper Derek Humphreys for the equaliser. The big keeper redeemed himself with some stunning saves later in the game but the damage had been done.
The Blues came out firing on all cylinders after the half time break and went back into the lead on the night after 56 minutes. Millen was again the hero, taking advantage of a short free kick from Dessie Cathcart to blast the ball into the net. With another goal needed to go ahead in the tie, Linfield bombarded the City goal for the remainder of the game with Bryan Hamilton and Ivan McAllister both going agonisingly close. The English side just held on to progress on away goals but they were given an almighty fright by the battling Blues. City manager Joe Mercer commented after the game:
“If this was one of the easy draws give me a hard one every time. You have got to hand it to this lot, they played magnificently and we're just very thankful to be through to the next round.”
There were many heroes in blue on that special night at Windsor Park. Despite his early error, goalkeeper Humphreys was in sensational form over the two legs. He was to die tragically just a year later on his way to another European tie at Windsor Park. Andrews and McAllister were supreme in defence and Billy Millen rightly grabbed the headlines with his two quality goals. One other player who made the headlines was 17 year old full back Alan Fraser who produced two outstanding performances against the mighty City.
He later commented:
“It was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my football career. We matched City in the return game and it was a fantastic night at Windsor. The boss Billy Bingham really had us super fit for the game and it was a cruel way to go out of the tournament.”
30 September 1970 was arguably Linfield’s finest hour in Europe and such a result is virtually unthinkable in the modern game.
For the record, the Linfield team on that wonderful night in Belfast was:
Humphreys, Fraser, Patterson, Andrews, McAllister, Bowyer, Millen, Magee, Hamilton, Sinclair and Cathcart.