Great fighting comebacks - Vol. 2

Posted : 6th January 2014 at 16:07:13

Yesterday asked for further recollections of great fighting comebacks and the following excellent contribution has been received along with one or two others which will be added to the end of this very interesting correspondence from a well known Linfield historian.

"One of the great memories for Bluemen of a certain vintage was the scene of thousands of Linfield supporters on the field at Solitude, celebrating the winning of the League Championship in 1962. This was after the play off against Portadown to decide the title in that season of the magnificent seven in 1961/62. However, it is now largely forgotten that we also won the Championship in a play off the previous season, also against Portadown at the Oval in 1960/61. That season of 1960/61 Linfield and Ards were joint leaders on 18 points with Portadown 3rd on 16 points and Glentoran 4th on 15 points, when Glentoran came to Windsor Park in the league on 4th Feb. '61. The following report in a local paper sums up the traditional fighting spirit of Linfield teams throughout our history.

'For fully 85 minutes Linfield, staggered by an early 3rd minute Glentoran goal and despite being on top, looked as if they were going to be defeated and were down to 10 men, after Tommy Hammil went off injured in 65 minutes. With 5 minutes left the Blues came into the game with the impact of a steam hammer and smashed their way to an amazing 3-2 win. Billy Ferguson sored with a header in 86 minutes from a Tommy Stewart corner to counter Doherty's third minute goal and Tommy Dickson slammed another 2 past Bertie McGonigle in 87 and 89 minutes. Matt Doherty got the Glens second one in extra time to make it 4 goals in five minutes. The moral behind the story is that Linfield should never be counted out until the final whistle. This was a performance characteristic of the legendary teams which have trooped out in the Royal Blue shirts of Linfield. They have always been fighters and probably always will be and that ability to stick the full 90 minutes (and beyond) is an asset that is symbolic of the Linfield club and its traditions.'

The Linfield line-up for that game against Glentoran on Feb 4, 1961 was Irvine, Gilliland, Graham, Wilson, Hamill, Gough, Stewart, Ferguson, Dickson, Parke and Braithwaite.


Interestingly, the following was also received from Jim Curry about the same game.

I was ballboy at Windsor from 1956 to 1961. I was behind Bertie McGonigles net when he played for Glentoran who were winning 1-0 when Bun Hamill Linfields centre half went off injured, leaving the Blues with 10 men, as there no subs then. With about half an hour left, the Duke Tommy Dickson scored 2, one a 25 yard rocket and I think wee Billy Ferguson scored a third. Glens scored another but the Blues won 3-2.

2. A supporter has also recalled a 3-2 home win against Limavady on January 31, 2007. Friel had the visitors 2-0 ahead but goals from Thompson (56), Dickson (78) and Ferguson (88) rescued the situation for the home side.

3. Another supporter has reminded us of an unforgettable night game at Solitude when Linfield trailed 2-0 at half time. Second half goals from Murphy, Ferguson and Morgan ensured a vital 3-2 triumph on March 28, 2000 that all but secured David Jeffrey's first league title as manager.

4. Who can ever forget the "Ferguson" 2008 CIS Cup final. In the dying stages Linfield were trailing 2-1 to Crusaders but 2 late, late Spike goals gave Linfield a 3-2 victory and the Cup was Linfield's.

5. Another game we had a great comeback in was back in September 1982. We played Glentoran in I think was an Ulster cup tie. We were down 2 nil after eleven minutes and then decided to take the Glens apart. Although we couldn't score, we couldn't have played better. In fact I think it was the only time that I can remember that Linfield were applauded to a man off at half time, whilst being beaten by the Glens 2 nil at half time. The second half was the best display by any Linfield team that I have witnessed. "Buckets" McGaughey scored two and who could forget Billy Murray running behind the goal at the Kop end, waving his shirt above his head, when he scored his third goal to make the final score 5-2 to the Blues. Hope this brings back good memories for us middle age Blue men and women - Michael Lusty - 2nd Newtownabbey LSC.

6. Radio Linfield's Gary forwarded the following great memory.

April 1977.

The game that changed Linfield's history.

First round of the Co. Antrim Shield, the last trophy of the season and we hadn't won a trophy since winning the league under Billy Campbell two years earlier. Coyle had taken over in November 1975 and we ended the season trophyless for the first time in just under 50 years.

Had we not won the Shield that season, there's no question that Coyle would have been sacked. We had failed to qualify for Europe for the second season in a row.

We were still 4-1 down at home to the Whites with 15 minutes left but amazingly, pulled it back to win 5-4. I think Coyler had rested a couple of players - Stephen Mouncey (Tim's dad) was in nets that night, instead of Ken Barclay.

We ended up winning the Shield, beating Glentoran 3-1 in the final.

The following season we became the first team in 16 years to win a league and cup double and Coyle never looked back. No wonder he had a special affection for that trophy.

7. In Vol. 1, I made reference to a comeback from a 5-1 deficit in a game against southern opposition. We also received the following details from Gary about this game where Linfield fought back to draw 5-5 before losing on penalties.

The Finn Harps game was at the end of the 1977-78 in whatever all-Ireland tournament we were playing in. Probably the Tyler Cup, seeing as we won it in 1980. I'd guess the date as around April 1978. Maybe May,

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