13 July 2006

Gerry Armstrong

Next up is the scorer of perhaps the most famous goal in Northern Ireland's international history (sorry David), here's Gerry...
Name:
Born:
Height:
Weight:
Position:

Representative Honours:
Gerard Joseph Armstrong
23 May 1954, Belfast
6.00 ft / 1.83 m
13.00 st / 82 kg
Forward

Northern Ireland:
63 Full Caps / 12 Goals (1977-86)


Club Honours: (with Bangor) Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1974/75; (with Spurs) Football League Division Two Third (promoted) 1977/78; (with Watford) Football League Division One Runner-Up 1982/83; Football League Division Two Runner-Up 1981/82.
Awards: British Player of the Tournament World Cup 1982.

Club Career:

Teams
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA Cup
FL Cup
Other
St Paul’s Swifts
Cromac Albion
1971
(Amateur League)
Bangor
72/73-75/76
Aug-72
Tottenham Hotspur
75/76-80/81
Nov-75
£25,000
65(19)/10
6(4)/3
3(1)/3
Watford
80/81-82/83
Nov-80
£250,000
50(26)/12
5(2)/2
5(2)/3
6(1)/1
Real Mallorca
83/84-84/85
Aug-83
£200,000
(Spain)
West Bromwich Albion
85/86
Aug-85
Free
7(1)/ 0
2(0)/1
1(0)/0
Chesterfield
85/86
Jan-86
Free
12(0)/ 1
Brighton & H.A.
86/87-88/89
Aug-86
Free
30(17)/ 6
3(1)/0
2(2)/1
Millwall
86/87
Jan-87
Loan
7 (0)/ 0
Crawley Town
88/89-89/90
Feb-89
Free
(Southern League)
Glenavon
89/90
Mar-90
Free
7 (0)/ 2
2(0)/1
Bromley
Apr-90
Free
(Isthmian League)
Worthing
91/92-94/95
Nov-91
Free
(Isthmian League)
TOTALS
£475,000
178(63)/31
11(6)/5
13(4)/7
11(3)/3

Coaching Career:
Club
Role
Tenure
Brighton & Hove Albion
Player-Coach
1988
Crawley Town
Player-Coach
1989-90
Worthing
Player-Manager
1991-94
Northern Ireland
Assistant Manager
1994-97
Northern Ireland
Assistant Manager
2004-06
Irish FA
Elite Player Mentor
2011-12

Biography:

Gerry Armstrong came to football almost by accident; it was whilst serving a ban from Gaelic Football as a teenager that he tried his hand at soccer, playing for West Belfast side St Paul's Swifts and then Amateur League club Cromac Albion before signing for Irish League Bangor in August 1972 - all this despite picking up the laws of the game as he went along!

Having scored in the 1975 Co. Antrim Shield Final win over Glentoran and found the net a further nine times in the first three months of the 1975/76 season as Bangor moved towards a City Cup win, Tottenham manager Terry Neill was confident enough to offer his old club £15,000 for the 21-year-old Armstrong's services.

Armstrong had to bide his time in the Spurs reserve side, finally making his first-team bow in a 3-1 defeat at Ipswich in August 1976. In the next few seasons his form was erratic, and he often found himself selected in defence rather than in his favoured forward role - in fact, his highest League return in five seasons was just four goals.

On 27th April 1977 Armstrong made his international bow in a 5-0 defeat by West Germany, the first of 63 caps for Northern Ireland. Eight months later he scored his first international goals, as Danny Blanchflower’s men defeated Belgium 3-0 in a World Cup qualifier. He went on to appear in every game as Northern Ireland clinched the 1980 British Championships, their first since 1914.

It was a £250,000 move to Watford in November 1980 that really kick-started Gerry Armstrong’s career. He had always struggled with the short passing game favoured by Spurs, and had always shone more playing with Northern Ireland. The style of play of Graham Taylor’s Watford side more closely mirrored Billy Bingham's Northern Ireland side’s ‘direct’ approach - subsequently at Vicarage Road he played the best football of his club career. He made his debut for the Hornets in a 1-1 draw with Blackburn on November 20th, but had to wait until December 22nd, in a 3-0 win against Grimsby, to open his goalscoring account. He scored just three goals in 24 appearances that season, but the following year his return of seven goals in 33 appearances saw Watford clinch promotion to the First Division as runners-up.

Armstrong’s new found confidence also gave his international career a boost, he scored twice – in 1-0 wins over Portugal and Israel - in Northern Ireland’s successful 1982 World Cup qualifying campaign. Northern Ireland finished as runners-up behind Scotland, with an undefeated home record, and just one point ahead of Sweden. Armstrong’s goal in the final match against Israel had clinched the teams place in Spain.

The World Cup Finals in Spain saw Gerry Armstrong become a legend of the local game. His goal against Honduras in the second game of the first round earned Northern Ireland a 1-1 draw and meant that they needed to defeat the hosts to qualify for the second round. The Casanova Stadium in Valencia was a cauldron of noise and passion, as Spain also needed a win to guarantee qualification, but the Northern Ireland team rose to the occasion and when Billy Hamilton crossed the ball in to the penalty area, the Spanish ‘keeper Arconada could only palm it out and Armstrong hammered the ball home to give Northern Ireland an historic 1-0 win.

As it was both Spain and Northern Ireland qualified for the next phase. A 2-2 draw with Austria and a 4-1 defeat by France, with Armstrong scoring the consolation, sent the Ulstermen home after the second round. His performances in the tournament earned him the title British Player of Spain ‘82, this ahead of the cream of English and Scottish talent. Armstrong was also the competitions fifth equal top-scorer, only Italy's Paulo Rossi (6 goals), West Germany's Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (5), Brazil's Zico and Poland's Zbigniew Boniek (4 each) outscoring him.

The season that followed Armstrong’s World Cup heroics was to be ultimately disappointing, individually at least. He started just eight League games, plus eleven appearances from the bench, and scored just twice, as Watford finished as League runners-up to Liverpool.

In 1983 Spanish club Real Mallorca surprisingly signed Armstrong, and he spent two seasons using his shear power to terrify Spanish defences on a regular basis. In August 1985 he returned to the English First Division with West Bromwich Albion, but failed to settle there and spent the second half of the 1985/86 season with Third Division Chesterfield.

Despite this lack of success at club level Armstrong was involved in the 1986 World Cup squad, earning his final cap, as a substitute against Brazil, as Northern Ireland bowed out in the first round. His final international goal, his twelfth, had come almost two years earlier in a 2-1 World Cup qualifying defeat of Finland in November 1984. He had also scored in the 1-1 draw with Wales that had clinched the final British Championship for Northern Ireland in May 1984.

On his return from Mexico in 1986 Armstrong signed for Division Two side Brighton, making his debut at home to Portsmouth on 23rd August. He became player/coach at Brighton in 1988 and played a total of 55 League and Cup games. He left the Goldstone Ground under a cloud after an altercation with a fan and moved on to coach Crawley Town. He was manager of Worthing from 1991-1994 before being appointed as assistant manager to Bryan Hamilton in the Northern Ireland set-up.

Armstrong left his Northern Ireland role along with Hamilton in late 1997, and concentrated on TV work and radio punditry as well as coaching in and around his Sussex home. When the Northern Ireland job became vacant following the departure of Sammy McIlroy Armstrong applied. The IFA rejected him due to his lack of experience, but he did jump at the chance to take up the post of Lawrie Sanchez's assistant. Armstrong held the post of assistant-manager until August 2006, when he resigned for "business and personal reasons".

In August 2011 Armstrong was appointed by the Irish FA as Elite Player Mentor. The new role will see him keep in regular contact with young Northern Ireland players, ensuring that they are happy with how they are being treated within the youth set-up, and hopefully stemming the flow of players to the Republic of Ireland.

Whatever the future brings, Northern Ireland fans will forever remember John Motson's BBC commentary from THAT match in Valencia:

"Gerry Armstrong, what a worker he is... Striding away there with Hamilton to his right and Whiteside up on the far side of the area... Still Billy Hamilton, he's gone past Tendillo... Arconada... ARMSTRONG!"

Northern Ireland Full Cap Details:
Cap
Date
Opponent
Venue
Result
Score
Type
Notes
1
27-04-1977
West Germany
A
L
0-5
FR
(22 yrs, 339 days)
2
28-05-1977
England
H
L
1-2
BC
3
03-06-1977
Wales
H
D
1-1
BC
sub
4
11-06-1977
Iceland
A
L
0-1
WCQ
sub
5
16-11-1977
Belgium
H
W
3-0
WCQ
2 goals
6
13-05-1978
Scotland
A
D
1-1
BC
7
16-05-1978
England
A
L
0-1
BC
8
19-05-1978
Wales
A
L
0-1
BC
9
20-09-1978
Rep of Ireland
A
D
0-0
ECQ
10
25-10-1978
Denmark
H
W
2-1
ECQ
11
29-11-1978
Bulgaria
A
W
2-0
ECQ
1 goal
12
07-02-1979
England
A
L
0-4
ECQ
13
02-05-1979
Bulgaria
H
W
2-0
ECQ
1 goal
14
19-05-1979
England
H
L
0-2
BC
15
22-05-1979
Scotland
A
L
0-1
BC
16
25-05-1979
Wales
H
D
1-1
BC
17
06-06-1979
Denmark
A
L
0-4
ECQ
18
17-10-1979
England
H
L
1-5
ECQ
19
21-11-1979
Rep of Ireland
H
W
1-0
ECQ
1 goal
20
26-03-1980
Israel
A
D
0-0
WCQ
21
16-05-1980
Scotland
H
W
1-0
BC
22
20-05-1980
England
A
D
1-1
BC
23
23-05-1980
Wales
A
W
1-0
BC
24
11-06-1980
Australia
A
W
2-1
FR
25
15-06-1980
Australia
A
D
1-1
FR
26
18-06-1980
Australia
A
W
2-1
FR
27
15-10-1980
Sweden
H
W
3-0
WCQ
28
19-11-1980
Portugal
A
L
0-1
WCQ
29
25-03-1981
Scotland
A
D
1-1
WCQ
30
29-04-1981
Portugal
H
W
1-0
WCQ
1 goal
31
19-05-1981
Scotland
A
L
0-2
BC
32
03-06-1981
Sweden
A
L
0-1
WCQ
33
14-10-1981
Scotland
H
D
0-0
WCQ
34
18-11-1981
Israel
H
W
1-0
WCQ
1 goal
35
23-02-1982
England
A
L
0-4
BC
36
24-03-1982
France
A
L
0-4
FR
37
27-05-1982
Wales
A
L
0-3
BC
38
17-06-1982
Yugoslavia
N
D
0-0
WCF
39
21-06-1982
Honduras
N
D
1-1
WCF
1 goal
40
25-06-1982
Spain
N
W
1-0
WCF
1 goal
41
01-07-1982
Austria
N
D
2-2
WCF
42
04-07-1982
France
N
L
1-4
WCF
1 goal
43
13-10-1982
Austria
A
L
0-2
ECQ
44
30-03-1983
Turkey
A
W
2-1
ECQ
45
27-04-1983
Albania
H
W
1-0
ECQ
46
24-05-1983
Scotland
A
D
0-0
BC
47
28-05-1983
England
H
D
0-0
BC
48
31-05-1983
Wales
H
L
0-1
BC
49
21-09-1983
Austria
H
W
3-1
ECQ
50
16-11-1983
West Germany
A
W
1-0
ECQ
51
04-04-1984
England
A
L
0-1
BC
52
22-05-1984
Wales
A
D
1-1
BC
1 goal
53
27-05-1984
Finland
A
L
0-1
WCQ
54
12-09-1984
Romania
H
W
3-2
WCQ
55
14-11-1984
Finland
H
W
2-1
WCQ
1 goal
56
27-02-1985
England
H
L
0-1
WCQ
57
27-03-1985
Spain
A
D
0-0
FR
58
11-09-1985
Turkey
A
D
0-0
WCQ
59
16-10-1985
Romania
A
W
1-0
WCQ
sub
60
13-11-1985
England
A
D
0-0
WCQ
sub
61
26-02-1986
France
A
D
0-0
FR
sub
62
26-03-1986
Denmark
H
D
1-1
FR
sub
63
12-06-1986
Brazil
N
L
0-3
WCF
sub

Summary: 56(7)/12. Won 20, Drew 21, Lost 22.

Second photo courtesy of greenandwhitearmy.net

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

One Of The Best Fooballers Around !

Gerry Armstrong said...

Still know a wee bit about the game too...sharing my insights daily on www.gerryarmstrong.com

Who was Northern Ireland's Greatest World Cup Player & Team? (select up to eleven players)

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