Another goalkeeper who might have made it at international level if not for Pat Jennings, Billy Irwin had to make do with two amateur caps as a teenager...
Name: William Irwin
Born: 23 July 1951, Newtownards
Height: 6.03 ft
Weight: 13.08½ st
Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 2 Amateur Caps (1971), Youth.
Club Honours: (with Bangor) City Cup Winner 1970/71; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1969/70; (with Cardiff) Welsh Cup Winner 1972/73, 1973/74; Runner-Up 1971/72, 1974/75; Football League Division Three Runner-Up 1975/76.
Teams................. --Seasons-- Signed League FACup FLCup Europe
Cardiff City.......... 71/72-77/78 Oct-71 180/ 0 15/ 0 .9/ 0 ..6/ 0
Washington Diplomats.. 1978 - 1980 ....... 73/ 0 (NASL)
Ards ................. 78/79..loan Dec-78
Dallas Tornado........ 1981 .............. 28/ 0 (NASL)
Portland Timbers ..... 1982 .............. 25/ 0 (NASL)
Golden Bay Earthquakes 1982 - 1983 ....... 50/ 0 (NASL)
Minnesota Strikers ... 1985 - 1986 ............. (MISL)
Wichita Wings ........ 1986 - 1987 ............. (MISL)
As a teenager with Bangor Billy Irwin played under Charlie Tully and was part of the team that claimed the club's first major honours - the Co. Antrim Shield and City Cup in successive seasons. Indeed one of Tully's final acts prior to his premature death was to recommend Irwin to Celtic. Although that move never materialised, Irwin was soon to join Cardiff City.
Irwin was pitched straight into Division Two by the Bluebirds in October 1971 and his early performances drew considerable plaudits. In 1972 he was awarded the BBC Save of the Season for for an outstanding save in an FA Cup match against Leeds. Irwin also had the unenviable distinction of being the first Cardiff goalkeeper to be sent-off when he received his marching orders during the 1972/73 Welsh Cup Final against Bangor City.
In four seasons as Cardiff's regular number one, Irwin established himself as one of the club's all-time favourites. He was displaced by Ron Healy during the 1975/76 season when Cardiff claimed an instant promotion from Division Three. Irwin left Ninian Park in 1978 when he moved to the North American Soccer League with Washington Diplomats. Aside from a brief spell on loan at Ards, where his tremendous form almost helped bring the Gibson Cup to Castlereagh Park, Irwin spent the remainder of his playing career in the USA. After retiring as a player in 1987 he joined the coaching staff at the University of Portland.
As well as becoming Director of Soccer and Head Coach at the University of Portland, Irwin has also worked with the US international set-up and as a youth coach with FC Portland.
Northern Ireland Amateur Cap Details:
19-02-1971 Scotland H D 1-1
17-04-1971 Wales... A L 0-1
Summary: 2/0. Won 0, Drew 1, Lost 1.