4 April 2009

Billy Craig

Name: William C. Craig
Born: 1 November 1943, Belfast
Died: 11 March 2016, Maze (age 72)
Height: 5.08 ft
Weight: 10.05 st
Position: Inside-Right/Centre-Forward

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 1 Under-23 Cap (1965), 2 Amateur Caps (1964), Youth (1962).
Club Honours: (with Linfield) Gold Cup Winner 1963/64; City Cup Winner 1963/64; Ulster Cup Winner 1964/65; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1962/63; George Wilson Cup Winner 1961/62*; IFA Youth Cup Winner#  (with Brantwood) Irish Intermediate Cup Winner 1972/73; George Wilson Cup Winner 1972/73.
* with Linfield Swifts; # with Linfield Rangers.

Club Career:
Teams
Seasons
Signed
Fee
League
FA Cup
FL Cup
Europe
Other
Linfield
61/62-65/66
-60
Youth
*84(0)/24
-
-
2(0)/1
-
Distillery
-
c/s-66
-
-
-
-
-
-
Dundela
-
-69
-
-
-
-
-
-
Brantwood
71/72-72/73
-71
-
-
-
-
-
-
TOTALS
-
£0
-
-
-
-
-
* all domestic games.

Biography:
Billy Craig first took to football while attending Finaghy Primary School and continued his development in the game with 84th Boys' Brigade Company before joining Linfield in 1960. Blooded through the Linfield Rangers and Swifts teams, he made his debut on Boxing Day 1961 in a 4-2 defeat at Ballymena - it was a rare off day for the Blues that season, as they claimed seven trophies, though Craig made just one more appearance.

A versatile forward, capable in any attacking role, Craig did finish the 1961/62 campaign with several honours as he aided Rangers to an Irish Youth Cup win, the Swifts to the George Wilson Cup and also won a youth cap against Scotland. In 1962/63 he scored his first senior Linfield goal in a 4-0 Co. Antrim Shield final win over Bangor, but it was the following season that he really established himself in the Linfield first team in 1963/64, scoring a total of 17 goals. Highlights included one in a 2-0 win over Fenerbahce in the Cup Winners' Cup (though the first leg had already been lost 4-1) and a double in a 3-2 Gold Cup final win over Glentoran. That same season he also collected a City Cup winner's medal and was awarded a call-up to the Northern Ireland Amateur team.

Craig led the line in successive 2-2 amateur international draws with Wales and Scotland. The game against the Scots was played at Hampden Park - famous for its 100,000 plus capacity - in front of a paltry crowd of 1,202. In 1965 Craig was selected for an Under-23 match in Wales, a match that also finished in a 2-2 draw. Thereafter Craig began to drift away from the Linfield starting eleven and he played his final game in a 1-1 City Cup draw at Glentoran at the end of the 1965/66 season, marking the occasion with a goal.

In the summer of 1966 Craig joined Distillery, with Bryan Hamilton making the opposite journey. Later he was to have a successful spell as player-manager of Brantwood, leading them to Intermediate Cup and George Wilson Cup successes in the 1972/73 season.

Linfield FC Tribute

Northern Ireland Under-23 Cap Details:
10-02-1965 Wales... A D 2-2 FR

Summary: 1/0. Won 0, Drew 1, Lost 0.

Northern Ireland Amateur Cap Details:
11-01-1964 Wales... H D 2-2
08-02-1964 Scotland A D 2-2

Summary: 2/0. Won 0, Drew 2, Lost 0.

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