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Alan Paterson

Alan Paterson was one of a glut of good goalkeepers produced by Northern Ireland during the 1970s. So talented was he that he found his way into the Northern Ireland squad, only for his chance of a Cap to be scuppered by the continued presence of Pat Jennings...

Name: Alan Paterson
Born: 25 March 1954, Belfast
Height: 5.10 ft
Weight: 10.10 st
Position: Goalkeeper

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 1 Amateur Cap (1973); Irish League: 1 Cap (1980); League of Ireland: 4 Caps (1978-1980).
Club Honours: (with Glentoran) Irish League Champion 1980/81, 1987/88, 1991/92; Irish Cup Winner 1972/73, 1982/83, 1984/85, 1985/86, 1986/87; City Cup Winner 1972/73; Irish League Cup Winner 1988/89, 1990/91; Gold Cup Winner 1982/83, 1986/87; Ulster Cup Winner 1981/82, 1982/83, 1983/84, 1988/89; Irish League Floodlit Cup Winner 1987/88; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1984/85, 1986/87; (with Sligo) League of Ireland Champion 1976/77; FAI Cup Runner-Up 1977/78.
Awards: Ulster Footballer of the Year 1988; NI Football Writers’ Player of the Year 1988.

Club Career:
FA Cup
FL Cup
Sligo Rovers

Alan ‘Paddy’ Paterson initially broke into the Glentoran first eleven as a teenager, establishing himself as regular goalkeeper during the 1972/73 season. His first campaign as the Glens’ number one ended in dramatic fashion with a ‘Big Two’ Irish Cup Final. After half an hour of the match Paddy injured his shoulder in a challenge with Linfield striker Billy Millen. He battled on to half-time but was unable to take the field for the second-half and was replaced in goals by the late Roy Stewart, a half-back, who performed heroics as the Glens won 3-2 thanks to a late Warren Feeney penalty.

In October 1973, after 44 games for Glentoran and still just 19, Paterson was signed by Sheffield Wednesday of the English Second Division. After a year-and-a-half as back-up at Hillsborough he signed for “Sleepy-Sligo Rovers”. He is still regarded by many League of Ireland aficionados as among the finest ‘keepers ever to grace the southern game. In his time at the Sligo Showgrounds Paterson put in some magnificent performances as the “Bit O’Red” claimed only their second ever League title in 1977 and the following year he played in a 1-0 FAI Cup Final defeat by Shamrock Rovers. Paterson represented the League of Ireland four times, the last in a 1980 tour of Argentina in a team managed by another ex-Glenman, Tommy Jackson.

Included by Danny Blanchflower in the Northern Ireland set-up in the late-seventies, Paterson would surely have won Full international honours during this time had it not been for the presence of the legendary Pat Jennings. As it was he had to settle for the Inter-League appearances awarded him by both the League of Ireland and the Irish League shortly after his return to Glentoran in 1980.

Paterson’s return to the Oval brought him an early reward as Linfield were pipped to the Irish League title by just two points. In the next decade and a half however the Glens were to prove more adept in the Cup competitions. The Irish Cup was won in four attempts out of five from 1983 to 1987. Add to that Gold Cups, Ulster Cup and Co. Antrim Shield successes, the only thing missing was another League title. All that changed in 1988 as new manager Tommy Jackson helped the Glens break Linfield’s six year strangle-hold on the Gibson Cup, with Paterson crowned “Double” Player of the Year. The only let-down for Paterson in that vintage season was that he missed the Irish Cup Final win over Glenavon through chickenpox, so denying him a sixth Irish Cup win.

Still the most famous incident in Paddy’s long Glentoran career was to come. In November 1988 the Glens faced the Blues in the Roadferry Cup Final at the Oval. The scores were level at 1-1 with four minutes to go when Paterson sent a long punt upfield. Incredibly the ball bounced over George Dunlop’s head and into the back of the net – Paterson had scored the winning goal in a cup final, and in the process ended a remarkable run of 21 matches without a win over Linfield.

Over the next few seasons Paterson’s place was challenged by Dean Smyth, so forcing the experienced ‘keeper into the ‘Seconds’. In this capacity he had the honour of collecting a Steel & Sons Cup winner’s medal on Christmas Day 1989 thanks to a 4-1 win over East Belfast. Paterson showed great resilience, regaining his firstteam place and playing on past his fortieth birthday. His reward was a third Irish League success in 1992, his twentieth senior honour in the local game.

A sales rep by day, Paterson took charge of the Glens’ Seconds in 1994 and finally hung-up his gloves in 1995. He finally left the Oval in May 1997 but remains a popular voice on Radio Ulster’s Irish League coverage.

Sligo Rovers Top 100

Northern Ireland Amateur Cap Details:
06-10-1972 England.. A L 1-2

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

Irish League Representative Appearance Details:
24-09-1980 Canada... A L 1-2

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

League of Ireland Representative Appearance Details:
20-04-1978 Argentina.... A L 1-3 
02-08-1978 Liverpool FC. H L 1-3 
16-08-1979 Basque Select A L 1-4 
01-05-1980 Argentina.... A L 0-1 

Summary: 4/0. Won 0, Drew 0, Lost 4.