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Showing posts from June, 2015

Hall of Fame: The Big Red Book

Outside of being honoured by the Queen , perhaps the greatest distinction anyone in the UK could receive was to appear on TV's This Is Your Life . Three Northern Ireland internationals were surreptitiously approached by Eamonn Andrews or Michael Aspel during the show's near fifty year run on the BBC and ITV. 1961 - Danny Blanchflower The first to be surprised by Eamonn Andrews was Northern Ireland and Spurs captain, Danny Blanchflower. The man himself wasn't too keen and in February 1961 answered Andrews' familiar refrain of: "Tonight Danny, This Is Your Life" with the retort: "No it isn't!" before running off, so the story goes . This was the first time anyone who had been approached refused to partake. 1971 & 2003 George Best It was a full decade before Andrews found the courage to approach another Northern Irish footballer. George Best went from his element at a fashion show surrounded by pretty girls to an uncomfortable slouch in

Spanning the Decades

Last week NIFG published a piece on the members of the   50 Cap Club , this week we  look at those 21 players who had an international career spanning more than (fairly arbitrarily) thirteen years. While there is an obvious overlap with those who have won 50+ caps, it is not as large as you might think. Twelve of the players listed below did not make the 50 Cap Club , with seven (a third!) not even reaching 25 caps! Pat Jennings in 1964 and 1986 Unsurprisingly the Northern Ireland player with the longest international career was   Pat Jennings , with 22 years and 58 days between his first and last caps. That's an average of over 5 caps per year. Next on the list is another famous name to those who know their football history, Newcastle United legend   Bill McCracken . Right-back McCracken was a 19 year-old with Distillery when he made his Ireland debut in 1902 and had passed his 40th birthday when he won his 16th and final cap in 1923 shortly after he was appointed mana

The 50 Cap Club

Chris Brunt on the occasion of his 50th cap, vs Romania 13th June 2015 Last night Chris Brunt played his 50th game for Northern Ireland, becoming the 33rd player to reach this landmark. With no slight intended to Chris, statistically he is the "least regular" player to have reached that landmark, playing in just 54% of games since his debut against Switzerland in 2004. 50 caps used to be an incredibly difficult landmark to reach, the first person to so so was Danny Blanchflower in 1961, 79 years after we'd played our first international match. Up to the 1950s (Northern) Ireland, with only a few exceptions, played just three games a season, so a player would have had to not miss a match for nearly 17 years to reach the landmark. Indeed, prior to Blanchflower the record stood at 31 by Elisha Scott (1920-36) who, although his career almost stretched to the appropriate length, often struggled to secure his release from club duty. World War One also got in the way