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82 World Cup -
"Live Chat"

Transcript of a live web-chat with Gerry Armstrong and Billy Hamilton.


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82 World Cup

Live Chat

Below is the transcript of a live chat with Gerry Armstrong and Billy Hamilton

BBC Host "Hello, and welcome to tonight's live chat with Northern Ireland's World Cup heroes Gerry Armstrong and Billy Hamilton. The players behind Norn Iron's winning goal against Spain in Valencia will be here in just 5 minutes to answer your questions about that marvellous victory, the rest of the World Cup and the celebrations, both in Spain and back home.

This is a moderated chat which means that any duplicate questions and general hello messages will be filtered out.
Try to keep your questions and/or comments as concise as possible. Before they arrive here are some interesting facts about two of the country's foremost footballing heroes:

Gerry Armstrong earned his first cap for Northern Ireland playing up front alongside the one and only George Best. As well as bagging the winner in Valencia, Gerry also ended up as the 4th Top Scorer at the 1982 World Cup behind Paulo Rossi, Karl-Heinz Rumminege and Zico and can currently be found commentating on the Spanish League for Sky Sports. Billy Hamilton also bagged two goals in the Finals, as well as the vital assist for Gerry's winning strike against Spain. His club career subsequently took him from Burnley to Oxford United where, despite only making 41 appearances, he achieved legendary status for his partnership with a young John Aldridge.

Question from Peter Johnston: What did Billy Bingham say to you before you went out on the pitch to face Spain?

Billy: He was very good at motivating players. He would make you feel 10 feet tall when you went onto the pitch. He never made you feel second best. He had a very good tactical plan He knew that if we could swamp the mid field that would stop the Spaniards passing through us and getting into the box. If they got into the box he knew they would dive and try and get penalties and that and if you watch the game again you will see most of the defending was done just outside our box He just told us to feed on the crumbs we would get a chance during the games and hopefully we would take it and that's what Gerry Armstrong did.

John English: do you believe that Norman Whiteside was as inspirational as David Beckham is today ?

Gerry: That's a tough one I think basically that he's young, 17 and about 50 odd days when you saw him he actually looked like a mature man. He defied his youth certainly his temperament as well and he had immense body strength for someone of 17 Technically he had a lot of skill and had awonderful left foot I think the plus from my point of view was the fact that he could play up front and that allowed me to play on the right hand side in mid field and that gave us much better balance because he was the only natural left footed player in the squad.

John McBride: What was team spirit like in the camp?

Billy: The team spirit was probably the best I had ever experienced we had 3 weeks in Brighton before we went to Spain and we had a great camaraderie we socialised together we trained together and we lived together and that brought us really together there was a really good friendships made and there was a brotherly bond between us and it meant on the pitch we fought very hard as a team and for each other I would put that down to one of the main reasons why we had our success in 1982.

Gavin Nixon: That Night in Valencia is like our 1966. Do you think we go on about it too often?

Gerry: Not really every so often it raises its head like this week because we played Spain in a friendly match at Windsor and it coincided with the 20 year reunion at the weekend. It's always mentioned when there's a world cup here I think to give inspiration to a lot of the smaller countries because trying to emulate what Northern Ireland achieved in 82. I think it's a great inspiration for smaller nations who have a bond like we had and can also achieve success if they're organised.

John McBride: Is it true you had to send home for new shirts after unexpected qualification to the second round?

Billy: I'm not quite sure about that that's something the IFA would have to answer A true story happened when we beat Spain we had to move onto Madrid and the hotel we were going into the Yugoslavian team from our section had to pack their bags and get out because they were that sure we were not going to beat Spain - we actually crossed them on the stairs! But I'm not sure about the shirts - but by hook or by crook we had shirts

John McBride: Would you put that goal down to bad keeping gerry?

Gerry: I think he made a mistake certainly Arconada came for the cross I think also it was a quality cross from Billy and it tempted the goalkeeper to come for it I could not have got on the end of it but I think you need a little stoke of luck in football to win and our luck was Arconada came out and pushed it out to me. Obviously I didn;t turn the chance down but he was renowned as one of the best goalkeepers in the world but they do make mistakes.

Zoe Ball: Did you honestly expect to qualify for the world cup?

Billy: Yes our hopes were high because we had won the British championship in 1978 and 1981 and our form at that time was very good. We were almost invincible at home and it meant we were confident about getting a result against anybody at Windsor park and that meant trying to nick a few results away from home would clinch our qualification. One very memorable night is Windsor park the last qualification series we had to beat Isreal and the atmosphere at that match I believe was something that will never be recreated at Windsor park ever again all in all we were very optimistic about qualification

John English: How would you rate Pat Jennings in the world of goalkeeping in the present day and how much would he be worth?

Gerry: Well I mean Pat Jennings for about 4 or 5 years was probably the best goalkeeper in the world and Buffon the Italian is the world transfer for a goal keeper at 37 million I don't think Buffon is actually as good a goal keeper as Jennings. He gave us so much assurance because even when they got through the defence we knew they still had Pat to beat and that wasn't too often.

Jug Dylan: Can we ever come close to emulating the glories of 82, 86 or are we just a non entity now?

Billy: That's a difficult question we're a very small nation in footballing terms. We have a population of a million and a half whose young hopefuls are divided between rugby, football and gaelic so really we have a small pool to pick from, but every so often a team of quality and balance comes together and hopefully that will happen again for Northern Ireland. It might not be tomorrow but in years to come who knows?

Dave McDowell: Which team do you think will win La Liga in Spain?

Gerry: It's very tight obviously at the moment. This weekend Sunday night Valencia play host to Deportivo if Valencia win I think they will go on and win the league but I've already tipped Real Madrid to win this year. They are only 1 point behind Valencia and the last game of the season is Real Madrid at Deportivo so I think it will go down to the wire.

Ian Lavery: Who do you think will go further in the World Cup this year - England or the Republic of Ireland?

Billy: I personally think their chances are about equal. The Republic have more of a balance and a settled team and a lot will depend on their star players like Roy Keane for the Republic of Ireland and David Beckham if they're fit to play their part I think they will be very evenly balanced and I think their chances are about equal.

Elliot Doughty: Do you support any other teams other than NI?

Gerry: As a boy I used to support Leeds. I scored my first league goal against Leeds and I have played for 7 or 8 clubs throughout my career and I still watch the results every Saturday to see how they've got on.

therumpokid: Apart from THE goal, what was the best Northern Ireland goal you ever saw?

Billy: There was a goal that never was with George Best, cheeky number against Gordon Banks at Windsor Park where Gordon Banks threw the ball up to kick it up field and George Best cheekily kicked the ball in mid air over his head and put it in the net. It was a feat that no one had ever dreamt or dared to try and the referee had never seen anything it either but technically it was a good goal, but the referee disallowed it.

Robert Adams: Nowadays players wages are spiralling out of control, do you think you were underpaid during your career?

Gerry: Obviously I am gonna say yes but I think every era 10-15 years before I was playing said the same thing. But I do believe that it has reached a limit I don't think the game can sustain the sort of wages that the top players in the world are earning now in excess of one hundred thousand pounds a week, so I feel bearing in mind what's happened recently inthis country and England with the ITV digtial deal and also in German a similar problem so maybe future tv revenue will dictate that wages are kept and I think would be good for football.

Peter Doherty: Do u think if Bestie had looked after himself he would have played in 82?

Billy: Yes I do I think he was playing for HIbs at the time but he was definitely in Billy Bingham's thoughts. And I think Billy Bingham went to check out his form and Bestie had one of those lost weekends. Sadly such a player of George's skill should have graced the world cup finals and I would loved to have been a member of the team if George was fit and able but unfortunately that was not the case.

Kate D: Are you going to the World cup?

Gerry: I've went to the last couple of world cups but this year I've decided to do my analysis from home so I won't be travelling to Japan or Korea besides it's a long way. Hopefully I will be able to capture the atmosphere from Dublin London and Paris which is where I am going to be based this year.

Sean Hughes: Billy, do you think your "slight nudge" on the Spanish player as you ran down the wing would be allowed today?

Billy: Possibly not. The game is not as physical today as it was 20 years ago. But if anyone was deserving of a slap it was Tendillio. He was a bit of an animal and he probably never felt it anyway but it wasn't as much an elbow as a leverage to get past him. But I don't think it would be allowed today no.

Alex McWhirter: Do you still have links with any of your old clubs?

Gerry: Yes I still have links with all of the clubs i;ve been associated with. I still speak to coaching staff in Majorca Totteham Watford and I even spoke to Sammy McIlroy this morning and as you can imagine he wasn't exactly pleased with the result last night.

Kate D: Who are your football hereos?

Billy: My heroes when I was very young George Best because he could things with the ball that nobody else could. He had superb balance agility and dribbling ability plus a sharp change of pace that would leave defenders for dead and mesmerise the senses. he would do things on the pitch that no other player could dream of or ever thought of doing and he was an absolute diamond and one off. Unfortunately I wasn't as gifted as George and when I got older and started playing the game I looked at other players that played my position and as a Leeds fan like Gerry Joe Jordan was very much a player I admired.

Mark Briggs: Were either of you tempted into football management?

Gerry: We both have been tempted into football management. I was player coach at Brighton Crawley and Worthing and the assistant manager with Brian Hamilton for the international squad but I'm veryhappy doing the commentary and analysing at present.
Billy: I had to finish football at 29 through injury and I went into mangement with LImerick City I suppose it was a way of keeping involved in the game and putting back the inevitable realisation that you couldn't play any more because there's nothing like playing. I went on to manage Distillery and a stint with Glenavon but to be honest I stopped enjoying it and that was the time to pack it in and wild horses wouldn't tempt me back.

Sarah Lilley: Is it amazing to hear the crowd cheer you on?

Gerry: It's certainly is.I think it's certainly helps players to raise their game I know particularly from a Northern Ireland point of view when we played at Windsor park and the forty thousand fans roared it did inspire the players and I think it frightened the life out of the opposition and that's probably one of the reasons why we were so successful at home between 1980 and 85.

BBC Host: Just time for one more question...

KING BILLY: How do you think norn iron will do in the european championship qualifiers?

Gerry: I think it depends a lot if they can get a full and fit team out consisently over the two years of qualification. Obviosly Spain are favourites to qualify and the others are no mugs either particularly Ukraine. So its going to be difficult for Northern Ireland but I think from Sammy McIlroy's point of view it's a time for building for the future if they can get some encouraging results during the campaign that in itself would be success for me.
Billy: I think and hope, it's a very hard group we're in the most in our wildest dreams is the runner up spot, even then that would take an awful lot of good fortune and injury free squads at Sammy's disposal but ther is hope on the horizon with the emergence of players like Aaron Hughes and George McCartney if we can build a team around young players like that, the future will be bright.

BBC Host: That is all we have time for. Sorry if your question didn't get answered - there just wasn't enough time to cover them all."

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Your Responses

Tony - Sep '06
In answer to John Mc Bride. The answer is yes and the shirts when they arrived hadn't got Customs clearance. I, as interpreter and World Cup liaison with the Spanish organzing committee, along with David Bowen and an Adidas rep. had to work hard at Madrid airport cargo terminal to get them. Finally, 4 hours before the game against Austria in Madrid, we got them after a lot of arguing. Billy Hamilton obviously never knew about it.

Just_Asking - June '06
Who won the best young player in the world cup '82?

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