William Laurence “Billy” Bingham, MBE (born 5 August 1931)
Today OTS NEWS was privileged to be invited to a very special birthday party.
It was Billy Bingham’s 84th birthday.
Kevin and Esther O’Connor’s Lakeside Café was the venue.
Billy Bingham for the people that do not recognize his name. He played for Sunderland and Everton and if you have never heard of those football teams that is why you were not invited to the party.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY Billy was song by the fabulous singer Chris Igel who now resides in Southport.
Photo:Former English footballer Tony Kay celebrates in his usual playful way
By the way Billy’s middle name is not Laurence but LAURIE, Google has it wrong.
As a player, his first professional club was Glentoran, whom he played for between 1948 and 1950. Making the move to England, he then spent eight years with Sunderland, making 227 appearances. In 1958 he moved to Luton Town, making close to 100 league appearances in a three-year spell. This was followed by a two-years at Goodison Park with Everton, where he again went close to 100 league appearances. He finished his playing career after breaking his leg in a match for Port Vale in 1964, at the age of 33. He had scored 133 goals in 525 appearances in all domestic competitions. Between 1951 and 1963, he won 56 caps for Northern Ireland, scoring 10 international goals, and played at the 1958 FIFA World Cup.
His management career would be as notable as his playing career. After taking charge at Southport in 1965, he was appointed manager of Northern Ireland two years later, after taking the “Sandgrounders” to promotion out of theFourth Division. During his time as an international manager he also took charge at Plymouth Argyle, and later Linfield. He led Linfield to a quadruple in 1970–71, his only season in charge. In 1971, he was appointed as the head coach of the Greece national side. Two years later he returned to the domestic game with Everton Football Club. He returned to Greece for a brief spell in 1977, taking the reins at PAOK Salonika. The following year he went back to England to take charge of Mansfield Town for one full season. In 1980 he was re-appointed as Northern Ireland manager, his final position, and a post he would hold for the next thirteen years. He led his nation to the finals of the FIFA World Cup in 1982 and 1986.
Billy joined Sunderland in October 1950 for £8,000. In addition to playing professional football at Roker Park, Bingham continued his shipbuilding apprenticeship on the Sunderland shipyards. His speed and ball-control made him a popular player with the “Black Cats”, and he gradually worked his way into the first team in 1950–51. He established himself as the first choice outside-right in 1951–52, in the 1954–55, he scored ten goals in 42 games, Sunderland finished fourth in the First Division, They also reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, 1957–58. He then left Sunderland in the summer on a £8,000 transfer to top-flight Luton Town
The “Hatters” reached the 1959 FA Cup Final after Bingham scoreing in each round and also the winning goal in the semi-final clash with Norwich City. In the Wembley final, his corner set up Dave Pacey for Luton’s consolation goal in a 2–1 defeat to Nottingham Forest. Bingham scoring 16 league goals to become the club’s top scorer, Luton failed to keep Bingham at Kenilworth Road , and after three goals in eleven games including a 35-yard volley against Liverpool at Anfield, he soon attracted attention from Everton and Arsenal
He joined Everton in October,the big spenders at the time for a fee of £15,000. That season (1960-1961) Everton finished fifth-place. A fourth-place finish followed in 1961–62, and the “Toffees” won the league title in 1962–63. During his time at Everton, he made 98 appearances and scored 26 goals.
Bingham joined Port Vale for a then joint-club record fee of £15,000 in August 1963.He scored seven goals in 38 appearances in 1963–64 “Valiants” He retired from playing football after breaking at Brentford on 5 September 1964. He then left for Southport April 1965 to become their trainer-coach.[
He was a Northern Ireland international, having won his first cap against France as a 19-year-old. Manager Peter Doherty selected him to compete in the 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden. This was after Bingham had scored against Portugal in Lisbon to help his country win a qualification place at the expense of Portugal and Italy. In the tournament itself, Northern Ireland beat Czechoslovakia and drew with West Germany, before beating Czechoslovakia again in a play-off match to advance into the quarter finals, where they lost 4–0 to France. He was awarded a total of 56 full caps, a record at the time, and also scored 10 goals, half of which were scored in British Home Championship matches against Scotland.
Bingham became a coach at Southport in June 1965, and was appointed as manager at the end of the year, at the expense of Willie Cunningham.He led the team to a tenth-place finish in the Fourth Division in 1965–66. In his first full season in charge, 1966–67, he led the “Sandgrounders” to promotion as runners-up – the club’s first ever promotion. He departed Haig Avenue in October 1967,with Southport in safe hands as they finished the 1967–68 Third Division campaign in 13th place under Don McEvoy’s stewardship.
Northern Ireland, Plymouth & Linfield
He left Southport to take charge of the Northern Ireland national team in October 1967.The position was not a taxing one however, and Bingham took charge at Plymouth Argyle in February 1968 and left in March 1970. While still Northern Ireland’s boss, he took charge of the country’s biggest club, Linfield, in August 1970.[His one season at Windsor Park was highly successful, as he led the “Blues” to the 1970–71 Irish League title, three points ahead of rivals Glentoran.The club also lifted a treble of trophies, in the form of the Ulster Cup, Gold Cup, and Blaxnit Cup. He stood down as Northern Ireland boss in May 1971, and left Linfield as well in August.During his time as coach of the national team, Northern Ireland played 20 games, winning eight, drawing three and losing nine games. They had missed out on qualification to the 1970 FIFA World Cup after losing to the Soviet Union in Moscow. In the British Home Championship tournaments, they finished third in 1969, fourth in 1970, and second in 1971.
Bingham took charge of the Greece national side in September 1971. He left his post in February 1973 for top job in British football
Bingham returned to the English club game scene when he took over as manager at Everton in May 1973 replacing Harry Catterick.
Bingham returned to Greece in April 1977, taking charge at PAOK Salonika In February 1978 he returned to England to took charge at Mansfield Town . He could not prevent the “Stags” from suffering relegation out of the Second Division at the end of 1977–78. The 1978–79 season would be his last as a club manager, Field Mill
Northern Ireland (second spell)
He was appointed manager of Northern Ireland for a second time in March 1980, and it would be in this second spell that his managerial career would be best remembered. He led the nation to victory in the British Home Championship in 1980, only the nation’s second outright victory in 96 years, as they beat both Scotland and Wales, whilst holding England to a draw. He led Northern Ireland to the 1982 FIFA World Cup, after qualifying, along with Scotland, with unlikely victories over Sweden, Portugal, and Israel. In the tournament itself, despite a limited squad with only a few genuine world class players at his disposal (goalkeeper Pat Jennings, captain Martin O’Neill, and 17-year-old Norman Whiteside), Bingham’s team stunned the host nation, Spain with a 1–0 victory at the Mestalla Stadium. Their draws with Honduras and Yugoslavia meant they shocked the world by finishing top of their group Gerry Armstrong
He led Northern Ireland to third in the British Home Championship in 1983, before they won the last ever edition of the tournament in 1984 with a 2–0 win over the Scots. However Northern Ireland failed in qualifying for UEFA Euro 1984, despite winning their group games 1–0 over West Germany both at Belfast and at the Volksparkstadion. They were ten minutes away from qualification, when in the final group game, Germany’s Gerhard Strack hit a winner past Albania to claim the only qualification spot in the group for the Germans; they finished ahead of Northern Ireland on goal difference.
He proved that 1982 was no fluke after he led the nation to the 1986 FIFA World Cup. They qualified, along with England, after beating Romania, Finland, and Turkey to claim second spot in their group. They faced an insurmountable challenge however in Brazil and Spain, and exited the tournament with only a point against Algeria.
Awards and honours
Amongst the numerous awards and honors granted to Bingham, he was made an MBE for services to football in 1981 and the Professional Footballers’ Association made him the recipient of their annual Merit Award in 1994 for “outstanding contribution” to the game. This latter makes him one of just 34 individuals so honoured since the award was inaugurated in 1974, putting him in the company of such managerial luminaries as Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Brian Clough, Sir Alex Ferguson and Sir Bobby Robson, as well as playing greats like Pelé, Sir Stanley Matthews, Sir Tom Finney, Sir Bobby Charlton and fellow Northern Ireland International George Best.
Bingham also received FIFA’s “Centennial Order of Merit” in 2004, to mark 100 years since the founding of the world governing body of football.
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