Billy Bingham left lasting impression at Linfield with trophy haul and infamous European win over Man City: Alan Fraser

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Billy Bingham will at all times be remembered for masterminding Linfield’s well-known European Cup Winners’ Cup win in opposition to Manchester City — however Blues legend Alan Fraser insists he was no one-game surprise.

lthough the 90-year-old, who sadly handed away late final week after a protracted sickness, carved out an illustrious soccer profession in England and at worldwide stage — each as participant and supervisor — he additionally left an indelible mark in a season-long stint at Windsor Park.

A fresh-faced Fraser had simply damaged into the squad underneath earlier supervisor Ewan Fenton, however when Billy arrived he grew to become his first-choice right-back — regardless that he was nonetheless solely 17 years of age.

Within two months of Billy’s appointment, Joe Mercer’s Man City aristocrats arrived in South Belfast nonetheless rocking from an epic show by the Blues the earlier week at Maine Road when a late Colin Bell purpose spared the blushes of the English giants.

And Bingham’s pre-match prediction of “we can beat Man City” was realised, courtesy of a double strike by Billy Millen, after Francis Lee had shot the European Cup Winners’ Cup holders into an early lead.

Although City progressed to the subsequent spherical on the away purpose rule, the Blues went on to dominate the native season, successful 4 trophies —the Irish League title, the Ulster Cup, the Gold Cup and the Blaxnit (All-Ireland) Cup.

“Billy will always be remembered for the games against City, but what he achieved in his season at Windsor Park was phenomenal in terms of trophy success,” remembers Fraser.

“We received the Irish Cup, beating Ballymena United within the Final at Solitude, the earlier season underneath Ewan Fenton. I had been in and out of the group; I used to be solely 16 and took over from Ken Gilliland when he was injured.

“When Billy got here in, he established me because the right-back when Gilliland retired. It was all new to me; my first pre-season coaching with the senior group.

“It was one thing else. Even the senior gamers would have talked about it, Billy had us in 4 nights per week, typically 5.

“When the European draw was made, he emphasised it was a giant draw in opposition to the European champions, however acknowledged he would have us match sufficient to beat them. He principally motivated us and brainwashed us — however it labored.

“When you put it into perspective, it was equivalent to Linfield playing Manchester City in the present sense. City back then were the top team, just as they are now.”

Billy was a grasp craftsman when it got here to motivating gamers, as Fraser factors out.

He provides: “I bear in mind Billy coming to me on the morning of the City game in Manchester and sitting down beside me within the lodge. He stated, ‘Alan, I want you to read something’.

“He handed me a newspaper, the Manchester Evening news. There was an article from City participant Neil Young. He was an England worldwide, however in his piece he acknowledged if he couldn’t rating a hat-trick in opposition to a part-time group, he’d be higher packing all of it in.

“Billy gave me that to psyche me up and basically to say, ‘Are you going to let this boy score a hat-trick?’ It was all about motivation. He had good players at Linfield and he got the best out of every one of us.”

Although the Blues made their European exit, the most effective was but to come back.

“Everyone will tell you, Bingy was ahead of his time in terms of his man-management and coaching. He was only 40 when he arrived at Windsor Park,” provides Fraser.

“He could possibly be ruthless in his personal method, however he may even have a pleasant method of constructing your confidence. Most of the squad was there (at the Blues) when Billy arrived.

“Eric Magee and Derek Humphries had each got here again from England that summer season earlier than Billy’s appointment. Ronnie McAteer and Dessie Cathcart got here in from Ards and Ivan McAllister arrived from Bangor.

“The remainder of us had been already there. Knowing Billy, he had already executed his homework on the membership earlier than his appointment. He principally took cost of a brand new group, reshaped it and had speedy success.

“We received the Ulster and Gold Cup competitions. When you look again, there have been good Glentoran groups, good Coleraine, Ards and Derry City groups. We received the League title at The Oval that season.

“To win the League at The Oval was a giant achievement. We had been crushed within the Semi-Final of the Irish Cup.

“Billy was unfortunate to not presumably win 5 trophies. Then we went all the way down to beat Cork Hibs to win the Blaxnit (All-Ireland) Cup with a weakened group at the top of the season. Bryan Hamilton was away with the Northern Ireland worldwide squad.

“Winning that trophy was a big achievement and proves just what Billy was capable of.”

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