1 August 2017

Trial Matches

Back in the earliest days of football assessing a player to see if they were worthy of gaining international honours was a time-consuming process. Obviously the filming of matches was out the window, so no DVDs or YouTube highlights were available to the selectors. Travel around the country was also an arduous task, with the motor car a rare sight on the roads.

To effectively scout a player in person was a real challenge and the views of pressmen were often skewed by their own biases, be they club, regional or "other". And so, based on whatever information could be gleaned from various sources, scout reports, press reports or simply word-of-mouth, the Irish FA's selectors would often bring together 22 players to see for themselves what they could do, often dividing them into elevens with the most tenuous reasoning.

Date
Venue
Score
21/01/1882
Cliftonville, Belfast
Improbables
8-1
Probables
11/02/1882
Bloomfield, Belfast
Improbables
1-0
Probables
11/02/1882
Bloomfield, Belfast
"Ireland"
4-1
"Scotchmen"
19/01/1884
Cliftonville, Belfast
Probables
9-1
Improbables
18/01/1890
Ballynafeigh, Belfast
North
4-1
South
17/01/1891
Ulsterville, Belfast
South
5-4
North
16/01/1892
Ulsterville, Belfast
Whites
7-2
Reds
14/01/1893
Ulsterville, Belfast
Reds
3-2
Whites
14/01/1899
Grosvenor Park, Belfast
Whites
4-2
Reds
05/01/1910
Grosvenor Park, Belfast
Home Irish
3-1
Anglo-Irish

21 January 1882
Cliftonville, Belfast
PROBABLES 1
IMPROBABLES 8
Prob: A. Cunningham (Queen's Island); W. Crone (Distillery) G. Bowie (Oldpark); A. Johnston (Oldpark), J. Miller (Distillery); R.M. Potts (Cliftonville), J.R. Davison (Cliftonville), S. Johnston (Distillery),  J. "Fox" Sinclair (Knock), A.H. Dill (Knock), J. Cowdy/Coudy (Distillery)
Improb: R. Gilmore (Queen's Island); J.M. McAlery (Cliftonville), J.W. Chapman (Knock); J.W. Orr (Queen's Island), J. Hastings (Knock), J. Bell (Queen's Island), J. O'Halloran (Cliftonville), W.B.R. McWha (Knock), S. Sinclair (Knock), W. Kerr (Queen's Island), W.G. Andrews (Avoniel)
This game was a trial match for Belfast & District's match against Ayrshire scheduled for the following week, with the eleven for that match selected after the final whistle.
The Probables were particularly weakened by withdrawals, with substitute backs Bowie and A. Johnston being recorded as "virtually useless" in one match report. The originally selected Probables team had R. Parlane (Cliftonville) as goalkeeper; Howell (Cliftonville), Gilmore (Queen's Island) and Martin (Cliftonville) instead of Bowie, A. Johnston and Miller.
The originally selected Improbables has W. Bryan (Avoniel) and Waring (Cliftonville) instead of R. Gilmore and Kerr.

11 February 1882
Bloomfield, Belfast
PROBABLES (0) 0
IMPROBABLES (0) 1 (Johnston 88)
Prob: R.J. Hunter (Banbridge); McAlery (Cliftonville), Chapman (Knock); Hastings (Knock), Martin (Cliftonville); "Fox" Sinclair (Knock), J. O'Hallaron (Cliftonville), Potts (Cliftonville), Davidson (Cliftonville), Waring (Cliftonville), Coudy (Distillery)
Improb: Hamilton (Knock); Rattray (Avoniel), Meneilly (Malone); Hannay (Cliftonville), King (Knock); S. Johnston (Distillery), McCaw (Malone), McWha (Knock), S. Sinclair (Knock), Reid (Aviniel), Hutton (Distillery)
Subs: back Crone (Distillery), half-back R. Moarn (Avoniel), centre-forward W. Johnston (Avoniel), right-wing Williams (Avoniel)
Trial match for upcoming international fixtures against England and Wales.
J. Johnston (Avoniel) as named in the original Probable eleven rather than O'Hallaron. O'Halloran had been in the Improbables side, with his place going to McCaw. Hutton came into the improbables side instead of Condy (Distillery).

11 February 1882
Bloomfield, Belfast
IRELAND (1) 1 (?)
"SCOTCHMEN" (1) 4 (..., Harper, ..., ...)
Ire: J.H. Hamilton (Knock); J. McAlery (Cliftonville) capt, A. Rattray (Avoniel); J. Hastings (Knock), D. Martin (Cliftonville); J. Sinclair (Knock), S. Johnston (Distillery), W.B.R. McWha (Knock), J.R. Davison (Cliftonville), J. Waring (Cliftonville), S. Sinclair (Knock)
Scots: Parlane (Cliftonville); Gouk (Queen's Island), Cunningham (Queen's Island), Gilmour (Queen's Island), Baird (Cliftonville); Harper (Queen's Island), Saunders (Distillery), McMillan (Queen's Island), Niven (Avoniel), Kerr (Queen's Island), Stewart (Queen's Island)
This match was held shortly after the initial trial match with the Irish eleven as selected for the international fixtures, with S. Sinclair taking the place of Dill who was unavailable. The Irish players inevitably tired in the second half. 
The "Scotch" players were all locally based.

(more to follow)

No comments:

Who was Northern Ireland's Greatest World Cup Player & Team? (select up to eleven players)

© NIFG 2006-2015