Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms. Elizabeth was born in London as the first child of the Duke and Duchess of York King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, she was educated at home, her father acceded to the throne on the abdication of his brother King Edward VIII in 1936, from which time she was the heir presumptive. She began to undertake public duties during the Second World War, serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. In 1947, she married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, a former prince of Greece and Denmark, with whom she has four children: Charles, Prince of Wales; when her father died in February 1952, she became head of the Commonwealth and queen regnant of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ceylon. She has reigned as a constitutional monarch through major political changes, such as devolution in the United Kingdom, Canadian patriation, the decolonisation of Africa. Between 1956 and 1992, the number of her realms varied as territories gained independence and realms, including South Africa and Ceylon, became republics.
Her many historic visits and meetings include a state visit to the Republic of Ireland and visits to or from five popes. Significant events have included her coronation in 1953 and the celebrations of her Silver and Diamond Jubilees in 1977, 2002, 2012 respectively. In 2017, she became the first British monarch to reach a Sapphire Jubilee, she is the longest-lived and longest-reigning British monarch as well as the world's longest-reigning queen regnant and female head of state, the oldest and longest-reigning current monarch and the longest-serving current head of state. Elizabeth has faced republican sentiments and press criticism of the royal family, in particular after the breakdown of her children's marriages, her annus horribilis in 1992 and the death in 1997 of her former daughter-in-law Diana, Princess of Wales. However, support for the monarchy has been and remains high, as does her personal popularity. Elizabeth was born at 02:40 on 21 April 1926, during the reign of her paternal grandfather, King George V.
Her father, the Duke of York, was the second son of the King. Her mother, the Duchess of York, was the youngest daughter of Scottish aristocrat the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, she was delivered by Caesarean section at her maternal grandfather's London house: 17 Bruton Street, Mayfair. She was baptised by the Anglican Archbishop of York, Cosmo Gordon Lang, in the private chapel of Buckingham Palace on 29 May, named Elizabeth after her mother, Alexandra after George V's mother, who had died six months earlier, Mary after her paternal grandmother. Called "Lilibet" by her close family, based on what she called herself at first, she was cherished by her grandfather George V, during his serious illness in 1929 her regular visits were credited in the popular press and by biographers with raising his spirits and aiding his recovery. Elizabeth's only sibling, Princess Margaret, was born in 1930; the two princesses were educated at home under the supervision of their mother and their governess, Marion Crawford.
Lessons concentrated on history, language and music. Crawford published a biography of Elizabeth and Margaret's childhood years entitled The Little Princesses in 1950, much to the dismay of the royal family; the book describes Elizabeth's love of horses and dogs, her orderliness, her attitude of responsibility. Others echoed such observations: Winston Churchill described Elizabeth when she was two as "a character, she has an air of authority and reflectiveness astonishing in an infant." Her cousin Margaret Rhodes described her as "a jolly little girl, but fundamentally sensible and well-behaved". During her grandfather's reign, Elizabeth was third in the line of succession to the throne, behind her uncle Edward and her father. Although her birth generated public interest, she was not expected to become queen, as Edward was still young. Many people believed he would have children of his own; when her grandfather died in 1936 and her uncle succeeded as Edward VIII, she became second-in-line to the throne, after her father.
That year, Edward abdicated, after his proposed marriage to divorced socialite Wallis Simpson provoked a constitutional crisis. Elizabeth's father became king, she became heir presumptive. If her parents had had a son, she would have lost her position as first-in-line, as her brother would have been heir apparent and above her in the line of succession. Elizabeth received private tuition in constitutional history from Henry Marten, Vice-Provost of Eton College, learned French from a succession of native-speaking governesses. A Girl Guides company, the 1st Buckingham Palace Company, was formed so she could socialise with girls her own age, she was enrolled as a Sea Ranger. In 1939, Elizabeth's parents toured the United States; as in 1927, when her parents had toured Australia and New Zealand, Elizabeth remained in Britain, since her father thought her too young to undertake public tours. Elizabeth "looked tearful", they corresponded and she and her parents made the first royal transatlantic telephone call on 18 May.
In September 1939, Britain entered the Second World War. Lord Hailsham suggested that the two princesses should be evacuated to Canada to avoid the frequent aerial bombing; this was rejected by Elizabeth's mother. I won't leave wit
Grimsby Town F.C.
Grimsby Town Football Club is a professional football club based in Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire, that competes in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. Nicknamed "the Mariners", the club was founded as Grimsby Pelham in 1878, changed its name to Grimsby Town a year and moved to its current stadium, Blundell Park, in 1898. Grimsby Town are the most successful of the three professional league clubs in historic Lincolnshire, being the only one to play top flight English football, it is the only club of the three to reach an FA Cup semi-final. It has spent more time in the English game's first and second tiers than any other club from Lincolnshire. Notable former managers include Bill Shankly, who went on to guide Liverpool to three League titles, two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup triumph, Lawrie McMenemy who, after securing promotion to the Third Division in 1972, moved to Southampton where he won the FA Cup in 1976. Alan Buckley is the club's most successful manager.
In 2008 Buckley took Grimsby to the capital again, but lost out to MK Dons in the final of the Football League Trophy. The Mariners had reached the Football League Two play-off Final in 2006 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, but lost the match 1–0 to Cheltenham Town, Later trips to Wembley in 2013 and 2016 saw them defeated in the FA Trophy final by Wrexham and F. C. Halifax Town respectively. Grimsby Town's relegation in 2010 made them the fourth club to compete in all top five divisions of English football. Grimsby's 1939 FA Cup semi-final attendance of 76,962 versus Wolverhampton Wanderers is still a record at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium. In 1954 they became the first English club to appoint Hungarian Elemér Berkessy; the club's record appearance holder is John McDermott, who made 754 appearances between 1987 and 2007, while their leading scorer is Pat Glover, with 180 goals. Grimsby Town was formed in 1878 after a meeting held at the Wellington Arms public house in Freeman Street, Grimsby.
Several attendees included members of the local Worsley Cricket Club who wanted to form a football club to occupy the empty winter evenings after the cricket season had finished. The club was called Grimsby Pelham, this being the family name of the Earl of Yarborough, a significant landowner in the area. In 1880 the club purchased land at Clee Park, to become their ground until 1889 when they relocated to Abbey Park, before moving again in 1899 to their present home, Blundell Park; the original colours were blue and white hoops, which were changed to chocolate brown and blue quartered shirts in 1884. In 1888 the club first played league football, joining the newly formed'Combination'; the league soon collapsed and the following year the club applied to join the Football League, an application, refused. Instead the club joined the Football Alliance. In 1890 the club became a limited company and in 1892 entered the Football League, when it was expanded to two divisions; the first game was a 2–1 victory over Northwich Victoria.
The 1901–02 season saw promotion to the First Division, having finished as champions. However, they finished as champions at the first attempt and at the subsequent re-election vote, replaced local rivals Lincoln City in the Football League. Grimsby Town and Hull City were the only two professional teams which had official permission to play league football on Christmas Day because of the demands of the fish trade, but that tradition has now disappeared following the dramatic reduction of their trawler fleets in recent years; this was the most successful period in the club's history. The first full season after World War I the club were relegated to the new Third Division. By 1929 they were back in Division One, where they stayed until 1939, obtaining their highest-ever league position, 5th in Division One, in the 1934–35 season. In 1925 they adopted the white stripes as their colours. Three Grimsby Town players, forward Jackie Bestall, goalkeeper George Tweedy and defender Harry Betmead each received a solitary England cap during the period 1935–1937.
They remain the only players from the club to have received full England honours. On 20 February 1937, the club's record attendance of 31,651 was recorded when the club met Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup. Grimsby reached the semi-final of the FA Cup in 1936, the game was played at Huddersfield Town's Leeds Road, but lost 1–0 to Arsenal, with the goal coming from Cliff Bastin five minutes before half time. Grimsby reached the semi-final of the FA Cup on 25 March 1939, Grimsby played Wolverhampton Wanderers, in a FA Cup semi-final at Old Trafford; the attendance of 76,962 remains Old Trafford's largest attendance. The Mariners lost the game. With the rules forbidding substitutes for injuries, Grimsby
The FA Cup known as The Football Association Challenge Cup, is an annual knockout football competition in men's domestic English football. First played during the 1871–72 season, it is the oldest national football competition in the world, it is named after The Football Association. For sponsorship reasons, from 2015 through to 2019 it is known as The Emirates FA Cup. A concurrent women's tournament is held, the FA Women's Cup; the competition is open to any eligible club down to Level 10 of the English football league system – all 92 professional clubs in the Premier League and the English Football League, several hundred "non-league" teams in Steps 1 to 6 of the National League System. A record 763 clubs competed in 2011–12; the tournament consists of 12 randomly drawn rounds followed by the final. Entrants are not seeded, although a system of byes based on league level ensures higher ranked teams enter in rounds – the minimum number of games needed to win, depending on which round a team enters the competition, ranges from six to fourteen.
The first six rounds are the Qualifying Competition, from which 32 teams progress to the first round of the Competition Proper, meeting the first of the 48 professional teams from Leagues One and Two. The last entrants are the Premier League and Championship clubs, into the draw for the Third Round Proper. In the modern era, only one non-league team has reached the quarter-finals, teams below Level 2 have never reached the final; as a result, significant focus is given to those "minnows" who progress furthest if they achieve an unlikely "giant-killing" victory. Winners receive the FA Cup trophy, of which there have been five actual cups. Winners qualify for the Europa League and a place in the FA Community Shield match. Chelsea are the current holders. Arsenal are the most successful club with 13 titles. Arsène Wenger is the most successful manager in the history of the competition, having won seven finals as manager of Arsenal. In 1863, the newly founded Football Association published the Laws of the Game of Association Football, unifying the various different rules in use before then.
On 20 July 1871, in the offices of The Sportsman newspaper, the FA Secretary C. W. Alcock proposed to the FA committee that "it is desirable that a Challenge Cup should be established in connection with the Association for which all clubs belonging to the Association should be invited to compete"; the inaugural FA Cup tournament kicked off in November 1871. After thirteen games in all, Wanderers were crowned the winners in the final, on 16 March 1872. Wanderers retained the trophy the following year; the modern cup was beginning to be established by the 1888–89 season, when qualifying rounds were introduced. Following the 1914–15 edition, the competition was suspended due to the First World War, did not resume until 1919–20; the 1922–23 competition saw the first final to be played in the newly opened Wembley Stadium. Due to the outbreak of World War II, the competition was not played between the 1938–39 and 1945–46 editions. Due to the wartime breaks, the competition did not celebrate its centenary year until 1980–81.
Having featured replays, the modern day practice of ensuring the semi-final and final matches finish on the day, was introduced from 2000 onwards. Redevelopment of Wembley saw the final played outside of England for the first time, the 2001–2006 finals being played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff; the final returned to Wembley in 2007, followed by the semi-finals from 2008. The competition is open to any club down to Level 10 of the English football league system which meets the eligibility criteria. All clubs in the top four levels are automatically eligible. Clubs in the next six levels are eligible provided they have played in either the FA Cup, FA Trophy or FA Vase competitions in the previous season. Newly formed clubs, such as F. C. United of Manchester in 2005–06 and 2006–07, may not therefore play in the FA Cup in their first season. All clubs entering the competition must have a suitable stadium, it is rare for top clubs to miss the competition, although it can happen in exceptional circumstances.
Manchester United did not defend their title in 1999–2000, as they were in the inaugural Club World Championship. The club stated that entering both tournaments would overload their fixture schedule and make it more difficult to defend their Champions League and Premier League titles; the club claimed. The move benefited United as they received a two-week break and won the 1999–2000 league title by an 18-point margin, although they did not progress past the group stage of the Club World Championship; the withdrawal from the FA Cup, drew considerable criticism as this weakened the tournament's prestige and Sir Alex Ferguson admitted his regret regarding their handling of the situation. Welsh sides that play in English leagues are eligible, although since the creation of the League of Wales there are only six clubs remaining: Cardiff City, Swansea City, Newport County, Merthyr Town and Colwyn Bay. In the early years other teams from Wales, Ireland a
Southampton Football Club is a professional association football club based in Southampton, England, which plays in the Premier League, the top tier of English football. Their home ground since 2001 has been St Mary's Stadium, before; the club has been nicknamed "The Saints" since its inception in 1885 due to its history as a church football team, founded as St. Mary's Church of England Young Men's Association, play in red and white shirts. Southampton has a long-standing rivalry with Portsmouth due to its close proximity and both cities' respective maritime history. Matches between the two sides are known as the South Coast derby; the club has won the FA Cup once, in 1976, their highest-ever league finish was second in the First Division in 1983–84. Southampton were relegated from the Premier League on 15 May 2005, ending 27 successive seasons of top-division football for the club, they returned after a seven-year absence, have played there since. Southampton were founded at St. Mary's Church, on 21 November 1885 by members of the St. Mary's Church of England Young Men's Association.
St. Mary's Y. M. A. as they were referred to in the local press, played most of their early games on The Common where games were interrupted by pedestrians insistent on exercising their right to roam. More important matches, such as cup games, were played either at the County Cricket Ground in Northlands Road or the Antelope Cricket Ground in St Mary's Road; the club was known as St. Mary's Young Men's Association F. C. and became St. Mary's F. C. in 1887–88, before adopting the name Southampton St. Mary's when the club joined the Southern League in 1894. For the start of their League career, Saints signed several new players on professional contracts, including Charles Baker, Alf Littlehales and Lachie Thomson from Stoke and Fred Hollands from Millwall. After winning the Southern League title in 1896–97, the club became a limited company and was renamed Southampton F. C. Southampton won the Southern League championship for three years running between 1897 and 1899 and again in 1901, 1903 and 1904.
During this time, they moved to a newly built £10,000 stadium called The Dell, to the northwest of the city centre in 1898. Although they would spend the next 103 years there, the future was far from certain in those early days and the club had to rent the premises first before they could afford to buy the stadium in the early part of the 20th century; the club reached the first of their four FA Cup Finals in 1900. On that day, they went down 4–0 to Bury and two years they would suffer a similar fate at the hands of Sheffield United as they were beaten 2–1 in a replay of the 1902 final. After World War I, Saints joined the newly formed Football League Third Division in 1920 which split into South and North sections a year later; the 1921–22 season ended in triumph with promotion and marked the beginning of a 31-year stay in the Second Division. The 1922–23 season was a unique "Even Season" – 14 wins, 14 draws and 14 defeats for a total of 42 points, or one point per game. Goals for and against statistics were equal and the team finished in mid-table.
In 1925 and 1927, they reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, losing 2–0 and 2–1 to Sheffield United and Arsenal respectively. Saints were forced to switch home matches to the ground of their local rivals Portsmouth at Fratton Park during World War II when a bomb landed on The Dell pitch in November 1940, leaving an 18-foot crater which damaged an underground culvert and flooded the pitch. Promotion was narrowly missed in 1947–48 when they finished in third place, a feat repeated the following season whilst in 1949–50 they were to be denied promotion by 0.06 of a goal, missing out on second place to Sheffield United. In the 1948–49 and 1949–50 seasons, Charlie Wayman rattled in a total of 56 goals. Relegation in 1953 sent Saints sliding back into Division 3, it took until 1960 for Saints to regain Second Division status with Derek Reeves plundering 39 of the champions' 106 league goals. On 27 April 1963 a crowd of 68,000 at Villa Park saw them lose 1–0 to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final.
In 1966, when Ted Bates' team were promoted to the First Division as runners-up, with Martin Chivers scoring 30 of Saints' 85 league goals. For the following campaign Ron Davies arrived to score 43 goals in his first season. Saints stayed among the elite for eight years, with the highest finishing position being seventh place in 1968–69 and again in 1970–71; these finishes were high enough for them to qualify for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1969–70 and its successor, the UEFA Cup in 1971–72, when they went out in the first round to Athletic Bilbao. In December 1973, Bates stood down to be replaced by his assistant Lawrie McMenemy; the Saints were one of the first victims of the new three-down relegation system in 1974. Under McMenemy's management, Saints started to rebuild in the Second Division, capturing players such as Peter Osgood, Jim McCalliog, Jim Steele and Peter Rodrigues and in 1976, Southampton reached the FA Cup Final, playing Manchester United at Wembley, beat much-fancied United 1–0 with a goal from Bobby Stokes.
The following season, they played in Europe again in the Cup Winners' Cup, reaching Round 3 where they lost 2–3 on aggregate to Anderlecht. In 1977–78, captained by Alan Ball, Saints finished runners-up in the Second Division and returned to the First Division, they finished comfortably in 14th place in their first season back in the top flight. The following season they returned to Wembley in the final of the
Alan Ball Jr.
Alan James Ball was a professional English footballer and football club manager. He was the youngest member of England's 1966 World Cup winning team and played as a midfielder for various clubs, scoring more than 180 league goals in a career spanning 22 years, his playing career included a national record £220,000 transfer from Everton to Arsenal at the end of 1971. After retiring as a player, he had a 15-year career as a manager which included spells in the top flight of English football with Portsmouth and Manchester City, he was born at 2 Brookhouse Avenue, Lancashire, the son of Alan Ball, builder's joiner publican, his wife, Violet, née Duckworth. Ball started his footballing career whilst still a schoolboy, playing for Ashton United, the team his father managed, amongst the hurly burly of the Lancashire Combination, he fell out with his headmaster over missing games for his Farnworth Grammar School team due to him signing and playing for Wolverhampton Wanderers. He left Farnworth Grammar with no qualifications.
After he left school, Wolves decided not to take Ball on. The midfielder started training with Bolton Wanderers but they too decided not to give him a professional deal, as manager Bill Ridding said he was too small. Blackpool signed him after Ball's father called in a favour with the coach, an old friend with whom he used to play. Ball was given a trial in September 1961 and was signed up as an apprentice, he turned professional in May 1962, making his Football League debut on 18 August 1962 against Liverpool at Anfield in a 2–1 victory. At age 17 years and 98 days, he became Blackpool's youngest League debutant. On 21 November 1964, Ball scored his first hat-trick as a professional, in a 3–3 draw with Fulham at Craven Cottage. Ball's performances in the 1966 World Cup winning England team attracted the attention of a number of clubs bigger than Blackpool, he was sold to Everton for a fee of £112,000 in August 1966, at the time a record transfer fee paid to an English club. At Everton, Ball settled into what became regarded as his generation's best Everton midfield trio, alongside Colin Harvey and Howard Kendall.
Everton reached the 1968 FA Cup Final, but lost to West Bromwich Albion and were knocked out by Manchester City in the semi-finals the following year. Ball was as instrumental a player in the team as as Everton took the 1970 Football League Championship title, seeing off a late challenge from Leeds United. Back at club level, Everton again capitulated in the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1971, with Ball's opening goal overhauled by two strikes from Merseyside rivals Liverpool, who went on to lose the final to "double"-chasing Arsenal. Ball played 259 times in all scoring 79 goals. On 22 December 1971, Arsenal paid a record fee of £220,000 to take Ball to Highbury, he was 26 years at his peak for both form and fitness when he joined Arsenal. However, Arsenal could not defend their League title in 1971–72 and lost their grasp on the FA Cup when Leeds United beat them 1–0 in the centenary final at Wembley. Ball had continued to play for Arsenal through all this time, as a near-constant member of the first team at first, including 50 appearances in 1972–73.
However, Arsenal's Double-winning side was soon dismantled and their replacements proved inadequate. In April 1974 Ball broke his leg, resulting in his missing the start of the 1974–75 season, in which Arsenal finished 16th. Ball missed the start of the 1975–76 season after an injury in the pre-season friendly at Crewe Alexandra, Arsenal subsequently finished in 17th place that season. Bertie Mee resigned as Arsenal manager in the summer of 1976 and it was clear new manager Terry Neill wanted to take the club in a new direction. Now aged 31, Ball continued to play for Arsenal until December 1976, when he was sold to Southampton for a fee of £60,000. In total he made 217 appearances for the Gunners. Ball's move to Southampton was a bit symmetrical in that he had arrived at clubs, namely Everton and Southampton in 1966, 1971 and 1976, when each were holders of the FA Cup, he helped Southampton earn promotion back to the First Division in 1978 and picked up a League Cup runners-up medal in 1979 after they were beaten 3–2 by Nottingham Forest.
Ball went to play in the decade-old North American Soccer League, joining the Philadelphia Fury as a player in May 1978. He was named player-coach. One season after he was no longer coaching, he was sold to the Vancouver Whitecaps in June 1979, he made a huge impact with the Whitecaps and helped lead them to the NASL Soccer Bowl title that September. He walked away with the 1979 Playoff MVP award, scoring seven goals in nine games, he returned to Britain in February 1980, as player-manager of his first professional club, after honouring the remainder of his contract with Vancouver. Blackpool's general manager Freddie Scott substituted in the meantime. Ball's appointment was well received by the Blackpool supporters, he returned with enthusiasm, a desire to bring back the good times to the club, still had enough energy to take the field occasionally; the year that followed saw Blackpool's recent ill-fortune slump further. The club slid towards relegation, only some determined performances ensured an 18th-placed finish and survival.
During the close season, Ball brought in several new faces and wa
Northern Ireland national football team
The Northern Ireland national football team represents Northern Ireland in international association football. From 1882 to 1920, all of Ireland was represented by a single side, the Ireland national football team, organised by the Irish Football Association. In 1921, the jurisdiction of the IFA was reduced to Northern Ireland following the secession of clubs in the soon-to-be Irish Free State, although its team remained the national team for all of Ireland until 1950, used the name Ireland until the 1970s; the Football Association of Ireland organises the separate Republic of Ireland national football team. Although part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland has always had a representative side that plays in major professional tournaments – whether alongside the rest of Ireland pre-1922 or as its own entity – though not in the Olympic Games, as the International Olympic Committee has always recognised United Kingdom representative sides. Northern Ireland has competed in three FIFA World Cups, reaching the quarter-final stage in the 1958 and 1982 tournaments.
At UEFA Euro 2016, the team made its first appearance at the European tournament and reached the second round. On 18 February 1882, 15 months after the founding of the Irish FA, Ireland made their international debut against England, losing 13–0 in a friendly played at Bloomfield in Belfast; this remains the record defeat for the team, England's largest winning margin. On 25 February 1882, Ireland played their second international, against Wales at the Racecourse Ground, an equaliser from Johnston became Ireland’s first goal. In 1884, Ireland lost all three games. Ireland did not win their first game until 19 February 1887, a 4–1 win over Wales in Belfast. Between their debut and this game, they had a run of 14 defeats and 1 draw, the longest run without a win in the 1800s. Despite the end of this run, heavy defeats continued. On 3 March 1888, they lost 11–0 to Wales and three weeks on 24 March, lost 10–2 to Scotland. Further heavy defeats came on 15 March 1890 when they lost 9–1 to England, on 18 February 1899 when they lost 13–2 to England and on 2 February 1901 when they lost 11–0 to Scotland.
In 1899, the Irish FA changed its rules governing the selection of non-resident players. Before the Ireland team selected its players from the Irish League, in particular the three Belfast-based clubs Linfield and Distillery. On 4 March 1899, for the match against Wales, McAteer included four Irish players based in England; the change in policy produced dividends as Ireland won 1–0. Three weeks on 25 March, one of these four players, Archie Goodall, aged 34 years and 279 days, became the oldest player to score in international football during the 19th century when he scored Ireland’s goal in a 9–1 defeat to Scotland. In 1920, Ireland was partitioned into Southern Ireland. In 1922, Southern Ireland gained independence as the Irish Free State to become a republic under the name of Ireland. Amid these political upheavals, a rival football association, the Football Association of Ireland, emerged in Dublin in 1921 and organised a separate league and international team. In 1923, at a time when the home nations had withdrawn from FIFA, the FAI was recognised by FIFA as the governing body of the Irish Free State on the condition that it changed its name to the Football Association of the Irish Free State.
The Irish FA continued to organise its national team on an all-Ireland basis. Between 1928 and 1946, the IFA were not affiliated to FIFA and the two Ireland teams co-existed, never competing in the same competition. On 8 March 1950, however, in a 0–0 draw with Wales at the Racecourse Ground in a FIFA World Cup qualifier, the IFA fielded a team that included four players who were born in the Irish Free State. All four players had played for the FAI in their qualifiers and as a result had played for two different associations in the same FIFA World Cup tournament. After complaints from the FAI, FIFA intervened and restricted players' eligibility based on the political border. In 1953 FIFA ruled neither team could be referred to as Ireland, decreeing that the FAI team be designated as the Republic of Ireland, while the IFA team was to become Northern Ireland; until the 1950s, the major competition for Northern Ireland/Ireland was the British Home Championship. The team had won the competition eight times.
They were the last winners of the now defunct competition held in 1984, hence still are the British champions, the trophy remains the property of the Irish FA. Northern Ireland's best World Cup performance was in their first appearance in the finals, the 1958 World Cup, where they reached the quarter-finals after beating Czechoslovakia 2–1 in the play-off, they were knocked out by France, losing 4–0. In the 1958 competition, Northern Ireland became the least populous country to have qualified for the World Cup, a record that stood until Trinidad and Tobago qualified for the 2006 World Cup. Northern Ireland remains, the least populous country to have qualified for more than one World Cup finals tournament, to win a World Cup finals match, to have progressed from the first round of the World Cup finals. Captain of the national side at the 1958 World Cup was Danny Blanchflower, who captained Tottenham Hotspur in the English league and was twice footballer of the year in England, his younger brother Jackie was a key member of the national team, won two league titles in England with Manchester United, until his career was ended by injuries suffered in the Munich air disaster of February 1958.
Despite the presence of world class forward George Best, another Manchester Uni
Ronald Frederick Atkinson known as Big Ron, is an English former football player and manager. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he was one of Britain's best-known football pundits, he spent his playing career at Oxford United. As a manager, he won the FA Cup with Manchester United in 1983 and 1985 and the Football League Cup with Sheffield Wednesday in 1991 and Aston Villa in 1994. Atkinson, born in Liverpool but moved to Warwickshire shortly after his birth, did not achieve great heights in his playing career. After beginning his career as a ground staff boy at Wolverhampton Wanderers, he was signed by Aston Villa from works team BSA Tools at the age of 17, but never played a first-team match for them, he has referred to Villa coach Jimmy Hogan as his biggest influence. He was transferred to Oxford United in the summer of 1959 on a free transfer. There he played alongside his younger brother Graham Atkinson, he went on to make over 500 appearances in all competitions as a wing-half for the club, earning, in his playing days the nickname: "The Tank", scoring a total of 14 goals.
He was United's captain through their rise from the Southern League to the Second Division, achieved in only six years from 1962 to 1968, an impressive achievement. He was the first footballer to captain a club from the Southern League through three divisions of the Football League. After retiring from playing, Atkinson became manager player of non-league Kettering Town in 1971, aged only 32, his success there led to a move to the league with Cambridge United, going on to win the Fourth Division in 1977 and leaving them when they were on the verge of promotion to the Second Division. At the start of 1978, Atkinson moved to manage First Division West Bromwich Albion, he soon signed black player Brendon Batson from his former club, to play alongside the black pair of Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis. Never before had a team in the top division of English football fielded three black players on a regular basis. Atkinson led West Bromwich Albion to third place in the league in the season 1978–79 and to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.
On 30 December 1978 they achieved a famous 5–3 victory over Manchester United at Old Trafford. The club were second in the table at the time, only beaten off top spot from Liverpool by goal difference, they finished fourth in 1981, shortly after this Atkinson became manager of Manchester United on the dismissal of Dave Sexton. Atkinson was seen as the man who could bring the spark to Manchester United, so sorely lacking under his predecessor. Dave Sexton had taken them to second place in the league in 1980 but did not win a major trophy in his four years at the club. United had finished eighth in the season before Atkinson's appointment, Atkinson had missed out of the chance of overseeing a UEFA Cup campaign by departing from Albion and taking over at United. In the 1981–82 season, United finished third in the First Division, to qualify for the UEFA Cup, though for much of the season they were one of several teams who topped the table before a late surge from Liverpool saw Bob Paisley's team seal the title.
Early in the season he had paid a national record £1.5 million for Bryan Robson from his old club West Bromwich Albion, shortly afterwards added midfielder Remi Moses and Arsenal striker Frank Stapleton to his ranks. He gave a debut to promising young forward Norman Whiteside in April 1982, just before the player's 17th birthday. In the 1982–83 season, two appearances at Wembley, one of, an FA Cup victory against Brighton & Hove Albion, coupled with another third-place finish in the league, fuelled speculation that United were back in a big way. During the first half of the season, they had topped the league more than once but a storming run of form by Liverpool beginning before Christmas meant that the title headed for Anfield for the second year running. 1982–83 saw the breakthrough of young Norman Whiteside as one of the best performing players in the First Division. Whiteside was on the scoresheet for the FA Cup final replay as United beat Brighton 4–0 after drawing the first game 2–2. In the 1983–84 season, Atkinson's side reached the semi-finals of the European Cup Winners' Cup although their defence of the FA Cup ended at the first hurdle with a shock 2–0 defeat at Third Division Bournemouth.
They finished fourth in the league, having topped the table at several stages once again, before injuries to key players counted against them and they dropped points. The end of the season saw the sale of key midfielder Ray Wilkins to A. C. Milan of Italy for £1.5 million, while the duration of the season had seen the breakthrough of young striker Mark Hughes. Rather than plunge into the transfer market for a big name, Atkinson shifted Norman Whiteside into midfield to fill the gap left by Wilkins and allowed Hughes to form a partnership with the experienced Frank Stapleton. In the 1984–85 season, United again won the FA Cup; however and his team were denied the chance of another European Cup Winners Cup campaign as the Heysel disaster at the European Cup final that year resulted in an indefinite ban on all English clubs in European competitions. In the 1985–86 season, they won their first 10 games of the league season and were unbeaten after their first 15 games to build a comfortable lead at the top of the table that lasted into the new year.
However, their form tailed off badly and they again finished fourth, with Liverpool finishing the season as league champions. With the ban on English clubs in European competitions continuing, there was not the consolation of a UEFA Cup place. United's ti