Glentoran FC

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My Favourite Photograph: Johnny Jameson

Thu, 28/05/2020 - 00:51

In this new series we will be publishing interviews with former Glentoran players and managers where they talk about a photograph that means a lot to them. Some will be reproduced from a series written by Brian McClelland for the Glentoran Gazette in the mid-1990s with other, newer stories we will be writing over the next few weeks. This one was published in the Gazette in the 1994/95 season, when Brian met our legendary winger, Johnny Jameson.

2020 Introduction (Brian McClelland):  I think it is helpful, given some of the references in the story, to put this interview in some sort of context.  It was written in 1995 about a game between Glentoran and Liverpool on 19th April, 1982.  Liverpool’s goalkeeper, Bruce Grobbelaar had left Liverpool for Southampton in 1994.

On 10th November 1994 Bruce Grobbelaar, was accused by a British tabloid newspaper, of match fixing during his time at Liverpool, to benefit a betting syndicate.  He was eventually charged and, after two successive trials, the jury could not agree on a verdict.  Grobbelaar and his co-defendants, Hans Segers and John Fashanu, were cleared in November, 1997.

The following is Johnny Jameson’s My Favourite Photograph story:

1. Johnny Jameson

Johnny Jameson scores against Bruce Grobbelaar and Liverpool at the Oval in April 1982

Do you recognise the goalkeeper in this photograph?  Let me give you a clue:  I can say without fear of contradiction that I did not bribe him to let me score!

Yes, you’re right, it most certainly is Bruce Grobbelaar, and the occasion was a Special Centenary Friendly against Liverpool at the Oval on 19th April, 1982.

Liverpool had just won the League Cup beating Spurs 3-1 at Wembley and were about to become League Champions. They did the occasion proud by fielding all their star players for the fixture with us– Phil Neal, Mark Lawrenson, Ronnie Whelan, Phil Thompson, Alan Hanson, Kenny Dalglish, Ian Rush, Terry McDermott, Craig Johnston and the big man himself, Bruce Grobbelaar.

I had been having quite a good season, scoring plenty of goals (for a change), and looking forward immensely to this game against the reigning European club champions.  Of course, we had some fine players of our own in Rab McCreery, Dermot Keeley, George Neill, Gerry Mullan, Jimmy Cleary and Barney Bowers.

Though the game was advertised as a friendly it attracted 15,000 fans, and we approached it in a very competitive spirit.  This rather surprised Liverpool who regarded it as a bit of a training exercise. They were completely knocked out of their stride in the first half.

“Will you slow down a bit,” gasped Alan Kennedy, Liverpool’s left back, after I had flashed past him a few times.  Don’t forget that Kennedy had scored the only goal of the game in the previous season’s European Cup final in Paris against Real Madrid.

I was really enjoying myself, though, especially in the 44th minute when I raced on to a through ball to crack the opening goal past a dismayed Brucie.   

Liverpool managed to pull their socks up in the second half to equalize through Lawrenson.  Their pride had been dented, however, and when I went to their dressing room after the game to collect some autographs I was forced to wait for half an hour while Joe Fagan, stand-in manager for Bob Paisley, gave them a tongue lashing.

A lot of Glentoran supporters' favourite photograph of Johnny Jameson. His winner v Linfield in the 1983 Irish Cup Final Replay

I believe my performance against Liverpool was instrumental in Billy Bingham selecting me for the preliminary list of 40 players submitted to FIFA for the World Cup finals in Spain that summer of ’82.

I never really imagined I would make the final squad of 22 and actually go to Spain.  So, when I was being interviewed by TNT Haulage Company for a salesperson job, I assured my future employers that, if by some stroke of luck I made the final squad, there would be no way I would be requesting time off to go to the World Cup.

I had only just started work with TNT when the telephone rang at 9.30 am and my first customer told me I would be going to Spain.  “What do you mean?” I asked him, totally unaware that I had been named on the final squad.

TNT and Jim McCrossan were very good about it, giving me time off, taking me out to be measured for my suit, and buying me new boots before I dashed off to Brighton for World Cup training with the squad.

With Bruce Grobbelaar hitting the headlines recently over allegations of match fixing, and me just having hung up my boots, the photograph is evocative of happier playing days for both of us.

We all know that a goalkeeper takes a lot of stick, mostly undeserved.  He is the last line of defence and the first target of blame.  But big Brucie has always played the game with style and has been an inspiration to the many youngsters who have dreamed the impossible dream.

Regardless of subsequent publicity about allegations of match fixing, nothing on earth could have diverted the course of that particular ball on what remains a very special occasion for me.  I am lucky enough to have this photograph to remind me of the night Glentoran finished all square with the European Champions.

The Liverpool and Glentoran teams before kick off.



Jamie's Testimonial Programme at the end of his fourteenth season with Glentoran