Billy Bingham ‘had engaging and inspirational qualities’

Former Linfield vice-chairman and veteran News Letter journalist Billy Kennedy has paid his own tribute to the former club manager Billy Bingham who has died aged 90.

By Mark Rainey
Monday, 13th June 2022, 7:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 11:32 am

Mr Bingham, who won four trophies during a spell as Linfield manager in 1970-71 and went on to take Northern Ireland to consecutive World Cups, passed away at a care home in Southport last week.

Linfield honorary vice-president Mr Kennedy said he was “deeply saddened” at the news.

“He was a man who I had always great respect for, both in his role with the international team and during his 14 highly successful months at Windsor Park,” he said.

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Linfield in 1970-71. Front row (from left) Ronnie McAteer, Bryan Hamilton, Eric Bowyer, Billy Bingham (manager), Phil Scott, Dessie Cathcart, Billy Sinclair. Back row (from left) Russell Peacock, Alan Fraser, Ivan McAllister, Derek Humphrey, Bertie McGonigle, Albert Larmour, Isaac Andrews, Jackie Patterson. Photo: courtesy of Linfield FC

Billy was persuaded to become Linfield team manager in 1970 by the club’s then secretary manager, the late Harry Wallace. It was a very astute move by the club and Billy’s arrival brought extra class and professionalism to Linfield as a coach, motivator, and tactician, coupled with his unique managerial skills.

“Our supporters were given very special moments during Billy’s successful managerial reign at ‘The Park’, particularly in the 1970 European Cup Winners’ Cup ties against Manchester City, at Windsor Park and Maine Road.

“I got to know Billy well and memorably remember his attendance, with Harry Wallace and then Linfield chairman the late Tom Armstrong, at the annual dinner of the Frontier Linfield supporters’ club, Newry (of which I was club secretary) in the Kilmorey Arms Hotel, Kilkeel.

“His gesture in coming along to our dinner, and meeting up with a small club 40 miles distance from Belfast spoke volumes. It was much appreciated by our 20-plus members who were mostly located in the South Down-Co Armagh area and were avid Linfield fans at games, home and away.”

Billy Bingham: Photo: Pacemaker

Mr Kennedy added: “Later, in my role as editor of the Northern Ireland official programme, my personal contact with Billy Bingham increased considerably and, along with fellow Belfast journalist Ivan Little, we produced the official IFA brochures for the World Cup finals in Spain in 1982 and Mexico in 1986. I was also privileged to serve on Billy’s testimonial committee in 1989 and edited the programme for the testimonial game at Windsor Park“.

Mr Kennedy went on to say: “Billy Bingham was always a highly courteous man, with engaging and inspirational qualities that endeared him to people of all classes and creeds, not all of them connected with football.

“As a football manager, Billy had very special acumen and I am cherished with the memory of meeting and knowing him over several decades. My sincere sympathy is extended to Billy’s family.”

Billy Kennedy. Photo: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.