‘Twas on the autumn equinox in 1949,
That England fans were shaken from the Tamar to the Tyne.
At Goodison, the Irish team ran out to great applause.
It was as if the game was played on Ireland’s native shores.
But English fans were noisy too, so passionate and loyal.
No foreign team had ever won upon their native soil.
And no-one gave a hope to those poor cousins ‘cross the water,
The latest in a long, long line of meek lambs to the slaughter.
Fifty two thousand fans [well, give or take a few]
Assembled there at Everton to watch the mismatched brew,
And there was quite an element of shock within the ground,
As Ireland quickly settled down and knocked the ball around.
The Irish team in forty nine was Irish born and bred,
Though only two still stayed at home to earn their daily bread.
And with Carey and Con Martin, the defence was calm and strong,
And Farrell was unstoppable whene’er he was on song.
A half an hour upon the clock and Ireland went ahead,
Con Martin scored a penalty with Williams left for dead.
And Billy Wright, as ever, tried to galvanise his side,
But despite heroic efforts, he just could not stem the tide.
The second half saw England with the wind behind their backs.
They probed the Irish rearguard with constant, strong attacks.
And Portsmouth’s Johnny Harris was convinced that he had scored,
But the ball rebounded off the bar, with parity not restored.
Jesse Pye went close as well, but Ireland battled hard,
Determined to become the first to win in their back yard.
And captain Jackie Carey was, as usual, immense,
Winning every dangerous ball and clearing from defence.
Then just before the finish, Tommy O’Connor got the ball,
The Shamrock Rovers winger with the talent to enthral.
He tantalised the English backs and drew them all out wide,
Then very calmly slotted in a perfect ball inside.
And so it was that Peter Farrell wonderingly found
Himself with a run-in on goal, upon his own home ground.
Bert Williams came out frantically, and as the two foes met,
Farrell lobbed it over him and in the English net.
England 0 Republic 2, the tricolour unfurled.
The news sent major shockwaves all around the football world.
English invincibility at last was laid to rest,
For versus lowly Ireland, they had come off second best.
Four years later, burst the great Hungarians on the scene,
Eclipsing with their brilliant skills the doughty boys in green.
But not even Hidgekuti could suppress the salient fact
That England’s proud home record by the Irish first was cracked.