First posted on Facebook on 18th April, 2016
Eamonn Bannon will be 58 today. Eamonn was a skilful midfielder who played for Hearts (twice), Chelsea and Dundee United and gained all his caps whilst at Tannidice. His Scotland career spanned 7 years but only amounted to eleven caps in three separate blocks.
Eamonn was first capped by Jock Stein in December, 1979 playing in a Euro Championship Qualifier against Belgium in 1979. Scotland had already lost a few games in the qualifiers and were already well out of contention by this time. The Bloody Belgians had routed Scotland (as always it seems) with three goals in the first half before John Robertson of Notts Forest had scored a second half consolation goal, however, by half time Eamonn had been replaced by Davie Provan of Celtic.
It would be just under four years before Eamonn was chosen again by Jock. Season 1983-’84 saw Dundee United win the Scottish Premier League for the only time in their history and Eamonn had played a very big part in that and he would line up against Northern Ireland at Hampden in May ’83 with three of his triumphant teammates; Richard Gough, David Narey and Paul Hegarty who was captaining the side that day. The game ended in a nil nil draw but Eamonn was retained for the following game against Wales at Ninian Park a few days later. Scotland won 2-0 with goals from Andy Gray and Ally Brazil.
However, Wembley beckoned on the 1st June and saw Scotland perform poorly and lose 2-0 to England with Eamonn being replaced by Brazil in the second half.
This was followed by a tour of Canada which would see Scotland play the hosts three times in the space of a week. Eamonn would only feature in the first game which Scotland won 2-0 with goals from Gordon Strachan and Mark McGhee.
Bannon returned to the side in November 1983 at the Kurt Wabbel Stadion, Halle in East Germany, once again on Euro Qualifying duty. Scotland lost two first half goals which Billy Thomson should have perhaps done better with before Eamonn grabbed his only Scotland goal volleying in from a Frank McGarvey of Celtic cross.
Once more Eamonn was left out in the cold as such and it would be Alex Ferguson who would give him 7th cap with a starting berth against Israel in Tel Aviv in a pre-World Cup friendly in January 1986. Scotland won 1-0 thanks to a Paul McStay goal. Two months later and Bannon played once more; against Romania, which Scotland won 3-0 at Hampden with Strachan, Gough and Roy Aitken scoring the goals. By now Bannon was beginning to play his way into Ferguson’s plans for the World Cup and faced England once more at Wembley in April, 1986 and was once more to taste defeat as the Scots lost 2-1 with Souness scoring in the second half from the penalty spot.
World Cup 1986 in Mexico and although he wouldn’t start in the opening game against Denmark, Bannon would replace Strachan in the 74th minute as Scotland were chasing an equaliser after Elkjaer-Larsen’s goal in the 57th minute. Alas, it was not to be but Eamonn would be given a starting place in the next game as Scotland faced West Germany. Despite Gordon Strachan’s opening goal in the 18th minute and the pretend hoard jumping that followed Scotland would eventually lose 2-1 but Bannon would hit a wonderful free kick in the first half that Schumacher had to be smart to save. Davie Cooper would replace Eamonn in the 74th minute and this would be the last piece of action Eamonn would have, not only in the World Cup but as a Scotland player.
He would continue to play for United for a couple of more years before moving back to Hearts where he played a further five years. Eamonn was a great player who just seemed to stroll through games rather gracefully often bypassing opponents before they knew it and was also an excellent finisher.
Happy Birthday Eamonn and all the best
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