Who Is The Irish FA’s Greatest Ever Right-Back ?


Believe it or not Northern Ireland has actually been blessed with a long line of outstanding right-backs since the Irish Football Association was formed in 1880.

Please take the time to click each player’s respective name and read in detail their career history before placing your vote.

Poll Closes 15th January 2016 at 20:00

Name: Danny Griffin
Born: 10 August 1977, Belfast
Height: 5.10 ft
Weight: 10.12 st
Position: Defender/Midfielder


Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 29 Full Caps/1 Goal (1996-2004), 3 ‘B’ Caps (1996-2003), 10 Under-21 Caps/1 Goal (1998-1999), 7 Under-18 Caps/2 Goals, 1 Under-16 Cap, 6 Under-15 Caps.

Scorer of a famous winner at Lansdowne Road, Danny Griffin’s career has since been ravaged by injury and left him playing below his expected level…

Danny Griffin


Name: Dave Craig
Born: 8 June 1944, Comber
Height: 5.08½ ft
Weight: 11.03 st
Position: Full-Back


Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 25 Full Caps (1967-1974), 2 Under-23 Caps (1965-1967).

Club Honours: (with Newcastle) FA Cup Runner-Up 1973/74 (special award); Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Winner 1968/69; Football League Division Two Champion 1964/65; Anglo-Italian Tournament Winner 1972/73; Texaco Cup Winner 1973/74, 1974/75; FA Youth Cup Winner 1961/62.

One of the finest defenders of his era, Dave Craig’s injury problems curtailed his international career, but didn’t prevent him from featuring in a number of sucesses for Newcastle United…

Dave Craig


Name: Chris Baird
Born: 25 February 1982, Rasharkin
Height: 5.10 ft
Weight: 11.11 st
Position: Defender/Midfielder


Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: Full Caps (2003-date), 6 Under-21 Caps (2002-2003), 4 Under-18 Caps.

Club Honours: (with Southampton) FA Cup Runner-Up 2002/03; (with Fulham) UEFA Europa League Runner-Up 2009/10.

In June 2003, Baird made his Northern Ireland debut against Italy in a 2–0 defeat. Since then, he has been a regular member of the national side.

Chris Baird


Name: Bill McCracken
Born: 29 January 1883, Belfast
Died: 20 January 1979, Hull (England)
Height: 5.11 ft
Weight: 13.04 st
Position: Right-Back


Representative Honours: Ireland: 16 Full Caps / 1 Goal (1902-1923), 2 Victory Caps (1919); Irish league: 5 Caps (1902-1904); Football League: 1 Cap (1918), 1 unofficial appearance (1914).

Club Honours: (with Distillery) Irish League Champion 1902/03; Irish Cup Winner 1902/03, Runner-Up 1901/02; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1902/03; (with Newcastle) Football League Champion 1904/05, 1096/07, 1908/09; FA Cup Winner 1909/10, Runner-Up 1907/08, 1910/11.

Awards: FA Long Service Medal 1978; Football League Legend 1998.

Popularly remembered as the man who formed the modern off-side law, Billy McCracken had an extremely long and tumultuous career in football…

Bill McCracken


Name: Dick Keith
Born: 15 May 1933, Belfast
Died: 28 February 1967, Bournemouth
Height: 6.00 ft
Weight: 11.09 st
Position: Right-Back


Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 23 Full Caps (1957-1962), 1 ‘B’ Cap (1957), 1 Junior Cap (1950); Irish FA Representative; Irish league: 5 Caps (1955-1956); Co. Antrim FA Representative.

Club Honours: (with Linfield) Irish League Champion 1953/54, 1954/55, 1955/56; Irish Cup Winner 1952/53; Gold Cup Winner; Ulster Cup Winner; Co. Antrim Shield Winner.

Awards: Ulster Football of the Year 1956.

The individual to most ‘benefit’ from the injuries sustained by Jackie Blanchflower at Munich, Dick Keith cemented his place in the Irish World Cup defence after the Manchester United star’s career was prematurely ended.

Dick Keith


Name: Pat Rice
Born: 17 March 1949, Belfast
Height: 5.09 ft
Weight: 12.07 st
Position: Right-Back


Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 49 Full Caps (1968-1979), 2 Under-23 Caps (1968-1969).

Club Honours: (with Arsenal) Football League Champion 1970/71, Runner-Up 1972/73; FA Cup Winner 1970/71, 1978/79, Runner-Up 1971/72, 1977/78, 1979/80; European Cup Winners’ Cup Runner-Up 1979/80; FA Youth Cup Winner 1965/66; (with Watford) Football League Division One Runner-Up 1982/83, Football League Division Two Runner-Up 1981/82 (promoted).

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With Northern Ireland, Rice was a regular choice for a decade, normally in his favoured right-back role.  Frustratingly for Rice his international career stalled on 49 caps as he missed the 1980 British Championship success due to Arsenal's appearances in the FA Cup and Cup Winners' Cup.

Pat Rice


Name: Billy Cook
Born: 20 January 1909, Coleraine
Died: 11 December 1992, Liverpool (England)
Height: 5.07½ ft
Weight: 11.04 st
Position: Full-Back


Representative Honours: Ireland: 15 Full Caps (1932-1939); Football League: 1 Cap.

Club Honours: (with Celtic) Scottish Cup Winner 1930/31; (with Everton) Football League Champion 1938/39; FA Cup Winner 1932/33; Empire Exhibition Tournament Runner-Up 1937/38.

Winner of both the Scottish Cup and the FA Cup, Billy Cook was noted as one of the most gifted full-backs of the 1930s, and developed into a world renowned coach…

Billy Cook


Name: Willie Cunningham
Born: 20 February 1930, Mallusk
Height: 5.11 ft
Weight: 12.00 st
Died: 31 August 2007
Position: Right-Back / Centre-Back


Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 30 Full Caps (1951-1962).

Club Honours: (with Leicester) Football League Division Two Champion 1956/57; (with Dunfermline) Scottish Cup Winner 1960/61.

Long before Martin O’Neill, an Ulster-man made significant ripples as a successful manager in Scotland. Unsung hero of the 1958 World Cup squad, Willie Cunningham also proved himself an effective and versatile performer in Northern Ireland’s back-line.

Willie Cunningham


Name: Jimmy Nicholl
Born: 28 December 1956, Hamilton (Canada)
Height: 5.09 ft
Weight: 11.11 st
Position: Defender/Midfielder


Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 73 Full Caps (1976-1986), 1 Under-21 (1978), Youth, 3 Schoolboy (1972).

Club Honours: (with Man. United) FA Cup Winner 1976/77, Runner-Up 1978/79; (with Rangers) Scottish League Champion 1986/87; Scottish League Cup Winner 1983/84, 1986/87, 1987/88; (with Toronto) NASL Runners-Up 1983, 1984; (with Raith) Scottish League First Division Champion 1992/93.

Awards: NASL All-Star (Second Team) 1984; SFWA Manager of the Year 1994/95.

The regular right-back of Billy Bingham’s great Northern Ireland side of the early-‘eighties, Jimmy Nicholl seemed more than likely to follow in Bingham’s footsteps as manager, only to lose out on two occasions…  He did take the Assistant Manager position under Michael O’Neill in 2015.

Jimmy Nicholl


Name: Jimmy Magill
Born: 7 May 1939, Lurgan
Height: 5.10 ft
Weight: 12.00 st
Position: Right-Back


Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 26 Full Caps (1961-1966), 1 Under-23 Cap (1962).

Not a ferocious tackler but preferred to jockey opponents away from danger. Not the fastest but supremely fit with good ball control and passing.  Magill began his career with Portadown but moved to London club Arsenal in May 1959.  After retiring from playing Magill coached in Denmark, first as coach at Viborg FF and B109 and then as manager of Næstved BK and Frederikshavn.

Jimmy Magill




One response to “Who Is The Irish FA’s Greatest Ever Right-Back ?

  1. Love Bairdy but Jimmy Nik is a legend

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