The season was drawing to an end in the Irish First Division when the top two sides, Ballymena United and Bangor, met in a game which would decide who would be promoted to the Irish Premier Division.
Ballymena United were one point ahead of their rivals and needed only a draw to gain promotion, while Bangor needed a win. As the game moved towards half time one of the players got injured and the referee stopped the match so that he could receive medical treatment. The game was re-started with a drop ball and, as Ballymena had been in possession of the ball prior to the stoppage, the Ballymena United players moved away so that one of the Bangor players could kick the ball back to the United goalkeeper and give United possession again, which was what traditionally happened in similar situations.
For some reason, however, the Bangor player taking the drop ball decided instead to take a shot and, with the United players unprepared, the ball flew into the net, giving Bangor the lead and a great chance of promotion. Although they had just taken the lead the other Bangor players, however, were very unhappy. They really wanted to win but not by behaving in an unsporting way. They had a quick discussion and, as United kicked off, the whole Bangor team stood to the side allowing United to score an equalizing goal unopposed, making the score 1-1.
The game eventually finished in a 1-1 draw, with United being promoted and Bangor narrowly missing out. This sporting gesture, particularly in such a crucial game, potentially cost them the valuable points they desperately needed and eventual promotion. It was an incredible act and one which completely silenced the crowd. For the Bangor players it was much more important for them to play with honour and integrity than to win at all costs.
- If you had been watching the game as a Bangor supporter how would you have felt when you saw them allow the other team to score? Happy that your team played with honour or upset that your team missed a great chance to win?
- How would you feel as a Ballymena United supporter?
- Would you prefer to win at all costs or win with integrity? Why?