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1996
By the time Glentoran had qualified for the 1996 Irish Cup final. Diadora having failed to land a big name in the English Premiership upped sticks and declined to renegotiate their Irish league contracts. Glentoran were in talks with French firm Le Coq Sportif, but due to timescales no unsponsored shirt could be supplied for the semi against Crusaders and the quarter final against Ballymena United. With no other option Glentoran were forced to sew green patches over the Smithwick's logo thus starting the match in the above shirt. The game against Crusaders took place on a Friday evening at Windsor. In an exciting contest the Crues took the lead through Stephen Baxter before Glentoran centre-half John Devine forced a mistake from keeper McKeown who levelled matters. The North Belfast side forged ahead again when Hunter gave then the lead for a second time. As the clock ticked down, the Glens charismatic Scottish forward Trevor Smith appeared from nowhere to drive home the equaliser. The replay four days later looked set for extra time until Coyle carrying a knee injury put the Glens into the final with a memorable goal.
1996
As the morning of the 5th May 1996 dawned Glentoran were still without a playing strip for an Irish Cup final which was to be televised live across the province at 3.00pm. Diadora were gone and in their place Glentoran had signed a four year contract with established French firm Le Coq Sportif. With only three weeks between the replayed semi and the final, Le Coq Sportif pulled out all the stops to get a strip to Belfast on time for the showpiece finale. The kit arrived at the Oval at 11am on the morning of the game, minus two goal keepers' shirts which had to be sourced locally. Again Smithwick's was removed from this colourful jersey which was worn with black shorts and green socks. With the panic of a shirtless team now resolved there was only the small matter of the final itself. The game against Glenavon was a tense affair, but on 75 minutes the Boy Wonder, Glen Little unleashed a curling drive from all of 25 yards. Windsor Park exploded in red, green and black as the young Englishman reeled away in celebration. Glentoran had lifted a major trophy for the first time in five years and importantly were back in Europe.
Advert from 1996 Glentoran Gazette >>
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