Russell Sam Image 1 Bradford City 1930

Russell Sam Image 1 Bradford City 1930


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A stylish full-back, Downpatrick, County Down born Sam Russell played Army football for the Royal  Irish Fusiliers and junior football with Old Park Corinthians in 1919, from where he joined Belfast Distillery. He soon earned Distillery a £200 fee when he transferred to First Division Newcastle United in August 1920, and his Football League debut followed at Manchester City in May 1921. Unfortunately his five years at St James’ Park were ravaged by injury so he never really established himself in the first eleven. He did play three matches in Newcastle’s run to a 1924 FA Cup success, though he missed the final portion of the season in which he made 16 of his 31 appearances for The Toon.

In May 1925 Russell returned to Ireland to join Shelbourne. While with The Shels he claimed a Free State League title and inter league honours, playing twice for The League of Ireland. Still effectively a Newcastle player, in December 1926 Russell joined Second Division Bradford City where he established himself as a regular at right-back. While The Bantams suffered relegation from Division Two in 1927 he was an ever-present as they bounced back as Division Three (North) Champions in 1929. He eventually left Valley Parade in June 1931 to join Derry City having scored once in 145 appearances for The Bantams.

It was while with Bradford City that Russell earned his first international recognition for Ireland, featuring in defeats by England and Scotland in the 1929-30 Home Nations Championship, his debut coming at Windsor Park, Belfast, as England won 3-0 in October 1929, however he missed out on the famous 7-0 thrashing of Wales (when Joe Bambrick hit a double hat-trick), being recalled for Ireland’s 3-1 defeat to Scotland at Parkhead in February 1930. It was after joining the fledgling Derry City that Russell won his third and final cap at Windsor Park in a 6-2 defeat to England in October 1931, thus, along with Jimmy Kelly, becoming the first Derry player to gain full international recognition. He finished his career by joining Newry Town in October 1932 before retirement.

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