NUFC 1902/03- Season Summary
Newcastle’s strong finish to the last campaign meant that there was great optimism at the start of the season. After an excellent start United topped the table for the first ever time. But their form collapsed and they dropped into the relegation places before recovering to finish 14th.
The sale of Peddie during the summer had left United without a regular scorer and once again they struggled to score away from the Tyne.
The senior players had been unhappy with the team selection policy and with eight games remaining the directors took the unprecedented step of allowing the players to pick the side and decide on tactics. Peter McWilliam (who had only played once so far) was recalled to the side and United won six of the last eight games (all of them home matches).
United played a significant part in deciding the destiny of the Championship. The last game of the season brought Championship-hopefulsSunderland to Tyneside and the game was monitored for possible collision. United's win that day in front of 26,500 robbed the Wearsiders of top spot.
The FA Cup was a let-down as United lost 2-1 at Grimsby at the first hurdle.
Despite the side's problems there was a 20% increase in the average League attendance with seven 20,000 plus gates.
There were a number of big name signings. Scottish international outside-left Bobby Templeton cost a record £400 and another international - Arthur Turner arrived from Derby to play on the opposite flank. And, just before the season's end, centre-forward Bill Appleyard was signed for £350 from Bolton.
There were problems behind the scenes as a power struggle emerged on the Board as the Bell family challenged James Telford.
|Top Scorer||B McColl (10)|
League Division 1
|6/9/02||H||Stoke||W||5 - 0|
|13/9/02||A||Everton||W||1 - 0|
|20/9/02||H||Sheff Wed||W||3 - 0|
|27/9/02||A||WBA||L||1 - 6|
|4/10/02||H||Notts. County||W||6 - 1|
|11/10/02||A||Bolton||W||2 - 0|
|18/10/02||H||Middlesbrough||L||0 - 1|
|25/10/02||A||Derby||D||0 - 0|
|1/11/02||A||Wolves||L||0 - 3|
|8/11/02||H||Liverpool||L||1 - 2|
|15/11/02||A||Sheffield Utd||L||1 - 2|
|22/11/02||H||Grimsby||W||1 - 0|
|29/11/02||A||Aston Villa||L||0 - 7|
|6/12/02||H||Nottm. Forest||L||0 - 2|
|13/12/02||A||Bury||L||0 - 1|
|20/12/02||H||Blackburn||W||1 - 0|
|27/12/02||A||Sunderland||D||0 - 0|
|3/1/03||A||Stoke||L||0 - 5|
|17/1/03||A||Sheff Wed||L||0 - 3|
|24/1/03||H||WBA||W||1 - 0|
|31/1/03||A||Notts. County||D||2 - 2|
|14/2/03||A||Middlesbrough||L||0 - 1|
|28/2/03||H||Wolves||L||2 - 4|
|7/3/03||A||Liverpool||L||0 - 3|
|14/3/03||H||Sheffield Utd||D||0 - 0|
|21/3/03||A||Grimsby||L||0 - 1|
|28/3/03||H||Aston Villa||W||2 - 0|
|1/4/03||H||Everton||W||3 - 0|
|4/4/03||A||Nottm. Forest||L||2 - 3|
|10/4/03||H||Derby||W||2 - 1|
|11/4/03||H||Bury||W||1 - 0|
|13/4/03||H||Bolton||W||2 - 0|
|18/4/03||A||Blackburn||L||1 - 3|
|25/4/03||H||Sunderland||W||1 - 0|
The Novocastrians started and ended the season like Champions but in the middle five months of the campaign they were in relegation form. The eventual 14th place finish (in the 18-team League) was a bitter disappointment. In mitigation they finished well clear of the relegation positions (7 points) and - in points terms - were as close to 4th placed Sheffield United.
After winning 5 of the first 6 games United reached the top of the table for the very first time on October 11th. But in the period up to 21st March their record was a disastrous 3-4-13 which saw them drop into a relegation position.
In desperation the United officials asked a quorum of players to take over team-selection and tactics for the final 8 games and six wins lifted them to safety.
The late rally also had much to do with the fact that all of the victories were at St James' Park where United's performances had largely held up. It was their disastrous away form (12 defeats in 17 games) that had really let them down.
United actually won the same number of games (14) as in the previous two seasons but lost 5 more games than in 1901/02. The number of goals conceded also rose sharply as they suffered heavy defeats at West Brom, Aston Villa and Stoke.
Inconsistency was the key as they could win well at home (5-0 - Stoke, 6-1 - Notts County) and lose just as badly on their travels (0-5 - Stoke, 1-6 - WBA and 0-7 Aston Villa) . The Villa result is our equal heaviest away defeat in the top flight.
|R1||7/2/03||A||Grimsby||L||1 - 2|
Struggling Grimsby (D1-17th) - adaped better to the strong cross-wind and won the tie with two goals in the first ten minutes.
Total number of games: 35
Total number of players used: 28
Figure in brackets denotes number of players used in position.
01: (2) Kingsley
02: (7) Davidson > Aitken
03: (2) Agnew
04: (5) Gardner Al
05: (3) Aitken > Veitch
06: (4) Carr
07: (6) Stewart > Turner
08: (7) Orr
09: (7) McColl
10: (7) Rutherford
11: (4) Roberts > Templeton
United’s tactics had previously centred on providing chances for Peddie; now he had departed the goals were shared around more with five players scoring 5 or more goals and McColl top-scorer despite only scoring 10.
|Mcwilliam Peter||08/1902||Inverness Thistle||£10|
|Turner Arthur||01/1903||Derby County||£200|
|Templeton Robert||02/1903||Aston Villa||£400|
|Tildesly James||02/1903||Halesowen St. John|
|Crumley Robert||05/1903||Lochee Utd|
|Howie James||05/1903||Bristol R||£300|
|Thompson George||05/1903||Halesowen Town|
|Peddie John||06/1902||Man Utd|
More 1900s Seasons
1900/01 1901/02 1903/04 1904/05 1905/06 1906/07 1907/08 1908/09 1909/10