NUFC 1973/74 - Season Summary
NUFC 1973/74 Squad
|Division 1||15th||Manager||J Harvey|
|FA Cup||Final||Coach||K Burkinshaw|
|League Cup||R3||Captain||B Moncur|
|Texaco Cup||Won||Top Scorer||M Macdonald (25)|
Harvey finally achieved his dream of leading the team out at Wembley in the FA Cup Final but it turned into a nightmare as the Magpies were completely outclassed by Liverpool in an embarassingly one-sided game.
En route to Wembley United recovered from 1-3 down to beat Nottingham Forest 4-3 in the Quarter-Final but only after hundreds of fans invaded the pitch. Despite the fact that both teams had agreed to continue the FA ordered the game to be replayed although many in the game thought that the club should have been thrown out of the competition.
In the League Newcastle started very impressively and by the end of November were second in the table. But their form disintegrated and they only won four more games all season. The distraction of the FA Cup was partly to blame as were injuries but Frank Clark pointed the finger at the series of increasingly violent games with Birmingham.
The sides met seven times during the seaoson with six of the games in a six week period. Nine players were injured with Tony Want (broken leg) and Irving Natrass ( ) the most seriously hurt.
In the first third of the season Newcastle were performing better in the league than they had done since the early fifties. They won 8 of the first 14 games and scored in every game bar 1 and, after beating Stoke at home on November 3rd they moved into 2nd place behind runaway leaders Leeds.
With Tudor and Macdonald both having spells out with injury the goals started to dry up and United had dropped to 9th by the turn of the year. Frank Clark would also point to the disruptive nature of the feud that developed with Birmingham City over the course of 6 games played between the clubs in 6 weeks.
In 1974 United's form deteriorated further; they won only 2 more games and slumped as low as 18th before recovering slightly to finish 15th. The Cup run was certainly a distraction and Harvey also played some weakened sides leading up to the Final.
R3: Hendon were the reigning Isthmian League Champions and despite going behind they took control in the second-half and deservedly equalised. It was the 4th time in the last 20 years that United had failed to beat non-league opposition at home. "We were disgraceful, absolutely pathetic", blasted Harvey.
R3r: Although Macdonald gave united an early lead it was not until Hibbitt scored a second,just after the hour mark, that they started to relax.
R4: Scunthorpe were struggling in the bottom half of the Fourth Division and had lost 10 out of 12 of their away games, but United had to come from behind to earn a replay. Harvey moaned "we should have scored ten goals, it's ridiculous".
R4r: The Local Education Authority gave school-children an official half-day off to attend the match, but although it was noisy and windy, United were calm and collected. It was the first time the Magpies had reached the Fifth Round since 1961.
R5: Early substitute Jimmy Smith ran the show with a virtuoso performance as United turned in one of their best performances for many a season. Harvey was ecstatic: Our display was magnificent. This was a team performance and every man deserves a medal now. They have never played better".
QF: One of the most extraordinary and controversial games played on Tyneside. When Howard was sent-off and Forest went 3-1 ahead with an hour gone United look doomed. A pitch invasion halted the game and the players were taken off. After almost ten minutes, order was restored and referee Kew asked both teams if they wish to continue or not. Both managers said they did. With Forest clearly unnerved by the stoppage and the clamouring crowd, United stormed back to win with the final goal in the last minute.
QFr: Macdonald scored the only goal in a match United dominated, however Forest were aggrieved that they had a goal controversially disallowed for "ungentlemanly conduct".
QFr2: Both sides are off-key with United guilty of squandering possession too regularly. The Magpies also have their share of bad-luck as they hit the woodwork on 3 occasions.
SF: Burnley are the better side in most departments but McFaul's excellent goalkeeping and Macdonald's pace and power send United to Wembley.
Fin: After a relatively listless first-half a completely off-key United are annihilated by Liverpool after the break.
R2: Macdonald scores a hat-trick and Robson gets a brace, but it is the final goal from Frank Clark - who scores his first goal - that generates the biggest celebrations.
R3 - United get a draw but it is a bad night for Macdonald who has a penalty saved and later hobbles off injured.
R3r: A Trevor Francis penalty in extra-time sees United bow out.
|R1 L2||01/10/73||H||Morton||D||1-1 (aet)|
|SF L1||12/12/73||A||Dundee Utd.||L||0-2|
|SF L2||19/12/73||H||Dundee Utd.||W||4-1 (aet)|
R1 L1: United secure a First Leg victory over the Scottish First Division side.
R1 L1: The Magpies need an extra-time goal to progress.
QF L1 - Gibb and Smith are outstanding
QF L2 - With the scores once again level extra time is required but after 10 minutes the referee has to abandon the game because of bad light.
QF L2r -Jimmy Smith is sent off in the first minute for a bad foul on Tony Want but despite playing with ten men for virtually the whole game United win comfortably after leading 3-0 at half-time.
SF L1 - An inexperienced United side are lucky to escape with a two-goal beating.
SF L2 - Macdonald's late goal takes the match into extra-time when Cassidy nets the decider.
Fin: United play some of their best football of the season in a pulsating performance, but need an extra time goal from Moncur to secure the trophy.
Centre-Half Dennis Laughton was added to the squad after impressing United during the Texaco Cup games with Morton.
Significantly more was spent on 21-year-old striker Alex Bruce who had an impressive scoring return at Preston.
|Green Tony||12/73||Retired (inj.)|
|Burton Alwyn||cs/73||Retired (inj.)|
Tony Green's footballing career had been decimated by injuries and he was forced to retire at only 27 years of age as a result of the knee ligament injury he suffered at Selhurst Park during 1972/73. Harvey would later admit that: "It was the saddest day of my life, he was my very best buy."
Another player who had suffered recurring injury problems , Ollie Burton, was also forced to retire with a knee injury.
Total Games: 61
Total Goals: 85
Total number of games: 46
Total number of players used: 24
01: (2) McFaul
02: (4) Nattrass > Craig
03: (2) Clark (Kennedy)
04: (4) McDermott
05: (3) Howard
06: (3) Moncur
07: (7) Cassidy > Barrowclough
08: (4) Smith > Cassidy
09: (4) Macdonald
10: (8) Tudor
11: (7) Hibbitt
Following three operations in his knee Tony Green started light training again in September. But medical experts advised him that the knee would not stand up to the rigours of professional football and in October, at the age of 27, he was forced to retire.
Lord Westwood summed up the mood; "It's very tragic indeed. Tony is a grand little fellah with a marvellous heart. He was a fabulous footballer and we will find it impossible to replace him".
Player indiscipline was seen as one of the major issues at the time and the feud that developed between the two sides with the saintly grounds was one of the worst examples.
In some ways it was an inevitability. The sides met on no less than seven occasions with the first six matches taking place within a period of only six weeks. During those first six games a total of nine players received injuries. There were 12 bookings and one sending off; not much by today's standards, but a deluge then.
The last match in the six game series took place days after the Texaco Cup match in which Jimmy Smith "accidentally" broke Tony Want's leg in two places. The papers were full of stories about the possibility of Birmingham players seeking revenge and acting captain Frank Clark urged his players to "play it cool".
The referee was Alex Lees, a schoolteacher taking charge of his first Division 1 game. Asked if he expected trouble his reply was unconvincing: "it won't be a kicking match, it will be just a game of football".
The following article in Goal magazine was typical of the post match media response.
"The term 'bringing the game into disrepute' is bandied around for the most trifling of offences by the hierarchy at Lancaster gate.
But rarely has their been such a golden opportunity for the FA to make themselves felt than Saturdays disgusting apology for a football match at St Andrews, where Birmingham and Newcastle did battle for the sixth time this season".
An immediate enquiry should be held into the feud that has been festering between the two clubs, and finally exploded into blatant violence on Saturday".
Undoubtedly the sides are sick of the sight of each other and it is clear that familiarity has bred considerable contempt.
But it is equally as clear that players from both sides have shown contempt for the laws, and the game's fast dwindling image in the eyes of equally dwindling crowds.
After the Texaco Cup-tie at SJP last week , in which United's Jim Smith was sent off following a tackle that broke Tony Want's leg in two places, it was a near certainty that despite all the appeals for calm, it was not going to need much for open warfare to become the order of the day at St. Andrews.
Newcastle's Irving Nattrass was carried off. Frank Clark followed in the second half. City's Bob Hatton limped off and five players were booked".
FA Secretary Ted Croker felt "ashamed" but also accused the media of exaggerating the trouble. "There was some disgraceful behaviour, but the majority behaved very well".
The chief villian of the peace was Birmingham's Paul Hendrie who was responsible for a disgraceful late challenge on Howard; both players were booked as Howard took his own retribution by trying to strangle the life out of him. It was Hendrie who also left "a gaping hole in the side of Frank Clark's shin".
Keith Robson was the next in the book for a bad challenge and Clark followed (after his return) when he pushed Hendrie over. Newcastle's Laughton was booked for deliberate hand-ball
Nattrass was put out for the season by a cynical challenge from Kenny Burns who escaped without punishment.
Freddie Goodwin, the Birmingham manager, said he "was never so unhappy in victory" and advocated the introduction of a 'sin-bin' in football suggesting that the game might have been saved if a few players were put in the 'cooler'.
Lord Westwood claimed that it was "up to the PFA to make a stand, the players by this type of behaviour are putting the livelyhood of their colleagues in jeapardy".
PFA Chairman Derek Dougan was having none of it reminding Westwood that by the laws of the game "clubs are responsible for the actions of their players".
Joe harvey was not available for comment.
John Tudor believed that the matches also proved a major turning point; talking before the QF against Forest he said. "Before this we were playing some great football. But those violent matches affected us all and we lost our impetus"
The number of people attending matches slumped again to 24,928,203 which represented a drop of more than 5 million in only 6 years. The Division 1 average fell by about 2,000 to 28,292.
Newcastle were one of only a few clubs whose attendances rose. The average of 32,791 (the best since 1969/70) making them the sixth best supported club in the country behind Man Utd, Liverpool, Leeds, Everton and Birmingham.
Forty thousand plus attendances were achieved for the matches against Man Utd, Liverpool and Everton; whilst 55,638 attended the Boxing Day match with Leeds.
Saturday Afternoons Alright for Fighting
Hooliganism became an even greater problem. United's friendly with Middlesbrough was one of many pre-season games marred by trouble prompting League President Len Shipman to call for the re-introduction of the birch. The match on Teesside brought trouble before, during and after the game with emergency police reinforcements having to be drafted in. The first major trouble occurred in the "showpiece" Cleveland Shopping Centre where rival fans clashed and terrorised shoppers.
Early on in the season the boys' gates were closed for a couple of games "because a number of quite ridiculous youngsters persist on running on to the pitch".
There was major trouble in Leeds a few weeks later when hundreds of United fans ran amok before the game. Hundreds of pounds worth of damage was reaked on The Old Peacock and Central Station pubs by United yobs.
During the season a working party was set-up by the Minister of Sport Denis Howell to look in to what measures could be taken to increase safety and reduce crowd trouble. They did consider fences but the Home Office stated this was not acceptable because of the safety angle; that is the pitch was an easy escape route in the event of a fire or a bomb scare.
Then when Newcastle were down to ten men and losing 3-1 at home to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup 6th round hundreds of United fans invaded the pitch causing a twelve minute delay. When play was resumed United stormed back to win 4-3.
An FA Commission decided that the match should be replayed but many in the media thought Newcastle should have been thrown out the Cup. The Football Digest's comment was typical. "Justice was done when Newcastle did NOT win the Cup. In the event they were never in with a chance, but they were given a chance which they - rather their crowd - did not deserve".
The magazine was equally critical of the additional punishment meted out that United would have to play all their FA Cup games away from home in the following season: "One boggles at the great minds which thought up this belated diffused punishment".
Streaking started to "take off" in a big way and at Bedford Town a "burly" male naturist was cheered on by the crowd as he ran across the pitch. He was rugby tackled by a coppa before he reached a waiting car.
After months of negotiations Newcastle Supporters Club finally moved from it's old headquarters in the Bridge Hotel to the Social Club in St James' Street.
The trip to The Hawthorns in the FA Cup 5th Round gave United supporters their first chance to make use of the much heralded League Liner which had been introduced during the 1972/73 season in an effort to cut down on soccer violence on the way to matches.
Unfortunately the Supporters Club was left to apologise for the lack of the super modern facilities. "The fact that there was no disco, cinema or TV was out of our hands and due entirely to licensing problems with the Football League".
Five unnamed business men who chartered a plane to Birmingham for the FA Cup match at The Hawthorns were set upon by fellow United supporters when they left the game. Two of then requiring treatment for injuries sustained.
For the FA Cup semi-final 10,000 tickets were automatically made available to season-ticket holders with the remaining 12,000 tickets going on sale on the Monday after the home game with Leicester.
Fans started queing during the half-time break and by late Saturday evening there were already around 500 waiting. They were unanimous in their condemnation of the club's ticket allocation procedures. First in the queue were Paul Newton, Eddie Hutchinson and Maureen Delaney from Walker.
On semi-final day the fans found that most pubs were closed and the ones that were open had hired bouncers to keep all but the locals out. There were also claims that the local police gave fans misleading information so as to get them out of the city centre.
Black and White clad footsoldiers wandered the streets looking for liquid refreshment and one elderly grocery shop owner was astonished when she sold as many bottles in 30 minutes as she would normally sell in a week.
The club was allocated 25,000 tickets for the Final. Their chosen ticket allocation method was to issue vouchers to all attendees (except season ticket holders who automatically got a ticket) for the match against Everton which would then be entered in a draw. This led to some fans taking the unusual step of paying more than once rather than the more usual sneaking in for free. It was later alleged that some members of the Newcastle Supporters Club were attempting to forge the vouchers
It was revealed that Fat Stan Flashman (self styled king of the ticket touts) was sending four of his best men to the area to "corner" the FA Cup Final ticket market and with a couple of weeks to go touts were bragging that they were selling £1 stand tickets for £18.
One United supporter offered two £5 tickets to see Andy Williams in exchange; at the time of reporting he had not had any offers.
Cup Final Day.
The supporters club offered two different excursions for £2.20 you could leave Newcastle at 12.00 midnight on the Friday and return 24 hours later or for an extra £6.80 a stay at "the impressive Royal Scot Hotel on the Saturday night" was included.
One of the cup final traditions at the time was an "It's a Knockout" special between the two supporters clubs. This was filmed at Southport on the Sunday before; unfortunately we have no recollection of who won.
An estimated 30,000 fans travelled down to London including thousands without tickets. Trains arrived in Kings Cross at dawn and some fans travelled onto Euston to "meet up" with the Scousers but the trouble soon died down. Thousands others took over Trafalgar Square .
A 16 year old Newcastle fan - Stephen Tempest of Witton Gilbert - had to be rushed to hospital after being stabbed in the chest before the game when he was attacked by a mob of Liverpool yobs.
During the game the United supporters were fantastic despite seeing their side mercilessly taken apart by Shankley's side.
There was some trouble in Piccadilly after the game but this seemed to be caused by Londoners attacking both sets of visitors and for the most part the Geordies and Scousers "celebrated" together . Fifty arressts were made in total during the day.
Despite the defeat it was decided to go ahead with the open top bus ride and a stagerring quarter of a million people turned up to welcome home the returning "heroes."
The club also introduced new catering facilities at SJP; "a new and comprehensive range of Hot Drinks". "'Maxpax' is a unique and ingenious Hot Drinks system, each individual cup containing a pre-determined measure of ingredients packed in hygienic factory conditions, untouched by hand". For the less health conscious Keegan's Burgers were still available outside the ground.
1970/71 1971/72 1972/73 1973/74 1974/75 1975/76 1976/77 1977/78 1978/79 1979/80