|Chairman||A Turnbull, D McPherson|
|Top Scorer||J Wallace (17)|
In their first season in the Football League Newcastle finished in a highly creditable fourth place just three points behind the play-off spots. Their success was almost entirely down to their home form.
This was not altogether surprising as they were favoured at St. James' through their knowledge of the steeply dipping terrain, but were severely hampered on their travels by nearly always having to travel down on the morning of the match.
A loss of a number of key players plus a proliferation of away games in the first part of the season left United struggling at the bottom. But after losing six of their first nine matches they only lost once more all season.
In the FA Cup United met two sides from the First Division on Tyneside; on both occasions turning down generous offers to switch venues. A tremendous victory over Sheffield United followed by a creditable performance against Bolton certainly helped raise the club's profile
Although United performed admirably on the field they had major problems off it. The crowds were simply not sufficient to cover the expenses. A number of friendlies were arranged to generate more cash and directors often had to dip into their own pockets, but United still finished the season owing money to a number of clubs.
Although the sub-5,000 average gate was a great disappointment to the committee, there were signs (the FA Cup games and the Good Friday match against Crewe) that a latent potential was there.
Kit images copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission
|30/12||H||Burs. Port Vale||W||2-1||7|
|3/2||A||Burs. Port Vale||D||1-1||5|
01: (3) Lowery
02: (2) Jeffery
03: (3) Miller > Rogers
04: (3) Crielly
05: (1) Graham
06: (1) McKane
07: (8) Quinn
08: (4) Crate > Willis
09: (2) Thompson
10: (8) Wallace or Crate
11: (6) Wallace or Law
The squad was a mixture of local players and Scotsmen and most were professionals. It was a fairly settled side with nine of the team playing in nearly every match, but the appearance of a number of players for one or two matches resulted in 26 players being used in all.
On the whole they were a smaller, lighter team than many of their opponents. They played a short passing game which was occasionally varied with an opportune "rush" at the opponents citadel.
|Burke W||06/93||Notts C.|
|Quinn C||--/93||Local Non-L|
|Barr J||08/93||Grantham Rovers|
|Bowman J||08/93||Dundee East End|
|McFarlane||08/93||Perth St. Johnstone|
|Bartlett T||09/93||Arthurs Hill|
|Gilhespy T||09/93||Arthurs Hill|
|Inglis J||10/93||Dalmuir Th|
|Keir M||10/93||Dalmuir Th|
|Law J||11/93||Glasgow Rangers|
|Milne W||11/13||Rutherford College||Trial|
|Dickson C||09/94||Dundee Wanderers|
|Smith J||5/94||Sheff Wed||#50|
|Collins J||07/93||Nottm F|
Money - or the lack of it - was the overriding issue for the directorate during the season.The gate receipts coming in simply were not great enough to cover their expenses.
On many occasions during the campaign the directors had to dip into their own pockets to ensure that the club could fulfill its fixtures. Fundraising events were also organised at various locations in the Town.
The players too were asked to help out by taking a cut in their wages and although most agreed United lost talisman Jock Sorley.
A number of friendlies were arranged against "prestige" opposition with some clubs offering their services at cut-down rates so that United could pocket more of the money. First Division clubs Sunderland (four times) and Sheffield United were two of the teams that helped out.
Two FA Cup games against First Division opposition was also a welcome boost, the directors taking the opportunity to double admission prices for the Sheffield United game resulting in record receipts.
Despite their best efforts the club finished the season in dire financial trouble owing the vast sum of £600 to other clubs; it looked as though the club could be finished. But the directors dug deep again and, with a little bit of assistance from the FA who "persuaded" the other sides to accept reduced payments, they survived.
The Novacastrians were not the only club struggling to survive and as a result a motion was put forward that wages should be capped as follows: maximum £140 per year, maximum of £1 per week in the summer and a maximum £10 bonus. However it was not supported by the top clubs and was not passed. Middlesbrough Ironopolis would be one of the victims that year.
There was a constant battle to raise the profile of the club and the sport in general. They had to battle for space on the sports pages with such past times as rabbit coursing and quoiting and the "Football" heading usually referred to the oval-balled game unless given an "Association" sub-heading.
The Newcastle Daily Chronicle was attacked by the directorate for negative criticism and a lack of "paragraphs" and at one stage the club refused to send them the team sheet. Unrepentant the rag responded by stating "we don't run this paper for the purpose of giving free advertisements to the Newcastle United Football Club or anybody else".
Clubs often found themselves fined or censured. United were fined two guineas in October for fielding an unregistered layer [Davies]; more originally Darwen were forced to apologise to referee Jeffries after they suggested he was under the influence of drink whilst umpiring one of their matches.
At the beginning of the season the players were asked to accept a reduction in wages. A number were not prepared to do this and left the club including James Collins, Harry Reay, Jock Sorley and Andrew Ramsay. This severely weakened United's squad and it took a while for the club to recover.
The directors set up a desperate search for new blood. Players such as Keir and Inglis were brought down from Scotland on trial but neither proved a success. The club had more success from the local leagues and Willis (from Shankhouse) and Lowery (Blyth) established themselves in the side.
Some players could be quite difficult and the club faced problems retaining discipline. Left back Miller was a good/bad example as he didn't turn up for training because he didn't like it! He was dropped, suspended and eventually shipped out.
It wasn't easy for the players in those days - especially on away trips - as United could not afford overnight hotel stays so they had to travel down the night before or on the morning of the match. Hardly ideal preparation therefore United's relatively poor away form could be excused.
There were not many "extras" for the players although they did get a present after winning at Small Heath and on the eve of the FA Cup tie with Bolton they were taken to The Royal Theatre to see Dick Whittington; popular manager Mr J Shaw allowing them their own private box.
Some tradition footballing connections were already in existence as captain Graham became mine host at The Duke of Sutherland Hotel on Clayton Street.
The average League attendance during the season was about 3,000 which was rather disappointing considering that the team performed pretty well and had an excellent home record. The director's were so frustrated by the numbers turning up that they even suggested that the local populace didn't deserve a professional football club.
But there were signs of improvement. The cup games against First Division opposition did pull in good crowds and the match against Bolton witnessed the first five figure attendance at SJP.
With kick-off times varying continuously it was often difficult for the public to know when the match was kicking off and this goes some way to account for the fact that the crowd could almost double during the course of the game. the fact that most men worked on a Saturday morning was the key factor though.
It is clear that they liked to get involved in the games: goals were generally greeted by "loudly expressed enthusiasm" whereas blunders would result in "considerable laughter".
Admission was 6d (half a shilling) for adults with children allowed in half price. There was even a limited number of season tickets available at 10s 6d; but very few were sold.
Facilities were basic to say the least. There was a small wall around the ground and a rope fence separated the supporters from the pitch. There was a small earth bank at the Gallowgate end and wooden boards had been laid down so the supporters had something to protect their footwear.
Even at this early stage "entertainment" was laid on with The Gateshead Borough Band having an almost permanent residency.
Despite the club's financial difficulties they also displayed altruistic tendencies by allowing the workhouse boys in free.
Kit images copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission