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NUFC 1928/29 - Season Review

Div 110th
FA CupR3
ChairmanJP Oliver
SecretaryF Watt
TrainerA McCombie
CaptainJ Harris, J Hill
Top ScorerH Gallacher (24)

United recovered from a disastrous start to the season to finish 10th; but this (as with the previous campaign) represented a major disappointment for the Champions of 1926/27.

A terrible performance saw an immediate exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Third Division Swindon Town.

United were criticised for their lack of signings during the summer but made two sensational purchases during the campaign with the arrival of Jack Hill from Burnley and Andy Cunningham from Rangers.

United went on a disastrous and controversial continental tour at the end of the season.

Kit images copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission


League Division 1

Newcastle v Blackburn
Newcastle v Sheffield United

United made a terrible start to the season and at the end of October a 5-2 defeat at Sunderland saw them languishing in 21st place having won 3 out of 13 and conceded 36 goals in the process.

The half-back line in particular was struggling and United splashed out on England international centre-half Jack Hill. His arrival helped spark a five game winning run which pulled United back into mid-table.

But poor away form continued to hamper progress with United's forward line being considered too small and lightweight. By the end of January The Magpies were still down in 14th and the directors decided to make another major signing when they brought in the massively experienced inside-forward Andy Cunningham from Rangers.

Despite both Cunningham and Gallacher missing games through injury, United won 8 and lost only 3 of the remaining 14 games and climbed back up to 10th.

H Cardiff D 1-1
H Burnley L 2-7
A Sheff Utd L 1-3
H Bury W 2-1
A Burnley L 3-4
A Aston Villa D 1-1
H Leicester W 1-0
A Blackburn L 0-2
A Man Utd L 0-5
H Leeds Utd W 3-2
A Liverpool L 1-2
H Arsenal L 0-3
A Sunderland L 2-5
H Huddersfield W 4-1
A Man City W 4-2
H Birmingham W 1-0
A Portsmouth W 1-0
H Bolton W 4-1
A Wednesday L 1-3
H Derby W 4-1
A Everton L 2-5
A WHU L 0-1
H WHU W 1-0
A Cardiff L 0-2
H Blackburn L 0-2
H Sheff Utd W 4-2
A Bury L 0-2
A Leicester D 1-1
H Man Utd W 5-0
A Leeds Utd D 0-0
H Liverpool D 2-2
H Sunderland W 4-3
H Aston Villa W 2-1
A Huddersfield L 1-2
H Man City W 4-0
A Birmingham D 0-0
A Arsenal W 2-1
H Portsmouth L 0-1
A Bolton L 0-1
H Wednesday W 2-1
A Derby W 2-1
H Everton W 2-0

Wednesday 2-1 1-3
Leicester 1-0 1-1
Aston Villa 2-1 1-1
Sunderland 4-3 2-5
Liverpool 2-2 1-2
Derby 4-1 2-1
Blackburn 0-2 0-2
Man. City 4-0 4-2
Arsenal 0-3 2-1
Sheff. Utd 4-2 1-3
Man. Utd 5-0 0-5
Leeds 3-2 0-0
Bolton 4-1 0-1
Birmingham 1-0 0-0
Huddersfield 4-1 1-2
West Ham 1-0 0-1
Everton 2-0 2-5
Burnley 2-7 3-4
Portsmouth 0-1 1-0
Bury 2-1 0-2
Cardiff 1-1 0-2
W D L F A Pts
01 Wednesday 21 10 11 86 62 52
02 Leicester 21 9 12 96 67 51
03 Aston Villa 23 4 15 98 81 50
04 Sunderland 20 7 15 93 75 47
05 Liverpool 17 12 13 90 64 46
06 Derby 18 10 14 86 71 46
07 Blackburn 17 11 14 72 63 45
08 Man City 18 9 15 95 86 45
09 Arsenal 16 13 13 77 72 45
10 Newcastle 19 6 17 70 72 44
11 Sheff Utd 15 11 16 86 85 41
12 Man Utd 14 13 15 66 76 41
13 Leeds 16 9 17 71 84 41
14 Bolton 14 12 16 73 80 40
15 Birmingham 15 10 17 68 77 40
16 Huddersfield 14 11 17 70 61 39
17 West Ham 15 9 18 86 96 39
18 Everton 17 4 21 63 75 38
19 Burnley 15 8 19 81 103 38
20 Portsmouth 15 6 21 56 80 36
21 Bury 12 7 23 62 99 31
22 Cardiff 8 13 21 43 59 29

Sunderland v Newcastle

FA Cup

A Swindon H L 0 - 2

R2: A really poor performance saw Newcastle deservedly beaten by Division 3 side Swindon with United failing to adapt their style to play on the hard ground.

Squad and Team

Boyd J 28 7
Burns M 30
Carlton W 3 1
Chalmers W 19 8
Cunningham A 10 2
Curry T 1
Evans T 1
Fairhurst D 1
Flannigan D 3
Gallacher H 34 24
Gibson W 6
Gillespie W 2
Harris J 40 1
Hill J 26
Hudspeth F 6 3
Lang T 39 10
MacKenzie R 24 2
Maitland A 41
Mathison G 1
McCurley J 26 4
McDonald T 30 1
McKay B 5
Park O 12
Seymour S 3
Thomson B 30
Urwin T 23 3
Wilkinson J 11 2
Wilson W 13
Wood E 5
own goals 2

Appearances by Birth County


Wilson [13] started the season as first choice but lost his place to Burns [30].


Maitland [41] retained the right-back slot with new signing Thomson [30] taking over as his regular partner.


MacKenzie[24]. Park [12] retained his position at the start but was replaced by new signing Jack Hill [26]. Harris [40] also appeared on the opposite flank but spent most of the time on the left.


Boyd [28] was outside-right for the first-half of the season and Urwin [23] for the second. Chalmers [19] and Wilkinson [13] played on the inside before Cunningham [10] arrived from Rangers.

Gallacher [34] led the line in most games. McDonald [30] and McCurley [26] shared inside-left duties and Lang [39] replaced Seymour as the regular on the outside.

Player Moves

Toon In

Name Date From Fee
E Wood 05/28 Rhyl£950
LT Owen 06/28 Welshpool
D Flannigan06/28Third Lanark£2,500
R Thomson10/28 SunderlandExchange
J Hill 10/28 Burnley£8,100
T Wilkinson11/28 White-le-head Rangers
A Cunningham01/29 G. Rangers£2,300
G Scott04/29 South Shields£1,250
J Greenwell04/29 Dipton United
R Dennison05/29 Radcliffe Welfare£10
J Richardson05/29 Blyth Spartans£250

J Hill

The club were criticised for not making any significant signings during the summer and the poor start to the season seemed to justify this.

The cheque book came out with - Gallacher's main foe - Jack Hill signed from Burnley for a record fee of £8,100; a huge fee for a 29-year-old.

There were many rumours linking United with a move for Preston's Alec Jackson but nothing materialised.

There was to be another transfer sensation later in the season when 39-year-old Scottish international Andy Cunningham was signed from Glasgow Rangers.

Toon Out

Name Date To Fee
J Little05/28 SouthportFree
W Halliday06/28Third LanarkFree
S Barber06/28 Bristol City£8,100
J Lees 07/28 ChesterfieldFree
R McKay10/28 SunderlandExchange
F Hudspeth01/29 SouthportFree
T Curry01/29 SouthportFree
T Evans05/29 Retired (inj)

McKay was allowed to leave for Sunderland in exchange for Thomson with United looking to strengthen their rearguard.

Veterans Hudspeth and Curry both joined Southport in January.


JP Oliver

Last season's failure prompted criticism at the AGM in June and Mr. Graham admitted it had been a disappointing season after such a good start and stated that they were fully aware that certain positions needed strengthening. But a failure to make any significant signings in the summer added to the feeling of trepidation about the new campaign.

Reports that Gallacher had asked to leave the club were dismissed and Chairman Oliver stated that they would not part with him "for a kingdom." But there were rumours that some of the United director's would be happy to sell him as they had become tired of his controversial dealings both on and off the pitch.

Chairman JP Oliver passed away. He had not had the best health since he had a seizure whilst attending a meeting of the League Management Committee in London in 1921. A member of the directorate since 1902, he was appointed chairman in 1918.

Player Shorts

Andy Cunningham

Despite not always being at his best, Gallagher topped the goal scoring chart again with 24 goals in 34 games. Lang, Chalmers and Boyd were also reasonably regular scorers.

However, after last season's misdemeanours, Gallacher was stripped of the captaincy. Harris reluctantly took over with Hill replacing him after his signing.

Andy Cunningham became (and still is) United's oldest debutant at 38-years-old.

In the home match against Leeds, United fielded ten Scots and a Welshman.


Gallacher portrait courtesy of Cartophillic Info Exchange Blog

The average attendance recovered from last season's drop; 33,014 making them the second best supported team behind Aston Villa.

The Tyne Wear derby attracted the biggest crowd of any League game that season, with 66,275 cramming into St James'.

Two spectators ran onto the pitch towards the end of the home game with Leeds; one of them tries to prove the referee wrong and the other appeared to have lost his head completely.

Beautifully coloured portraits of leading football stars given away free by Topical Times, the loading sporting weekly. Hugh Gallacher was one of the six players featured. Each picture was reproduced on art paper, and it was claimed that no finer football supplement had ever been offered.

Strange but Toon

Although Jimmy Boyd had retired from professional football and left the club he found himself serving a suspension because he had refused to play in the match.

When gale force winds hit Britain the roof was blown off the St. James’ pavillion.

In December Stan Seymour gave a talk - entitled "Taking your Chance" at a special service for sportsmen at Wesley Hall in Sheffield, during which he talked about barracking from supporters. He wished they would show "better spirit" but accepted they have paid their shilling and had a right to express their views. He went on to raise a laugh when he mused that "it is a pity that community singing died out, because it meant a lot of people were tired out before the game started".

Being Hughie

Tired of the rough treatment he was receiving during the home game with Burnley Gallacher started to walk off the pitch and had to be persuaded to return by trainer McPherson.

Upset the official in the match at Goodison Park by repeatedly refusing to kick the ball forward from the kick off.

Involved in a court battle with his wife over maintenance payments.

Received a reprimand for his conduct following his behaviour during the match at Leicester in February. He made a remark, rather strongly phrased, to an opposing player which was unfortunately overheard by the referee.

Police intervention required when he got involved in verbals with the home fans at Villa Park.

1920s Seasons