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NUFC 1948/49 - Season Review

All images are copyright Piotr Jozefowicz

R Batty: 31-0

F Brennan: 42-0

A Clark: 1-0

B Cowell: 39-0

B Craig: 10-0

N Dodgin: 42-0

A Donaldson: 13-5

J Fairbrother: 42-0

B Fraser: 3-0

E Garbutt: 1-0

C Gibson: 24-5

D Graham: 4-0

G Hair: 15-4

J Harvey: 39-2

F Houghton: 6-1

G Lowrie: 4-3

W McCall: 1-0

J Milburn: 35-19

B Mitchell: 13-3

G Robledo: 15-6

A Sibley: 8-2

G Stobbart: 24-5

E Taylor: 29-3

T Thompson: 10-1

T Walker: 22-5

KEY: [Appearances-Goals] [Age at 31/12/98] [Positions Played]


Jack Fairbrother [42-0] [31] [1]

United were prepared to swop him for Tommy Langton at the start of the season but the deal fell through and Jack was glad to stay. He only missed one game all season and was in superb form during the campaign, particularly in an exceptional performance in the away match with Manchester United.

Eric Garbutt [1-0] [28] [1]

Garbutt played in half the games last season but Fairbrother’s form meant he only played in the 3-2 home win over Sheffield United in December. Disappointed with his lack of action he requested a transfer in January.

Full Backs

Bobby Cowell [39-0] [26] [2]

Bobby established himself as the first choice right back last season and he maintained his position with some consistently impressive performances.

Ron Batty [31-0] [23] [3]

Replacing Craig he made his debut against Champions Portsmouth at the start of October and retained his place. He exuded confidence from the start and was one of United's best performers, particularly excelling himself in the two games against Blackpool when he was up against Stanley Matthews.

Benny Craig [10-0] [33] [3]

Veteran Craig played in the first 10 games before being replaced by Batty.

Bob Fraser [3-0] [31] [2,5]

Had the Number 2 shirt at the start of the season-playing in the first 3 games- but was replaced by Cowell (after the 5-2 home defeat by Preston). He was transfer listed in January but then removed from the list soon after.

Doug Graham [4-0] [27] [2,3]

Couldn’t get into the team and asked for a transfer in November, but his request was refused and attempts by Grimsby to sign him were rebuffed. Played in the last 4 games of the season (twice on either flank).

Half Backs

Joe Harvey [39-2] [30] [4]

Captain Harvey was in fine form and was proving to be an excellent leader; he only missed 4 games (as a result of injury and illness). Although he was not always on top of his game defensively he was very effective at prompting attacks with his great use of the ball. He was selected as a travelling reserve (but did not play) for the Football League for their game against the Scottish League.

Frank Brennan [42-0] [24] [5]

Arguably the player of the season, Frank was a colossus at the centre of the defence and only missed one game. Occasionally- when the team was struggling in a game-he was pushed up front.

Norman Dodgin [42-0] [27]

Martin enthused over his tactical nous and Norman had probably his best season at the club; missing only one game (through flu). He performed consistently, fought hard and carried the ball well. He requested a transfer in January but he was not one of the players listed.

Frank Houghton [6-1] [22] [6] [4,8,6]

With Dodgin playing so well Houghton rarely featured and even when he got in the team he was used at inside-forward.

Albert Clark [1-0] [4]

Deputised for Harvey and made his debut in the home victory over Sheffield United in December before returning to North Shields in March.


Jackie Milburn [35-19] [24] [9,10,11,7,8]

Struggled – particularly early on in the season – on the occasions when he was asked to play at inside forward which led to his form being patchy. Despite this he was chosen for the Football League to take on the Irish League and scored a hat-trick. Then he was awarded his first cap against Ireland in October and scored again in a 6-3 victory. The combination of stuttering form, his wife’s poor health and exposure to players from other clubs with their tales of extra riches led to Milburn slapping in a transfer request. However, when it was turned down, he said he was the "happiest man in the country".

Ernie Taylor [29-3] [23] [10,8]

Lost his place after the first couple of games and requested a transfer. The request was granted but put on hold due to injuries. He re-established himself, but although he was a sublime creative player with great passing ability he still seemed to tire in some games and his lack of height and weight was seen as an issue. When the 5’ 4” Taylor was asked to take over from Frank Brennan in the Bolton home game it caused great amusement in the crowd.

George Stobbart [24-5] [28] [7,8,9,10]

Was in and out of the side and as a result was transfer listed in October at his own request. Proposed moves to a number of clubs fell through for a variety of reasons.

Colin Gibson [24-5] [25] [7,8]

An expensive signing from Cardiff City in the summer. Although he worked hard the move never really worked out – not helped by the fact he was often asked to play at inside-right rather than in his favoured position on the outside. When Mitchell signed and Walker moved to the right he was frozen out and he moved to Aston Villa in February.

Tommy Walker [22 – 5] [25] [11, 7]

Had possession of the Number 11 shirt at the start of the season, but broke his arm in a training accident. Returned to the side in late December and switched to the right flank when Bobby Mitchell was signed.

George Robledo [15-6] [22] [8,9]

Signed from Barnsley he made an excellent if unspectacular start displaying strength, running, craft and accuracy of shooting.

George Hair [15-4] [23] [11]

Replaced Walker on the left-flank (when he broke his arm) and put in some very good performances whilst also notching some important goals. Surprisingly listed, he moved to Grimsby in February.

Andy Donaldson [13-5] [23] [9]

Battled well when he was brought into United's misfiring forward line and had a decent scoring ratio. Asked for a transfer when Milburn was restored to the Number 9 shirt and moved to Middlesbrough in January.

Bobby Mitchell [13-3] [24]

United trailed him all season and eventually Third Lanark relented in February. With some mesmerising performances the crowd soon warmed to him.

Tommy Thompson [10-1] [] [8,10,7]

Tommy deputised in a number of forward positions.

Albert Sibley [8-2] [29] [7]

With Stobbart and Walker ahead of him he rarely got a game. He asked for a transfer in December and was one of the players listed in January.

George Lowrie [4-3] [28] [10]

Lowrie made an excellent start with 3 goals in the first 2 games, but he picked up a cartilage injury in the second match at which required an operation. He made a return in February but he struggled to get to full fitness.

McCall (1-0) [28] [11]

Played in the 5-2 home defeat against Preston where he failed to produce anything like satisfactory form. He was dropped and asked for a transfer and was then sold to Motherwell in December.

1940s Squads