|Top Scorer||B Robson (25)|
The Magpies made a valiant attempt to defend the Fairs Cup, but were knocked out at the Quarter-Final stage by Anderlecht on the away goals rule.
The League campaign followed a similar pattern to last season with United recovering from a slow start to qualify for Europe once again.
They only conceded 35 goals in a season in which they became a very hard side to break down; albeit by adopting blanket defence tactics.
There were immediate exits in both domestic Cups against Southampton (FA Cup) and Second Division Sheffield United (League Cup).
United had broken their record transfer fee to sign Jimmy Smith, but he struggled to make an impact.
Kit images copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission
United finished 7th; their best placing since 1950/51 with their success based on a rock-solid defence. They didn’t concede more than two goals in any match and only let in 35 goals overall. Champions Everton - who conceded 34 - were the only team to with a better record.
The Magpies won more home games than in 1968, but lost more too. Away from home they became harder to beat and were particularly strong when visiting the top sides; holding four of the top five to a draw.
As in the last campaign they got off to a disappointing start as the pressure of being Fairs Cup holders seemed to affect some of the players and by the end of October, they were 15th.
During November and December things improved markedly culminating in a tremendous Boxing Day victory over leaders Leeds on Tyneside. United moved up to 12th.
In the New Year they became very difficult to beat and they drew all their last nine away fixtures (four of them 0-0).
R1 L1 - Davies is in barnstorming form against struggling Dundee United, scoring with two trademark headers and hitting the bar with another couple. T he score in no way reflects The Magpies superiority.
R1 L2 - The Magpies are ragged and uninspired and the visitors play the more skilful and determined football. Newcastle only really come good in the last ten minutes and Dyson scores in the second minute of injury-time.
R2 L1 - Harvey is delighted with the "magnificent display of professional football" of his patched up team in securing a draw in Porto.
R2 L2 - Two inches of snow on the ground and a biting wind make for very difficult playing conditions. Plucky Porto play bravely but United command the game.
R3 L1 - Southampton are on the defensive for the vast majority of the match and it is the first time that United have failed to score in a home tie; Harvey admits that the pressure of needing to score had got to the players.
R3 L2 - The home side deservedly go ahead and United are very lucky that the officials referee fail to see Frank Clark fisting the ball off the line. Robson scores six minutes from time and Newcastle go through on the away goals rule.
QF L1 - With Craig and Clark both out and Moncur carrying a knee injury which restricts his movement Newcastle are lucky to escape with a two goal defeat in Brussels after what coach Smith describes as their worst performance for 18 months.
QF L2 - With a strong wind behind them United soon score twice. When Dyson taps home just before the end it looks as though The Magpies have pulled off a remarkable comeback. But with only two minutes left Nordahl cracks a left-foot shot past McFaul andbUnited are out on the away goals rule.
United met Southampton five times during the season and their worst performance was at The Dell in the Third Round where they meekly surrendered to a 3-0 defeat.
United faced a tough trip to play Sheffield United (who would be promoted at the end of the season).
The Fairs Cup had provided a financial windfall, but Newcastle made a net loss of almost £43,000 during the period from May 1968 - July 1969 when transfers were taken into account.
Expenditure included £116,657 on wages, £14,539 on architects fees (for the proposed new stadium in Gosforth), £21,745 on travel and accomodation and £46,022 on property maintenance.
Another decent run saw more money pouring into the United coffers and as the season came to a close it was reported that there was over £70,000 available to spend.
Harvey was more than happy with the defence but continually bemoaned the lack of goals. He spent all year looking for a new forward and also wanted a midfielder who could combine skill with industry. But his sights were set on quality and there was no-one suitable available at the right price.
The Development Association was becoming more and more prominent in raising funds for the club and their work was featured in the Football League Review magazine.
Ben Sullivan and former policeman Arthur Nouch were the major players and were assisted by (amongst others) Una Proctor, Joan Stone, Kathy Barber and Dawn Logal.
All are in the picture along with two of the three cars which travelled the area with a caravan drumming up support.
Finally the battle between club and council seemed to have come to an end. The council gave up on the idea of turning St James' into a £2.6 million general purpose sporting complex and agreed to United's proposed £1 million revamp which would be strictly football only.
Westwood proclaimed that he was looking forward to giving the supporters "the best kind of facilities" which would prove to be quite a challenge as the dilapidated Gallowgate ground was currently one of the poorest in the top flight.
Total number of games: 52
Total number of players used: 24
Figure in brackets relates to the number of players used in that position
Newcastle had developed into a highly effective defensive unit with Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby claiming they were "the hardest in Europe to score against". They were also regarded as a tough outfit and Man City's Mike Sumerbee talked of them as "second only to Leeds in terms of hardness, but they play it fair". Fairs Cup vanquishers Anderlecht were less enamoured and accused United of "brutality".
McFaul was vastly improved this season; becoming much more consistent particularly in his handling.
The back line of Craig, Moncur, McNamee/Burton and Clark was in excellent form throughout the season with Moncur in particular excelling in what was probably his best season at the club. Craggs and Guthrie fitted in seamlessly when required.
Gibb continued his run as midfield anchor man whilst Arentoft and Smith battled for the other central role.
With Geoff Allen out all season Harvey struggled to find an adequate replacement. Foggon was used there until Ford arrived from Hillsborough in December.
Robson was used mainly on the right flank and gradually found his form to finish top scorer again. Davies was hampered by a niggling injury all season but soldiered on bravely. Dyson was another player who made great strides and he earned a call up to the England U23 squad.
|Ford David||12/1969||Sheff Wed||Exchange|
United used their Fairs Cup money to pay out a record fee for Jimmy Smith. Harvey had called him a “genius" but his performances were inconsistent and he struggled to make an impact.
David Ford was the latest attempt at finding a winger who could provide a steady supply of crosses for Wyn Davies. Was excellent on his debut but couldn't perform at that level consistently.
|Sinclair John||12/1969||Sheff Wed||Exchange|
|Scott Jim||02/1970||C Palace|
Despite helping United win the Fairs Cup Jackie Sinclair never really hit it off on Tyneside and Harvey let him move to Sheffield Wednesday in December in the exchange deal which brought David Ford to Tyneside.
Jim Scott started the season as the first choice right flanker until he injured his ankle against Derby. He never really re-established himself and was sold to Crystal Palace.
The increasing media exposure of the game meant that for the top stars new money-making avenues were opening up. Despite winning the Fairs Cup United's players were not really that marketable outside the region and Wyn Davies was the only one of the team to have an agent.
A far better example of the majority of players' stature at the time was the request in the programme for landlords/ladies to take players in at full board.
United's success did enhance the reputation of the players and 6 of them (Moncur, Davies, Burton, Craig, McFaul and Cowan) represented their country whilst Dyson was called up for England U23s and Clark played for the Football League against the League of Ireland.
At the end of what was another tiring season the players could probably have done without the end of season tour to Canada and North America during which they played 7 games in 3 weeks. They also got their first experience of playing on astroturf when they took on Seattle.
The number of people attending League matches rose slightly and Newcastle were one of 12 First Division clubs whose gate increased. An average of 37,553 reflected an increase of roughly 8%.
The Magpies were the 5th best supported club in the country following Man. United, Everton, Liverpool and Chelsea. Including all Cup games the average was 38,718
European travel was on the agenda again with the Supporter's Club, Development Association and Hunting Lambert's travel agency pooling their resources to fly supporters to the away trips.
Something like 1,000 fans made the trip to Belgium for the Quarter Final match with Anderlecht.
Train travel on charter carriages continued to be offered for away fixtures in the capital at a cost of 50 shillings.
The Supporters Club had a new sales centre in the Working Men's Club on St James' Street.
During the season they organised a "football forum" at The Bridge Hotel where a couple of the players and the Fairs Cup made an appearance.
The Miss Magpie Finals were held at a Gala Ball at the Mayfair Ballroom on 25th July 1969.
At the Christmas dance Lynne Nicholson of Sunderland was crowned "Miss Newcastle Supporters Queen"
The Development Association organised a "With It" dance which included a "With It Girl 1970" competition.
Although a combination of extra policing, close circuit TV and body searches seemed to be helping control trouble inside the grounds the problem was simply being pushed out into the surrounding area.
An example of this was seen on Tyneside when United hooligans attacked coaches of Derby fans at Gallowgate Bus Station.
Despite the fact that there were a number of injuries and a significant amount of damage, no arrests were made with police allegedly struggling to separate the black and white hooligans.
However, geordie supporters were amongst the best behaved and they won two "John White" monthly awards and the seasonal Division 1 award.
One problem they were still struggling to contain was the encroachment of youngsters onto the pitch during and especially after the game. Joe Harvey used the programme to plead for them to keep off the pitch at the end of the match as it "breaks our hearts" to see the turf damaged.
ln a joint venture between the BBC and the Football League Review magazine a "Kop singing competition" was organised with a remit of finding the best "Kop choir".