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NUFC 1970/71 - Season Review

Division 112th
FA CupR3
League CupR2
Fairs CupR2
ChairmanLord Westwood
ManagerJ Harvey
CoachD Smith
CaptainB Moncur
Top ScorerP Robson (10)

A mundane and somewhat depressing season was enlivened by a series of unexpected events.

The League campaign never really got off the ground and many United supporters were once again tiring of United's direct and functional football. Slow hand claps began to reverberate around St James' and the levels of abuse started to rise.

Top scorer Pop Robson was also an unhappy man and startled everyone by branding the club "unprofessional" in a personally arranged press conference.

The Fairs Cup campaign started with a fantastic victory over Inter Milan during which the Italians reacted by physically attacking a number of players and even the referee. But then United were embarassingly beaten by Hungarian "unknowns" Pesci Dozsa after missing their first three spot-kicks in the penalty shoot-out.

Harvey had also spent a frustrating season looking for new recruits who would take the team forward. Finally, once the season was over, he got one when Malcolm Macdonald arrived in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce.

There was no joy in the domestic Cups with United falling at the first hurdle in both. Ipswich were their vanquishers in the FA Cup and Third Division Bristol Rovers saw off United in the League Cup.

Kit images copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission


League Division 1

Embed from Getty Images

Although United's points total was not significantly different to the last three seasons it was their lowest finish since 1966/67.

United struggled to score at home and too many games were drawn rather than won. Away from home they won more games but were defeated more often too.

They never really got going during the campaign and failed to win more than two games in a row. Similarly, they only once lost more than two games in a row.

A bad start saw United plummet to 19th by the end of August but they recovered during the next few weeks and spent the rest of the season hovering between 14th and 8th.

A run of three wins and a draw up to Easter took them into 9th place and there was an outside chance of making Europe again but a poor finish meant they finished in a disappointing 12th position.

15/8 H Wolves W 3 - 2 6
19/8 A Stoke L 0 - 3 14
22/8 A C Palace L 0 - 1 18
26/8 H Nottm F D 1 - 1 18
29/8 H Blackpool L 1 - 2 19
02/9 A WBA W 2 - 1 19
05/9 A Derby W 2 - 1 11
12/9 H Liverpool D 0 - 0 12
19/9 A WHU W 2 - 0 8
26/9 H Coventry D 0 - 0 10
03/10 A Man City D 1 - 1 8
10/10 H Arsenal D 1 - 1 10
17/10 A Wolves L 2 - 3 11
24/10 A Everton L 1 - 3 13
31/10 H Man Utd W 1 - 0 11 H
07/11 A Southampton L 0 - 2 13
14/11 H Ipswich D 0 - 0 13
21/11 A Tottenham W 2 - 1 11
28/11 H Burnley W 3 - 1 11
05/12 A Chelsea L 0 - 1 11 H
12/12 H Huddersfield W 2 - 0 10
19/12 H C Palace W 2 - 0 10
26/12 A Leeds L 0 - 3 10 H
09/1 H Stoke L 0 - 2 12
16/1 A Nottm F L 1 - 2 13 H
30/1 A Burnley D 1 - 1 12
06/2 H Chelsea L 0 - 1 14
13/2 A Huddersfield D 1 - 1 13
20/2 H Tottenham W 1 - 0 12
27/2 A Man Utd L 0 - 1 14
13/3 A Ipswich L 0 - 1 13
18/3 H Everton W 2 - 1 13
20/3 H Southampton D 2 - 2 14
27/3 H Derby W 3 - 1 13
03/4 A Blackpool W 1 - 0 9
06/4 A Liverpool D 1 - 1 9
10/4 H Leeds D 1 - 1 9
12/4 H Man City D 0 - 0 9
17/4 A Arsenal L 0 - 1 11
24/4 H WHU D 1 - 1 12 H
28/4 H WBA W 3 - 0 11
01/5 A Coventry L 0 - 2 12

Arsenal 1-1 0-1
Leeds 1-1 0-3
Tottenham 1-0 2-1
Wolves 3-2 2-3
Liverpool 0-0 1-1
Chelsea 0-1 0-1
Southampton 2-2 0-2
Man. Utr 1-0 0-1
Derby 3-1 2-1
Coventry 1-1 0-2
Man. City 0-0 1-1
Stoke 0-2 0-3
Everton 2-1 1-3
Huddersfield 2-0 1-1
Nottm. F 1-1 1-2
West Brom. 3-0 2-1
C Palace 2-0 0-1
Ipswich 0-0 0-1
West Ham 1-1 2-0
Burnley 3-1 1-1
Blackpool 1-2 1-0
W D L F A Pts
01 Arsenal 29 7 6 71 29 65
02 Leeds 27 10 5 72 30 64
03 Tottenham 19 14 9 54 33 52
04 Wolves 22 8 12 64 54 52
05 Liverpool 17 17 8 42 24 51
06 Chelsea 18 15 9 52 42 51
07 Southampton 17 12 13 56 44 46
08 Man Utd 16 11 15 65 66 43
09 Derby 16 10 16 56 54 42
10 Coventry 16 10 16 37 38 42
11 Man City 12 17 13 47 42 41
12 Newcastle 14 13 15 44 46 41
13 Stoke 12 13 17 44 48 37
14 Everton 12 13 17 54 60 37
15 Huddersfield 11 14 17 40 49 36
16 Nottm F 14 8 20 42 61 36
17 West Brom 10 15 17 58 75 35
18 C Palace 12 11 19 39 57 35
19 Ipswich 12 10 20 42 48 34
20 West Ham 10 14 18 47 60 34
21 Burnley 7 13 22 29 63 27
22 Blackpool 4 15 23 34 66 23

Fairs Cup

R1 23/9 A Inter Milano D 1 - 1
R2 30/9 H Inter Milano W 2 - 0
R3 21/10 H Pecsi Dozsa W 2 - 0
R4 04/11 A Pecsi Dozsa L 0 - 2

© Tommy Canning

R1 L1: United returned from the San Siro with a highly creditable draw against an Inter Milan side which included four players who played for Italy in the World Cup Finals.

R1 L2: Back on Tyneside they could not cope with United's physical approach. Keeper Vieri was sent-off after punching the referee as the Italians completely lost their cool.

R2 L1: United's aerial bombardment caused Hungarian unknowns Pesci Dozsa all sorts of trouble in the home leg and United should have scored far more than the two they got.

R2 L2: In Hungary an awful pitch and intimidating conditions were no excuse for a terrible performance in which Pesci drew level on aggregate just before the end. United took part in their first penalty shoot-out and failed with their first three to go out of the tournament.

FA Cup

R3 11/1 H Ipswich D 1 - 1
R3r 13/1 A Ipswich L 1 - 2

R3: United dominated the first tie and led until fifteen minutes from time when Willie McFaul inexplicably let in a longe-range effort.

R3r: Two more defensive howlers allowed Ipswich to come from behind to win the tie.

League Cup

R2 08/9 A Bristol L 1 - 2

R2: United once again fell at the first hurdle to lower-league opposition. Third Division Bristol Rovers won easily at Eastville with Dyson's consolation coming in the last seconds.

Squad and Team

Arentoft B 18
Barrowclough S 2 1 1
Burleigh M 1
Burton O 17 1
Cassidy T 3 1
Clark F 37
Craggs J 11
Craig D 38 1
Davies W 41 6
Dyson K 39 1 7
Elliott D 1
Foggon A 14 2 4
Ford D 15 2 2
Gibb T 49 2
Guthrie R 13 1
Hindson G 2 1 1
McFaul I 48
McNamee J 30 1
Mitchell I 3 2 1
Moncur B 48 3
Nattrass I 1 3
Robson B 36 10
Smith J 28 3
Tudor J 16 5
Young D 28 1 2
og 3

Total number of games: 49

Total number of players used: 25

Embed from Getty Images

Figure in brackets relates to the number of players used in that position

01: (2) McFaul

02: (3) Craig (Craggs)

03: (2) Clark (Guthrie)

04: (2) Gibb

05; (3) McNamee or Burton

06: (2) Moncur

07: (6) Robson > Foggon

08: (6) Dyson > Tudor

09: (3) Davies > Dyson

10: (5) Smith > Arentoft > Smith

11: (6) Young > Ford > Young

Total number of players used: 25

Player Moves

Toon In

Name Date From Fee
Kenneddy Keith 07/70 Professional
Mitchell Ian 07/70 Dundee Utd £50,000
Nattrass Irving 07/70 Professional
Barrowclough Stewart 08/70 Barnsley £33,000
Cassidy Tommy 10/70 Glentoran £25,000
Guthrie Chris 01/71 Professional
Tudor John 01/71 Sheff Utd Exchange
Macdonald Malcolm 05/71 Luton £185,000
Robson Keith 05/71 Professional

M Macdonald

The arrival at Newcastle of a certain Malcolm Macdonald for his medical in May 1971 has passed into folklore. He arrived two hours late in a chauffeur driven Rolls Royce.

Macdonald's free scoring form for Luton in Division 1 (he finished the season as top scorer with 30 goals) had alerted a number of top clubs. As well as Newcastle, Manchester United (who had first option), Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal had also been keeping tabs on him.

Harvey had certainly splashed out a lot of money on a player who had only been converted from a full-back a couple of years ago and had never played in the top division. Some people in the game thought he would struggle but others were convinced he would be a star. Journalist and former United player Ivor Broadis said he was "the most exciting player I've seen in years". Harvey had no doubts: "He is undoubtedly a future international, the sort of player who will set St. James' alight".

Harvey was not sure whether he will use Macdonald as a centre-forward or an attacker from the flanks. From his perspective Macdonald did not care what shirt he wore as "they don't mean much these days".

Toon Out

Name Date To Fee
Elliot Dave 01/71 Southend
Ford David 01/71 Sheff Utd Exchange
Hope John 01/71 Sheff Utd Exchange
Robson Bryan 02/71 West Ham £120,000

B Robson

Three players were dispensed with in January with Ford and Hope being exchanged for John Tudor and Dave Elliot also moving on.

But the major story of the season was the highly controversial departure of Bryan Robson - top scorer in four of the last five seasons - for a record fee; See Player Picks below.


Joe Harvey

lt was a tough old season for Joe Harvey. It was thought that the Fairs Cup campaign had given him almost £100,000 to spend but the right players were just not available at the right price.

The players he bought during the summer and early in the season either failed to impress (Ian Mitchell) or were youngsters not ready for regular first team action (Stewart Barrowclough and Tommy Cassidy).

Mid-table mediocrity, a lack of goals and the shock Fairs Cup exit all piled pressure on the manager. Pop Robson's "unprofessional" accusation and criticism of the team's style of play also undermined Harvey's authority. He might have led them to European glory in 1968/69 but there were already calls for Joe to be moved upstairs.

Joe Harvey had been struggling all season to land a player who would appease the disgruntled fans; he finally landed his man at the campaign's end.

Entertain? We prefer to win

Harvey was a motivator not a tactician and the way the team played during his thirteen-year tenure was influenced by the coaches he employed.

Dave Smith had become chief coach in the summer of 1968 and was well respected within the game. He had clear views about how football should be played and was not prepared to bow to populist pressure.

"Success must be your priority, the overriding ambition, we don't want to entertain people and become failures. What is essential is a foundation of confidence and then we can start to elaborate".

Just in case you were in any doubt about his attitude he also described Pele - whilst accepting he was a marvellous player - as "lazy".

Player Shorts

Sick and Tired

Days after United were dumped out of the Fairs Cup by the humble Hungarians, Bryan Robson called a press conference at the Swallow Hotel in Newcastle.

He read out a prepared statement in which he stated that he was fed up of being singled out for criticism and sick of Newcastle's long-ball tactics. He also claimed that the club was unprofessional and that he wanted a transfer.

The directors summoned him to a meeting and asked him if he wanted to retract his statement; he replied in the negative and was handed a £100 fine for a breach of club discipline. He was also asked to submit a written transfer request if he wanted to leave.

When asked why he had made his grievances public he stated that he had raised his concerns in private but that nothing had done about them. He also suggested that there were other players who felt the same as he did.

Although Robson's comments were interpreted in many different ways it was believed that one of the main issues was that he was looking for a loyalty bonus as was in operation at other clubs, United didn't have such a system and therefore it encouraged players to move on and get their cut of the transfer fee. But the 5% cut was only paid if the player did not request a move. He was eventually sold to West Ham in February 1971.

He would later state "I did what I thought was right for my football career no matter what the consequences, we all have a right to our opinion and I was merely stating mine just as the club had stated theirs many times".

Tommy Gibb

Sections of the crowd became more and more abusive towards the players and Tommy Gibb was singled out for particular criticism.

The abuse was at it's zenith in the home match against Ipswich; which followed the defeat in Hungary.

After the game Frank Clark rapped the fans in the press. "It's disgraceful that they should pick out one player like's completely unwarranted".

Tommy Cassidy made his home debut in the match and expressed his astonishment at the crowd's reaction and suggested that the team's form was being affected because players were frightened to make mistakes. He was subbed during the game and said "in some ways I was glad to get off, it was getting so bad".

Geoff Allen Testimonial

Geoff Allen, whose career had been ended by injury in March 1970 at the age of only 23 was awarded a well-deserved testimonial. United beat an All Stars X1 6-5 on the 5th May. A crowd of 10,000 turned up for the Walker lad who was helping with the Juniors.



Over 1,500,000 less people attended matches than during the last season of the sixties and the Division 1 average fell from 32,074 to 30,205. Trouble, lack of entertainment and too much televised football were seen as the main culprits.

United's average crowd for the League season was 29,672 (32,397 when Cup games included) which was the lowest since United had returned to the top flight and represented a 20% drop on 1969.

The crowd had become disillusioned as the Magpies struggled to win or even score goals. The loss of Pop Robson and the failure of replacement Tudor to make an instant impact simply added to their frustration.

The last game of the season was watched by a crowd of only 18,444. The best League crowd of the season was recorded only 18 days before when Leeds (who were regularly the biggest draw at SJP at this time) attracted almost 50,000.

The best turn-outs were for the Fairs Cup games, the Inter Milan match being watched by 56,495.

St. James'

Despite the fact that a small minority of clubs were beginning to improve their facilities most grounds were in a state of disrepair as was horrifyingly demonstrated in the disaster at Ibrox Stadium where sixty six people lost their life and over 100 were injured when crash barriers collapsed during the Glasgow derby.

On Tyneside ground improvements remained in limbo with the club still at loggerheads with the council over a long-term lease and the development of St James' Park.

The club had rejected the multi-sports stadium proposals drawn up by the Council's architects claiming that it was unaffordable. United asked architects Faulkner Brown to produce a "feasibility report" for improving St. James' and also considered the possibility of moving to Sandy Lane in Gosforth.

There were even "preliminary discussions" about a potential ground-share with Sunderland. Roker Park Estates Limited was a company set up to create a new image for Sunderland and they were considering the construction of a new £2.5 million super stadium on Wearside. They approached United about a possible ground-share (at the new stadium) and had an informal meeting in August, but that was as far as it went.

The Supporters Club were adamant that a compromise had to be reached which did not involve a move. Secretary Alan Robinson stated: "United belong at St James' and that's where we want them to stay". This view was reflected in a deluge of letters into the local media.

After Ibrox Westwood admitted that "the disaster has changed our proposals. We have to be satisfied that the crowd safety factor is absolutely right. Things are going very smoothly but we can make no further plans until we have permission to go ahead". To that end club officials watched the Chelsea home match from the top of a nearby block of flats so they could get a good view of crowd movements before and after the game in particular.

Crowd Abuse

The fans who did keep turning up were not impressed with what was on offer and they let the players know about it. The home defeat to Blackpool was not the only one where a chorus of "we want our money back" was heard.

The disastrous exit to Hungarian minnows Pesci Dozsa in the Fairs Cup particularly enraged the supporters and in the following match (a goalless draw at home to Ipswich) the fans' spleen was vented at many players.

The letters pages of the newspapers were full of fans bemoaning the lack of entertainment, goals and quality signings and many supported Pop Robson's "unprofessional" attack on the club whilst others suggested a change of management was required.

Away days

Members of the Newcastle United Supporters Club could travel in a "special railway coach", judiciously positioned at the rear of the train.

There was a simple code of conduct for the official Supporters Club: "Don't wear boots and do not bring intoxicating liquor onto the coaches". But hundreds more made their own arrangements.


Right from the start of the season there was trouble. United kicked-off against Wolves and immediately after the match hordes of United supporters hurled stones, bottles and bricks at the Midlanders supporters' coaches. The attacks caused £1200 worth of damage and left one supporter hospitalised.

The away supporters got their revenge as they travelled along Bank Street and Redheugh Road in Gateshead as they returned the missiles through the holes where the windows used to be. Pedestrians had to run for cover and the Searle family's tea nearly ended in tragedy as a rock smashed through their window.

The whole episode was splashed across the front page of the Sunday Sun under the sensationalist headline "TERROR KICK-OFF BY SKINHEADS" whilst the punishment handed out to the youngsters involved was community service.

After the League Cup match against Blackpool a group of skinheads were at the Sunday Sun offices claiming that they were being victimised because of their appearance. They were not allowed entry because they were wearing "bovver boots" and refused to remove them.

The worst trouble of the campaign occurred when United and Sunderland met in a friendly on Tyneside. Shockingly this game took place only three weeks after the horrific events at Ibrox. There were fights before, during and after the match and 26 people (including three girls!) were arrested. The police confiscated a number of weapons including a hatchet and a lead-weighted chain. The boys in blue had anticipated trouble and policeman with dogs and horses policed the city centre breaking up fights between rival gangs of hooligans.

The supporters who travelled did not always get to see the match, when United travelled to Blackpool at Easter 20 fans were ejected before the start and 12 of them arrested for a variety of offences. Most were punished for carrying offensive weapons mainly in the form of studded belts.

But there was still major trouble at the seaside and Joe Harvey chose his programme notes to lambast the trouble makers, "it really sickened me to read of the louts who pretend to be Newcastle United supporters leaving a trail of havoc. Let me say here and now these people are not real supporters of Newcastle United or football".

There was more trouble when several fans were ejected from the midnight train from Kings Cross after the Arsenal game. As this was the train used by the Supporters Club they found it necessary to distance their members from the trouble.

Strange but Toon

Penalty Palaver

It was the first season that European games were settled by penalties when the scores were level and United took part in their first ever contest when the aggregate score was 2-2 against Pesci. The Magpies failed with their first three and as the Hungarians scored all theirs Newcastle were out. The crowd surged onto the field and the players departed. But the rules stipulated that both sides had to take all five so both sets of players had to return to finish the contest.

Snap, Crackle Pop

When Pop Robson called a personal press conference people were surprised. When be branded the club as "unprofessional" they were amazed. But what they really could not get their head around is why he was accompanied by his mother-in-law.

Thatch of the Day

A strong and gusty wind made play difficult for both Newcastle and West Ham in the last home game of the season, but it would cause referee Ricky Nicholson even more issues. He was a couple of follicles short of a barnet and on a couple of occasions sudden gusts had almost separated him from his crowning glory. When it happened a third time He took matters into his own hands - literally - by removing the aforesaid item and secreting it into his pocket. Not surprisingly the crowd had a field day.

1970s Seasons