|Top Scorer||I Varadi (20)|
1981/82 saw occasional flickers of life but the club was taking some reviving and by the end of the season United were still in need of resuscitation.
There were more goals (only 5 goalless draws and 14 blanks in all) and United were even in with a shout of promotion at Easter. But a disastrous end of season saw them tumbling back into mid-table obscurity.
Hope came in the form of the emergence of Chris Waddle and the arrival of Imre Varadi. With Rafferty and Harford gone the speedy Londoner moved in at Number 9. A slow start (no goals in seven) brought fears of another dud, but a hat-trick at Ninian Park proved a turning point
Alan Brown arrived on loan from Sunderland and 3 goals in his first 2 home matches made him an instant hero. But money was tight and he couldn't be signed permanently so Cox took David Mills on loan until the end of the season.
With things gradually looking up a crowd of 26,994 turned up to see United beat Chelsea 1-0 at the end of March. A week later another one goal victory at Charlton saw The Magpies reach fourth. But just as it looked as if the corner had been turned, United lost six of the next seven games and plummeted down the table.
Grimsby and Fulham provided the usual early cup exits.
The supporters were clearly yet to be convinced. The average League attendance crept up to 17,276 and whenever there was a glimmer of hope four or five thousand disaffected fans would return, but the end of season collapse saw the attendance for the Wrexham home match dip below 10,000
Kit images copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission
In the first season in which three points were awarded for a win the entertainment level increased and there were definite signs of improvement in United's League form from the previous campaign. Almost twice as many goals were scored, but in terms of results the difference was less striking: 4 more wins but 2 more defeats. And although the Magpies more than trebled their away goals tally they lost 2 more games. It was at home where the performances showed more improvement and - after losing their first game - they were unbeaten at St. James' until the end of April.
United recovered from losing 3 of the first 4 games to climb up to 10th by the turn of the year. They were being held back by terrible away form which brought 1 win and 7 defeats from 9 games.
Seven home wins on the trot propelled United up the table and after they won at Charlton on April 3rd (their 3rd win away from Tyneside) United had moved into 4th spot. They were 1 point behind Sheffield Wednesday, who held the third promotion spot, with a game in hand.
With United on an upward trajectory, a return to the First Division was very much a possibility. However, a disastrous collapse which brought only 1 point from the next 7 games followed.
Total number of games: 47
Total number of players used: 23
03: Davies > Saunders
05: Barton > Carney
06: Halliday > Haddock
07: Shinton > Mills
10: Wharton > Cartwright
Top scorers: Varadi (20), Waddle (8) and Trewick (6).
|Harford Michael||03/82||Bristol City||Free|
|Kelly Peter||06/81||Retired (inj.)|
|Hibbitt Terry||06/81||Retired (inj.)|
|Koenen Frank||06/81||De Treffers|
|Clarke Ray||08/81||Retired (inj.)|
|Harford Michael||08/81||Bristol City||£160,000|
|Walker Nigel||05/82||San Diego||Free|
|Mills David||01/82||05/82||Sheff Wed|