|Top Scorer||K Keegan (28)|
After six-years in Division 2 the Magpies finally returned to the top tier after securing the third promotion place. But in typical United style there was a sting in the tale.
Following last season's near-miss Tyneside was relieved and delighted that Keegan decided to stay at the club and give it another go. Fans were less pleased when Imre Varadi (top scorer for the last 2 seasons) was sold to promotion rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
Kevin Keegan announced that he would retire in February and his Testimonial added a touch more theatre to what was a dramatic and emotional season as he was whisked off in a helicopter at the end of the match.
Within weeks of promotion being achieved manager Arthur Cox followed Keegan out the door. The club offered him a new two-year contract and £250,000 to spend on players. Cox wanted a four-year contract and a pledge that all the money raised from season ticket sales would be made available. Neither side budged leaving United looking for a new manager.
An FA Cup thrashing by the scousers and a Milk Cup humbling by Oxford could not sour the promotion party and the campaign ended in fireworks and choppers as King Kev flew the nest.
Kit images copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission
The playing style had been totally transformed in Cox's four years at the club and the 85 goals scored was almost treble the amount scored in 1980/81 as well as being United's best haul since 1960/61. And it was the more progressive football that turned draws into wins and garnered the additional points required.
After an indifferent start Newcastle were in 7th after the first 7 games. But as September came to a close Peter Beardsley (who almost joined United 3 years ago) was signed from Vancouver Whitecaps. His arrival sparked a run of six consecutive victories with the highlight being a 5-0 demolition of Manchester City in which United could have scored many more but for a superb performance by the City keeper Alex James.
United's attack of Beardsley, Waddle and Keegan backed up by the prompting of Mcdermott provided some sensational attacking play, but United still looked shaky at the back. And after the run of victories United lost 3 of the next 4 games at Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday and Derby conceding 11 goals in the process. Cox helped resolve the issue by signing Glenn Roederfrom QPR just before Christmas.
In the New Year United hovered between 3rd and 4th and a 4-0 home victory over Derby made promotion certain (bar some unrealistic score lines) with the final mathematical point gained at Leeds Road Huddersfield in an encounter marred by significant trouble.
Total number of games: 45
Total number of players used: 18
01: Thomas > Carr
03: Ryan > Wharton
05: Clarke or Saunders or Carney
06: Carney > Roeder
|Thomas Martin||07/83||Bristol R||£50,000|
|Mills David||08/83||Sheff Wed||Cash-Exchange|
|Beardsley Peter||09/83||Vancouver Whitecaps||£120,000|
Arthur Cox made two absolute masterstroke signings. Geordie Peter Beardsley was brought back from America and he combined brilliantly with Keegan and Waddle from the off.
Then central-defender Glenn Roeder was signed from QPR and his cool and classy play significantly improved the quality of the defence.
Less successful signings were a couple of full-backs. Malcolm Brown missed the whole season through injury and John Ryan was barracked after struggling for form.
|Withe Chris||06/83||Bradford City||Free|
|Varadi Imre||08/83||Sheff Wed||£150,000|
The Gallowgate faithful were very upset when Imre Varadi (top scorer for the last 2 seasons) was allowed to move to promotion rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
The biggest departure , of course, was the retirement of Kevin Keegan. He had succeeded in guiding United into the First Division but did not feel he had the legs to do himself justice at the top level anymore.