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NUFC 1987/88 - Season Review

Division 18th
FA CupR5
League CupR3
ChairmanS Seymour > G McKeag
ManagerW McFaul
CoachC Suggett > J Pickering
CaptainG Roeder
Top ScorerM O'Neill (13)

With Beardsley having followed Waddle and Gascoigne out the door, United were once more being tipped to struggle until The Boy from Brazil arrived and the Fog on the Tyne was replaced by Samba Soccer. That was the theory anyway with Mirandinha being talked up by McFaul as the "new Beardsley".

Indeed although the little Brazilian certainly added a little magic to the Tyneside scene his absence through injury during the last two months of the season led to a young Irish teenager dubbed by some as the "new George Best" getting his chance.

Eighteen year old Michael O'Neill had been signed from Coleraine for only £100,000, but his scoring exploits towards the end of the season meant he overtook Mira in the scoring charts.

The League Cup brought an early exit to Wimbledon. In the FA Cup the Magpies progressed to the 5th Round for the second season running only to go out at home to Wimbledon once more.

An 8th placed finish was more than acceptable and the antics of Mira and Gazza certainly brightened up the Gallowgate, but nobody could overshadow Kenny's brilliant posterial ball control.

The season ended on a sour note as Gascoigne confirmed that he wanted to leave [Newsclip: ].

Kit images copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission


League Division 1

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19/8 A Tottenham L 1-3
22/8 A Sheff Wed W 1-0 H
29/8 H Nottm Forest L 0-1
01/9 A Norwich D 1-1 H
05/9 H Wimbledon L 1-2 H
12/9 A Man United D 2-2 H
20/9 H Liverpool L 1-4 H
26/9 H Southampton W 2-1 H
03/10 A Chelsea D 2-2 H
17/10 H Everton D 1-1 H
24/10 A Coventry W 3-1 H
31/10 H Arsenal L 0-1 H
07/11 A Luton L 0-4
14/11 H Derby D 0-0 H
21/11 A QPR D 1-1 H
28/11 H Charlton W 2-1 H
05/12 A Oxford W 3-1 H
12/12 H Portsmouth D 1-1 H
19/12 A West Ham L 1-2
26/12 H Man United W 1-0
28/12 A Liverpool L 0-4
01/1 A Nottm Forest W 2-0
02/1 H Sheff Wed D 2-2 H
23/1 H Tottenham W 2-0 H
06/2 A Wimbledon D 0-0
13/2 H Norwich L 1-3 H
27/2 H Chelsea W 3-1
01/3 A Southampton D 1-1 H
05/3 A Everton L 0-1
19/3 A Arsenal D 1-1 H
26/3 H Coventry D 2-2
02/4 H Luton W 4-0 H H
04/4 A Derby L 1-2
09/4 H QPR D 1-1
12/4 H Watford W 3-0 H
19/4 A Watford D 1-1
23/4 A Charlton L 0-2
30/4 H Oxford W 3-1 H
02/5 A Portsmouth W 2-1 H
07/5 H West Ham W 2-1
W D L F A Pts
01 Liverpool 26 12 2 87 24 90
02 Man United 23 12 5 71 38 81
03 Nottm Forest 20 13 7 67 39 73
04 Everton 19 13 8 53 27 70
05 QPR 19 10 11 48 38 67
06 Arsenal 18 12 10 58 39 66
07 Wimbledon 14 15 11 58 47 57
08 Newcastle 14 14 12 55 53 56
09 Luton 14 11 15 57 58 53
10 Coventry 13 14 13 46 53 53
11 Sheff Wed 15 8 17 52 66 53
12 Southampton 12 14 14 49 53 50
13 Tottenham 12 11 17 38 48 47
14 Norwich 12 9 19 40 52 45
15 Derby 10 13 17 35 45 43
16 West Ham 9 15 16 40 52 42
17 Charlton 9 15 16 38 52 42
18 Chelsea 9 15 16 50 68 42
19 Portsmouth 7 14 19 36 66 35
20 Watford 7 11 22 27 51 32
21 Oxford 6 13 21 44 80 31

FA Cup

09/1 R3 H Crystal Palace W 1-0 H
30/1 R4 H Swindon Town W 5-0 H
20/2 R5 H Wimbledon L 1-3 H

League Cup

23/9 R2 L1 A Blackpool L 0-1
07/10 R2 L2 H Blackpool W 4-1 H
28/10 R3 A Wimbledon L 1-2 H

Squad and Team

Anderson, J 37 2 1
Bailey, J 3 1
Bogie, I 3 4
Cornwell, J 23 4 1
Craig, A 1 3
Gascoigne, P 40 1 11
Goddard, P 41 0 10
Hodges, G 7 0
Jackson, D 30 7 4
Jackson, P 34 0 2
Kelly, Gary 42 0
Lormor, A 3 2 2
McCreery, D 39 0 1
McDonald, N 46 0 5
Mirandinha 29 1 12
O'Neill, M 21 3 13
Roeder, G 43 0 1
Scott, K 4 0 1
Stephenson, P 6 3
Thomas, A 1 3
Thomas, M 4 0
Tinnion, B 18 1 1
Wharton, K 31 4 2

Total Games: 48

Total Number of Players Used: 23

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01: (2) Kelly

02: (3) McDonald Anderson > McDonald

03: (5) Wharton/Tinnion

04: (4) McCreery

05: (2) Jackson P

06: (2) Roeder

07: (5) Jackson D > McDonald > Stephenson/Cornwell

08: (5) Gascoigne

09: (5) Goddard

10: (6) Mirandinha

11: (7) Hodges > Cornwell > O'Neill


A poor start to the season put McFaul under tremendous pressure and rumours persisted that he was to be replaced; with Huddersfield manager Malcolm Macdonald's name often appearing in dispatches. The beleaguered Irishman was even convinced that someone in football was "undermining" and "sabotaging" him.

Willie McFaul

Off the pitch he had to deal with a whole set of seemingly disenchanted players who either couldn't get a game or didn't want to play and even on the pitch he had players who were having a go at each other. In the end he had to admit that he had had to warn his players to cut it out.

McFaul claimed that he didn't like to criticise his players in public, but there were a number of post-match dressing room inquests where he let them know how he felt. And occasionally he did use the papers or the programme to make the players aware of his dissatisfaction.

Gazza was a particular challenge for McFaul and there were some rumours of a bust-up behind the scenes. Willie alternated praise with criticism to try and get the best out of him and desperately tried to persuade him to stay, but it was an impossible task.

All the time though McFaul stuck to his guns of trying to play football, the performances improved and United gradually climbed the table.

A significant turning point in the season came when Colin Sugget stepped down as first team coach (after the League Cup defeat at Blackpool) and was replaced by reserve coach John Pickering. He was a man who worked the team hard and, had vast experience and commanded great respect. At the end of the season Pickering would be the first ever United coach to be offered more than a season-to-season contract.

Willie McFaul was awarded and signed a new three-year contract. It was just reward for guiding United to their best League position for over a decade under very difficult circumstances.

Stan Seymour

Most fans laid the blame for the club's predicament at the directors door as a result of Beardsley following Waddle in search of trophies.

Seymour stepped down as Chairman at the end of the season with Gordon McKeag replacing him. The Gosforth solicitor walking straight into the storm which was just starting to brew as Sir John Hall spearheaded a campaign to democratise the club.

Hall wanted a massive shake-up of the Board and a £5 miliion share issue which he claimed would allow fan's to have a stake in the club. The directors were having none of it claiming that Hall was an opportunist and citing the example of Robert Maxwell who was buying and selling clubs like a man who was spending other people's money (which of course he was).

By the end of May 1988 Hall had the necessary 10% shareholder support to force an EGM, but was a long way from the 51% required to overthrow the board and the 75% required to force a share issue. This story was set to continue.

Player Moves

Toon In

Name Date From Fee
Cornwell John 07/87 Orient £50,000
Hodges Glynn 07/87 Wimbledon £300,000
Mirandinha Francisco 09/87 Palmeiras £575,000
O'Neill Michael 10/87 Coleraine £100,000
Lormor Anthony 02/88 Professional
Gourlay Archie 03/88 Morton £50,000
Wright Tommy 03/88 Linfield
Robertson John 04/88 Hearts £750,000

G Hodges


M O'Neill

Toon Out

Name Date To Fee
Clarke Jeff cs/87 MKE Ankaragucu
Beardsley Peter 07/87 Liverpool £1.9m
Cunningham Tony 07/87 Blackpool £25,000
Davies Alan 07/87 Swansea Free
Stewart Ian 07/87 Portsmouth Free
Wrightson Jeff 07/87 Preston Free
Allon Joe 08/87 Swansea Free
Nesbit Tony 09/87 Released
Hodges Glynn 10/87 Watford £300,000

Drop Out

Name From To Club
Craig Albert Hamilton


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The regulations introduced under the Safety at Sports Ground Grounds Act had forced United to demolish the old West Stand during the summer. Work had started on a new stand which would house 6,300 spectators and include 39 executive boxes.The stand was partially opened in January, with work not fully completed until the during the summer of 1988.

In the meantime a temporary stand (borrowed from Brands Hatch) was precariously perched atop the Leazes End; not surprisingly the average attendance slumped by 3,000.

The fans were not in the best of dispositions as Beardsley followed Waddle out the exit door during the summer and an undercurrent of antagonism and aggression existed throughout the season despite United's relative success.

The arrival of Mirandinha provided a welcome distraction and an unexpected boom in the sale of sombreros, but the little Brazilian would drive them nuts as often as he enthralled them. As a result he wasn't immune from the crowd's barracking; neither was the prodigal son Gazza and it was suggested that the abuse he sometimes received from the crowd was one of the reasons he left.

One person who couldn't take the heat was Glyn Hodges who was sold a couple of months after a £300,000 move from Wimbledon and complained that "St James' Park was one big pressure dome...and it's hard to do yourself justice in that atmosphere".

The main wrath of the fans was reserved for the directors and chants of "sack the board" and "Seymour Out" where aired on a regular basis. and Chairman Seymour further incensed fans when he claimed that "no-one would expect Newcastle to beat Liverpool if they were honest" after United had been thrashed 4-1 at home by them.

Fans continued to cause trouble on their travels and when dozens of fans were prevented from attending Hillsbrough due to their rowdy behaviour a police spokesman said "the one trouble with Geordies is that they like their drink too much".

The worst trouble was when United played at Derby towards the end of the season when 33 United followers were arrested for various offences including a drunken rampage through a Nottingham suburb.

Missile throwing had become a bit of an epidemic with United yobs disgracing themselves on a number of occasions. The worst example was when Charlton's Colin Walsh was pelted as he lay injured with a broken leg.

After the final home game of the season (against West Ham) around 200 fans clambered over the fences. Most of them were youngsters who made do with running around a bit, but some swung on the crossbar and damaged it. There were also chants of "sack the board" and secretary Cushing blamed the Evening Chronicle (who were firmly backing the Hall campaign) for "incitement".

Strange but Toon

The Mars Bar Kid

As Gascoigne prepared to take a throw-in near The Corner a Mars Bar was thrown at him. Gazza, with his usual whimsical touch, tucked it into one of his socks before later taking a bite. The next home game saw a few more confectionary items arrive.

Kenny's Ball

When Luton beat Newcastle at 4-0 at Kenilworth Road some of their behaviour really riled the Newcastle players, so when the return match saw the scoreline reversed they decided to get their own back. Kenny Wharton started the fun by sitting on the ball and Gascoigne and others joined in. At the final whistle Luton captain tried to confront Kenny, but luckily Anderson intervened.

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In the league match at Wimbledon Vinnie Jones famously got a grip on Gazza so when the two teams were paired together in the FA Cup Third Round there was some talk of revenge.

After the Dons had won comfortably, Mirandinha refused to shake hands with Dons captain Andy Thorn and then attempted a flying kick on David Beasant. The little Brazilian must have been mortified when United signed both players a few months later.

1980s Seasons