talks to NUFC.com....Part 1
Taking his cue from this week's "On this Day in History" anniversaries, Malcolm recalls a busy week of appearances for both club and country 27 years ago:
Sept 3rd 1975:
Came on as sub for England in Basle v. Switzerland. The next day there were horrendous delays inreturning; fog, missed flight connections, etc., which left me stranded at Heathrow but loneliness wasn't a problem.
Geoffrey Green, now the late, but then the top football writer of The Times, saw me and sat down with his wife and young toddler, born very late in his father's life. Geoffrey had the habit of travelling fairly light, inasmuch he would only carry his shorthand notebook, a couple of pens and toothbrush to accompany his bag full of duty-free scotch. He flowed, as did his duty-free throughout the day, with the most colourful reminiscences of Sir Alf, Walter Winterburn, Johnny Haynes and Bobby Charlton in their heydays. He showed also a fascinating but very unique and rare foresight as to the game he loved. I was embroiled in it all, loved every gushing memory.
This man of memory was the very football writer who, two years before, had sat outside the
hotel in Sofia, Bulgaria, in a most beautiful square, and declined our invitation to join us on the bus to go to the stadium for the
England v Bulgaria match, saying, whilst waving yet another glass in a manner to exhort the beauty of ones surroundings,
He wrote 1200 words of the finest footballing prose, of how the beautiful nimbuli rolling across the hillsides that were the backdrop to the mass of International flags flurrying in the garlic-scented breeze reminded him of those great men of yore, Len Shackleon high on his list. Those interweaving flags, he wrote, had more imaginative movement than any of the players on show could ever inspire.
It finished a boring 0-0 draw, and Geoffrey was still sat at his table in the square as we returned. "Didn't you go to the game?", we enquired.
"I've been over the hills and far away, Baby ! with players greater than you".
Not a bad judge.
Back to Heathrow,
finally a flight to Newcastle became available and I returned home in the
early hours of Friday, much the worse for wear.
Date: Wednesday 3rd September
The two points gained from this victory in front of over 35,000 at St.James'
saw Newcastle claim 8th position in what was then the First Division. Gordon
Lee was starting to mould the team according to his "no stars"
policy, and any dissenters were being shipped out - the latest being Terry
Hibbitt, sold to Birmingham days before the game.