Our final selection of recollections - thanks to all who contributed and
apologies if we didn't manage to cram your memory in.
September 20th 1958 Newcastle Reserves 4 Manchester United Reserves 2
I had hoped to attend the previous Saturday (Newcastle 1 Manchester
United 1) but as I had been a naughty lad ended up going to confession at my
local church, St Edwards in Whitley Bay.
Manchester United were staying at the Rex Hotel in the town and I did not expect
to bump into Matt Busby, as he was leaving the church having been to confession.
A lovely bloke with the scars of the Munich disaster (only seven months earlier)
I made my SJP debut at the reserve game the following week.
November 14th 1970 Newcastle United 0 Ipswich Town 0
I was 8 and my dad had been taking me quite
regularly to see the great Billy Wright’s Whitley Bay, but now for the big time.
We stand at the front of the Gallowgate, in front of one of those concrete crush
barriers at the bottom of the corner end, the pitch almost level with my eyes,
definitely not like being in the cowshed at Hillheads.
I’m wearing my blue nylon
parka with fake fur hood, National Health glasses. Dad has his flat cap on, old
army overcoat. Grey, chilly afternoon. A dull goalless draw, but that’s it – I’m
hooked. All being well, I’ll notch up half a century at St James later this
August 29th 1956 Newcastle 1 Cardiff City 0
We won. I felt that. What was the score?
Well - 1-0; but I only looked that up decades later, well after I’d forgotten.
For years I’d thought it was the late
summer 1955, the year I’d watched us at home down south win the cup on our
(new?) TV and remembering how I’d been jealous of my Dad going off to Wembley with Uncle
Alan (Richardson - farmer - Belsay), who had a spare ticket.
My only visual memory is concrete
in front of me (I must have been passed down to Popular pitch side), goal
slightly to the left and legs in the penalty area. That’s it. I mustn’t pretend
And Dad at Wembley! He was never that
interested in football. And he even confessed he missed our first goal!!! Yes -
that goal - probably the greatest header anyone ever scored for our
April 11th 1964 Newcastle 0 Bury 4
I was 7 and my dad took me and a little friend,
his name long since forgotten. We
stood on the Popular Side but I can't remember any details of the game.
My books tell me that we finished eighth in Division 2, the year before we were
promoted. The team doesn't look bad on paper:
Marshall, Craig, Clark, Anderson, McGrath, Iley, Hilley,
Cummings, Thomas, McGarry, Hockey.
I should have been put off but sadly I wasn't.
October 29th 1983 Newcastle 5 Manchester City 0
Being a Toon fan growing up
Southampton made it tricky getting to see United play, especially when they conspired to replace us in the top flight in 1978.
Years of ridicule followed, with the Saints riding high and attracting players of
the calibre of Kevin Keegan and Peter Shilton, while the Toon scuffed along with
the likes of Bobby Shinton.
Scroll forward to half term in autumn 1983 and I was staying with my Nan in
Whitley Bay coinciding with a home clash with Man City, a game that remarkably
was not all ticket.
Straight onto the Metro to Gallowgate I managed to squeeze
into the ground alongside 30,000+ others. Plenty more were locked outside.
Recently relegated City were among the promotion favourites but United put them
to the sword that afternoon, Keegan, Waddle and a Beardo hat-trick made for an
unforgettable experience. Was it like this every week?
I had to wait until the following season for my next visit and surely it
couldn’t be equally memorable? But it was: A 3-1 New Years Day win over the
Mackems, with Beardo netting another treble. Even my 80 year old godfather who
stood on the Gallowgate that afternoon got carried away, and he hadn’t been to a
match in 30 years.
I thought it would always be thus: goals galore, thrilling football and trophies
aplenty. How wrong can one be...?!
April 9th 1977 Newcastle 0 Leicester City 0
shouldn’t have been my first game, but being a Newcastle fan growing up in
Hertfordshire I only came up to see my North East family at Christmas, Easter &
We had tickets for the Manchester City home game the previous Christmas but it
was snowed off; a major disappointment which was only compounded when the
replacement trip to the cinema in Stanley was also snowed off!
So, I had to wait until the following April to see my first match. I didn’t
realise it at the time, but we were eight games unbeaten and fourth going in to
this game, where I sat alongside my Grandad in the East Stand to witness an
unremarkable nil nil draw.
The only action I remember was an Aidan McCaffrey header palmed over by the
Leicester keeper. I also recall the game was on Match of the Day that night
(last in the running order – not much changes).
43 years later & I’m still waiting for that trophy………..wouldn’t have it any
other way though!!
May 7th 1955 Newcastle 3 Manchester City 1
I should have been a Spurs fan. I was 7
and didn't have a favourite team
though Spurs were the nearest club and the local printer dropped off their home progammes to me having snuck a bunch out, pre-game.
My family watched this match
on TV at my uncle Eddy's, next door to White Hart Lane and we missed the first goal - after just 45 seconds - as we were still settling in
to watch it. (my uncle wasn't a huge football fan).
I really liked the look of that black and white kit but what cemented my choice
was the City equaliser. I’ve always been keen on the underdog and not
having seen the first goal, from then on I was rooting for the Magpies. That we
won against 10 men didn’t diminish the pleasure.
However, we've been underdogs almost ever since and Ged Clarke’s book ”50 years
of Hurt”, about the agony of supporting Newcastle, starts on the very day that I
pledged my allegiance. 65 years ago.
It’s been a lifetime of frustration & despair. Though I guess it could have been
worse - at least I didn't become a Spurs fan!
October 26th 1974 Newcastle 0 Leicester City 1
My Dad was a SJP regular in the
1950s and I grew up hearing heroic tales of Bobby
'Dazzler', the Robledo brothers, 'wor Jackie and Jimmy Scoular's "robust" approach
On a family visit to Jarrow he, and an
ex-school mate, decided to catch a game for old-times-sake. I was 7 years old
and we stood on the Paddock. An elderly bloke sold peanuts from the touchline,
throwing packets into the crowd.
Dad pointed out a couple of players, warming
up, who had 'represented England'. I couldn't have been more impressed had the
Queen strolled onto the pitch.
My memories of the game itself are vague. I
recall the swaggering style of Malcolm MacDonald and the love of the crowd
for our number 9. He hit a thunderbolt shot that looked a certain goal. Peter Shilton threw himself to the left and, somehow, got a hand to it. From that
moment I spent most of my childhood playing in goal.
The experience sealed a life-long love of
NUFC, the game itself, and watching live football. Oddly, the one memory I don't
have is the only goal of the game.
Steve Earle scored for the visitors, securing
the two points. Until my late 20's I lived under the illusion I'd seen a 0-0
draw. Few things are as precious, and as unreliable, as memory, or NUFC.
April 12th 1947 Newcastle Reserves 5 Manchester City Reserves 0
I was 9 at the time and my Uncle Joe took me, and we stood in the South Paddock
of the Main Stand. I recall there was a fair crowd.
I was at Gosforth Grammar a few years before AS. I emigrated to Canada in 1969 ,
and now live on Vancouver Island, but have returned regularly and always manage
to get in a game. My favourite memory is being at Wembley in 1955.
August 20th 1977 Newcastle 3 Leeds United 2
This was my belated 7th Birthday
present, and I was under strict instructions from my Dad not to tell my mother
we were going (I did of course blab later)!
I don't remember much about the match, other than being sat on of the
wooden advertising hoardings behind the Gallowgate goal and a shot from Paul
Cannell almost taking my head off. I only know it was Cannell because my old
man said "I've no idea who that clown is son... never seen him before. The other
one's Micky Burns. He's rubbish too".
I do remember coming home on the back of my old man's moped (he bought it so he could park in Newcastle and not have to pay!).
I was so excited
I wasn't paying attention to where my black and white scarf was and a car
flagged us down as we went along the Felling bypass as it almost tangled into the back wheel... Even the clip I got for stupidity
couldn't dampen the euphoria of a toon win in my first game.
Seven days later we were at Middlesbrough to watch
a0-2 defeat. On the van journey home (no moped this time... too far!), my old
man said "get used to it son... this is Newcastle".
And so followed relegation and misery until King Kev waltzed into St James for
his first coming.
28th 1976 Newcastle 0 Bristol City 0
My dad chose this dull affair
to introduce 8 year-old me to St. James’ Park and NUFC.
I have no memory of the
game, but they played Blondie & Darts records at half time as I enjoyed my wagon wheel!
September 8th 1990 Newcastle 1 Millwall 2
First matches, like losing your virginity,
are often invested with an almost mythical significance, in which the
participant imagines the stars will align resulting in a classic performance and
Alas, the reality in both cases is usually
much more mundane and so it proved as a mediocre United proved second best
against a Millwall side with goals from future Mag Malcolm Allen and Teddy
Sheringham, who pulled all the strings before moving on to bigger and better
A decent finish from Micky Quinn late in the game proved little more
than a consolation but the most memorable part of the day
- for all
the wrong reasons - was getting back to the old Cattle Market car park to find
out that York City striker David Longhurst had collapsed and died on the pitch
earlier that afternoon.
January 8th 1995 Newcastle 1 Blackburn Rovers 1
At the very front of the Milburn Paddock (standing) as the youngest of the
4 brothers coming on the from X32 bus from Newbiggin.
I remember watching the recording trying to spot us
all (live on BBC with Des Lynam presenting) and Ruel Fox running into me, trying
to keep the ball in. I was never his biggest fan, but everyone heard about it
I'd never seen so many people and was awestruck; the singing was unbelievable
and my brothers successfully wound me up that they just played crowd noise
through the PA to create atmosphere!
April 11 April 1964, Newcastle 0 Bury 4
I had over-protective parents, so it was my
twelfth birthday before I was permitted to travel from Bedlington (10 old pence
each way on the bus) to watch the Toon.
I went with school mate Malcolm who was
a seasoned fan with two years suffering already behind him.
We stood in the paddock in front of the old stand, nearest the open Gallowgate
end. At 2 shillings for bairns it cost more than the Popular Side (1/6d) but
Malcolm said it would be safer. The programme cost a tanner.
The match must have been terrible, but I can't remember much about it. Club
record signing Barrie Thomas (£45,000 from Scunthorpe) played - the crowd was
As we trudged down the steps at the end, I remember one old guy moaning about
“Harvey's Easybeats”. That has stayed with me and could have been applied to
many of our selections over the years, just change name of manager!
That result should have put me off for life - but no. I guess you never give up
on your team - I really feel for those Bury fans who no longer have a club to
April 28th 1984 Cambridge United 1 Newcastle 0
roasting hot day as Newcastle marched towards promotion to the first division,
Keegan, Beardsley, Waddle and Terry Mac against a struggling Cambridge team that
were destined for the bottom of the league at the end of the season.
Alan Ball was spotted in the pub car park
chatting with fans and the talk was of a young Geordie centre half signing from
Gillingham, but Steve Bruce chose Norwich instead.
The 13 year old me was a bit wary as we had
tickets in the Cambridge end but it was no surprise to Dad when we got in and it
was jam packed full of Newcastle supporters, what could go wrong?
A first half penalty to Cambridge , that's
what. I can still see their
player running back to the half way line. I still thought we'd win, but no, what
a disappointment, things couldn't get any worse.
But they could, on getting back to the car
my Easter Egg had melted into a brown liquidy mush... shite!
August 29th 1992 Newcastle 2 West Ham 0
was 9 years old when I started going to games.
Sitting on a concrete crush barrier at the Gallowgate End on my first visit,
Gavin Peacock and Ned Kelly scored right in front of me.
Watching a YouTube clip of Kelly’s goal via Twitter, as much as I enjoyed seeing
the ball go in the net, the crowd behind the goal is just mesmerising, I had to
watch it another dozen times. I’m in there somewhere; my nine year old self is
in amongst that mayhem, great scenes!
During that season me and few of my mates
would go up to St James Park mid-week for the reserve games, my mate’s Mam took
us along. I don’t know how it came about but we ended up being ball boys for
about half a dozen games.
I remember the first time we ‘ball-boyed’. I was just in awe of the place, we
got to go through the players entrance, taken through into our own changing
rooms and given these grey tracksuits to wear.
I was ready pretty quick and headed out to the top of the steps that take you
down to the tunnel. I stood staring at the black & white ‘Howay the Lads’ sign,
as I looked to my right there stood Kevin Keegan – my jaw dropped, totally
We took our position at the side of the pitch, I remember being in front of the
Milburn Paddock, Gallowgate side. The players were out warming up on the pitch
and just before kick-off Steve Watson approached where I was positioned and said
“Cold isn’t it?” I just nodded and wished I had something cool to say back.
The game kicked off and once I had stopped staring at my surroundings I crouched
down, grabbed the turf at St James Park and came up with a fistful of grass. I
stuffed it into my tracksuit pants pocket which was underneath the grey
tracksuit bottoms given to me to wear.
I got home and immediately showed my parents, “look Ma, actual St James Park
grass”, amazing! It might have been a daft thing to do but I didn’t know whether
I was ever going to get the chance again, it didn’t do any harm to anyone and I
was proper chuffed!
At that time, little did I know that the
Club was about to come to life and take on the elite of English football, I was
a NUFC fan regardless – just wanting to be part of it. So much has happened
since then, it’s easy to lose sight of the reason you started going to the match
in the first place.
I was making the most of my time at the match, just like I was as a ball boy at
the side of the St James Park pitch. No season ticket at the beginning of that
season, I was paying at the turnstile, me in one queue my Dad in another to get
into the Gallowgate End.
For all I knew at the time that West Ham match was my one & only match,
unbeknown to me that I’d barely miss a home game for the next 20-odd years…