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Halcyon Days 
   Part VI

1980-81 Season

The season is less than a month old as our third manager takes charge for the game at Loftus Road. Who is this man? Well, no-one seems to know. Apparently he had something to do with the mackems once, he's a Midlander who came from Huddersfield and is allegedly something to do with the Gestapo....

Q.P.R. (a) Sat Sep 13th 1980

Like most traditions and superstitions in football, the smoke and fire metaphor usually applies. However, for every bucket-load of evidence in support, there's usually plenty of exceptions to deny the superstition. Newcastle's Match of the Day jinx is one of these classic myths. In the late 70s and 80s it seemed that teams would openly encourage the BBC cameras to attend our games as a way of securing both points (two for a win in those days) or passage through to the next round of the cup. Teams in London could also rely on significantly improving their goal difference while they were at it. This was the scenario facing Arthur Cox as he took his new team to the capital on the 13th of the month.

United got off to a great start with big Stuart Boam scoring his one and only league goal for the club to give us a half-time lead. Bob Hazell equalised for Rangers and with the game heading for a stalemate, Arthur felt a substitution was necessary. Veteran winger, Terry Hibbitt, had been less than effective but just as his number was held aloft he seized upon a mix-up in the box to crash home what proved to be the winner.

The referee, presumably consulting his own fanciful rule book, then insisted that Hibbitt should still leave the pitch and he was replaced by Peter Cartwright as the goal celebrations were only just subsiding.

It was an outstanding result for Cox and one that catapulted United to an unlikely 8th in the table, just one point behind West Ham in a promotion spot. Fortunately for Arthur it proved to be a modest crest of a very small wave in his Tyneside management spell. Unfortunately for the fans, it could be argued that this was the dizziest of dizzy heights for this season.... 

Diary entry

(Saturday): "United actually won away 2-1. Hibbitt and Boam scored. Sunderland 0 Boro 1."

(Sunday): "Then watched Match of the Day - United v Q.P.R.".

Journal Merit Marks: Hardwick 7, Carney 7, Davies 6, Walker 6, Boam 7, Mitchell 6, Shoulder 7, Rafferty 6, Clarke 6, Hibbitt 6, Koenen 7. Sub: Cartwright 6.

Despite the win, the team all still look at sixes and sevens....
The Dutchman again leads the way. Stuart Boam's goalscoring performance sends him soaring up towards the sixes:

Player Ave
Koenen 7.00
Carr 6.75
Hibbitt 6.60
Wharton 6.60
Walker 6.50
Nicholson 6.50
Rafferty 6.38
Mitchell 6.33
Shoulder 6.29
Davies 6.25
Kelly 6.25
Hardwick 6.25
Carney 6.20
Cartwright 6.00
Leaver 6.00
Boam 5.75
Clarke 5.60
Shinton 5.50
Barton 5.50

Oldham (h) Sat Sep 20th 1980

kclements.jpg (9879 bytes)Roll Up! Roll Up! It's the men with the fuzzy wigs and big taches. Yep, the boys from Boundary Park are in town with a look and feel epitomised by the memorable Kenny Clements (pictured right). Jimmy Frizzell brings his 5th placed Oldham side level on points with United boasting among their ranks: Simon Stainrod, (Big) Roger Wylde, Gary Hoolickin and aaaaaarrrrggghh, a young John Ryan....

Old-timer Arthur Appleton in his programme column, 'Kick-off', muses on the new Arthur Cox regime. For some reason, Arthur finishes with this bizarre plea about his namesake: "And please, can we drop this ignorant Gestapo comparison." Unfortunately there is nothing to suggest whether there had been snipes in the local press about Cox's reluctance to part with his misshapen old Huddersfield joggy-bottoms or his insistence on erecting gun towers on the four corners of the Benwell training site.

Appleton uses two more wonderful phrases that the bright young marketing things just wouldn't allow in match programmes these days; "these are not the best of times for the old bob-enders" and "It would be splendid to have some of our Orange Pippins appearing in national colours." Quite what the old codger is on about well, only Bobby Robson probably knows.

Our favourite man in print, David Hogg, has obviously been prescribed something a little stronger than usual, as his "File on Two" column is most subdued. There's a impassioned piece about hooliganism and police prosecution of players for assault (David comments, "If that day came, we could all pack our bags" - presumably he did). Talk of players raring to get to the training ground and a dig at Brian Clough, who questioned the appointment of Arthur Cox, bring about a nasty case of déjà vu.

The middle section of the programme (reminder - a dreadful national programme insert) are particularly poor. This week we are treated to "Funny Refs", "Where Does American Soccer Stand?", "Gordon Milne", "The Toughies - all in the mind?", "Soccer Writers", "Big Mal's Tea Part Set the Ball Rolling" and "It's All Happening at Talbot". Plenty to set the pulses racing during the interval eh?

Two other things of note; apparently at half-time we were treated to a display from the Norwegian Band and Drill Squad and hidden amongst the Reserve write-up is this: "Chris Waddle scored a fine opening goal running from deep to convert Walton's cross and then was back again to hit a fierce shot from an acute angle to give United a 2-0 half-time lead." Apparently an awkward-looking angular youngster is helping the second-string find a bit of form....  

Diary entry

"Then went to match. It was 0-0, 9th now. Should have had a penalty."

Journal Merit Marks: Hardwick 6, Carney 6, Davies 6, Walker 6, Boam 6, Mitchell 5, Shoulder 7, Rafferty 7, Clarke 6, Hibbitt 6, Koenen 6.

Very little change in the table although Kenny Mitchell's five didn't do him too much good. Please note - for added comedy value a 'goals scored' column has been added:

Player Ave Goals Scored
Koenen 6.89 1
Carr 6.75
Wharton 6.60
Hibbitt 6.50 2
Nicholson 6.50
Rafferty 6.44 2
Walker 6.40
Shoulder 6.38 2 1
Kelly 6.25
Davies 6.22
Hardwick 6.20
Carney 6.17
Mitchell 6.00
Cartwright 6.00
Leaver 6.00
Boam 5.78 1
Clarke 5.67 1
Shinton 5.50
Barton 5.50

Next time - It's back to basics for Arthur's goal-shy side. This is a ball, this is a goal....

Niall MacKenzie

Halcyon Days

Page last updated 25 June, 2009