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A trip through time: 1940s

A little look at wartime Newcastle United.

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Yeah, it’s a picture from the 50s. Don’t @ me.
Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images

With seven weeks left until Newcastle United’s season begins we are continuing our series by taking a trip through Newcastle in the 1940s. Newcastle United did not stop playing football just because of a little thing called World War II. However, they did stop winning trophies.

As stated in the previous article of the series, the 1939/1940 season was ended prematurely due to the beginning of World War II, meaning the club was not able to see whether or not they would be promoted back to the first division. This means that Newcastle actually spent the majority of the 1940s in the second division.

To begin the 40s, Newcastle United continued to play football in the Wartime League in which they won nothing. The Wartime League itself was controversial as Britain wanted to limit high concentrations of people when bombings were prevalent.

Things got interesting in 1943 when the club brought in Jackie Milburn who scored 38 goals throughout the remaining three years of the league’s existence. It because of these 38 goals that Milburn is seen by some as Newcastle United’s top goalscorer over Alan Shearer.

Once the war ended in 1945 Stan Seymour managed to bring in players such as Bobby Cowell, Ernie Taylor, Joe Harvey, and Bobby Mitchell. These players and others made for what was one of the best elevens in the club’s history. And while post-war was initially spent in the Second Division, much like the club does today, attendances were very high.

In 1946, Newcastle became the joint-record holder for the largest victory in English League history when they defeated Newport County 13-0. Len Shackleton made his debut in that match, and scored six times, which was also a Newcastle United record.

It was 1948 when Newcastle returned to the First Division. With the crowd averaging around 57,000 a match which would remain a national record for years.

So while the 1940s were quiet, and Newcastle United did not see much success during this period, Stan Seymour was laying the groundwork for the great things that were to come in Newcastle United’s great 1950s period.