I’m sure you’ve heard the line “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. After researching the 1970s for this series, I honestly think Newcastle refuse to learn from their own history. Losing an amazing manager only to find a controversial replacement, selling one of your best goal scorers, the list goes on.
The year is 1971, with Newcastle’s recent Inter-Cities Fairs Cup win still in recent memory, Joe Harvey looks to bring in an upgrade to the striker position. His choice: English forward Malcolm Macdonald. Macdonald’s impact would be swift, as in his home debut game against Liverpool, he would score not once, not twice, but three times. From that point on, he would lovingly be referred to as “Supermac”. Supermac’s debut season would see him lead Newcastle in scoring, finishing with 30 goals by the end of the season. His reign as scoring leader would run from 1972 through 1976.
With a retooled offense, Newcastle would find themselves once again in the FA Cup Final in 1974 against Liverpool. Unfortunately, Liverpool would crush Newcastle 3-0 in front of the 100,000 in attendance at Wembley Stadium. However, Newcastle wouldn’t end the season empty-handed, as just 10 days prior, they had just won the Texaco Cup 2-1 against Burnley. Newcastle weren’t quite satisfied yet, however, and would go on to win the Texaco Cup again in 1975 in a two game final where Newcastle beat Southampton by a total score of 3-1.
Also in 1975, Joe Harvey would resign as manager of Newcastle United after over a decade of success. Harvey’s replacement would be Blackburn Rovers’ manager, Gordon Lee. The impact that the change in managers had wouldn’t be immediately felt, as the very next year, Newcastle found themselves in the Football League Cup Final against Manchester City.
This would be Newcastle’s first League Cup final in the club’s history, their previous best finish was the year prior, after losing in the quarter finals. City would open the scoring first, with Midfielder Peter Barnes nets one past Newcastle’s Mike Mahoney in the 11th minute. Not to be outdone, Newcastle’s Alan Gowling would tied the game in the 35th minute. Coming out of half time, the second half would not be as competitive as the first, as City’s Dennis Tueart would score the game winning goal in the 46th minute, sealing Newcastle’s defeat in their first League Cup final.
The following summer transfer window would see Gordon Lee sell Macdonald to Arsenal for the oddly specific fee of £333,333.34. Supermac would later comment on this decision with “I loved Newcastle, until Gordon Lee took over”. To add to the growing dysfunction, Lee would leave Newcastle in January of 1977 to take a job as Everton’s manager. Richard Dinnis would come in to replace him and keep Newcastle at the top of the table, finishing 5th overall. The following season would see Dinnis sacked in November of 1977, following Dinnis’ criticism of the board, and Bill McGarry was brought into to fill the role of manager. This time however, the replacement wasn’t able to to keep the team stable and at the end of the 1977/78 season, Newcastle United was relegated once again.
It’s all very surreal. With what’s going on with the club currently, looking back on the 1970s, I feel like Marty McFly in Back to the Future. Selling the top scorer for a fee that begins with a three, replacing an amazing manager with one of lesser quality. I just don’t want to see to similarities continue to the point where we get relegated and have a manager carousel.