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The post-war years

1945 - 1969

The 'Cup Kings'

Following the Second World War and the years of the Wartime League, the Football League officially resumed in 1946.

Newcastle United - led by Stan Seymour and bolstered by wartime recruits including Jackie Milburn, Tommy Walker and Bobby Cowell - were quickly promoted, returning to the First Division in 1948.

If promotion went down well on Tyneside, what would come next would write the players' names into folklore as the Magpies embarked on a golden era.

Already having some pedigree in the FA Cup, winning it on three occasions (1910, 1924 and 1932) and finishing as runners-up four times in the club's history, the Fifties would see the Magpies lift the famous old trophy three times in just five years.

The 'Cup Kings' were born.


They first of the club's trio of FA Cup triumphs in the Fifties came in 1951, when they beat Blackpool 2-0 in front of 100,000 fans at Wembley.

'Wor Jackie' Milburn scored both goals against a Tangerines side that included all-time greats Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen.

Milburn slotted in the opener after showing blistering pace to race onto a through-ball from Chilean George Robledo, before scoring one of the FA Cup final's greatest ever goals - hammering an unstoppable long-range strike into the top left corner.

Defeated in the cup, the Lancashire club would finish third in the Division One table shortly afterwards - a point and a place above Newcastle.


A year later, Seymour’s side were back beneath Wembley's Twin Towers to defend the trophy – and they were victorious again, this time against a tough Arsenal side.

The Gunners lost Welsh full-back Walley Barnes to a knee injury in the first half and despite having no replacements, the ten men continued to push for goal - with Doug Lishman twice going perilously close either side of half-time.

But it was United who struck the game's only goal in the second half; George Robledo heading in from a left-wing Mitchell cross in front of another huge 100,000-strong crowd.

Delighted captain Joe Harvey climbed the familiar Wembley steps to the Royal Box to receive the FA Cup from Winston Churchill, who had become the country's Prime Minister for a second time in the preceding October.


Missing out in 1953 and 1954, Newcastle - now managed by Scotsman Doug Livingstone – were keen to reclaim their trophy.

And they got off to the perfect start in the 1955 final; Jackie Milburn heading in off the crossbar from a corner inside the first 45 seconds to set the record for the fastest goal ever in a Wembley final (eventually surpassed in 1997).

As they had in 1952, United again benefitted from an opposition injury at Wembley as Manchester City full-back Jimmy Meadows limped off with a badly-twisted knee and could not be replaced.

Despite their lesser numbers, Bobby Johnstone equalised for City with an admirable header and the Manchester side put up a brave fight, with German goalkeeper Bert Trautmann on fine form.

But he could do little as United continued to steam forward and goals from Bobby 'Dazzler' Mitchell and George Hannah gave the Magpies a 3-1 win for their third FA Cup victory in just five years.

From feast to famine

It was to be another 14 years before the Magpies lifted major silverware again.

Under the management of ex-Manchester United star Charlie Mitten, the club dropped into division two in 1961 but former player Joe Harvey returned as a coach to revitalise United alongside Seymour.

Newcastle marched back into the top flight in 1965 and competed in Europe for the first time in the 1968/69 season, as they qualified for the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup - despite finishing tenth in the First Division in the previous season.

The likes of Tottenham, Arsenal and Everton had all been above United but the rule was that only one club from any one city could enter the tournament – a forerunner to the UEFA Cup.

All the fun of the Fairs Cup

Nonetheless, if Newcastle were fortunate to be there in the first place, there was nothing lucky about the way they went on to win the competition.

European giants Juventus, Marseille, Chelsea, Liverpool, Valencia, Rangers and Atletico Madrid were all in the hat, and Joe Harvey’s Newcastle were drawn against Dutch giants Feyenoord in the first round.

Amazingly, the Magpies won the first leg 4-0 - Wyn Davies, Tommy Gibb, Pop Robson and Jim Scott all scoring. Although they were beaten 2-0 in the second game in Rotterdam, they progressed to the second round.

There, they were pitted against Sporting Lisbon and after drawing 1-1 in the Portuguese capital, Newcastle prevailed 2-1 on aggregate with a 1-0 win at home.

Spanish outfit Real Zaragoza were next and the Magpies scraped through on away goals after drawing 4-4 over two legs - losing 3-2 in Spain but winning 2-1 on Tyneside.

Suddenly, the outsiders were through to the quarter-finals and a stunning 5-1 victory at St. James’ Park was enough to see off another Portuguese side - Vitória de Setúbal, despite Vitória rallying with a 3-1 win in the second leg.

A battle of Britain awaited in the last four. Rangers stood between Newcastle and the final, and a 0-0 draw at Ibrox set up a famous night on Tyneside, when Jimmy Scott and Jackie Sinclair scored second-half goals in a 2-0 home win in front of 60,000 fans.

Silverware again

In a two-legged final, United would play Hungarian side Ujpest Dozsa - described by then-Leeds United boss Don Revie as the best side in Europe after they had dumped Revie's side out of the competition without conceding.

Goals from Scott and a rare Bob Moncur brace gave Newcastle a 3-0 first-leg lead – but in the return leg in Budapest, Ujpest laid siege to Willie McFaul’s goal and surged into a 2-0 lead on the night.

In the dressing room, Joe Harvey's message was loud and clear - 'Score, and they'll crumble.'

With Harvey's words ringing in their ears, the team responded and captain Moncur scored his third of the two-legged tie. Benny Arentoft and sub Alan Foggon sealed the victory, giving the Magpies a resounding 6-2 win on aggregate.

“We went out, we won a cup and I knew it was a good achievement, but I didn’t realise how big it was at the time,” said Moncur in 2016.

“All these years later, I sit there and think ‘we won a trophy in Europe.’ Imagine if we did that now – it would be amazing.”


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