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SEASON 902-03   THE  1 ER MANN WORDS//PET 14 After consecutive top six finishes throughout the previous three seasons, that which surrounded the 1902-03 season would become something of a damp squib for followers of Newcastle United. Surprising as it was, the club made their best start to a league season when winning five out of their opening six matches and scoring some eighteen goals. However, it was to be the problems that were arising behind the scenes that would have an unsatisfactory filter effect into on field events. The boardroom struggle having repercussions that were felt throughout the football club, shaking it to its core, before then chairman, James Telford played a masterstroke. That masterstroke would see the involvement of several of the clubs more senior players in order to help rectify and appease matters. The result of this masterful intervention would see those of Colin Veitch, Andrew Aitken and Jack Carr brought into the fray and which brought about the arrival of future United legend, Peter McWilliam, a player who would spend the next decade with the club. On the field and the new season would begin with three straight victories beginning with a home demolition of Stoke City in what was to be the debut of William Agnew. A crowd of some 17,000 would see Bob McColl and Ronald Orr hit a brace apiece, alongside one for Jackie Rutherford in an opening day, 5-0 rout. A solo effort from Willie Stewart would see off Everton away from home before goals from Richard Roberts (two) and another from Rutherford took care of the visiting Sheffield Wednesday. The club would then receive a sharp insight into what the season had in store for them when they visited the Midlands at the end of September, Rutherford netting a scant consolation in a 6-1 reverse at West Bromwich Albion. United though don’t suffer fools gladly and, in their very next outing a week later, would inflict the same score line upon Notts County with Rutherford yet again being amongst the goals, This time with a brace that took his tally to five in five from the seasons start; the other goals coming from McCool, Orr, Stewart and what would be Jack Carr’s seasonal, customary goal. Bolton was then beaten 2-0 away on October 11th as the Magpies opened the season with ten points from their opening six matches. Hard times then befell the club over the next two and a half months with only two victories being collected from some eleven outings. These were at home to Grimsby on November 22nd (Rutherford scoring the only goal) and Blackburn on December 20th (Alex Caie with his only goal for the club in 35 appearances over two seasons). Three times in the FA Cup over the previous decade a Tyne-Tees derby had been witnessed, however, on October 18th, the first league meeting since United’s debut season in the Football League (1893-94 against Ironopolis), and the first ever in the top flight, would take place. Newcastle United and Middlesbrough met on what would be a losing debut for young Peter McWilliam as the Boro won 1-0 at St. James’ in front of a 26,000 strong crowd. Of the other defeats that were heaped on the club towards the end of 1902, the one on November 29th would be a humiliation. Again travelling to the Midlands, Aston Villa would come away clear victors in a seven goal battering. Including those goals by Rutherford and Caie in the victories against Grimsby and Blackburn, the Magpies managed just four strikes during what was a horrendous thirteen match barren spell which extended into the New Year. The other two goals would be scored by Roberts in what were consecutive 2-1 reverses against Liverpool (home) and Sheffield United (away) in November. Although it would finish in a dour, goalless draw, a highlight during that spell was to be holding rivals Sunderland to a 0-0 draw at their Roker Park home on De cember 27th. The return fixture would be even sweeter. It would be that of January 24th before a victory was to be witnessed again, the club’s third in two, long months as Andrew Gardner notched the only goal in a home success against West Bromwich, avenging the earlier embarrassment before a further four losses in six outings put the Magpies divisional status in jeopardy. A 2-2 home draw with Notts County was followed by successive defeats against Middlesbrough (1-0), Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-2) and Liverpool (3-0) and Grimsby (1-0) with a goalless draw against Sheffield United prior to the Grimsby loss. Prior to the reverse against Boro, United exited the FA Cup at the first hurdle for the third time at the opening hurdle, this time losing 2-1 away to Grimsby. The home straight though would see survival emphatically secured with twelve points collected from a possible sixteen as the Magpies flew to six victories and two defeats in their final eight matches, not bad going considering they had won only four times in the previous eight months. Gardner (Alec) and McColl were proving to be the clubs saviours as the duo netted ten between them during the run in. Back to back home victories were collected against the Villa (avenging the earlier humiliation) and completing the double over Everton on April fool’s Day as Gardner struck twice against the Toffees. He would Newcastle United, Foot ball League director GG Champions Archibald, 1904-05: (b Jimmy Law chairman J ack row, l-r) rence; (mid Cameron, vi dle row, l-r) Andy McCom ce chairman retary-man director R Ol bie, director Joseph Bell, ager Frank iver, direct GT Milne, di Watt, Andy Peter McW JQ McPhers or JP Oliver rector JW Aitken, Jock illiam, Joe on, assistan , Jack Carr McClarence, Rutherford t secretary , Billy McCra Bell, , Jimmy How director J Gr Frank Watt cken, ie, Bill Appl aham, ?; (fr Jnr eyard, Rona ont row, l-r) ld Orr, Albe secrt Gosnell, trainer follow that brace up with another two three days later at the City from Sheffield knowing that anything Ground, United losing a five goal other than a Sunderland win would league defeat on Tyneside, and their thriller against Nottingham Forest. give them the title. Even without costliest. In fact Aston Villa claimed Safety was still a slight issue defenders Andrew McCombie and runners up on goal average as though but three home wins on the Sandy McAllister, the Wearsiders Sunderland slipped to third. bounce assured Newcastle’s future were still confident. Surprisingly the McColl’s goal would see him would be atop flight one when FA sent League Invigilators to the finish atop the scoring charts with Derby County (2-1), Bury (1-0) and game due to their worrying that the ten in thirty, but the big names relegated Bolton (2-0) were beaten. Magpies would roll over and let their were arriving on Tyneside, one in McColl scored both against Bolton rivals claim both victory and the particular whom would set tongues and then netted again in a 3-1 title. Like that would ever happen! wagging. Aston Villa’s Robert ‘Bobby’ reverse at Blackburn in front of just An even, but end to end, first half, Templeton joined for then princely 8,000 before a humdinger of a finale. would finish goalless before the sum of £400, a then club record fee. It was deemed as being ‘the most Magpies made a minor alteration It would be about Templeton that it important Tyne-Wear derby ever’ to their frontline after the interval. was once wrote, by William Pickford as rivals Sunderland arrived in Bill Appleyard took on the centre in 1905, that Newcastle for the last match of forward role and it paid instant To watch Templeton at his best is the season on April 25th. League dividends when, in a move that a sight for the gods, to watch him at leaders Sheffield Wednesday were began with Veitch, through his worst was to see at a glance the a point ahead but had completed Appleyard, played in Alec Gardner. frailty of things human. the fixtures; Sunderland had He slipped past two defenders, Newcastle United was starting to one match remaining and was played Appleyard back in and his make waves and that first, elusive in second place; victory and the precise pass to McColl left him with piece of silverware, was just around League Championship was going just the keeper to beat, and, from the the corner. to Wearside. Newcastle would have narrowest of angles, United’s Scottish both the final say, and the last laugh. international shattered Sunderland’s For more by Peter Mann, visit his A crowd of over 26,500 packed dreams, scoring the only goal of the website www.pmannsportswriter. St. James’ which included near 600 game. 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