Remembering Newcastle’s Relegation Nightmare of 1961


Bobby Moncur thinks Newcastle United will avoid relegation and remembers today when he joined the club in 1960, Newcastle were relegated that very first season. I remember that well because I played that first season with Bob for Newcastle Juniors (called the Ns in those days) that very season.

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Bobby Moncur – thinks Newcastle can stay up – just

Bobby Moncur is convinced that Kevin Keegan will keep Newcastle United in the Premier League – but he is concerned by the lack of fight shown by the players, especially in away games.

Bobby was never involved in a relegation battle after breaking into the first and spoke with the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

“Looking at the other teams at the wrong end of the table, I don’t think Newcastle will go down.”

“I just think there is more quality in the Newcastle side to stay up, although obviously I am concerned with just three points out of the last 36.”

“When I came here as a kid in 1960-61 we had Lenny White scoring goals for fun. Newcastle hit over 100 goals and still got relegated.”

“We all said that it could not happen, not the way they were scoring goals, but it did, and of course Jim Smith took us down again after that in the late 80s.”

“So sadly, twice in my lifetime, I have seen Newcastle relegated.”

It’s interesting because I joined the club in 1960 too, after playing for Newcastle and Northumberland schoolboys (goalkeeper), but as an amateur and was still at school. However I did play the full 1960-1961 season with Bobby and I recall that Benny Craig (?) in those days was our coach – a great guy. In those days Bobby had played the previous season for Scotland schoolboys and he was a half back back then. (central midfielder in today’s terms).

David Craig was also in the side and had played for Ireland schoolboys the season before. Alan Suddick (Sooty) was also in the side, but Alan got to play for the first team later in that season. He was a revelation on the left wing. Sooty was always a strange personality but was full of fun and always good for a laugh. Anyway, Alan was then 17 as I recall, when he made his debut that season.

We used to play our home games up Barrack Road at Hunters Moor, which was a short trip up Barrack Road from St. James’ Park and our games generally kicked off at 2pm. That allowed us to nip in to see the second half of our games, when Newcastle United were at home.

Charlie Mitten was manager in those days and we thought we had a decent team, and had finished 8th the previous season. Charlie had introduced those jazzy strips with the white band around the bottom of the shorts and black and white stripes at the top of the socks.

It got so bad with Mitten , who was hardly a good man-manager, that he had a game between the first team and the reserve side – at St. James’ Park on Thursday nights, towards the end of the season. Mitten then picked the best 11 players for the game for the following Saturday. In those days there were no substitutes of course. We never thought that was a very good way to instill confidence in the players.

It was terrible when Newcastle were relegated that year, and we couldn’t believe it would ever happen – not to Newcastle United – we were all then 16 years old and don’t forget we had won 3 FA Cup Finals in the 1950s.

Hey, but the feeling then that we couldn’t possibly go down seems very familiar with today’s situation. At least way back then, the lads used to fight for the team – that’s the big difference with today, and it’s so sad to have to say that. 🙁

But it’s interesting that Bobby (guess we call him Bob now) remembers those times. He was a great guy even then and leadership oozed out of him. Of course he was bossy even then on the pitch, when he used to tell everybody where to play and what to do – he was very vocal. No change there 😀

David Craig on the other hand never said a word, but went on to be one of Newcastle’s greatest ever full backs with 412 appearances for the club. Of course Moncur went onto captain the side and David Craig also became a big star.

The game we remember most was a derby game against Sunderland Juniors at Hunters Moor on Good Friday morning in 1961. We won 2-1 and the other goalkeeper was a young lad called Jimmy Montgomery. Of course after that Jimmy went on to become one of the great goalkeepers.

But back to today, Bob also has concerns about the fighting qualities of our current bunch of players, as we have expressed rather forcefully since last Saturday’s latest pathetic capitulation. It’s a worry, because if anybody can pick out those shirking their duty on the pitch, it has to be Bob Moncur.

But at least Bob thinks we’ll survive. We’ll just have to wait and see how we do at Birmingham on Monday night but we are worried the Birmingham players may just out fight our lot 🙁

If that happens, the storm clouds will further gather over the Tyne on Monday night, and we’ll report on the game and the aftermath – whatever happens.

If anybody remembers those days in the very early 1960s we’d be happy to hear from you.

All comments very welcome.



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17 comments so far

  • Ausgeordie

    Mar 14, 2008 at 2:21 PM

    Comment #1

    only 28 so wasn’t there but hope we stay up this season

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  • Hadrian

    Mar 14, 2008 at 2:31 PM

    Comment #2

    ohh you played for nufc juniors Ed ? well i didnt know that 🙂
    you need to get a bio up or sommit ed, sounds like you’ve had a good innings so far in life .

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  • ELFER

    Mar 14, 2008 at 2:34 PM

    Comment #3

    Fully agree with ausgeordie 😉

    I was in a training camp with my home football club (swiss – by the way we should get some swiss defenders, not the best in the world but fight and play with their heart, as HOTTIGER did!!), when I won a newcastle shirt in a competition as a 8 year old boy…

    the shirt has gone, my desire for this football club will never!!! I’m a supporter now for 21years and I will be my whole life, so as you read this, current NUFC squad! play for the little boy inside me who is dissappointed to see you playing like this…wihtout heart, wihtout passion. GO NOW!!! and win our hearts back.

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  • ObaFan2

    Mar 14, 2008 at 2:36 PM

    Comment #4

    My first memories of the Toon had to be the Tudor/MacDonald days, just too young to remember the fairs cup winning side.

    When MacDonald was brought in they proved a great and entertaining pairing, something we have not had all season… that is a partnership up front.

    Oba saved our season last season and we all think now he can rescue this one again. BSA tried his best to knock the confidence out of him imo and only looks like he is now at his best confident self again.

    How we’d wish for a leader on the pitch like Bobby Moncur now, how I’d wish for a team we’d all have faith and total confidence in.

    I hate picking on individuals however imo Smith is a waste of a shirt, he still seems dazed still from his concussion over Christmas but in truth he has never lived up to the potential he showed whilst at Leeds.

    It will be intersting to see if Smith is picked for Monday, I don’t even think he should have a place on the bench.

    Partnerships and understanding between players are formed all over the pitch, from the keeper and his back four to the strikers and their ability to read each others play.

    This I think has been lacking all season as the team has been chopped and changed and even had more captains this season than we’ve had in the past few seasons put together.

    I too don’t think we will go down but the next few weeks will shape our future for the next few years to come. Lets hope it’s for the better.

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  • Gordon

    Mar 14, 2008 at 2:38 PM

    Comment #5

    Yep, very interesting Ed – your best article in a while and you really should include your NUFC past in your bio. It adds a lot to your credibility 🙂

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  • dragoner

    Mar 14, 2008 at 2:46 PM

    Comment #6

    viduka and martins need to play monday, if keegan continues to play misfiring michael then it just shows he has no clue and is just playing people on their names

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  • Eric

    Mar 14, 2008 at 2:52 PM

    Comment #7

    Wish we had a Bobby Moncur in the back 4 now, and a David Craig. We had classy quality players in those days. Alf McMichael at left back. Suddick was a good and tricky ball player but Charlie Mitten’s son John nver quite made on the left wing. Ivor Allchurch and Eastham and Bobby Mitchell all played carpet football with aplomb. The strip, as you say, was jazzy and still my favourite. Remember the socks?
    David Craig replaced Dick Keith eventually and Frank Clark became unfairly nicknamed “the big boot of St James Park”. I still think he turned out more times for us than any other left back. One game I remember was near one Xmas in the late 50’s at Chelsea. We lost 6-5 after leading 5-3. That was the game when a young Bill Thompson made his debut and it pissed with rain bloody awful. At the end Jimmy Scoular made the teams clap the crowd for our endurance. My red tie (xmas present from a Geordie aunt would you believe it) made me look like a mackem!

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  • HeronMag

    Mar 14, 2008 at 2:54 PM

    Comment #8

    Ed, you kept your NUFC juniors history very quiet!

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  • Eric

    Mar 14, 2008 at 3:07 PM

    Comment #9

    Charlie Mitten never actually achieved much for NUFC though he did try and resign Wor Jackie aged 35. Those days were the time of bitter feuding between McKeag and Stan Seymour though big Frank Brennan did point out we had one the cup twice “in spite of the circus up here”. Ring any latter day bells? Oh for a Len White again – sadly dead now like so many whom Smith and Butt are making spin in their graves. Come on KK – you have north eastern blood in your veins. Chuck out the prima donnas and give the real Toon a chance! Even the brilliant Eastham turned out to be a treacherous renegade as far as NUFC were concerned.

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  • Eric

    Mar 14, 2008 at 3:15 PM

    Comment #10

    My team for Monday (only joking) = Simpson, Keith, McMichael, Anderson, Moncur, Iley, Shackleton, Milburn, White, Allchurch, Mitchell.

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  • dobbo

    Mar 14, 2008 at 3:28 PM

    Comment #11

    interesting article, so no one has asked so i will, what happened to the football career.

    just before my time that relegation, but me uncles were more interested in how can anybody play in a strip like that

    would fit very nicely still into todays fashioned, never understood why its never made a comeback

    saw the final games for the likes of allchurch, mcmichael , just a kid though

    always thought that mitten got asked to leave the club and newcastle, or was that me uncles again

    kk said something the other day about how shanks would have handled this situation he finds himself in today, but he never was according to kk, however kev, have a look to see where liverpool were when shanks took over, players not wanting to play, crap facilities etc, well he cleared them out and stared again, and thats exactly what you have to do here, get the players you want, hopefully we”ll still be in the premeirship, for me its 50/ 50.

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  • dobbo

    Mar 14, 2008 at 3:30 PM

    Comment #12

    eric dont start that we”ll be here all night……..no tony green then

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  • Eric

    Mar 14, 2008 at 3:48 PM

    Comment #13

    Righto Robbo. We do not ancient selections. We have the players now to keep us up. It is just a matter of picking the right ones on Monday. I think we will be Premier next season – maybe Butt, Smith, Viduka etc will be too – but not with NUFC.

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  • Eamonn

    Mar 14, 2008 at 3:51 PM

    Comment #14

    First Newcastle United memory? Watching the ’74 cup final on the black n’ white telly. United got hammered badly (3-0), but I was hooked, it must have been that smashing mid 70’s kit that did it. Sligo Rovers, Ireland & Newcastle United in that order.

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  • A geordiedoonsooth

    Mar 14, 2008 at 5:23 PM

    Comment #15

    I was 13 when we got relegated in 60-61 season at least then we played some great games, I remember the 4-3 defeat at home against Spurs who went on to win the double and the 2-1 win at White Hart Lane when my 1st hero Len White broke his leg. When I was 17 Bobby Moncur came and coached the Youth Club Team I played for (Antonian Youth Club in Walker) he was brilliant. I also remember Ivor Allchurch, Len White & George Eastham if only we had players like that now.

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  • Eamonn

    Mar 14, 2008 at 5:29 PM

    Comment #16

    “So sadly, twice in my lifetime, I have seen Newcastle relegated.”

    Ed has Bobby Moncur forgotten 77-78? Surely this a misquote? I think there’s been a total of four relegations in the Club’s history one was way back in the 30’s. For what it’s worth I don’t think we’re going down but we must win the three home games v Reading, Mackems & Fulham, and a few points from away games.

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  • daiv

    Mar 14, 2008 at 10:57 PM

    Comment #17

    Dobbo,
    Agree that Tony Green should be in line up with Beardo and Shearer.

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