Match Of The Past: Newcastle United vs Fulham, October 1982
Pity the supporters of Fulham, a trip to Newcastle United pushed upon them three days before Christmas with their team at the bottom of the Premier League for a match which may go some way towards demonstrating whether their team is in any way capable of hauling itself from the mire in which it has found itself over the course of its first season back in the Premier League. Things haven’t been a great deal better for Newcastle United either so far this season, though, so at least those who make that long trip north will make that journey with some degree of hope that their team can finally breathe some life into what has been a pretty moribund season, so far.
Thirty-six years ago, both Newcastle United and Fulham were in the Second Division of the Football League. Fulham had been promoted at the end of the previous season behind Burnley and Carlisle United, and had made a strong start to their first season back in the second tier since 1979/80, going into this match in fifth place in the table after having won five of their first nine matches of the season.
Newcastle United, meanwhile, were stalling a little. They had invested in the signature of Kevin Keegan during the summer, and the former England striker joined a team which also contained the former Liverpool player Terry McDermott, but the team hadn’t quite clicked into gear yet and had only won three out of nine league matches and the previous week had seen two players sent off in a two-all draw at Oldham Athletic. This being 1982, of course, there was little pressure on the Newcastle manager Arthur Cox just yet, but this probably wasn’t quite the right time for the Match Of The Day cameras to be showing up at St James Park for a match.
The BBC had been tempted to the north-east by The Narrative. Fulham’s recent revival had come about under the tutelage of Malcolm McDonald, who’d scored a hundred goals for Newcastle between 1971 and 1976 before transferring to Arsenal, subsequently entering management at Craven Cottage in 1980 at the age of just thirty. It says something for the state of match attendances at the time that the crowd for this one of 29,647 was the second biggest of the day, anywhere in the country.