We've Met Before - Newcastle
Paul Waterhouse looks at games between Chelsea and Newcastle up to 1950.
Encounters between Chelsea and Newcastle United stretch back almost to the very beginning of Chelsea's history. Formed in 1892, although their origin could be traced back even further, Newcastle United had already secured two Division 1 titles prior to meeting Chelsea for the first time on 14th September 1907. Chelsea, just two years after being founded now found themselves in Division 1 and the words of Henry Augustus Mears, who stated, "Now for the struggle." proved prophetic.
A heavy 4-2 home defeat against Sheffield United on the opening day set the tone for a difficult start to life among the elite. A much improved display in the first away game at St James's Park in front of 35,000 spectators saw Chelsea push the reigning champions all the way and looked on course for a deserved point until Ronald Orr scored the winner for the home side in the 80th minute. When the return took place at Stamford Bridge on 23rd September 1907, Chelsea were smarting from a 6-0 thrashing at Nottingham Forest and were rock bottom of the table.
For the Monday 4.30pm kick off a crowd of 20,000 rolled up at Stamford Bridge to witness a goalless first half. The deadlock was broken on 53 minutes when James Windridge put Chelsea ahead and after withstanding late pressure, the home side wrapped up the victory, their first ever in Division 1 when Walter Bridgeman scored Chelsea's second in the final minute.
Newcastle United feature prominently in Chelsea's F.A. Cup history as well, the first such meeting in the competition occurring on 25th March 1911. At the time Chelsea were back in Division 2, but a superb cup run had taken them to a semi-final played at St Andrews in Birmingham. Sadly for Chelsea it was Newcastle United who romped to an easy 3-0 win in front of 34,000 spectators.
Their paths crossed again in the F.A. Cup four years later, this time the occasion being a 4th Round Tie at Stamford Bridge on 6th March 1915. An impressive gate of 58,760 saw Chelsea take the lead on 30 minutes through Robert Thomson, but a 65th minute equaliser from Thomas Goodwill secured a replay at St James's Park for the North East side. A week later Chelsea upset the form book by not only taking Newcastle to extra time after a goalless ninety minutes in front of 49,827 spectators, but snatching victory thanks to a solitary Harry Ford goal on 96 minutes. The final at Old Trafford proved to be a huge disappointment as opponents, Sheffield United, won 3-0.
The semi -final stage of the F.A. Cup in 1931-32 saw the two teams meet once again, this time at Leeds Road, Huddersfield on 12th March 1932. With an attendance of 36,709 spectators present it was Newcastle who prevailed, scoring two first half goals through Jack Allen and Tommy Lang. Playing against his former club, Hughie Gallacher reduced the deficit for Chelsea on 35 minutes but that was as good as they could muster on the day.
After World War 2, Chelsea's league form continued in much the same way it had before the conflict, totally unpredictable. On 25th
August 1948, Chelsea travelled to St James's Park for a Division 1 fixture in front of 58,020 spectators. Hugh Billington put Chelsea ahead on 39 minutes but goals either side of half time by George Lowrie and Jackie Milburn put the home side in the lead. Just after the hour mark, Newcastle old boy, Roy Bentley drew Chelsea level and in the end they could thank goalkeeper, Harry Medhurst, for the point after he saved an Ernie Taylor penalty.
The return fixture at Stamford Bridge on 1st September 1948 proved to be just as exciting as the encounter at St James's Park. With 50,207 present inside Stamford Bridge, the visitors took a 27th minute lead through Jackie Milburn and they doubled their advantage five minutes after the break. It seemed an unassailable lead, but moments later Benny Jones halved the deficit. Chelsea hammered the Newcastle defence and they got their reward after 75 minutes when Tommy Law converted a penalty to level the score. The game seemed destined for a draw until the final minute when Colin Gibson scored out of nothing to give the visitors both points.
The following season Chelsea managed a 2-2 draw at St James's Park before conspiring to lose 3-1 at home in the return fixture. However, one crumb of comfort came via the F.A. Cup on 28th January 1950. Having been fortunate in beating Brentford at Griffin Park in the 3rd Round, Chelsea knew that 4th Round opponents, Newcastle United would be a tough proposition. In the end it proved anything but as Chelsea strolled to an easy 3-0 victory. With a huge gate of 64,664 present, Hugh Billington scored twice inside 26 minutes and a late strike by Bobby Campbell added the gloss on a one sided contest and a visit to Chesterfield in the 5th Round.
Reproduced with permission from Paul Waterhouse, Bygone Chelsea 1905-99