THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Football League Division One, 1975

NewcastleVilla4005 September ~ This was the first top-flight meeting between the two clubs since 1966 "when we were both struggling at the wrong end of the First Division table", notes the programme. Although Newcastle exacted revenge for Villa's 3-0 win almost a decade earlier, there wasn't much change overall – at the end of the 1975-76 season Newcastle finished 15th and Villa 16th, both with an unremarkable 39 points. Today, of course, neither of these Premier League colossi would settle for such a mediocre placing...

Back to the 1970s, though, and the programme's head hack Alister Harrison is struggling with the problem of What To Do About Hooliganism, like so many of his bright and imaginative colleagues of that era. "Let's be absolutely clear about this," he states. "The problem is acute. Yet what football clubs can do about it is beyond me." Admitting his own cluelessness would be commendably honest, not to mention accurate, but he doesn't stop there – he tackles the problem head-on anyway.

Harrison proposes (sit down before you read this) a membership card scheme. This would not apply to away fans, who would have their own "fairly small" enclosure. But what about the casual Geordie fan? That's easy – he (there were apparently no women at Newcastle games in the 1970s) can go in the away section, "because if he's only interested in coming occasionally I doubt whether he will become passionately involved to the extent where he wants to thump somebody”. Problem solved! Why on earth did no one listen to this gifted and frighteningly literate visionary at the time?

The rest of the programme pretty much ignores the home side and is curiously preoccupied with Villa – a generous five-and-a-half pages are devoted to the visitors, including a particularly long and tortuous (and unsigned) eulogy to Ray Graydon: "As such he is one of those people who contribute to perhaps the best of all spectacles in soccer – the sight of a defender being committed and passed with a flying opponent going into the ball and putting in crossed shots which bring goals either directly or indirectly." Oh yes, we all love to see a bit of that.

Result Newcastle 3 (Macdonald 2, Craig) Aston Villa 0

Crowd 35,604

Newcastle Mahoney, Nattrass, Bird, Howard, Kennedy, Craig, Cassidy, Nulty, Gowling, Macdonald, Burns

Aston Villa Cumbes, Ross, Phillips, Nicholl, Robson, Aitken, Hamilton, Leonard (Morgan), Little, Graydon, Carrodus

Ian Plenderleith

You can save £2 on Ian Plenderleith's "Rock n Roll Soccer: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League", published by Icon Books

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