Newcastle’s players reunite celebrate their 1969 Fairs Cup glory

We were more than team-mates, that’s why we’re here now: Newcastle’s players reunite in Budapest to celebrate their 1969 Fairs Cup glory…and Sportsmail tags along

  • It is now 50 years since Newcastle last won a trophy, beating Ujpest 6-2 
  • The aggregate win was enough to see them lift the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup 
  • Scottish winger Jim Scott, now 78, is one of the Magpies who has returned
  • The players recalled a half-time instruction that helped transform the game 

It is 50 years since Newcastle United last won a trophy, beating Hungarian champions Ujpest Dozsa 6-2 on aggregate to lift the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup of 1969. 

The team, led by captain Bob Moncur, returned to Budapest this week to celebrate the anniversary. Sportsmail’s Craig Hope was with them…

Newcastle United captain Bobby Moncur holds aloft the Inter Cities Fairs Cup in 1969

(Left to right) John Craggs, Alan Foggon, Bob Moncur, Jim Scott, Frank Clark, David Craig, David Clark, Keith Dyson and Ollie Burton enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane in Budapest

The first thing you see are the floodlights, vintage Eastern European and intimidating in their own way, dominating the skyline of the Ujpest district on the banks of the Danube.

Our taxis approach, taking the same journey along the tree-lined Vaci Ut as the team coach had done exactly half a century ago.

‘It’s just as hot as it was then,’ says Frank Clark, the left-back. The temperature on the dashboard reads 35C.

On that summer’s evening of June 11, Joe Harvey’s side arrived with a 3-0 lead from the first leg at St James’ Park.

Scottish winger Jim Scott, now 78 years old, scored in that game. He is in the front seat as the Megyeri uti Stadion looms into view.

‘Bill Shankly and Don Revie said Ujpest were the best team in Europe,’ he tells us. ‘And they were probably right.’

Ujpest had beaten Revie’s great Leeds side 3-0 in the quarter-finals of a competition which included the continent’s best – Liverpool, Juventus and Rangers among them. 

‘We knew they were good, but the press were still saying we had one hand on the trophy,’ says Scott.

Ujpest Dozsa goalkeeper Antal Szentmihalyi makes a save from Moncur from close range

Craig, Burton, Moncur and Clark were among the last men to win silverware for Newcastle

The stadium has developed over time but our host believes the old dressing-rooms still exist, deep in the main stand. David Craig, the Northern Ireland right-back, wants to find them.

‘This is the corridor,’ he says, as we turn into a long, concrete passage. Fifty paces ahead, on the right, there is a door. ‘This is it,’ says Craig. The 75-year-old stands silent, later admitting the scene stirred memories which had long since faded.

Clark joins us. ‘We went out to warm up but we soon came back in, we were f****** sweating,’ says the man who later won a European Cup with Nottingham Forest. ‘Ujpest were out there buzzing the ball about. We didn’t need to see that.’

Doug Weatherall was the Daily Mail’s man in the stadium that night. ‘That first-half performance from Ujpest was among the best I’ve ever seen. My God, they were excellent,’ says the 86-year-old. His eyes fill as he finds the spot at the base of the stand from where he watched Ujpest take a 2-0 lead inside 45 minutes. ‘It’s all coming back to me now.’

Back in the dressing-room, Clark is sitting with his head in his hands, bent at the waist.

’What are you doing?’ Craig asks.

’I’m remembering how I felt at half-time. There was a pool of sweat from my brow, just there,’ he says, pointing at the tiled floor. ‘Moncs (Moncur) said to me, “If ever we need the gaffer to lift us, it’s now”.’ 

Moncur, the Scotland captain, takes up the tale. ‘Joe eventually bursts in like John Wayne through these saloon doors with a cigarette in his mouth. And all he says is this, “Lads, what’s the problem? All you need to do is score one f****** goal and these foreigners will collapse like a pack of cards”.

‘I said, “Gaffer, score a goal? We haven’t been past the f****** halfway line!”.’

But Harvey was right. Within 60 seconds of the restart, Moncur, a centre-back who had never scored a senior goal before the final, volleyed home, adding to his two from the first leg.

‘That killed them,’ says Clark. ‘It was like pricking a balloon. I also think they thought, “Moncur! Him, again? He’s a f****** defender!”.’

We are back in the middle of the main stand, estimating that this is where the players’ wives had sat amid the partisan locals.

Clark had been best man for forward Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson the week before the game. Moncur and Craig were by each other’s side on their wedding days.

‘We were more than team-mates,’ says Craig. ‘I suppose that’s why we’re here now.’

We gaze out towards the goal where Danish midfielder Preben Arentoft volleyed a second and Geordie teenager Alan Foggon smashed a third.

Clark says: ’As the goals were going in, me and Moncs were at the back trying to work out what it meant with the away-goals rule. We agreed, “F*** knows, let’s just make sure they don’t get any!”.’ 

Joe Harvey, the manager, said at half time: ‘All you need to do is score one f****** goal’

Clark, Scott, Sportsmail’s Craig Hope, Craig and Moncur pose for a photo in Hungary

And that they did. Newcastle, in their first season in European competition, were Fairs Cup champions.

Moncur recalls: ’My wife Camille was celebrating and a Hungarian lent forward and clocked her on the head with an umbrella!’ The wives quickly escaped the home end.

Clark adds: ‘We’re on a lap of honour with the trophy, knackered, and a couple of the girls came running past us, they were quicker than us!’

Weatherall had sent his match report down the phone and made for the dressing-room. We are stood in the spot where he waited for his post-match interview with Harvey. ‘I just remember Joe giving me the biggest bear hug I’ve ever had in my life,’ he says. ‘I can still feel that now.’

There is a picture of the celebrated Ujpest team of ’69 on the wall as we climb back towards the main entrance. ‘Notice what they haven’t got?’ asks Wales defender Ollie Burton. ‘The Fairs Cup trophy!’.

As we leave the stadium, Clark wraps his arm around Weatherall’s shoulder. It is, the pair agree, the last time they will make this walk together. 

Frank Clark shared a moment with an emotional Doug Weatherall as they left the ground

Moncur scored the opening goal of the first leg against Ujpest Dozsa at home in Newcastle

In the Caledonia Pub in downtown Budapest the big screen crackles into action. Chairs scrape as Newcastle’s players and the fans who have travelled here with them work room for a view. The highlights of the final begin.

‘Go on Bob lad,’ roars Foggon as Moncur sets off from deep for his second goal at St James’.

Scott then dribbles by a defender, swaps passes with Arentoft and chips in for 3-0. The silky wideman is among the quieter members of the team. Not now. He is out of his seat, punching the air.

‘Twinkletoes,’ shouts Clark. A chant of ‘Jimmy, Jimmy Scott’ fills the pub and spills onto the busy Mozsar Ut. ‘Jimmy Scott?’ wonder the unsuspecting locals.

The second leg kicks off. ‘Let’s not show the first half!’ says Craig. 

Jim Scott scored the third goal for Newcastle as they won 3-0 in the first leg of the tie

Again, Newcastle’s goals are celebrated as if live. The third is scored by Foggon, the baby of the team at 19. There is still something of a boyish charm about Foggon. He wears his polo shirt and cap with Newcastle United crests on and drinks merrily among the supporters who are his friends.

‘Go on Foggo, catch those pigeons,’ says Moncur as the black-and-white footage shows him out-sprinting two defenders and volleying in the rebound from his own shot.

We are at the pub for the launch of the brilliant book, The Amazing Journey, which has been released in English and Hungarian to mark the anniversary.

The players – also including striker Keith Dyson, defender John Craggs and reserve goalkeeper David Clark – take the mic to share tales as the games against Feyenoord, Sporting Lisbon, Real Zaragoza, Vitoria Setubal and Rangers are relived.

A generous contribution by Newcastle United has helped cover the cost of food and drink for the four-night stay, and that comes in very handy when the stories continue until 4am on the terrace outside of our hotel at the foot of the Buda hills.

Chris Emmerson is the man who has organised the trip through his Toon Legends Club. He raises a glass, and says: ‘They say you should never meet your heroes. I could not disagree more.’

Wyn Davies celebrates with the Inter Cities Fairs Cup as fans try to take a look

In Ujpest Town Hall Newcastle’s players arrive for a civic reception, each of them suited and proudly turned out despite the heat.

So, too, are seven of the Ujpest team, including the great Hungary striker Antal Dunai. His name has been coming up in conversation all week.

‘What a player,’ says Clark. ‘Him and a few others could have played for Barcelona if it wasn’t for the regime not allowing it.’

Dunai takes to the stage. He does not want for confidence. ‘Individually, we had players who were world class,’ he says.

‘But Newcastle played a game we could not deal with and took their chances. If we played it again, we would win.’

Burton whispers: ‘Can someone remind him it was 6-2?’. Moncur shouts from the front row: ’Alright then, throw us a ball’. 

The Fairs Cup had elite sides such as Juventus and Liverpool in it but Newcastle triumphed

The pair exchange gifts on stage and Dunai squares up as if ready to take on his old foe. A shadow play ensues, but there’s no way past Moncur. They settle on a hug.

The effort put into this event by our Hungarian hosts clearly touches the players. A band appears and belts out ‘Summer of 69’ before a dance troupe perform to the tune of ‘Blaydon Races’.

As the sun sets, Moncur reflects, champagne in hand.

‘I’ve spoken for so many years about being the last Newcastle captain to lift a trophy that I’m sick of it. But coming back here, with the boys, it makes it feel real. It makes you think, “Hold on, we bloody well did achieve something special”. So let’s celebrate it.’ 

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article