By Peter Mann
Tuesday 17 May 2011 08:42:00
Browse all Newcastle United A History articles

Second season syndrome seems to be highly contagious in sporting terms. And for Newcastle United, in playing terms at least, that 1894-95 season could be classed as being such an event. Even though the club's first season was littered with financial problems, they still managed a respectable fourth place finish. However, that second season would be a different story completely, and a one to which would both start and finish with heavy away defeats. All told, United would play some forty-four matches, winning only eighteen of them. Although they would net an impressive 106 goals, they did leak some 122 goals, and finished the season in tenth place.


In the league, results were probably as erratic as any could imagine them being, especially as the club only managed three draws, and high-scoring ones at that, when at home to Notts. County and away to Burslem Port Vale and Leicester Fosse. The first match of the season saw a 5-0 reverse away to Darwen, before the first match of the season arrived in the form of a derby friendly with Sunderland, Willie Thompson scoring United's goal in a 3-1 defeat. Four days after the derby was United's first home, league match, and some 6,000 spectators turned up to bear witness to nine goals, six of which came from the home side with braces from Robert Willis, Joseph Wallace, and John Smith (one of which was a penalty). However, the next match would see a blank for the United front-line as Grimsby won 3-0 on Tyneside in front of 4,000.


Over the next six matches though, United were unbeaten in the league with three victories, as those earlier mentioned score-draws, scoring some 20 times along the way, including edging another nine-goal thriller, this time in the home encounter with Manchester City, Willie Thompson scoring three in a 5-4 victory. Two out of three draws finished in eight goals being shared, in the away matches at Burslem Port Vale and Leicester Fosse. The United scorers over these matches were that of Charles Dickson, Robert Willis and Willie Thompson scoring in both matches, along with strikes from John McNee (at Burslem) and John Smith (with another penalty, this time away to Leicester).


This run though was abruptly halted at the start of November when away to the eventual champions, Bury, with Thompson netting again, in a 4-1 defeat. This loss arrived four days after a future United goalscorer, Neil Harris, was born In Glasgow, joining the club for five years in 1920. Some 6,000 spectators arrived at St. James' Park for the visit of Burton Wanderers with Thompson, Smith, and Robert McDermid, with his only goal of the season (and one of only two goals he would score for the club in some sixty plus appearances) in a 3-1  victory. This was just a flash in the pan as, over the next three matches, United lost again; away to Lincoln City 3-1, at home to Woolwich Arsenal 4-2, and away to Grimsby Town 4-1. In the home loss of this sequence, Charles Dickson scored twice in what was his only, but productive season, for the club, netting a dozen goals in 23 matches.


Following the last of those defeats, Bedlington Turks were defeated 4-2 away in a friendly, before United won the next three home matches on the bounce, scoring 18 times and conceding only four. Rotherham were first up and soundly beaten 5-2 with a brace apiece from Dickson and Willis, and one from Willie Graham.. This was followed by a 7-2 thrashing of Walsall Town Swifts on front of a paltry 1500. Making his debut for the club was Pat O'Brien, who only made 11 appearances in total, netting twice. In this match, John Smith scored three, Tom Crate bagged a brace (his only goals of the season), Bob Willis, and an own goal. The third win came in front of the highest crowd of the season as some 7,000 turned up to see Crewe Alexandra trounced 6-0, Smith again with a hat-trick; Pat O'Brien, Bob Willis and Joseph Wallace also netting as United dished out a Christmas Day bonanza in front of their own fans. The following day though, whilst on the road at Rotherham Town, United lost again, this time 1-0. The year of 1894 finished with a hard-fought 3-2 win away to Walsall as Robert Willis netted all three in a productive season for the United front-line.


The New Year of 1895 began at home, with Lincoln City being beaten 4-2 in a match which consisted of a Willie Thompson brace. Again this would be followed by four league defeats, as well as another friendly loss to Sunderland in the middle of January, Smith having netted in a 4-1 defeat in front of an impressive 8,000 spectators. The league defeats all came on the road, at Burton Swifts 5-3, Woolwich Arsenal 3-2, Manchester City 4-0, and Crewe Alexandra 2-1. Within this losing streak United had their FA Cup run, all of two matches. Burnley were beaten 2-1 at home in front of 8,000 at the start of February, Thomas Rendell scoring his only goals for the club with a brace. Two weeks later and the Magpies crashed out when away to the eventual winners, Aston Villa, as Thompson scored the consolation in an embarrassing 7-1 defeat. Aston Villa went on to win that season's competition with a 1-0 win over their local rivals, West Bromwich Albion.


During the remainder of United's league campaign, there would only be two victories from the six matches played, in the home games with Bury (Thompson scoring the games only goal) and Newton Heath in the second last match of the season (McNee, Thompson and Thomas Milne with the goals in a 3-0 win). Milne only played half a dozen matches for United before moving to rivals Sunderland where he spent two years. The remaining four league matches, all defeats, where away to Notts. County 2-1 and Newton Heath 5-1, and at home to Burslem Port Vale 2-1, and then the humbling, club record, 9-0 defeat, away to Burton Wanderers on 15th April 1895.


Between late February and the end of April the club played a further seven friendly matches to which resulted in that of first, a 2-2 draw with near-neighbours Blyth, then a 6-1 home win against East Stirlingshire to which included a brace apiece from Dickson and Thompson. Home defeats then followed agaisnt that of Glasgow Rangers and Bolton Wanderers, 5-2 and 6-1 respectively, before the season ending, friendly victories over rivals Sunderland (Thompson with the only goal), Preston NE in a 5-3 victory (consisting of a brace each from Wright and Dickson), and finally a 1-0 win away to Jarrow.


And so, Newcastle United's second season in English football was completed with a 10th place league finish, and with 27 points from their 30 matches; 21 points behind champions Bury. Excluding the friendly matches, Willie Thompson finished as the top scorer with 20 goals (19 in the league). Three other United players finished the season in double figures as Robert Willis (13 goals), Charles Dickson (11 goals) and John Smith (10 goals), all had a productive season in front of goal. During the summer both Tom Crate and Joseph Wallace left the club, for Hebburn Argyle and Rendell respectively. Joining the club however, would be a future United legend in Andy Aitken, coming from Ayr Parkhouse, and whom would score on his first-team debut. Other notable signings were Willie Wardrope from Linthouse and Jimmy Scott from Grimsby Town, as there looked to be a memorable 1895-96 season on the horizon.

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