The Big Match Programme
When City came out second in the draw, the initial disappointment was soon forgotten. Chester fans remembered that in the great League Cup run of 1974-75 a well earned draw at St James’ Park brought Newcastle back to Sealand Road. Little did City fans know, packed in to a British Rail Special, that a replay would not be needed this time.
The excitement of travelling to a big Cup games away from home kept the train buzzing along up north to face a Newcastle side top of the Second Division and unbeaten at home for 25 matches. For those of us on that train, the engine did not quite “buzz” as much as the fans on it, and somewhere around York eventually came to a stop. By the time we got going again, it was then a race against time to get to the match before kick of. It soon became obvious that we were not, much to the frustration of everyone on board.
Those who had radios had the galling experience of listening to commentary on a game we should be watching City seemed to have started the game well and were certainly not overawed by their illustrious opponents. Newcastle nearly scored when ace hit man Alan Shoulder had a shot brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Grenville Millington, along with Trevor Storton, the only two survivors of the epic League Cup matches of five years previously. Storton and John Cottam had Peter Withe and Billy Rafferty well policed, and Peter Withe only managed to get away once, but his rasping shot went wide. Derek Jeffries back after a four match gap was brilliant, showing everyone why he was once a £100,000 player.
Without doubt one of the most complete footballers ever to pull on a Chester shirt, and deservedly winning a Player of the Season trophy. At the excitement going on in St James’ Park in front of 24,548 spectators was sheer hell for us listening in on the train. Meanwhile on the pitch after a move started by rampant Ronnie Phillips, Peter Anderson cashed in on a catalogue of mistakes in the Magpies defence to crash in a left foot drive into the far corner of the net. Newcastle United 0 Chester 1, the score reverberated around the football world, and to us on the train is was a mixture of elation and when are we going to get there?
We finally arrived at Newcastle and the local constabulary us very quickly up to the ground. What a welcome. As we passed the Kop end we were pelted by coins by the disgruntled Newcastle fans. But no time to pick up the coins, into the ground, half an hour late, but winning 1-0. We had hardly settled in our seats and sampled the atmosphere than the half time whistle went, and we had time to take our breath. The second half kicked off with City still in charge, in fact they were playing so well that it was hard to believe we were not watching a home match. Player manager Alan Oakes, alongside City favourite Brynley Jones, with Peter Sutcliffe, were running the game from midfield, and chances were falling thick and fast.
Peter Henderson, a Geordie himself, with all his local family watching, should have added a second goal but miskicked in front of a gaping goal. Even defender John Cottam moved up and shot just over the bar. Cassidy and Harwick both went close at the other end, but it only inspired Chester even more and fifteen minutes from the end Chester sealed the match.
The person to score the goal is quite well known to Chester fans, he had been scoring quite a few goals that season, but there wouldn’t be a more important one than this! Jim Walker took a throw in on the right and Peter Sutcliffe, playing with a thigh strain, bravely took the ball on and crossed the ball over where Phillips headed on to yes, you’ve guessed, eighteen year old Ian Rush slammed the ball all along the ground into the back of the net. Well, that was that, there was no coming back to Newcastle now. City fans were able to celebrate on the train coming home, no breakdowns this time! And the City team were rewarded with a fourth round draw at home to Millwall.
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