Newcastle United 3 Man City 4
Football League Division One; Saturday May 11, 1968
Newcastle United 3 Manchester City 4
Newcastle: I.McFaul, D.Craig, F.Clark, B.Moncur, J.McNamee, J.Iley, J.Sinclair, J.Scott, W.Davies, B.Robson, T.Robson.
Man City: K.Mulhearn, T.Book, G.Pardoe, M.Doyle, G.Heslop, A.Oakes, F.Lee, C.Bell, M.Summerbee, N.Young, T.Coleman.
Match Report Seldom has the last day of the season seen such a dramatic climax to the first division title race. Not only were there two teams locked on level points at the top of the table but they both came from the same city.
The city involved was Manchester and leading the way by virtue of a better goal average were City. Clinching the championship looked anything but straightforward, however, for while the Blues faced a tricky trip to Newcastle neighbours United, the reigning champions, were at home to a Sunderland side that had only just avoided relegation.
A United victory looked inevitable so the likelihood was that City would need to win at St James Park if they were to take the trophy from Old Trafford across town to Maine Road.
One thing was for certain, City would not be without support up in the North East. Somewhere in the region of 20,000 fans had made the journey to cheer on their heroes and they were not slow to make themselves heard among the capacity crowd.
With the atmosphere crackling and with so much at stake the early exchanges were hurried and somewhat nervy. Both sides were quick to send the ball long from defence with their forwards willing to chase despite having little realistic chance of profiting from the service.
Mike Summerbee sniffed an opportunity when a Newcastle defender played a tentative back pass but Iam McFaul was out sharply to collect as City looked to attack the end were the bulk of their supporters were gathered.
At the other end George Heslop misjudged a high ball out of the Newcastle defence and his glancing header ran away for a corner to the home side. Bryan "Pop" Robson sent the flag kick back to the edge of the box to Jim Scott whose dipping shot on the bounce cannoned back into play from the crossbar with Ken Mulhearn beaten.
From the rebound Tommy Robson appeared to be held back by a wrong footed defender but the referee instead awarded City a mysterious free kick.
The visitors were coming second in most of the midfield exchanges early on and were totally unable to find any attacking rhythm. Newcastle looked far less inhibited as they sailed into the 50-50 challenges with a passion and found themselves winning most of them.
This urgency did not result in any clear cut chances, however, and Mulhearn showed himself capable under the stream of high balls sent into his penalty area.
Ironically Newcastle's keen competitiveness would contribute to their falling behind against the run of play in the 14th minute. John McNamee was penalised for a robust challenge on Summerbee out wide to give City a free kick.
Mike Doyle slid a clever ball down the side of the penalty area for Colin Bell who twisted and turned before laying a simple ball back into the path of the supporting Doyle. He sent a low, driven ball towards the near post and Summerbee stepped off his marker to flick a fine finish beyond the stranded McFaul and give City the lead.
There were scenes of jubilation all around the terraces as the City fans celebrated this crucial goal and the players too might have let their minds drift in contemplation of what the strike might signify.
Lack of concentration could have been a factor in Newcastle's instant equaliser although nothing should be taken away from the quality of the goal itself.
Heslop stormed into a tackle just outside his own area and having won the ball cleanly immediately set off on a run out of defence. Having sidestepped one challenge the City centre half played the ball forward but a lunging challenge from McNamee stopped the pass from reaching its' intended target and sent the ball flying back towards the City goal.
With Heslop out of position Wyn Davies chested the ball down into the path of Jackie Sinclair who drifted left before turning sharply to play Pop Robson in on goal down the inside right channel.
Robson only had Mulhearn to beat and did so with an arching shot hit with the outside of his right boot.
This time it was the Newcastle fans turn to celebrate as Robson ran along the touchline punching the air.
These goals helped to settle both sides down and the game became very open as well as very physical. The more direct approach of Newcastle continued to look the more likely to bring success as City's talented attacking trio found the going tough against the rugged home defence.
There was danger for the visitors when a dubious free kick was awarded for a supposed infringement against Davies and when the kick was lobbed into the box by Jim Iley there was confusion in the City defence after Davies leapt to head the ball forward.
Mulhearn came and punched but got no distance on his attempted clearance and Davies sent in a towering header that was dropping underneath the bar until Book produced a prodigious leap of his own to head the ball behind for a corner.
With five minutes to go until half time it looked as though City would be content to get into the dressing room all square and regroup but suddenly they were back in front with a goal out of absolutely nothing.
Colin Bell picked up possession following a throw in down the right and slipped the ball inside to Alan Oakes. The wing half was in space and moved forward a few yards before shooting for goal from distance.
The shot was feeble and bounced limply forward towards the edge of the box where it was met on the turn by Neil Young who smashed a superb first time drive into McFaul's right hand bottom corner giving the keeper no chance whatsoever.
Amazingly City were again unable to hold their lead for more than a matter of seconds. There were shades of Newcastle's first goal as Heslop roared in to win a challenge only to send a wayward pass straight to an opponent.
This time it was Iley and when he pumped the ball towards the edge of the City box Sinclair took a neat touch on his body before smashing a magnificent dipping shot way over Mulhearn and into the top far corner.
Instead of taking a lead into half time with them City ended up happy enough to go in all square after Newcastle came at them with a vengeance in the final few minutes of the half.
A breathless first half therefore ended with everything still up for grabs.
Half Time: Newcastle United 2 Manchester City 2
The sensational news filtering through to the ground at half time was that United were actually losing against Sunderland. This information no doubt lifted spirits in the City camp but few would have been willing to rely on that situation remaining the same.
It is likely that the news breathed extra confidence into a side that came out for the second half determined to secure their own destiny, however.
There was an early scare when Oakes missed his header to allow Davies a shooting chance but the lanky strikers' shot almost cleared the Leazes terrace and then City took over.
Suddenly all three of their attackers began to look lively and dangerous and the tireless Bell was suddenly at the heart of everything.
Francis Lee threw himself into a couple of challenges to help win his side possession and City clicked into gear. Doyle found Book moving forward from right back, he slid a precise ball into Bell breaking into the penalty area and he turned back inside his marker to shoot low for the far post.
McFaul was beaten but David Craig was able to clear off the line at full stretch. As the ball ran out to the side of goal, however, Young was arriving at pace to slam the ball straight back into the net before anyone could react.
For the third time on this dramatic afternoon City had the lead and this time they were not going to give it away without a fight.
Indeed the visitors now had the bit between their teeth and continued to pour forward, looking dangerous all across the front line.
Coming under sustained pressure for the first time Newcastle immediately looked vulnerable especially as none of their forward players looked remotely interested in tracking back.
This did mean they always carried the threat of a counter attack, however, and on one such break they almost hauled themselves level again.
Jackie Sinclair got lucky with an attempted back heeled pass which stuck under his feet but still sent a couple of opponents the wrong way and allowed him to turn and surge forwards. He attempted to play a give and go with Davies on the edge of the box and although a City defender got back to whip the ball off his toes the interception flew just wide of the far post in a heart stopping moment for the men from Manchester.
In the main though City now looked far more likely scorers with the home sides' formation becoming increasingly ragged. Sure enough the visitors gave themselves a two goal cushion just past the hour mark after the home side had surrendered possession cheaply once again.
The impressive Doyle stepped in to make the interception before finding Bell marauding forward yet again. Driving diagonally towards the box from right to left Bell suddenly stabbed a killer reverse ball through to Lee who took the ball up to McFaul before clipping his shot beyond the keeper and into the net.
This time the City celebrations were unrestrained with both supporters and players alike seeming to feel that the job was basically done.
Lee went straight to the foot of the teeming Gallowgate terrace and found himself swamped by ecstatic supporters and from all four corners of the ground away supporters danced onto the touchline in pure ecstasy.
In the centre of the pitch a jubilant Mike Doyle grabbed hold of the referee and lifted him to the sky in celebration.
Having gone two goals in front City withdrew slightly into their shell although the game remained, by todays' standards, incredibly open.
Newcastle continued to huff and puff but looked lacking in real creativity now that City were playing it a little bit safer.
Sinclair skipped away from Book following a quick throw in down the left touchline before sending over a bomb of a centre which Pop Robson met with a flying header at the far post but the effort was marginally high.
The aerial route was the one Newcastle were now relying on almost totally and eventually, just as it was beginning to appear that City were home and dry, this tactic paid dividends.
Jim Scott produced a nice bit of footwork in midfield before sending the ball out to Pop Robson on the right wing. Robson dodged Glyn Pardoe by the touchline and raced forward to whip over an inviting cross from the byeline.
The centre was crying out to be attacked and McNamee, up from the back, needed no encouragement, storming in to flash a fierce header beyond Mulhearn and ensure a frantic last few minutes for the hoardes of City fans.
The tension was almost unbearable but, in truth, Newcastle were never able to genuinely threaten an equaliser. City kept possession cleverly and when the home side did get the ball back they were too eager to get the ball forward and simply gave it straight back to the grateful visitors.
There could be no relaxing until the final whistle was sounded but this duly happened without further alarm and City had done it.
Within seconds the St James Park pitch was covered with delirious City fans and that was just the start of possibly the biggest party the club and its' fans have ever enjoyed.
Safe in the knowledge that their team had taken the place of United as champions the City fans began the celebrations in earnest. As it happened this pulsating victory had actually been incidental as Sunderland had hung on at Old Trafford and recorded the unlikeliest of 2-1 victories.
That scarcely mattered. This had been the perfect way to clinch a championship even if it had been tough on the nerve ends at times.
As for United they did have a small consolation waiting around the corner in the shape of a European Cup final triumph over Benfica at Wembley.
For the moment the glory and the bragging rights were all City's.
Full Time: Newcastle United 3 Manchester City 4
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