Newcastle United: The Jackie Milburn Years

Jackie Milburn was a true ‘one club’ man. True, he played briefly for Linfield and then Yiewsley at the end of his career but it was Newcastle United that was his real love. During his illustrious 14-year career at St James’ Park, Milburn blossomed into a real fan favourite making 399 appearances in the famous black and white shirt.

For many years, Milburn was Newcastle’s record goalscorer with 200 goals – a feat that stood until Toon legend Alan Shearer passed that mark in 2006. Nowadays, Milburn is still widely regarded as one of the club’s greatest talents; on par with Shearer, ‘Supermac’ Malcolm Macdonald and veteran goalkeeper Jimmy Lawrence.

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Without a doubt, Milburn was the heart and soul of Newcastle’s success in the 1950s but he had plenty of support. Fellow Englishman Len White, also one of the club’s top goalscorers, played his part whilst Bobby Mitchell notched 113 goals in 412 Magpies appearances.

As a trio, they were lethal in front of goal and Newcastle fans will have fond memories of trips to Wembley; Stan Seymour’s men won the FA Cup three times in a five-year spell during the early part of the ’50s, and these players were all pivotal figures throughout the competition.

On that fateful day against Blackburn back in May 1951, Newcastle fans were nervous – and rightly so. The Magpies had last tasted victory in an FA Cup final nearly 20 years earlier but Milburn led Newcastle to a memorable success. Two second-half strikes sent the travelling faithful wild and there were plenty of celebrations on the roads back to the north east. Who knows, with a bit of luck, Newcastle fans could find themselves heading back to the home of English football this campaign.

At the time of writing, the Magpies are priced at 50/1 to win the FA Cup according to Paddy Power’s football odds and Rafa Benitez’s men could take a leaf out of Milburn’s book in a bid to finally get their hands on silverware.

Of course, avoiding relegation has to be their number one objective but FA Cup glory would go down well with the fans. If anyone can inspire Newcastle to a shock success, it is Benitez – and memories of Milburn’s opener after 45 seconds in the 1955 final may get Toon fans dreaming.

In 1955, Newcastle bagged three goals against Manchester City; Milburn notching the first before Mitchell completed the win. Nowadays, the Magpies are in dire need of quality and Benitez should look for a Milburn-type figure to spearhead the attack.

Dwight Gayle had a solid campaign last year but doubts remain over whether he is capable of doing it week in, week out on the big stage. Benitez could do a lot worse than look elsewhere in the transfer market or simply show Gayle and co. a few tapes of Milburn, Mitchell and White in action.
Newcastle fans will look back fondly over the Jackie Milburn years but you never know what is round the corner: the Magpies could be set for a successful spell in the not-so-distant future. Benitez’s men can learn a lot from watching Milburn and co beating everybody left, right and centre.

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