Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Magpies Might Have Flown Nest in '68; NOSTALGIA DAVE MORTON Recalls the People and Places of the North East EMAIL: David.Morton.Editorial@ncjmedia.Co.UK TELEPHONE: 0191 2016437 WRITE TO: Dave Morton, Nostalgia Editor, the Chronicle, Groat Market, Newcastle, NE1 1ED @DaveSMorton Newcastle Chronicle - History Photosales - 0191 201 6000 PLANS TO MOVE TO NEW STADIUM 50 YEARS AGO

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Magpies Might Have Flown Nest in '68; NOSTALGIA DAVE MORTON Recalls the People and Places of the North East EMAIL: David.Morton.Editorial@ncjmedia.Co.UK TELEPHONE: 0191 2016437 WRITE TO: Dave Morton, Nostalgia Editor, the Chronicle, Groat Market, Newcastle, NE1 1ED @DaveSMorton Newcastle Chronicle - History Photosales - 0191 201 6000 PLANS TO MOVE TO NEW STADIUM 50 YEARS AGO

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVE MORTON

HIS was St James' Park in February, 1968.

TWith a near-60,000 capacity, on its day it could be one of the most intimidating, raucous and atmospheric stadiums in British football.

Fifty years ago, little did Newcastle United supporters know that some of the most stirring games in the club's history were just around the corner.

Over the next two or three seasons, against the odds, the Magpies would dispose of some of the biggest names in European football, roared on by huge, feverish crowds as the light from the four giant floodlight pylons beamed down.

When United humbled Feyenoord, Sporting Lisbon, Glasgow Rangers and others en route to the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1969, this is how St James' Park looked.

A little later, when Inter Milan - including half the Italian national team - were sent packing in 1970 by Wyn Davies and co, nearly 60,000 fans packed these very terraces.

But there was a problem.

Dramatic and imposing as it looked, St James' Park was in urgent need of improvement.

As 1970 approached, the ground accommodated only 4,700 sitting supporters in an antiquated main stand dating back to 1905.

Everyone else stood on terraces open to the Tyneside elements, apart from the Leazes End where a metal roof had been in place since 1929.

And there was another problem.

Newcastle United and the city council, from whom the club leased the ground, were at loggerheads.

From the early 1960s, the council - and its powerful leader T Dan Smith - had envisaged a forward-thinking rebuilt St James' Park sporting complex with swimming pools, five-aside pitches, badminton courts and more which involved the local community and Newcastle University.

None of this "European-style" project was of interest to the football club and its formidable chairman Lord Westwood who feared United might even be evicted.

The stalemate continued, forcing the Magpies to consider moving away from St James' Park - not for the first, or last, time in the club's history. …

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