CRAIG HOPE: A flashback 70 years to the Newcastle side the club’s current stars will aim to emulate

CRAIG HOPE: A flashback 70 years to Newcastle’s FA Cup winning side led by Jackie Milburn, as the club’s current crop of stars seek to emulate the legendary team and end their long wait for silverware in the Carabao Cup

Spot the difference. Newcastle United’s current stars may be the toast of Tyneside, but they have never drunk champagne as part of their victorious dressing-room pictures. Not yet, anyway.

The boys of 1952 did, and as our photograph from the old Wembley changing room shows, the bare-chested Jackie Milburn is leading the celebration with a glass of fizz following their 1-0 win over Arsenal in the FA Cup final. Chilean George Robledo headed the only goal late on, a moment drawn by a young John Lennon that appears on the cover of his 1974 album, Walls and Bridges.

But from Wor Jackie to Wor Sean, Newcastle will be back at Wembley this month when they play Manchester United in the Carabao Cup final.

Geordie midfielder Sean Longstaff scored both goals in the 2-1 semi-final win over Southampton in Tuesday’s secong leg. Afterwards, as has become tradition for Eddie Howe’s squad, they took a picture in their dressing room.

Seventy years ago, as Newcastle won three FA Cups in five seasons, such moments were reserved only for silverware. But it is not since 1955 that the Magpies have lifted a domestic trophy with the last of that historic treble.

Newcastle's victory in the 1952 FA Cup final was one of three triumphs in five years

Newcastle’s victory in the 1952 FA Cup final was one of three triumphs in five years

Newcastle's current side will look to end the club's trophy drought in the Carabao Cup final

Newcastle’s current side will look to end the club’s trophy drought in the Carabao Cup final

Club historian Paul Joannou has chronicled the barren years, but smiles when shown the picture from 1952.

‘Jackie was never a drinker, but I’m sure he had a couple that day,’ says the 66-year-old, author of Newcastle United: The Ultimate Record.

‘The team from ’52 was the best of those three cup wins. George Robledo is hidden at the back of the picture, in between trainer Norman Smith and big Frank Brennan. His brother, Ted Robledo, is on the back row, far left. They were the first foreigners to play on the same side in an FA Cup final. George’s shirt is still on display at St James’. It has the city coat of arms where a crest is today — they only used that for finals until they got their own badge in 1976.’

The team moved on to the Savoy in London, where salmon tartare, mussels with asparagus and beef mains were on the menu. Entertainment came from comedian Charlie Chester. These days, Dan Burn’s dancing is putting smiles on faces.

Joannou adds: ‘Look at the size of Frank Brennan in the centre of the back row. He was the Dan Burn of this team. My dad was catering manager at the County Hotel in Newcastle, where the players liked to hang out. He’d tell me how Frank would have six sausages and three eggs for breakfast.

‘Like Eddie’s side, they were built on a brilliant defence, with Frank, Bobby Cowell, Alf McMichael and Joe Harvey at wing-half. They were electric in attack, too, with Milburn, George Robledo and Bobby Mitchell, who got the assist that day. But today’s team doesn’t have a Wor Jackie — he was something else.’

Joannou will be at Wembley on February 26, hoping every word he has ever written about the club’s wait for a trophy becomes redundant.

‘The story of this club never ends,’ he says. ‘Every day, every week, there is more intrigue, history being written before us.’ 


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