About time Toon

Tuesday 13 November 2001

Ian McCulloch writes for Fulham Today...

Toon Up

Newcastle's season has just got better and better. Currently in fourth place after comprehensively demolishing previous League leaders Aston Villa 3-0 at St James' Park, some of their football so far this term has been outstanding. With a superb series of results being offset only by their notorious failure against London clubs - a draw at Chelsea, a bad 3-0 loss at West Ham and a 2-0 defeat at home to Tottenham, the Magpies desperately need to solve their remarkable jinx. They failed to gain any points at all in London last season and haven't won in the capital since November 1997, a run of 26 games.

Having scored four goals on three occasions, and three goals in their last two games, hitting the back of the net has not been a problem, and in what promises to be a highly entertaining encounter on Saturday, it's interesting to note that there has never been a scoreless draw between the two teams at the Cottage.

The Team

The close season signings of Coventry's Craig Bellamy for £6m and Laurent Robert for £10m from Paris Saint-German, plus the return from injury of Alan Shearer, have given Newcastle a formidable attacking presence. Bellamy has been a revelation, his willingness to run at defenders causing widespread panic, and Robert has turned out to be the classy performer that manager Bobby Robson always hoped he would be. With strikers Carl Cort, Lomana Tresor Lua Lua and Shola Ameobi also competing for places up front, they appear to have plenty of attacking strength in depth.

Doubts still remain about the quality of their defence, although the return of Robbie Elliott has added some solidity. £5m purchase Marcelino has yet to feature this season. England prospect Keiron Dyer is still recovering from his long-term shin injury, and it has yet to be seen what effect the recent disciplinary problems in Spain will have on either the team or individual players.

He wore both Colours

Malcolm Macdonald was one of Fulham's great give-aways. After QPR manager Alex Stock had poached Rodney Marsh for next to nothing, Stock came back as Luton boss and snapped-up Macdonald for a mere £17,500.

Season 1968-69 was a terrible one for Fulham as they slid through the Second Division on the way to the Third from the First. Manager Bobby Robson, after seeing his team go 660 minutes without scoring a goal, in desperation tried a young fullback at centre forward. Macdonald it was, and he went on to net five times in ten games. When Robson moved on, Macdonald fell out of favour and was criminally allowed to leave the Club.

His career as a goal-scorer blossomed. After 49 goals in 88 league games for Luton, he signed for Newcastle in a £180,000 deal and as "Supermac" scored 95 goals in 187 league games for the Magpies. He later moved on to Arsenal where he played until a bad knee injury prematurely ended his career. He played fourteen times for England, once famously scoring five goals in one game.

He was to reappear at Fulham as Chief Marketing Executive, and when Manager Bobby Campbell was sacked in 1980, despite having no coaching experience, he stepped up to take charge of team affairs. With virtually an unchanged squad of players and spending no money, Macdonald was to take the team to within one point of a return to top-flight football. He had a flair for bringing in the best coaches to work alongside him, and the team he put together was probably the finest that Fulham fans had seen since the side that won promotion to the old First Division.

Unfortunately Macdonald's tangled private life began to impact on his professional ability and he became one of the casualty's of Chairman Ernie Clay's determined break up of the Club. An undoubted loss to the managerial game, he now works as a journalist in the Northeast.

From the Past

There have been some thrilling encounters between the two teams over the years, none more so than the FA Cup-tie in January 1956 in front of 39,000 fans at the Cottage that Newcastle won 5-4. After going behind 3-0 the Whites came back to lead 4-3, only to have a fifth goal mysteriously disallowed and lose the game to two late goals, one of which included the goalkeeper being bundled over the line whilst holding the ball.

More recently, in October 1982, Malcolm Macdonald's Fulham took Kevin Keegan's Newcastle apart in front of 29,000 disbelieving Geordies. Macdonald's fine young team were at their peak, and in a thrilling display, won the game 4-1. The Whites were 3-0 up inside 40 minutes with goals from Gordon Davies, Dean Coney and a sublime 25 yard chip from Ray Houghton over goalkeeper Carr's head.

Keegan earned the Magpies two highly dubious penalties, scoring the first and seeing the second saved by Fulham's current goalkeeping coach, Gerry Peyton, but Davies went on to get his second to seal a remarkably comfortable win. Fulham were magnificent that day, as they were for so much of a season that was to end in tragedy and injustice at Derby County.

Not many people know that

Originally called Stanley, the Club changed its name to avoid confusion with two other local Clubs, Stanley Nops and Stanley Albion.

ATTENTION FULHAM AND NEWCASTLE FANS...

Looking ahead to Saturday's game at Craven Cottage, there has been some fantastic games between our two club's in the past.

What about Fulham's stunning win at St. James Park back in 1982 and that epic Cup battle in 56? Do you remember them... Were you there?

There's also the Super Mac, Keegan and Robson links as well, so let's hear your thoughts, views and memories on the message board...