Classic Match | Newcastle United 1981

50 years after the legendary 1931 FA Cup quarter-final clash with Sunderland, City had the chance to reach that round of the competition for a second time by beating the Makems main rival’s, Newcastle United, in an FA cup replay at St James Park.

Having put in a solid performance in the original tie, where they had earned a draw through a fine goal from Lee Roberts, City fancied their chances of joining the likes of Hereford in becoming the latest banana skin to put the skids on the Geordie’s hopes of FA Cup Glory.

As you can imagine there was huge interest in this game, not just from the people of Exeter, but also the BBC who invested £10,000 in improving the lights at the Park so that the match could be shown on the television.

With a seventeen thousand plus crowd filling the ground to bursting point, and cheering on the players, the Grecians showed their intent from the first minute when Newcastle’s Stuart Boam had to clear Lee Robert’s close range effort off the line.

Boosted by the roaring noise of the crowd, City pressed on to seek an advantage, which came in the 13th minute when the Newcastle keeper Kevin Carr spilled Peter Hatch’s in-swinging corner over the line to make it 1-0.

If there was a touch of good fortune about the opener, there could be no complaints about the second, which cam just six minutes later when Ian Pearson’s acrobatic overhead kick left the Geordie’s silenced as the Big Bank and the Cowshed erupted in deafening celebration.

The momentum remained with City for the rest of the half, and with just three minutes to go before the break Peter Rogers took advantage of more chaos in the Newcastle box to steer the ball home for number three.

While the second half was more balanced than the first, City remained on top, and it says much for the quality of the performance that Newcastle failed to register a decent attempt on goal until the 66th minute.

It also says a lot that Tony Kellow, who had scored a hat-trick in the previous round against Leicester, did not end up on the score sheet that night, with the honour of the fourth and final goal going to Martyn Rogers who volleyed home John Sparrow’s cross in the 88th minute.

The Newcastle papers reported the match as a dismal defeat for the Geordie’s, while the Echo described the game as ‘champagne football’, and one of the best performances in Exeter’s history... I can’t imagine that anyone at the game, or who saw the highlights that night, would disagree.


Final Score: ECFC 4 NUFC 0

Exeter City: Bond, M. Rogers, Sparrow, Forbes, L. Roberts, P. Roberts, Pearson, P. Rogers, Kellow, Delve, Hatch.

Newcastle United: Carr, Carney, Johnson, Walker, Boam, Halliday, Shoulder, Trewick, Clarke, Warton, Waddle.

Man of the match: Peter Hatch

Attendance: 17,688


Written by: Wil Barrett

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