Saturday 21 September, 1946
Newcastle United 1-2 Burnley
Seventy years ago today, after a stuttering start to the new season, the first Football League campaign after the end of the Second World War, six games in the Clarets’ promotion push was at last up and running.
Two goals from Harry Potts secured a well-deserved victory at St James Park in front of a crowd of more than 61,000, most of them fanatical Geordies. Centre forward Ray Harrison and winger Jack Hays both made their Clarets’ league debuts, with Potts scoring the first two league goals of his career.
He was 25 years old, with a significant part of his football career having been on hold whilst he served his country during hostilities.
Unbeaten Newcastle began as though they would sweep their Lancashire visitors away, but the Clarets’ defence stood firm with skipper Alan Brown a rock at the heart of the defence.
On 21 minutes, against the run of play, the Clarets went ahead when Potts latched onto a long through ball from Hays, drew the keeper and scored with a powerful left foot shot.
Nine minutes later the lead was doubled after a Hays corner from the left. The United defence were unable to clear and Potts had two shots blocked before crashing his third attempt into the net.
The Clarets kept the home side at bay in the second half, right up to the last minute when the Burnley defence was finally breached but the points were on their way back to Lancashire.
The Newcastle side contained a number of legends including Joe Harvey, Charlie Wayman, who scored United’s goal, and the incomparable Jackie Milburn.
They were one of the favourites to climb back to the top flight that season but missed out, trailing the promoted Clarets by ten points at the end of the campaign.
Burnley team (2-3-5); Jimmy Strong, Arthur Woodruff, Harold Mather, Harold Rudman, Alan Brown, George Bray, Jack Billingham, Harry Potts, Ray Harrison, Gordon Haigh, Jack Hays.