BY MARK CARRUTHERS
This season is a rather historic one for Premier League football. For the first time in English top flight football, goal line technology is being used. Yes, after much debate and dispute the decision that will no doubt put an end to many alcohol fuelled debates was made and “Hawkeye” came into play on the opening day of the season.
Anthony Taylor was the first referee to test the new system as he correctly ruled out a “goal” scored by Aston Villa’s Fabian Delph in his side’s shock 3-1 win over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium. Historically there have been many occasions where the use of “Hawkeye” would have been beneficial, maybe none more so than during the 1966 World Cup Final at Wembley as Geoff Hurst – or Sir Geoff Hurst to use his correct title these days – scored the second goal of his hat-trick on English football’s greatest day against West Germany. However a full thirty four years before Hurst’s heroics goal line technology at the same venue could have prevented one of the most infamous and controversial FA Cup Final goals of all time. Indeed, technology of the day was to pass judgement on a refereeing decision that could still be debated to this day.
Newcastle United, under Scotsman Andy Cunningham – who was to manage the unwanted “achievement” of overseeing the Magpies’ first ever relegation two years later – had belied an average season to inflict an FA Cup semi-final defeat on a Chelsea side featuring former Gallowgate favourite, Hughie Gallacher. Their opposition on the grandest day in the English domestic football calendar was to be Arsenal.
This was a Gunners side led by the legendary manager Herbert Chapman and featured many greats of the day such as Cliff Bastin, Eddie Hapgood and David Jack. A near impossible task faced the Magpies who pinned their hopes on their original “local hero” Jack Allen and inside forward Jimmy Richardson, a player who made his semi-professional football debut at the age of just 14-years-old for local non-league side, Blyth Spartans. Those two players combined to score the goal that was to see this Cup Final dubbed the “Over the Line” final.
As if to rubber stamp their status as favourites for the game, the Gunners took the lead on the quarter of an hour mark after a lot of early pressure on the Magpies goal. A cross from the right wing from Arsenal’s outside right Joe Hulme was completely misjudged by United keeper Albert McInroy and that allowed the half back Bob John to head home from close range.
However, the Magpies were made of stern stuff and after a shaky start, they started to find their feet in front of a capacity crowd that included King George V. Seven minutes before the half time interval, Jack Allen got the Geordies back on level terms with the controversial goal. A long ball down the wing set flying machine Jimmy Richardson away. At the time Richardson was mistaken for team mate Jimmy Boyd but there was no doubt it was Richardson who sprinted after the ball to prevent it from going out for a goal kick. The inside forward reached the ball and his cross found Allen who beat two Gunners defenders to stab home from six yards out to send the travelling Geordies wild and leave the Arsenal defenders apoplectic with anger.
What a talking point to have in a game that every club in England wanted to win, was it over the line? Referee Harper certainly thought so as he rather grandly proclaimed “It was a goal. As God is my judge, the man was in play“. He was to be proven wrong by technology, although there is also a historical debate that images taken by the modern day camera could be doctored to suit the preference of the media outlet they were shown in. Both film and photographic evidence were used and the goal caused a stir previously unheard of but now the “Over the Line” goal was the talk of the national game.
Debate raged with opinions falling on both sides of the argument. A national newspaper report referred to the British Movietone News footage saying “By a clear device, the film is stopped for several seconds just at the point when Richardson was about to centre the ball. This enables supporters to assume themselves that the ball was well over the white line”.
Obviously, there was much dispute from the Arsenal camp with Charlie Buchan quoted as saying “I could clearly see the white line, with the ball beyond it“. This was countered by the Magpies’ Jimmy Boyd saying “I was right behind Jack Allen as the ball came across and I’m convinced that it was a good goal“. He then added “The ball looked over the line from some angles because it was a foot off the ground when Jimmy Richardson reached it“. Ivan Sharpe, a respected journalist of the day fell on neither side of the fence and added fuel to an already raging fire by claiming “I attached no importance to the photographs, as I know from experience how the touching up process may, quite unintentionally, alter details”. No matter what people thought post-match, the goal stood and nobody at the time could change that.
The Magpies, who were buoyed by the goal, went on to win the Cup. Allen was to become the two goal hero as he struck in the 72nd minute, and this time there was to be no doubt whatsoever about the goal. Collecting a pass from Boyd the centre forward went on a run that took him past defenders Herbie Roberts and Eddie Hapgood before smashing a low shot from the edge of the box that deceived Arsenal keeper Frank Moss and crept into the net via the far post. Allen achieved iconic status thanks to his Wembley brace and as the Cup homecoming parade was in full swing, passionate Geordies shouted “Give us Jack Allen, we want Allen, we want Allen“. The Magpies had won the famous trophy for the third time after victories in 1910 and 1924 but this was undoubtedly their most controversial victory yet, something that neither history, nor the technology of the day could ever take away from them.
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