11th January, 1975
Newcastle United 2 Tottenham Hotspur 5 (1st Division)
Scorers: Burns, Craig Conn (3), Knowles, Duncan
Team: Jennings; Kinnear, Knowles; Beal, England, Naylor; Neighbour (Evans), Perryman, Conn, Peters, Duncan
The 1974-75 season was a very disappointing one for Tottenham. Poor early results when Spurs lost their opening four League games brought about the resignation of Bill Nicholson. The decision by the Board to appoint Terry Neill with all his Arsenal connections was a strange one. The new manager signed some new players but the results continued to be poor and Spurs were involved in a relegation fight throughout the season.
At this point of the season, they had 21 points from 25 games (only 2 points for a win), and were 17th in the 22 team league, 5 points above the drop zone. Newcastle were in 10th position but had suffered a three goal defeat at Tottenham in early December. The win at White Hart Lane was Spurs best result of the season, to date, but over Christmas they had drawn both games, their only points from the four games since the win over Newcastle. They had also lost at home in an FA Cup replay against Nottingham Forest in midweek.
After such a sequence of results, this scoreline was totally unexpected and was inspired by a hat-trick from Alfie Conn, the last player signed by Bill Nicholson. Conn had been signed from Glasgow Rangers for £150,000 during the summer but had made only 3 appearances for Spurs. He was a substitute in Nicholson’s last game, a home League Cup defeat by Middlesbrough, he made a second appearance from the bench in the win over the Geordies and had started the Cup replay against Forest.
At St James’ Park, Spurs were under early pressure and could have gone behind but instead, Conn put them ahead after 14 minutes. Cyril Knowles added a second with a hard-driven cross which deceived the United goalkeeper after 26 minutes. Spurs then added two more in two minutes just before the interval when John Duncan scored the third and Conn made it four with two minutes to play.
Newcastle rallied after the interval and Burns scored in the 55th minute. Conn completed his hat-trick when Newcastle failed to clear a back-header into the goalmouth by Jimmy Neighbour in the 62nd minute. Craig scored the home side’s second with 11 minutes to play which brought the scoring to a conclusion.
At the end of the season, Spurs avoided relegation thanks to a last match victory over Leeds United, but they had much to thank Newcastle for – the four points from two wins and 8 goals scored with only conceded were crucial to Tottenham’s survival.