Willie McFAUL

Willie McFaul - Newcastle United - Biography of his football career at Newcastle.

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 03 April 1972

Click on image to enlarge

      Friday, 01 October 1943
      Coleraine, Ireland
  • Newcastle United
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 12th November 1966 in a 2-0 defeat at home to Liverpool (Aged: 23)
    • Club Career
      290 League apps, 0 goals
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Willie McFAUL - Newcastle United - Biography of his football career at Newcastle.

Willie McFaul in action for Newcastle United at The Baseball Ground, Derby, where The Magpies won

1-0 in front of 38,238 fans. In spite of the defeat Derby County won the first Division title that season

by one point (58) from Leeds, Liverpool and Man City all with points !

                                                         (Part 1) 1966-1971.


Willie (or Iam) McFaul must have made an outstanding impression on Newcastle manager Joe Harvey, as he paid Linfield £7, 000 for a young Irishman who had just conceded seven goals in a friendly against The Magpies. Willie made his debut for Newcastle in a 2-0 defeat at St James Park against Liverpool in November 1966 and spent the first two seasons of his Newcastle career battling for the number one spot with Gordon Marshall. When he was finally given a chance, at the start of the 1968/69 season, he grabbed it with both hands and remained first choice until his retirement in 1975.


Despite being short for a goalkeeper McFaul utilised every part of his 5'10" frame to command his penalty area, regularly displaying outstanding athleticism and bravery at the feet of onrushing attackers. Before long he developed a reputation for making important and memorable saves; the first of these came in the 1968/69 Inter City Fairs Cup, as Newcastle headed north of the border for the first leg of the semi-final, against Rangers at Ibrox. With the game heading for half-time at 0-0, McFaul brought down Swedish striker Orjan Persson, Andy Penman's resultant penalty was brilliantly saved as the Newcastle stopper pushed the ball to safety past his right hand upright. Better was to come in the final, after beating crack Hungarian outfit Ujpest Dozsa 3-0 at home, Newcastle headed to Hungary for the 2nd leg full of confidence.


Things were different this time however, as Ujpest dominated and pulled back two first half goals, McFaul kepeping United in the game with four crucial saves including one magnificent tip over. Grateful for the half-time whistle, United were galvanised by Joe Harvey's half-time team talk and an early goal saw the Hungarians 'collapse like a pack of cards' as Harvey had predicted. Newcastle won 3-2, taking the trophy 6-2 on aggregate in their debut European season. A period of stability followed the 68/69 Fairs Cup success, Newcastle finishing in respectable positions of seventh, twelfth and eleventh over the next three seasons with Willie, a model of consistency in the United goal, missing just one league game during those three campaigns. United suffered a miserable time in cup competitions during that period including a bizarre 2nd leg Fairs Cup match in Hungary against Pesci Dozsa, in the 1970/71 season.


At the end of the game the scores were level at 2-2 and the game went to a penalty shoot out, Newcastle missing all three of their efforts with McFaul powerless to stop any of the Pesci spot kicks. As the Newcastle players sat disappointed in their dressing room, the referee unbelievably informed the team that under the rules of the competition all ten penalties had to be taken! After much protest McFaul and Frank Clark were hauled out to perform the last rites and all four remaining kicks were scored as United started a trend of penalty shoot out misery, which would haunt the club for many years. (Gordon Tait)




Willie McFaul pictured on 12th. September 1987.  Photo Stuart. Franklin.  © G.H.

                                                                  (Part 2) 1971-1975.


The summer of 1971 saw the capture of Malcolm Macdonald and the club seemed to be on the brink of something special, with a defence including McFaul an integral part of this bright future. However, as is often the case at St. James Park, fate seemed to conspire against United. Nothing demonstrates this better than Willie's passing into televisual history in February 1972. After scraping a 2-2 draw in the FA Cup 3rd round against non-league Hereford, Newcastle travelled to Edgar Street fully expecting to win the replay.


However, McFaul is now immortalised as the goalkeeper diving high to his right, in a vain and desperate attempt to stop Ronnie Radford's 30 yard screamer from crashing into back of his net. An extra time goal from Ricky George sealed one of the biggest FA Cup shocks of all time. Despite this blow, further European success was to follow as Newcastle won the Anglo-Italian Cup in 1973, beating Fiorentina 2-1 in Florence. The following season saw United reach the FA Cup final, with McFaul being instrumental in their progress with an incredible save against Burnley in the semi-final. With Supermac in the side The Magpies had every chance of heading back to the north-east with the trophy.


Liverpool, however, had other ideas and in one of the most one sided FA Cup Finals of all time McFaul was helpless to prevent his team losing 3-0. The team simply didn't perform on the day and in the words of Jackie Milburn 'only the goalkeeper (McFaul) and fullbacks played'.


The 1974 FA Cup Final was a turning point for many of the Fairs Cup winners and Willie only completed one more season at the club, retiring after an unspectacular campaign, as the club finished 15th in the league and made little impression in the cups. Throughout the late 60's and early 70's McFaul was regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in Division One and would have represented Northern Ireland many more than six times had it not been for the mighty Pat Jennings.


At the end of the 1974/75 season Willie slipped quietly into retirement and a coaching position at the club, before succeeding Jack Charlton as manager in 1985. Resident in the top job for three seasons, he gave Paul Gascoigne his first start at the club and also bought Mirandinha, the first Brazilian to play in the English top flight. Newcastle performed solidly, if unspectacularly, under McFaul's stewardship (the photo above is during his time as manager) before he was ignominiously sacked after a poor start to the 1987/88 season, thus ending a 22-year association with the club. (Gordon Tait)