A day in the life of Newcastle United’s famous Gallowgate End in the mid 1970s

Lashed by incessant rain and strong winds, these defiant Newcastle United fans were in full voice back in September, 1976.

Standing in droves on the packed terraces of the roofless Gallowgate End and exposed to the vicissitudes of the North East climate, they were watching their team battle to a hard-fought 2-2 draw with Manchester United. It was a season, following the shock departure of star striker Malcolm Macdonald to Arsenal, that would see United grab a creditable fifth-place top-flight finish (their highest placing since the early 1950s) and qualify for the UEFA Cup.

But this was also football in the raw – an era when, across the nation, the game was blighted by regular outbreaks of hooliganism at matches. The Evening Chronicle reported how “stones and bottles rained on Manchester United fans from the Gallowgate End” during the September 11 match. And this coming just two years after the infamous pitch invasion at St James’ Park which saw United’s dramatic 4-3 FA Cup victory over Nottingham Forest declared void by the football authorities.

Certainly, for those of us who went to the match as kids in those days, standing on a heaving terrace in the midst of 10,000 like-minded individuals was a fun but sometimes edgy experience, and you needed to keep your wits about you. The Gallowgate End (and even more so the Leazes End) of the 1970s provided an altogether more earthy matchday experience than the modern-day, all-seated version with its orchestrated displays courtesy of Wor Flags and the recently-installed safe-standing section.

Historically, the Gallowgate End is synonymous with Newcastle United and St James’ Park. Its name derived from the nearby route along which many condemned men and women had taken their final fateful journeys in earlier times, on the way to Newcastle’s traditional place of execution on the Town Moor. As the football club rapidly established itself in the 1890s, the ‘end’ began life as a huge earth bank, and teams would enter the arena from behind the goal there. In the 1930s, United pressed ahead with plans to replace the ground’s ash and wood terracing with concrete. Gallowgate End regulars were required to cope with the frequently hostile Tyneside elements, and plans to build a roof in the late 1920s were dropped after endless planning wrangles – although the Leazes End opposite did acquire one around that time.

The Gallowgate End at St James' Park in recent times
The Gallowgate End at St James’ Park in recent times

It was the Leazes End, in fact, which had traditionally been considered the ‘home end’ for United supporters. But when it was demolished in 1978, those mainly younger fans who liked to sing and be more vocal during games decamped to the Gallowgate End, and based themselves in the ‘corner’ or ‘scoreboard’ sections. On its day, standing on its wide terraces could be an exhilarating, raucous and almost tribal experience. Not much these days will match the mass adrenalin rush of Kevin Keegan scoring that winning goal at the Gallowgate End in his 1982 debut game that sent the expectant thousands packed on the terraces into meltdown.

By the 1990s, however, the old, all-standing Gallowgate End – without a roof, but with its occasional argy-bargy and infamous urinals – was a neglected relic from a different footballing age and well past its sell-by date. As part of the long-overdue redevelopment and modernisation of St James’ Park, it would be demolished and replaced by a state-of-the-art all-seated stand.

In January 1994, an FA Cup tie against Coventry City saw the Gallowgate End in its entirety open to fans for the very last time. As demolition work began, and convoys of lorries began taking thousands of tons of rubble to council tips in Birtley and Lumley, a narrow surviving strip along the bottom of the terraces would accommodate 4,000 fans until the end of the season. When the terrace closed for good at the end of the 1993-94 campaign, the Gallowgate End had played host to generations of Newcastle United fans since 1892 – more than 100 years – and had been the oldest part of St James’ Park still standing.

View news Source: https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/history/day-life-newcastle-uniteds-famous-29010050

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