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Opinion

The Aidan McCaffery and Bill McGarry era at Newcastle United

9 months ago
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Jarrow lad Aidan McCaffery was an apprentice at Newcastle United in the early 1970s, going on to captain the England youth side.

He turned professional in 1974 and made his first team debut in March 1975.

The central defender seemed as highly rated by Gordon Lee as he had been by Lee’s predecessor Joe Harvey, and Newcastle had a decent side with fellow local lads like Irving Nattrass, Alan Kennedy and Paul Cannell.

The 1977/78 season was probably the most dismal in Newcastle United’s long history.

With Newcastle floundering at the bottom of the old First Division, the hapless Richard Dinnis was sacked and disciplinarian Bill McGarry brought in to try and perform a rescue act in late 1977.

By this time though the club was in total disarray.

Alan Kennedy was sold to Liverpool early in 1978 for a British record fee for a full-back (£330,000).

This was the beginning of McGarry’s clear-out in preparation for our inevitable drop into the Second Division.

Paul Cannell and Aidan McCaffery both found out in the summer that they were also surplus to requirements, as McGarry set about totally overhauling the playing personnel.

Aidan McCaffery had played 57 times for Newcastle United and scored four goals.

He signed for Derby County for £60,000 and later joined Bristol Rovers for a fee of £70,000 in 1980.

The following season, Aidan scored the only goal of the game as Rovers beat their local rivals Bristol City for the first time in ten meetings.

In 1982 Aidan McCaffery was even loaned to City by Rovers, to help their neighbours during a financial crisis that nearly led to City’s extinction.

On returning to Rovers, Aidan was a first team regular and spent the next three seasons with the ‘Gas’.

There followed spells at Torquay United, Exeter City, Hartlepool United and Whitley Bay, before Carlisle United came calling and made Aidan McCaffery their youth team coach in 1988, also making the Cumbrians first team for fourteen appearances before finally retiring.

He had played 370 League games and scored 21 goals.

He was Carlisle manager for the 1991/92 season but never saw eye to eye with the new maverick chairman Michael Knighton. Aidan McCaffery will turn 66 at the end of August (2023).

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