Newcastle United have drawn Watford away in the FA Cup. What is the history and what are the chances? 

This will be the 4th time that these two teams are drawn against each other, all of the previous encounters having memorable associations. Cup history 1924 and 1932 on the way to FA Cup wins. 

In the first of those, Newcastle United stalwart, Stan Seymour scored the only goal to settle tie at what was then a new Vicarage Road, the ground having been completed in 1922. Watford at the time were very much underdogs, finishing the season in the bottom three of Division 3 South. 

The 1932 encounter was drawn at St James’ Park, the result much more convincing as the home team ran out 5-0 winners, characterised by hat trick from Jack Allen who went on to score the 2 goals that beat Arsenal at Wembley. 

The most recent tie in 1989 was an epic, spread over 11 days. Both teams were much more closely matched than those of the inter war years. Watford had been relegated from the top flight at the end of the 1987-88 season, Newcastle at the bottom of the 1st Division table and on their way down. 

Watford’s manager at the time was Steve Harrison who later became Steve McClaren’s defensive coach at Middlesbrough. The Newcastle side contained several players with an enviable cup record, FA Cup, Dave Beasant and Andy Thorn winners with Wimbledon, as well as David McCreery with Manchester United. Kevin Brock had won the League cup with Oxford League as had Kenny Samson with Arsenal. 

Drawn at St James’ Park, the home tie was a dull affair, finishing 0-0. The replay at Vicarage Road held more drama. Neil Redfearn eventually spanned 14 clubs, recently signed from playing with Alan Pardew at Palace, opened the scoring in the first minute. A reply from Kevin Brock followed by a Miradinha penalty put United ahead before Redfearn equalised with another penalty. 

Returning to St James’ Park after the toss of a coin to decide venue, another dull encounter ended 0-0 in the North East. Finally, in the second half of extra time back at Watford, 4 hours and 51 minutes of football after Redfearn had scored that equaliser, Newcastle skipper, Glenn Roeder, put through his own net to settle the tie, 1-0. 

The only longer 3rd round tie in history was curiously in Newcastle’s last FA Cup winning year, Stoke against Bury having one extra replay which was abandoned after 112 minutes. 

Watford progressed to beat Derby in the next round, shortly after Steve McClaren had left the Rams as a player. Their run was cut short by another team that McClaren went on to manage, Nottingham Forest. 

Watford themselves had experienced relative FA Cup glory, reaching the final in 1984 under Graham Taylor who went on to succeed Sir Bobby Robson as England manager, ending up with the 4th worst win ration in England’s history. 

McClaren himself also managed England of course, having a win ratio slightly lower than Taylor’s own. He had his own success in the League cup with Middlesbrough, winning the final in 2004 to go with an FA Cup win as coach under Sir Alex Ferguson, that being against Newcastle in 1999. 

Other managers who have been in charge of both clubs include Bill McGarry who was later followed into the Ipswich hot seat by Sir Bobby. Glenn Roeder, the Newcastle skipper with the famous own goal at Vicarage Road eventually made way for Graham Taylor’s return to Watford.

Of the Watford cup final team John Barnes and George Reilly went on to play for the Magpies. Barnes played his last of 5 FA Cup finals for Newcastle under Kenny Dalglish having lifted the trophy twice at Liverpool. 

Reilly bears the scars of his cup success, returning to construction after his playing days and having his ear bitten by a disgruntled Plymouth supporter, Reilly having scored the semi-final goal that denied Argyle their chance at a final. 

One of McClaren’s targets following his appointment on Tyneside was to finish in the top 8. Clearly, apparently cemented in the bottom 3, this will be a tall order for the season. 

His secondary target was a cup run. Having fielded a team which included 8 international players, McClaren’s side bowed out of the League Cup against Sheffield Wednesday’s reserves. 

So it seems that any sort of success this season depends on the FA Cup. 

The Ashley years at Newcastle have not been kind to supporters in this, perhaps the most cherished of trophies, which the Magpies have won 6 times and made 7 more finals. Ashley’s tenure has seen defeats at the hands of Stevenage and Brighton twice, amongst others, making the 4th round just twice. 

The Newcastle boss will refer to his League Cup success in 2004, to go with a final with Twente in 2009. Since then, he has experienced defeat with Wolfsburg by 3 tier side SC Preußen Münster as well as in his 2nd spell at Twente by FC Den Bosch from the Dutch 2nd tier. 

He can claim to have masterminded two FA Cup tie wins at Derby. The first was against Southport, who took Newcastle to 2 replays in their last winning campaign in 1955, and County rivals, Chesterfield. 

On current form, the proud Toon Army will be considered as underdogs, already suffering a home defeat in the league against the Hornets, languishing 8 places and 9 points behind the newly promoted rivals. 

In the home dugout at Vicarage Road, Flores can boast 4 domestic trophies in 6 years, albeit 3 of them in the UAE. These are accompanied by the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup to go with his Copa del Rey final with Atletico Madrid. 

Following a weekend when the Geordies sprung a surprise, at home to Liverpool, we have to think that anything is possible. There are players in the squad who have a accumulated a total of 35 domestic medals between them, Coloccini, Tiote, Wijnaldum, Anita, de Jong, Janmaat, Gouffran, Obertan, Dummett and Mitrovic. 

Let’s hope that they can repeat their success this season.