It’s been a while since I paid homage to some of Newcastle United’s stellar performers of yesteryear – so today the spotlight will shine down on former wing wizard ‘Bobby’ Mitchell.
Robert Mitchell was born in Glasgow in 1924. He began his career in 1942, having signed on with Third Lanark, scoring 42 goals in 70 appearances. If you are wondering who the heck Third Lanark are? That would be because the club was liquidated in 1967 after 95 years as a relatively successful Glaswegian side. That made them 20 years older than Newcastle.
Bobby would spend 7 years at the club known as ‘Hi Hi Hi’, but a fair chuck of that was spent serving as a telegraphist in the Royal Navy, having been active in the Mediterranean and Pacific.
Known affectionately to the Toon Army as Dazzler, Mitchell joined the Newcastle United ranks in February 1949 for a fee of £16,000 (a record fee for a winger). That is about £350,000 in today’s money and goes to show how far commercialism of the game has driven player values up – as although he was not a household name at that point, a player of his talent this day in age would no doubt cost at least a few million quid.
Dazzler operated on the left wing and in his first season he featured in the famous Black and White colours alongside Toon greats such as Joe Harvey, Jackie Milburn and George Robledo. Mitchell chipped in with 8 goals and plenty of assists to help Newcastle to a 4th place finish in the First Division.
The success would continue for the next 6 or 7 years, resulting in 5 FA Cup finals and several top 5 finishes in the league. 3 of the FA Cup finals resulted in victories, with Mitchell featuring heavily in all of them. Mitchell earnt Scottish caps against Denmark and France in May 1951. The Scots won both games and Bobby even netted against the Danes, but he would not go on to make any more than 2 national appearances. If anybody knows why this was the case, then please enlighten us, as I for one would be very interested in knowing the story there.
In 1952 Newcastle United became the first team to retain the FA Cup since 1891 by defeating Arsenal in a tightly contested affair that was put to bed by a Robledo header following a Milburn cross. Below you will find highlights of the semi final replay against Blackburn, which was decided by a Mitchell penalty.
Newcastle’s league form fluctuated after this, but Dazzler’s impressive speed and dribbling skills ensured he remained a consistent performer – and he helped the side to an 8th place finish in 1955 with 19 goals, finishing as the clubs top scorer.
He was not done there though and went on to lift the FA Cup for a 3rd and final time against Manchester City. The game was effectively over in the 22nd minute when Mitchell used his skills to turn City defender Meadows inside out, causing him to sustain a game ending injury and leaving the Citizens with 10 men. Those days substitution did not exist and the extra man would grind the Manchester side down. Mitchell produced a goal and an assist to help the Toon to a 3-1 victory and cap off arguably one of the most successful era’s in Newcastle United history. See the magic unfold here >>>>
Dazzler would continue to represent the Magpies until 1961, when he secured a move to Berwick Rangers before retirement. His links to the region dis not end there though and he returned to manage Gateshead for 3 years until 1966 and then ran two bars into the 1970’s. The first was the Cradlewell in Jesmond and the latter was the Lochside in Heaton. Bobby Dazzler Mitchell passed away as a naturalised Geordie at Newcastle in 1993.
All in all, Dazzler made 410 appearances for Newcastle United, scoring 113 goals and winning 3 FA Cups. A true Newcastle United great.
*I get a lot of my information about past Toon Stars from the excellent site spartacus educational, who deserve big praise for keeping our past leading lights shining brightly.