Left to right: Bobby, Joe Harvey, Malcolm Mcdonald
“The supreme sweeper and a most valuable asset both to Newcastle United and Scotland”
Joe Harvey, 1971
Bobby Moncur was one of the greatest captains ever to play for Newcastle United. He was a strong-tackling centre-back, commanding in the air and with an exceptional reading of the game. However, he will probably be remembered most for the hat-trick of goals he scored in the 1969 Fairs Cup Final against Ujpesti Dosza which won the trophy for United. Moncur himself was surprised by the amazing reaction to this European triumph:
“At the time I didn’t realise how important Europe was to the fans. It was only afterwards when I looked back at events and thought of the fever it brought to the area. I suppose supporters had been waiting for something to happen for a long time and the Fairs Cup was it”.
Moncur was born in 1945 and spent his early days in Perth, Scotland but later moved to Kirkliston just outside Edinburgh. Bob actually initially played at centre-forward and left-back and won Scottish international youth caps in these positions. Preston North End were the first senior club to take an interest in Moncur but Newcastle eventually came in for him and he moved to St. James’ Park.
He signed as an apprentice professional in October 1960 and began training with the likes of Ivor Allchurch and Len White, hardened professionals. Bobby played an impotant role in United’s Youth Cup run in 1962 and scored the winner in the final vs Wolves.
He made his full League debut as an 18-year-old the following season in a Division Two clash against Luton Town. However, Moncur proved to be something of a slow developer and was nearly sold to Norwich City for a mere £25,000. This deal fell through and made Bobby more determined than ever to improve his game. He eventually established himself in the No 6 shirt and Sir Matt Busby, the legendary Manchester United boss, was later to rate Moncur as the best in the business.
Moncur was to form a solid partnership with John McNamee in the 1967/68 season, sweeping up behind the tall centre-half. He was made captain of the side for the first time in February 1968 vs Arsenal and United went on to qualify for Europe at the end of the season.
His progress was also noted by Scotland and he was selected to play for their Under 23 side. Bob handled the responsibility of being United captain with immense pride and indeed only his boss, Joe Harvey, has captained the Magpies more than him. Moncur and Harvey made a good working team.
Bob won his first full Scotland cap in May 1968 against Holland and was taken to his nation’s heart after a gutsy display in 1970 vs England at Hampden Park in front of 134,000 fans. After only six games he was awarded the captaincy of his country to go with that of United. This gave him great satisfaction.
He led the Magpies to Wembley in 1974 but the defeat by Liverpool remains his greatest disappointment. Yet as he remembered, “The homecoming we received we’ll never forget…it will stay as my fondest memory”.
Moncur never played for United again after that FA Cup final defeat and he joined neighbours Sunderland for £30,000 after 346 appearances for Newcastle. He helped the Rokermen to promotion in 1976 and was voted their player of the season.
Bobby then dabbled in management with Carlisle United but proved unsuccessful and returned to his native Edinburgh to take charge of Hearts. He gained promotion for the Jambos as Division One champions but the club were relegated the following season.
He went on to manage Plymouth and later Whitley Bay and Hartlepool before finally quitting the game for good in December 1989. Bobby Moncur was a fine United captain and the Magpies will do well to find a skipper with such spirit and dedication as he.
Bobby Moncur Fact Files