Jackie Milburn has been idolised by generations in the North-East. His goalscoring exploits in the number 9 shirt for Newcastle in the late 1940s and 1950s brought excitement to a region recovering, slowly, from the hardships of the Second World War. Newcastle was his only English league club. No player was more exciting to watch in the early 1950s than Jackie Milburn. “He used to remind me of a wave breaking. He would just surge past defenders with his incredible pace,” Bobby Charlton recalled. He was ‘Wor Jackie’ to all Tynesiders.
Including wartime matches, he scored 238 goals for Newcastle United during 14 years with the club – 200 in domestic league and cup competitions. He was key to the club’s three FA Cup victories in 1951, 1952 and 1955 and he gained 13 caps for England.
It was the 2-0 victory in the 1951 FA Cup final against Blackpool that is now most remembered. Milburn scored twice early in the second half. The second was a thunderbolt 25-yard strike that flew into the roof of the bulging net – many still regard it as one of the finest goals scored at Wembley. A first-minute header in the 1955 cup final against Manchester City simply added further to his legendary record. Newcastle’s city centre came to a halt on the day of his funeral in 1968.
Two life-size statues, funded by public appeal, stand in his honour in the north-east. One is in Milburn's birthplace of Ashington. Another, in Newcastle and sculpted by Susanna Robinson, is high on a pedestal. Recently moved, again, it now stands yards from Milburn’s favourite Gallowgate End at St James’ Park. A right-foot shot is about to be unleashed for the top corner (assuming the ball is still there – it went missing several times in a previous location!).