On this day (August 4) in 1976: Newcastle United beat Southend United in a pre-season friendly at Roots Hall, courtesy of goals from Irving Nattrass and Alan Gowling.
The Magpies’ win over Southend was a good start to preparations for the 1976/77 campaign as they followed up the victory with wins over Sheffield United and Middlesbrough while drawing with Hull City in the Anglo Scottish Cup – Gowling scored twice in those three games too.
Nattrass joined Newcastle as a teenage apprentice and spent nine years at St James’ Park (1970-1979) before joining Middlesbrough. He made over 230 appearances in all competitions.
Gowling spent three years at Newcastle after joining from Huddersfield Town in 1975. He made over 90 league appearances for the Toon Army before joining Bolton Wanderers.
Newcastle started the First Division campaign brightly in 1976/77, drawing with Derby County, beating Tottenham and drawing with Bristol City. They went on to finish the season in fifth place, behind champions Liverpool, runners-up Manchester City, third-placed Ipswich Town and fourth-placed Aston Villa.