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Dave Craig

One of the finest defenders of his era, Dave Craig's injury problems curtailed his international career, but didn't prevent him from featuring in a number of sucesses for Newcastle United...

Name: David J. Craig
Born: 8 June 1944, Comber
Height: 5.08½ ft
Weight: 11.03 st
Position: Full-Back

Representative Honours: Northern Ireland: 25 Full Caps (1967-1974), 2 Under-23 Caps (1965-1967).
Club Honours: (with Newcastle) FA Cup Runner-Up 1973/74 (special award); Inter-Cities Fairs Cup Winner 1968/69; Football League Division Two Champion 1964/65; Anglo-Italian Tournament Winner 1972/73; Texaco Cup Winner 1973/74, 1974/75; FA Youth Cup Winner 1961/62.

Club Career:

FA Cup
FL Cup
Scunthorpe United
Blyth Spartan
(Northern League)
Dunston Mechanics
(Northern Combination League)

Recognised by many judges as one of the finest defenders of the sixties and seventies, Dave Craig was most at home at right-back, but also shone on the left or in the centre. Craig had played Boys’ Brigade football as a youngster, and had had a trial with Scunthorpe before signing as an apprentice with Newcastle in August 1960. At the time St James’ Park boasted two other Irish full-backs, Alf McMichael and Dick Keith, who took the shy and homesick youth under their wing.

In 1962 Craig was a part of Newcastle’s FA Youth Cup success; Wolves defeated 2-1 in the final. Suitably impressed by the young defender’s performances, Newcastle manager, Joe Harvey, awarded him his first start away to Bournemouth in a League Cup tie in November 1963, and his League debut three days later in a 4-0 defeat by Cardiff. From 1964/65, and for the next twelve seasons, Craig was a regular in the Magpie’s starting eleven when fit.

Craig’s first season as a regular saw Newcastle claim the Second Division title, and promotion back to the top-flight after a four year absence. In 1969 he helped Newcastle to a Fairs Cup success, though he almost missed the final against Újpest Dózsa through a knee ligament problem. Five years later he did miss the FA Cup final defeat by Liverpool with a dislocated shoulder (although he was awarded a medal after appearing in eight matches en-route to the final), and in 1976 damaged medial ligaments forced him to miss the League Cup final defeat by Manchester City. Craig did though claim further winners’ medals as Newcastle took the minor cups of the early 1970s by storm. In 1972 they won the Anglo-Italian Tournament, with Craig scoring the winner in the 2-1 final defeat of Fiorentina. The following year he appeared in the Texaco (British Isles) Cup final win over Burnley. He missed much of the 1974/75 season, but did make an appearance in the first leg of the Texaco Cup Final defeat of Southampton.

As with his club career, Craig’s Northern Ireland cap total was severely curtailed by his persistent injury problems, and latterly by the emergence of a number of top-flight full-backs such as Rice, Nelson and Nicholl. Craig made his international debut in Bertie Peacock’s last match in charge, as Northern Ireland sought a replacement for the ever-consistent Jimmy Magill. He was a regular right-back in Billy Bingham’s team that just missed out on qualification for the 1970 World Cup. Most of his games under Terry Neill were as left-back, with Rice by then first-choice on the right-hand side of defence. In 1973, Craig was part of the Shamrock Rovers “All-Ireland” XI that was defeated 4-3 by Brazil in Dublin.

A crowd of 21,280 attended Craig’s testimonial match in 1975, before he brought his top-class career to a close in 1978. A one-club man, he made a total of 435 first-team appearances for Newcastle, one of only seven players to pass the 400 mark for the club – had it not been for injuries his total could have been around 600! Joe Harvey described Craig as “almost the complete full-back”, dependable and able to recover quickly when in defence, intelligent and positive going forward. A thorough professional and steady character, he never gave his manager a problem.

On leaving St James’ Park, Craig played briefly for Blyth Spartans, and later for a number of local non-league teams. He also tried his hand at a variety of business ventures in the north-east of England, including as a milkman, a newsagent and running a heating firm. Latterly he has acted as a care-worker.

Northern Ireland Cap Details:
The first leg of the "Testimonial Trophy"
was held at Roker Park in honour of another
Northern Ireland international, Martin Harvey

12-04-1967 Wales... H D 0-0 ECQ
28-02-1968 Wales... A L 0-2 ECQ
23-10-1968 Turkey.. H W 4-1 WCQ
11-12-1968 Turkey.. A W 3-0 WCQ
03-05-1969 England. H L 1-3 BC
06-05-1969 Scotland A D 1-1 BC
10-05-1969 Wales... H D 0-0 BC
22-10-1969 USSR.... A L 0-2 WCQ
18-04-1970 Scotland H L 0-1 BC
21-04-1970 England. A L 1-3 BC
25-04-1970 Wales... A L 0-1 BC
11-11-1970 Spain... A L 0-3 ECQ
03-02-1971 Cyprus.. A W 3-0 ECQ
21-04-1971 Cyprus.. H W 5-0 ECQ
18-05-1971 Scotland A W 1-0 BC sub
22-09-1971 USSR.... A L 0-1 ECQ
20-05-1972 Scotland H L 0-2 BC sub
14-02-1973 Cyprus.. A L 0-1 WCQ
08-05-1973 Cyprus.. H W 3-0 WCQ
12-05-1973 England. H L 1-2 BC
16-05-1973 Scotland A W 2-1 BC
19-05-1973 Wales... H W 1-0 BC
26-09-1973 Bulgaria H D 0-0 WCQ
14-11-1973 Portugal A D 1-1 WCQ
04-09-1974 Norway.. A L 1-2 ECQ

Summary: 23(2)/0. Won 8, Drew 5, Lost 12