Roger Domeneghetti, who has brought out a new book, looks back on the year the Magpies won the FA Cup with the assistance of a favourable decision

THE introduction of Hawkeye into English football is likely to eradicate the number of controversial goal-line incidents that have littered football over the years. From Frank Lampard’s goal that wasn’t, but should have been, to Geoff Hurst’s goal that was, but maybe shouldn’t.

Thirty-four years before Hurst’s controversial second goal in the World Cup final, Newcastle’s victory over Arsenal in the 1932 FA Cup Final became known as the “over-the-line” final thanks in no small part to the cinema coverage of it.

By the early 1930s, football had become a commodity in its own right for the film industry. The newsreel companies were no longer using the sport simply as a means of showing off the capabilities of their technology; they were using it to maximise their sales and generate profit.

They also attempted to generate publicity for their footage by questioning referees’ decisions. They didn’t attack the officials with anything like the vigour commentators, pundits and managers do today but it was an excuse to publicise the technology at their disposal – particularly slow motion – and create anticipation before their film was shown at the cinemas.

After requiring replays to get past Blackpool and Southport in the early rounds, Newcastle romped past Leicester and Watford before beating Chelsea 2-1 in the semi-final at Huddersfield’s Leeds Road. They faced a much tougher task in the final; Herbert Chapman’s champions Arsenal, then at the beginning of a dominant run that delivered four titles and an FA Cup in six seasons. 1932 was to be their only trophyless year.

As expected the Gunners dominated the opening stages of the game and took the lead after 15 minutes, Bob John heading home from close range. However Newcastle were back on level terms before the break. Jimmy Richardson chased a long ball to the goal line and crossed it back for Jack Allen who managed to stab the ball home.

While the Newcastle players wheeled away in delight their opponents were left enraged, claiming that the ball had gone out for a goal kick before Richardson had pulled it back to Allen.

British Movietone News’ footage seemed to support the Arsenal player’s claims, although the quality of the footage was some way off today’s standards and the newsreel firms mistook Richardson for team-mate Jimmy Boyd.

The film, which mixed voiceover with captions, signposted the incident: “Allen’s disputed goal for Newcastle, question being: Did Boyd cross the line before passing?” The incident was then replayed after a second caption: “See it once again from position commanding the goal-line”. The goal was then shown a third time with the caption “...and in slow motion” after which a curiously disembodied Geordie voice gave the opinion that: “It’s a goal why aye, man!”

Allen went on to seal Newcastle’s victory in the second half, but the newsreel footage defined the story of the match. Ivan Sharpe, a former-player-turned-journalist was dismissive of the footage, claiming: “I attached no importance to the photographs, as I know from experience how the touching up process may, quite unintentionally, alter details.”

But that didn’t stop the papers lapping up the controversy and on the Monday after the game the Daily Herald ran the headline 'Cup Final goal was not a goal. Film proves it – yet it must stand'.

The incident also dominated the Manchester Guardian’s report that focused as much on the footage (yet to be shown at cinemas) as the goal itself. Their reporter revealed how the film was stopped “by a clever device for several seconds just at the point when Richardson was about to centre the ball. This enables supporters to assume themselves that the ball was well over the white line”. They even tracked down referee W. P. Harper. He said: “It was a goal. As God is my judge, the man was in play“. The paper also got quotes from Newcastle’s manager Andy Cunningham, who said, simply: “From my position I could not see whether it had gone out of play or not”, a tactic which has been deployed by the men in the dugout ever since.

Breakout on book: The relationship between football and the media in England has existed since before the sport was codified and has been vital to the success of both. Yet it’s a relationship that is often overlooked in histories of the game.

From the Back Page to the Front Room explores that relationship and asks what makes the link between football and the media so special. It includes exclusive interviews with key figures from the worlds of both football and the media including Greg Dyke, Henry Winter, Jacqui Oatley. From The Back Page to the Front Room: Football’s Journey Through the English Media by Roger Domeneghetti is available on all formats via and the paperback is priced at £9.99.