Falkirk 3-2 Newcastle United (lost footage of football match; 1953)

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Issue 1562 of Radio Times listing the television broadcast of the match.

Status: Lost

On 20th October 1953, Scottish Division A side Falkirk hosted English First Division club Newcastle United at Brockville Park for a friendly football match. A match ending in victory for the host side, the game is notable for being the first televised professional football match in Scotland.


Heading into the encounter, both sides were enduring seasons where they would finish in the bottom-half of the table. Ultimately, Falkirk would finish 13th of the 16 clubs in the 1953/54 Scottish Division A, avoiding relegation by ten points.[1] Meanwhile, Newcastle United finished 15th of the 22 sides in the 1953/54 English First Division, avoiding relegation by eight points.[2] Newcastle was also involved in the growing influence of sports television in the early 1950s. With the BBC breaking new ground by opening its Television Service in Scotland in 1952,[3] and with ITV set to launch in September 1955, both channels had begun to offer the Football League vast sums of money to televise matches.[4] The smaller clubs in the First Division agreed a one-season deal with the BBC to televise and record 75 matches, giving the organisation a tactical advantage before ITV launched.[4] However, Newcastle and other big clubs were unhappy with these deals,[4] most likely out of concern that televising matches would reduce stadium attendance. It alongside other clubs began to propose a new Anglo-Scottish League to counter this,[4] but it ultimately fell through after just one season.[5]

The match between Falkirk and Newcastle United symbolised the BBC's growing desire to televise matches from Scotland. The first of its kind was a match between Scottish Universities and English Universities on 20th December 1952.[6] Thus, while the Falkirk-Newcastle game was not the first to be televised from the country, it would be the first televised professional Scottish game.[4] The match is sometimes considered the first televised floodlit match, although the preceding game between Arsenal and Hibernian on 22nd October 1952 is known to have used floodlights.[7] Nevertheless, the Falkirk match might have been the first televised floodlit match in Scotland, due to how few games from the country were broadcast prior to October 1953. Only the second half was televised, with commentary provided by Peter Thomson and Kenneth Wolstenholme.[8][9]

Details of the match itself are limited, but according to The Newcastle Journal's Ken McKenzie, Falkirk were generally the stronger team despite conceding two goals. McKenzie praised the Falkirk side, believing they gave Newcastle a "sound beating", and deeming that Newcastle had gotten little of the game in spite of its historic nature.[10] It is also known that Alex McCrae scored for Falkirk in the first minute of the televised second half.[11]


Like all early television programs, the Falkirk-Newcastle United match was televised live and was unlikely to have been directly recorded. Although there were means of achieving this following the Second World War, recording seldom occurred until video tape was perfected in the late-1950s.[12] Thus, televised footage of the match is most likely permanently missing, and no newsreels footage is known to exist. Nevertheless, issue of Radio Times helped to document the television broadcast.[9]

See Also

Association Football/Soccer Media

Early BBC Sports Television

Early BBC Television

Early Sports Television Media