Alf McMichael

Alf McMichael

Alfred (Alf) McMichael was born in Belfast on 1st October 1927. He joined Linfield in 1945. In September, 1949, George Martin, the manager of Newcastle United, purchased McMichael and George Hannah for £23,000. They joined a team that included Bobby Cowell, Joe Harvey, Frank Brennan, Jack Fairbrother, Bobby Corbett, Charlie Crowe, Tommy Walker, Ernie Taylor, Jackie Milburn, George Robledo and Bobby Mitchell.

McMichael made his debut as left-back for Newcastle United against Manchester City on 17th September 1949. That season he made 11 appearances in the first team. The following season he managed to become a first team regular but missed out on winning a FA Cup winners' medal against Blackpool due to breaking his wrist in training.

Newcastle United finished in 8th place in the 1951-52 season. McMichael had now replaced Bobby Corbett in the side and played in 33 of the 42 league games. Newcastle had another good FA Cup run in the 1951-52 season, beating Aston Villa (4-2), Tottenham Hotspur (3-0), Swansea City (1-0), Portsmouth (4-2), Blackburn Rovers (2-1) to reach the final against Arsenal. The London club had finished 3rd in the First Division championship and were the post-match favourites.

In the 19th minute Wally Barnes was injured in a tackle with Jackie Milburn. He tried to carry on but he was forced to leave the field in the 35 minute. Arsenal's ten men fought magnificently against the marauding Newcastle forwards. They held out until the 85th minute when George Robledo headed in a Milburn cross. Newcastle had become the first team to retain the FA Cup since Blackburn Rovers in 1891 and McMichael had won his first cup winners' medal.

McMichael won over 40 international caps playing for Northern Ireland. According to Stanley Matthews, McMichael was "one of the best left-backs I have ever played against". Paul Joannou points out in The Black 'n' White Alphabet that McMichael "possessed excellent positional sense and tended to raise his game against the better wingers."

McMichael had ligament trouble in 1955 and missed winning a second FA Cup winners' medal in Newcastle's 3-1 victory over Manchester City.

After playing in 427 games for Newcastle United McMichael became player-manager of South Shields in 1963. He also managed Bangor in Northern Ireland.

Alf McMichael died on 7th January 2006.