Retro game: Preston North End's FA Cup replay victory over Blyth Spartans in 1974

In November 1974 Bobby Charlton got some cheer from the FA Cup as Preston North End got back on track after a dip in their league form.

Wednesday, 1st December 2021, 3:00 pm

PNE beat non-league side Blyth Spartans in an FA Cup replay at Deepdale having been held to a 1-1 draw in the North East four days earlier.

Charlton’s men had lost four Third Division games in a row before going toe-to-toe with Blyth.

This was the season when England World Cup winner Charlton pulled the boots back on to play for PNE.

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Preston North End player/manager Bobby Charlton has a shot in the FA Cup replay against Blyth Spartans in November 1974

He’d managed them the campaign before in the traditional way from the confines of the dug-out, one which had ended in relegation.

In a bid to guide them back to the Second Division, Charlton came out of playing retirement and was to turn out 45 times in league and cup.

He played in both games against Northern League outfit Blyth, the replay seeing Mel Holden score a hat-trick and Mike Elwiss net twice.

It had been Holden who scored in the first game at Croft Park, having been a substitute that day.

PNE strikers Mel Holden and Mike Elwiss in action against Blyth Spartans at Deepdale in November 1974

For the replay he replaced Tony Morley in the starting XI, that the only change made by Charlton.

The Tuesday night clash saw a crowd of 10,101 pass through the turnstiles.

With just three minutes played North End took the lead, Alan Lamb’s right-wing cross finding Holden in the box who scored with a low shot.

The floodgates didn’t open at that point, PNE going on to find the going tough for the rest of the first half against their visitors.

PNE striker Mike Elwiss has a header against Blyth Spartans

Their second goal came soon after the interval, Holden turning provider with a cross which Elwiss headed home.

Quickly Blyth were back to within a goal of North End, Ron Swift heading past goalkeeper Roy Tunks.

However, Charlton’s men were to make their league status and home advantage count as the contest entered the final quarter of an hour.

Lamb’s shot in the box led to a scramble as the Blyth defence attempted to clear, the ball eventually coming the way of Elwiss, who found the net.

Holden was then to score twice in the last few minutes to complete his hat-trick and put a shine on the scoreline.

The striker was sold to Sunderland at the end of that season and was tragically to develop Motor Neurone Disease. He passed away aged 26 in January 1981.

Victory over Blyth set Charlton’s men up with another trip to Northumberland, again a non-league side providing the opposition.

They were drawn against Bishop Auckland, Charlton and Morley scoring in a 2-0 win there.

A 1-0 home defeat to Carlisle in the third round ended their involvement in the competition.

PNE: Tunks, Fielding, Bird (Morley), Sadler, Burns, Lamb, Stiles, Doyle, Charlton, Elwiss, Holden.

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