The power of advertising can sometimes have profoundly impressive results, and in the case of Newcastle United perhaps never more so than in 1943, when the Magpies placed an advert in the North Mail newspaper inviting local youngsters to attend trials with the club.
Unsurprisingly, the Magpies received hundreds of hopeful replies but one in particular was to prove memorable. It came from a 19-year-old by the name John 'Jackie' Milburn from the nearby coal mining town of Ashington, and the youngster's letter was to be the start of an era-defining relationship between the club and player.
Milburn travelled the 15 miles between his home and St James' Park for his audition with just a pair of borrowed boots, and a secret. The teenager was actually a Sunderland supporter but the advert in the paper had proved just too tempting. He went through with the trial, and the rest is history.
"In 1943 I went and saw them [Newcastle] play," Milburn recalled in an interview conducted in the 1980s. "I didn't think very much of them to be quite honest, but at the beginning of the next season, I wrote in for a trial and they accepted.
"On the first day I played against the first team in a trial match and I scored six goals. They signed me straight away. A lot of young lads have their favourite clubs and at the time Sunderland were my favourite club, but I went and signed for Newcastle. But I am very glad because I had 15 wonderful seasons there."
Wonderful, of course is something of an understatement. After watching the trial, Magpies manager Stan Seymour offered Milburn a part-time professional contract which, on the insistence of Milburn's father, included a £10 signing-on fee. Then, in August 1943 the youngster made his first team debut at outside-right against Bradford City at Valley Parade. Milburn continued to work at the Ashington Colliery as an engineer throughout the Second World War, but when the hostilities finally ended, his career truly took off.
Blessed with searing natural pace, a painstakingly-honed ability to unleash thunderbolt shots with either foot, and superb balance, 'Wor' Jackie quickly established himself as a key figure at St James' Park but it was the arrival of George Martin as manager in 1947 that helped define him. Martin saw a centre-forward rather than an outside-right, and in his first game up front away against Bury in October that year, Milburn vindicated his manager's vision with a hat-trick.
The switch to centre-forward continued to bear fruit. Milburn finished the 1947-48 campaign with 20 league goals in 39 appearances, as the Magpies returned to the top-flight and with the exception of an injury-ravaged 1952-53 season, he was to reach double figures every year in the First Division for the remainder of his Newcastle career.
He was never to experience the euphoria of winning the league but the FA Cup was to provide ample consolation, supplying him with three winner's medals. Milburn scored both goals in the 2-0 victory over Blackpool in the 1951 Final, and he was back at Wembley 12 months later when the Magpies beat Arsenal 1-0. Newcastle also featured in the 1955 showpiece, and Milburn's goal after just 45 seconds - the then quickest goal in the history of the final - provided the platform for a 3-1 win over Manchester City.
"There is nothing like winning something for the first time like we did with the FA Cup against Blackpool," he recalled. "It was a wonderful day, I scored two goals and I will never forget that moment. We won the Cup in 1952 again, which was another great day. It was not as good as the first time, there's nothing like the first time."
The end of his love affair with Newcastle United came at the denouement of the 1956-57 season. A brief, but prolific spell in Ireland as player-manager with Linfield followed before an ill-fated spell at Ipswich Town, but management was not to be Milburn's forte and he spent his retirement writing about the game for a national newspaper, rather than in coaching.
"It is the worst game in the world managing a football club," he admitted after his experience at Portman Road. "There are a lot of good lads in football but you always get one or two bad ones, about five per cent that do all the damage, and believe you me, they do a lot of damage. It led really to the players becoming a little bit greedy, which is a bad thing in sport."
His death in 1988 at the age of 64 was tragically premature but his legacy lives on. Milburn's 200 goals in 395 Football League and cup games for the Magpies was a club record until his milestone was eclipsed by another of Newcastle's great number nines, Alan Shearer, but were his 38 wartime strikes to be added to his total, 'Wor' Jackie would stand alone as the undisputed king of St James' Park.
"I used to watch Newcastle back in 1948 when I was 15 and so Jackie Milburn meant a lot to me," the late, great Sir Bobby Robson once said. "He was tremendously quick, a good taker of a chance and I liked his energy. He was a good individual player, but also a team player and he worked hard for them. He started playing outside-right but could play centre-forward and it was hard to decide just which was his best position."
FOOTBALL LEAGUE RECORD
Newcastle United (1943-57) - 353 Football League appearances, 177 goals