The Tyne-Wear Derby Chronicles: Part Three


Christmas Eve in the year 1898 saw the first competitive derby between Newcastle United and Sunderland football clubs. And, having played each other on numerous occasions in recent times (nearly twenty friendlies in six years), this would be the first official league encounter.

Prior to that though, some fifteen years to be exact, would be the earliest recorded friendly match when, at Byker, Newcastle East End would lose by three clear goals, thus beginning the sequence which would lead to what is today’s Tyne-Wear derbies.

A decade later, in the February of 1893, and the first friendly as Newcastle United would take place at St. James Park in front of some 7,000 spectators, but Sunderland were seen to have had the upper hand in those friendly encounters and this would prove no different. Sunderland’s Campbell would score four times (including a penalty) as they enemy would romp to a 6-1 victory; United’s centre-half, William Graham, netting the consolation goal.

The first major competitive match would come in the FA Cup as Newcastle East End would travel to Sunderland’s Newcastle Road ground on 17th November 1888 for a third qualifying round tie. At the time though, derby matches fro these two clubs were rather more localised. Sunderland’s rivals were that of Sunderland Albion and Newcastle East End was rivalled with Newcastle West End with the rivalry present between the Wearside-based pairing bigger than Tyneside’s.

However, this first major, competitive fixture, in front of a mere 5,000 spectators, saw Sunderland with goals in the second half from Davison and Jobling. That victory actually saw Sunderland draw Sunderland Albion in the next round, but, as was the case in the previous season’s competition; Sunderland withdrew rather than play the Albion (doing the same when the two sides were paired in the Durham Challenge Cup that season as well). Neither Newcastle nor Sunderland was playing competitive, league football at this time though.


(Jock Peddie for Newcastle, above, and Jim Leslie for Sunderland, both scored twice in the first competitive Tyne-Wear derby match in 1898)

That first competitive league match occurred, as mentioned, on Christmas Eve in 1898, five years after Newcastle’s inception into the Football League, and when Sunderland were actually a force to be reckoned wit. The previous, 1897-98 season, would see both the clubs finish as runners-up in their respective divisions, Newcastle successfully gaining promotion from the old Second Division. By the time of this match United hadn’t won an away fixture in English football’s top division, and this would be their eleventh attempt at an away success having already lost at Everton, Stoke City, Sheffield United, Burnley, Bury, Preston North End, Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Blackburn Rovers, scoring on only seven occasions and conceding eighteen.

This first derby match and the first to also be played at Roker Park would see Newcastle leading 2-1 at the interval before winning 3-2. Jim Leslie scored a goal in each half for Sunderland, even providing the home side with the lead after quarter of an hour only to have it cancelled out by Willie Wardrope within minutes. A goal in each half also came courtesy of United’s Jock Peddie, netting what was effectively the winner five minutes into the second period. The attendance for this match was said to have been between 25 and 30,000 spectators, and with some 8,000 being that of the travelling Geordie support.

The Newcastle United line-up (with appearances made and years spent at the club) on that merry Christmas eve were –

Matt Kingsley (189 apps, 1898-1904); William Lindsay (62, 1898-1900); James Jackson (68, 1897-1899); Thomas Gee (144, 1897-1920, last eighteen years as a club trainer); John Ostler (club captain, 78, 1896-1900); James Scott (131, 1895-1899); Joseph Rogers (57, 1898-1901); James Stevenson (37, 1898-1900); John ‘Jock’ Peddie (136, 1897-1902); Andrew Aitken (349, 1895-1906); and Willie Wardrope (145, 1895-1900).

For the record though, Sunderland won the return match at St. James Park in April 1899, McLatchie scoring the games only goal with quarter of an hour remaining. This was the last match of the season which saw Newcastle finish in thirteenth place and, courtesy of this final day victory, Sunderland would finish in seventh.




About petermannwriter

Freelance (Sports/Music) Journalist

Posted on 23/10/2015, in Football, Newcastle United and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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