The North-East of England is known for its passionate football fans and this is based on the intense local rivalry between Newcastle United and Sunderland. For hundreds of years the Mackems and Geordies have collided in derby matches that bring the region to a standstill. The Red and White stripes of Sunderland meeting the Black and White stripes of Newcastle is an annual fixture that fans eagerly anticipate and that always serves us a treat for the neutrals. Only ten miles apart, the Tyne-Wear derby has a famous history.
The sides first met in 1883 and the passion was evident from the off, taken to a greater extent in 1888 when Sunderland dumped Newcastle out of the FA Cup. Since then the derby has been evenly matched with both teams recording over 50 wins and there being a similar number of ties. The matches themselves tend to be passion filled and unpredictable.
1908 saw a 9-1 victory for Sunderland that to this day is a record in the derby match but Newcastle enjoyed the best of the pre-war period and indeed carried that run into the 1950s. Since then it has been an evenly matched affair. Legends such as Sunderland’s George Holley, who scored 15 goals in 22 derby matches and Newcastle’s leading derby scorer Jackie Milburn line the history of this game. Shearer being dropped to the bench, the rainy night on which Quinn and Phillips dominated the show at St. James, the 5-1 and the Kerian Richardson free kick all stay firm in the memory.
The rivalry extends beyond the game itself as fans taunt each other over silverware. Sunderland fans point to the 1973 FA Cup victory as evidence of their superiority whilst Newcastle fans can gloat at the runners-up spots in the Premier League and Champions League appearances. Sunderland fans took great joy in the 2010s when Newcastle found themselves relegated to the lower league but just like the neutrals, part of the Mackems were upset that they would not get the annual joys of derby day.
Players who had crossed the divide are few and far between but the likes of Paul Bracewell, Stephen Caldwell, Titus Bramble and Lionel Perez have been embraced by fans. Time will tell if the latest entry into that list, Jack Colback, will be taken to the Geordie’s hearts.
Newcastle fans will remember the famous afternoon at St James Park when Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan lead the Toon Army to a famous 5-0 victory but lately it is the Black Cats who have had the more to cheer about. Back to back 3-0 away victories, a memorable last minute winner from Adam Johnson and four wins in a row have made Sunderland the dominant force in the Tyne and Wear derby and with both teams secure in the Premier League it look like we have plenty more action to look forward too.