Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The First Tyne-Wear Derby Took Place on Christmas Eve 120 Years Ago

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

The First Tyne-Wear Derby Took Place on Christmas Eve 120 Years Ago

Article excerpt

Byline: NOSTALGIA DAVE MORTON recalls the people and places of the North East EMAIL: TELEPHONE: 0191 2016437 WRITE TO: Dave Morton, Nostalgia Editor, ncjMedia, Eldon Court, Percy Street, Newcastle, NE1 7JB. @DaveSMorton Newcastle Chronicle - History Photosales - 0191 201 6000

ON this day 120 years ago a fierce football rivalry was born.

Christmas Eve, 1898, marked the very first Tyne-Wear derby.

It was a very different world. Seventy-nine-year-old Queen Victoria had been on the throne for 61 years, and the Prime Minister was a Tory grandee, the Marquess of Salisbury.

The Empire stretched across the globe, with the British Army that year claiming a famous victory at the Battle of Omdurman in Sudan.

Closer to home, the North East's shipyards, collieries and factories were at full tilt as the region continued to establish itself as an industrial powerhouse.

In the midst of this, the spectator sport of Association Football was rocketing in popularity as working men enjoyed more leisure time and sought diversion from the rigours of their largely manual daily work.

Hard as it is to imagine today, Newcastle United were North East football's new kids on the block, having come into existence only six years earlier.

Sunderland, meanwhile, with their "team of all the talents" had already won the league title three times when the inaugural derby took place on this day 120 years ago.

For the Magpies, the 1898-99 season was their first in English football's top flight - and they were finding it tough going.

When they arrived at the recently-opened Roker Park, United had won only three of their 17 First Division fixtures.

But the Victorian Toon Army, much like their descendants in the decades that followed, were second to none in terms of fervour.

The Chronicle's coverage of the build-up to the game illustrates football's rapidly growing appeal.

We reported: "It was estimated that at least 8,000 enthusiasts joined trains at Newcastle Central Station, and numerous private brakes (horse-drawn carriages) and charabancs augmented this total. …

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