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Aug 18, 2011

Tyne-Wear derbies

Sunderland take on Newcastle United at the Stadium of Light on Saturday for what has long been one of the most fiercely contested derbies in the game. Here, ESPNsoccernet puts together a selection of some of the most memorable Tyne-Wear derbies.

Newcastle United 0-2 Sunderland (April 1901)

There was a great sense of anticipation about the Good Friday clash between Newcastle and Sunderland at St James' Park in 1901. The rivalry between the teams was beginning to grow and, with Sunderland top of the league with four games remaining, there was plenty riding on the derby.

Unfortunately, the sense of anticipation caused serious problems. The Guardian reported: "The match at Newcastle yesterday ... attracted an enormous crowd, more than 25,000 persons being present an hour before the match was fixed to begin. Outside, some 10,000 persons were clamouring for admission, and after the gates were closed they stormed the palisades and forced their way on to the ground, where riotous scenes occurred. Play was rendered quite impossible, and the police had to make a number of baton charges before order could be partially restored."

The game was abandoned, and Sunderland then lost two of their next three games to allow Liverpool back into the title race. In the end, Sunderland's final match of the season would be the rescheduled clash with Newcastle and, though they were level top, they had played a game more than Liverpool. Sunderland beat Newcastle 2-0 in the rearranged fixture, but it was not enough to clinch the league as Liverpool won their last two games to finish two points clear.

Newcastle United 1-9 Sunderland (December 1908)

"Sensationalism has reached its climax in football," the Daily Express wrote after Sunderland recorded what is, to this day, their biggest ever league victory. "Surprise does not adequately express one's feelings."

Before the derby, which took place in early December 1908, the newspaper had said only "derby nerves" could hinder a Newcastle side sitting second in the table after a 4-0 victory over Nottingham Forest. "The Novocastrians should win comfortably, for they are playing the team that won so handsomely against Notts [sic] Forest," the Express journalist wrote.

Ignoring the form book, though, there was reason to believe Sunderland could cause an upset. Though they were sixth in the table, they had what was considered the strongest squad in the league and had a surprisingly good record when playing at St James' Park, winning seven of their ten games there.

As it happened, the sides were level at 1-1 at half-time, but, as the Daily Mirror had it, "in the second half they gave a bewildering exposition of the game", scoring eight goals to record a 9-1 win, "and the 60,000 people went away mystified".

There was a feeling that the scale of the result was so damning that it would overshadow the remainder of Newcastle's campaign. "The Northumberland men have fallen from grace by their ignominious surrender to Sunderland," The Guardian said, "and, whatever happens between now and the end of April, nothing can wipe out the memory of that disaster."

Whether or not the players and fans agreed with that sentiment is unclear, but Newcastle made several changes to the team before winning ten of their next 11 games. Come the end of April, they were crowned league champions.

Newcastle United 6-1 Sunderland (October 1920)

Newcastle had to wait over ten years before inflicting due revenge on Sunderland for their trouncing at St James' Park, but they did so in style. Sunderland had been fourth in the table and had conceded just seven goals in their eight games to that point, but they were thrashed 6-1, and Newcastle moved ahead of their rivals and into third as a result. "Accurate shooting explained Newcastle's superiority," the Daily Mirror report said.

For the rematch at Roker Park a few days later - home and away fixtures were bracketed together for several years after World War I - Sunderland, with a 100% record on home turf, were expected to take revenge, but Newcastle clinched another two points as they won 2-0.

Newcastle United 4-3 Sunderland (March 1929)

After a poor start to the season, Sunderland had propelled themselves up to second by the time of their trip to St James' Park, losing just one of their previous 17 league games.

Newcastle were languishing in tenth, but as The Guardian had it: "The rivalry between Newcastle and Sunderland is so keen that when they meet few will predict a result with any confidence." The Daily Express went a step further: "Sunderland still believe they have a good chance of taking league honours north, but this visit to Newcastle may not improve it."

In the event, Newcastle came out on top in a 4-3 thriller, with Sunderland centre-half Adam Allen putting the decisive goal into his own net.

Sunderland 1-4 Newcastle United (December 1951)

Prior to 1948, as a result of Newcastle's relegation to Division Two and the cessation of football during World War II, there had not been a Tyne-Wear derby for 14 years. When Newcastle returned to the top-flight, it was without their inside-left Len Shackleton, who had joined Sunderland in a British record £20,500 deal earlier that year.

This was Sunderland's 'Bank of England club' era, and they added Ivor Broadis - for £18,000 - in 1949 and Trevor Ford - a record-breaking £30,000 - in 1950. The big-spending did not go as planned, though, and after a third-place finish in 1949-50, they finished 12th the following year; as they prepared for a festive double-header with Newcastle in the 1951-52 season, they were struggling in 18th.

On Christmas Day, Sunderland were thrashed at Roker Park - Ford scored for the hosts but a brace from Chile international George Robledo as well goals from Jackie Milburn and Billy Foulkes left them with a 4-1 defeat - and, on Boxing Day, the teams played out a 2-2 draw at St James' Park.

Sunderland 1-6 Newcastle United (December 1955)

On Boxing Day of 1955, Newcastle thrashed their rivals 6-1 at Roker Park in what remains their biggest away victory in the derby, and that was only the first of a festive double header.

After his team's mauling, Sunderland manager Bill Murray took decisive action, driving to complete the £12,000 signing of England B centre forward Bill Holden from Burnley. The deal was signed on December 27, and four hours later the striker was thrown straight into the action as the teams met for the second time in 24 hours.

Holden duly opened his Sunderland account but, again, it proved a miserable day for Sunderland: they conceded three second-half goals to lose 3-1.

Newcastle United 6-2 Sunderland (December 1956)

Sunderland were described in the Daily Express as "the club that Christmas forgot" as they went down to another festive thrashing to their arch rivals on December 22, 1956.

Sunderland had taken one point from ten matches between mid-September and the end of November, and they moved to sign Don Revie from Manchester City as a £21,500 panic buy in the midst of that run. The signing proved successful, and they went into the derby on the back of two wins with Revie in the side, but he suffered an injury at St James' Park and, with no substitutions allowed, his side crashed to a dismal defeat that left kept them second from bottom.

Sunderland eventually escaped relegation by one place.

Newcastle United 0-2 Sunderland (May 1990)

In the 1989-90 season, Sunderland and Newcastle found themselves battling for a place in the top-flight in the play-off semi-finals. Newcastle, relegated from Division One in 1989, were considered the favourites, with Sunderland having only emerged from the third tier in 1988.

A feisty affair was expected, and police tried to keep the crowd under control by allowing only 27,000 tickets to be sold for the first leg at the 32,000-capacity Roker Park. As it turned out, most of the trouble occurred on the field in a dismal 0-0 draw. Seven players were booked that day and the only shot on target came when Sunderland left-back Paul Hardyman saw his penalty saved. Attempting to reach the follow-up, Hardyman was sent off for lunging at goalkeeper John Burridge.

Newcastle boss Jim Smith stirred tensions further after the game when he accused Sunderland of trying to get his players sent off: "I think Armstrong, Bennett and Gates have been training in a swimming pool. They were trying to make us lose our heads."

The return, three days later, saw the violence move to the stands. Sunderland took the lead on 13 minutes through Eric Gates, and Marco Gabbiadini made it 2-0 as the game approached its end. Around 500 Newcastle fans took that goal as their cue to create havoc and ran onto the field, causing the game to be delayed by 21 minutes, but - with 66 fans eventually arrested and four policemen hurt - order was restored and Sunderland reached the play-off final.

Sunderland then lost the final 1-0 to Swindon Town but, after the authorities deemed Swindon guilty of making illegal payments for players, found themselves promoted anyway.

Newcastle United 1-2 Sunderland (August 1999)

Ruud Gullit was under heavy scrutiny early in his second season in charge of Newcastle. Having been sacked as Chelsea boss, he took over at St James' Park in 1998 and guided the Toon to 13th and an FA Cup final in his first season, but the off-field problems were laid bare after a disastrous start to the 1999-2000 campaign.

Gullit was clearly in conflict with several members of his squad and the season began with three straight defeats, after which he tendered his resignation. He was talked out of it, and their first point came in the fourth match, a 3-3 draw with Wimbledon for which Alan Shearer was suspended. Asked whether the club's star striker would return to the starting line-up for the upcoming derby, Gullit cryptically replied: "On Wednesday we have another game, and on Monday we have another press conference."

His response brought doubt, and when the teamsheet was pinned to the board ahead of the derby at St James', it was confirmed: Shearer was dropped along with Duncan Ferguson in an apparent show of defiance. In their place were Silvio Maric and Paul Robinson.

Despite the absence of their key strikers, Newcastle took the lead on 27 minutes through Kieron Dyer but, after Ferguson's 57th-minute introduction, Niall Quinn equalised. Shearer was brought on after 72 minutes, but three minutes later Kevin Phillips scored Sunderland's winner. Gullit suggested the timing of the goals vindicated his starting line-up: "We were doing well until we brought Paul Robinson off. We put Alan Shearer on and we lost. What is the conclusion? You saw what happened when Shearer and Ferguson went on."

After the defeat, Martin Samuel had written in the Daily Express: "We were told it was the strangest suicide note in history. Newcastle's teamsheet, with its bizarre logic and confirmation of a club in turmoil, might yet be remembered as Ruud Gullit's goodbye to the cruel world of Premiership management."

Gullit had received the backing of 83% of fans in a local poll before the defeat; afterwards, 90% were calling for his resignation. He duly obliged.

Brian McNally, reacting to the Dutchman's departure in The Mail on Sunday, said: "Gullit misjudged how much the Sunderland derby means to Newcastle fans. They were willing to forgive Gullit's mediocre results, his commuting from Amsterdam, even his failure to get on with Shearer. But his teamsheet for the Sunderland game was suicide."

Sunderland 1-4 Newcastle United (April 2006)

When Alan Shearer scored a brace in a 3-1 victory over Wigan Athletic in April of his final season, a member of the press asked whether it was in the back of his mind that each goal he scored might be his last. "No, no, not really, no," he replied. "Not at all. Never. Why? Is it in yours?"

As it turned out, his final goal would come just two days later at the Stadium of Light. The day had not begun well for Newcastle: Sunderland, coming to the end of a dismal season in which they would ultimately be relegated with just 15 points, held a deserved 1-0 lead at half-time. "Usually I'm a very calm person," Newcastle boss Glenn Roeder said afterwards, "but if I've ever jumped up and down like a lunatic, it was during half-time. I certainly stripped the walls."

The team-talk worked, and Michael Chopra levelled on the hour. A minute later, Shearer put Newcastle ahead from the penalty spot, wheeling away with one arm aloft after his 409th career goal. Charles N'Zogbia and Albert Luque then completed the demolition, and the away fans were jubilant.

The next morning, though, the backpage headlines would belong to Shearer, and it was not good news. A 71st-minute Julio Arca challenge saw him make an early exit, and he told reporters: "That's it for me. I will have a scan and if medial ligament damage is confirmed, then I'm done." It was to be his last ever appearance as a professional footballer.

Newcastle United 5-1 Sunderland (October 2010)

"I didn't even watch the news," Steve Bruce said. "The 24 to 48 hours afterwards were the most difficult I have had to face in football."

Sunderland had gone into the derby at St James' in confident mood, having recorded three successive clean sheets, but they were given a footballing lesson, with Newcastle winning 5-1 courtesy of a Kevin Nolan hat-trick and two goals from Shola Ameobi.

It was Newcastle's biggest victory over their arch-rivals since 1956, but it was only enough to grant manager Chris Hughton a stay of execution. Hughton had brought stability and guided Newcastle back to the Premier League, but the word on the street ahead of the derby was that Alan Pardew had already been lined up as his replacement. The size of the victory meant that, even for owner Mike Ashley, sacking Hughton would be a PR gaffe too far but, come early December, and despite strong backing from the fans, Hughton was dismissed and Pardew appointed.

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