By Peter Mann
Thursday 14 Feb 2013 10:22:00
Browse all Newcastle United A History articles

As the 1899-1900 Football League season dawned, the Victorian era of the 20th Century, and the Edwardian age at the start of the 21st Century was upon the nation. This was to be an era which would soon become dominated by a strong and talented Newcastle United, prior to the outbreak of the First World War (1915-1919).

The season would begin on 2nd September with a 1-1 draw away to West Bromwich Albion, as Peddie with a penalty, and picking up from where he had left off the previous season, scoring. In fact he would net five times in the opening six league matches.

On the 5th September there would be the intriguing occurrence of a friendly match with a touring South African side, Kaffirs. In front of some 6,000 spectators nine goals were scored as United would emerge as 6-3 victors as Thomas Niblo with two, and solo efforts from Tommy Ghee, Willie Wardrope, Joe Stevenson and an own-goal giving the Magpies victory.

Back in the league and United would win four of their next five matches starting at home to Everton on 9th September, Peddie and Niblo scoring in a 2-0 win. Peddie and Wardrope would both score in the victories over Blackburn Rovers away (3-2) and Derby County at home (2-0). After an unfortunate 2-1 reverse at Bury at the end of September, Newcastle played the other Magpies, Notts County at home on 7th October, and a crowd of 20,000 would see goals from John Fraser (2), MacFarlane, Peddie, Stevenson, and Wardrope without reply.  This was the first time the club has scored six in the league since the 6-0 home win over Crewe Alexandra on Christmas Day 1895, and the first time they would do so in the top flight. However, this was to be the height of the first half of the season as the club would pick up only two victories from their next ten matches. These would be away to Burnley (3-1) and at home to West Brom (4-2) on 30th December.

The five defeats, the hardest to take would arrive just two days before Christmas when at home to rivals Sunderland in the derby. Some 21,000 spectators attended the game at St. James’ Park and they would bear witness to the first derby hat-trick, scored by Sunderland’s Robert Hogg as the Wearsider’s won 4-2, Newcastle’s goals coming courtesy of Alec Gardner and Alex MacFarlane.

Into the New Year, and with a home game on New Year’s Day being abandoned due to a downfall of heavy snow, the form began to pick up somewhat as United would lose only three of their next eight matches, winning the other five. The three defeats were to be narrow ones and came against rivals for mid-table positions.

Whilst at home to Blackburn Rovers on 13th January goals from Peddie (2), MacFarlane and Carr would see a 4-1 victory. There was only one match played in February 1900, United travelling to Bury and picking up both points in a 2-1 victory. After a draw with Wolves the club had two successive victories at home and against clubs at opposite ends of the league table. First up would be successful title challengers Aton Villa, on course for their fifth league championship in seven years, and their second back-to-back in this period. Goals from Alec Gardner and Jock Peddie with a brace would see the Magpies home by the odd goal in five. This was to be followed by the visit of relegation-threatened Glossop North End as a solitary strike from Peddie would seal a hard-fought victory.

The rest of March was to be as erratic as usual for United teams down the years had been. Defeat at Liverpool would be swiftly followed by Fraser and Rogers scoring the goals that would see off visiting Burnley 2-0. Two heavy defeats away at the end of the month against Sheffield United (1-3) and Preston North End (1-4), as well as four consecutive draws would put paid to any lingering hopes there was of challenging for the title. These arrived on the back of a 3-1 home win over Nottingham Forest on 7th April. The first three of those draws were all goalless when at home to Manchester City and away to both Glossop North End and Notts County. The season would be concluded with that of a 2-2 draw at home to Stoke before a visit to Roker Park on 28th April and that of Sunderland. Newcastle would close the season with a 2-1 victory courtesy of strikes by John Fraser and an Alec Gardner penalty in front of some 22,000 spectators.

This victory over Sunderland meant that Newcastle would finish in fifth place, on goal difference from Derby County and some fourteen points adrift of champions Aston Villa. Yet again it would be Jock Peddie who was the leading scorer and this time with 16 goals, John Fraser would score eight times, and there would be six apiece from Alec Gardner, Alex MacFarlane and Joe Stevenson.

Newcastle United though were to be starting a transitional period meaning that several of their old Second Division team was to be broken up as that of William Wardrope, Jimmy Stott and William Higgins would all depart at some point for nearby Middlesbrough and Jack Ostler would retire.

Playing at outside-left (or left-wing as it is today), William Wardrope would spend an impressive five seasons at Newcastle having spent the early part of his playing career in Scottish Amateur football, joining the club from Linthouse. He would make a scoring debut in the home match with Loughborough Town on 7th September 1895. He even finished the 1895-96 season as top scorer with 20 goals from 36 games. Wardrope would go on to make near 150 appearances in five years for the club, scoring over 50 goals, including a goal in the first Tyne-Wear derby. He would play for numerous clubs upon leaving St. James including Fulham when they were starting out in the Southern League, as well as being a part of the Third Lanark side that would win the Scottish League in 1906.

Also, during the 1895-96 season, Wardrope had notched up an impressive record of scoring some thirteen goals in nine successive league and cup matches, including a hat-trick against Darwen, and braces at Rotherham Town and Middlesbrough, the latter in the FA Cup qualifiers. 


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