Newcastle United A History
By Peter Mann
Tuesday 01 Mar 2011 11:38:00
Browse all Newcastle United A History articles



The history of Newcastle United goes back a very long way, to a time that is long forgotten. It was a time as to when everything was virtually seen in black and white anyways. A time when, if you had a time machine, you would want to visit it. It was, or is, the time as to when football began to take a hold of the region, a sport to which was played by gentlemen. However, without the rules and intricacies of todays modern game.


The late 1800's was a time when football club's were seen to be emerging up and down the country, none more so than here, in the north-east, Tyneside very much included. Of those being formed were the likes of Stanley (not to be confused with the County Durham village) and Rosewood, Tyne Association and Northumberland, to name but a few. The book – Pioneers of the North, provides an excellent portrayal of life back then.


November of 1879 even saw that of Tyne Association become the region's firt entrants into the FA Cup, losing 5-1 away to Blackburn.


Fast forward a few years, and with Queen Victoria holding monarchy over the country, and Gladstone in office as Prime Minister, the foundations of Newcastle United were being laid. This was due to the emergence of the afore-mentioned Stanley and Rosewood teams in Newcastle's East End, with Rosewood effectively becoming the reserves. Over the coming years, the East End club would go from strength to strength. However, over in the West End, a strong rivalry was also emerging, playing in several places as a more than nomadic outfit, moving into that of St. James' Park in 1886. The ground was previously the home of Newcastle Rangers, and was also a place where hangings were conducted, up until 1844 that is.


One of the main instigators at the West End club club was that of Tom Watson, whom had joined them four years prior, in 1882. Even then he was deemed to have the midas touch, before leaving for Wearside rivals, Sunderland, in 1889. Watson led them to three league titles in four years, building what was then known as being 'the team of champions' – Liverpool then beckoned in 1896 where he led the rising Merseyside giants to a further two championship successes before his evetual passing in 1915.


 The first football matches for both the East and West End outfits both arrived on the same day, that of the 7th October 1882. The East End defeated Hamsterley Rangers at Byker, 1-0; but the West were to be beaten 2-0, by none other than Rosewood.


There was even time for the formation of the Northumberland and Durham Challenge Cup in 1880, which split into two separate competitions three years later, with East and West End playing in both.


1885 saw East End win their first trophy, that of the Northumberland Challenge Cup, 1-0 against Sleekburn Wanderers, as well as that of the Charity Shield, with an emphatic 10-0 victory over Newcastle FA. West End would reach the Challenge Cup final the following season, but lose out to Shankhouse Black Watch.


Both clubs played numerous FA Cup matches, and in 1889, they would both be amongst the innaugural members of the Northern League, the second oldest football league in the world, along with that of Auckland Town,  Birtley, Darlington, Darlington St. Augustines, Elswick Rangers, Middlesbrough, South Bank and Stockton. The West End would finish that first season as league runners-up, on goal average; with East End being a further five points adrift in fourth place. Within a few years though, the West End had folded and, with the East End getting ever stronger. They would themselves become Northern League runners-up in 1893, moving to St. James Park and eventually taking over their rivals mantle. It was just prior to this move that the club would change it's name.


December 1892 saw the West End play their first match as Newcastle Unied, having made their St. James' Park debut some three months earlier. That match was a friendly, a regular occurrence in those early days, against Glasgow Cletic, and, although the Scottish side would win 1-0, there would be some 6000 plus in attendance, and Ladies were granted free admission.


The first official match as Newcastle United came on the Christmas Eve , and would result in a 2-1 win against the visiting Middlesbrough, with McIntosh and Reay scoring the goals in front of some 1200 fans.


So, with that of Newcastle United now formed, they needed a league in which to participate, and, having previously been denied entry to the Football League's First Division, they were granted innaugural membership of the newly created Second Division. The previous season weighed heavy though, financially, on the minds of club officials, as debts of over four hundred pounds had been accrued, and some nine hundred pounds had been outlaid onto staff wages.....just a little less than what is paid to today's highly paid players.


 The Second Division of the Football League beckoned, and the first two matches for this newly formed club were against that of Woolwich Arsenal. The first taking place at their opponents Plumstead Ground, reulting in a fine, 2-2 draw, even more so having been two goals down at the interval. The seond half however saw the 6000 strong crowd bear witness to Newcastle United's first ever goal in the Football League, with local lad Tom Crate taking the honours. Jock Sorley then netted the second to earn a credible draw. The end of September 1893 saw Woolwich Arsenal as the first visitors to St. James' for a Football League match, and a crowd of a little more than 3000 saw a rout, Newcastle running amok in a 6-0 victory, as winger, Joe Wallace, netted a hat-trick (another first).


Tom Crate was amongst one of the early known stars of Newcastle. He played for the club during their formative years, starring between 1892 and 1895. He holds the disnction of scoring the first ever Football League goal for the club. As an inside-right he played 44 times for United, scoring 16 times. In that debut season in the Football League Tom scored 17 times (15 in the league), including a hat-trick against Northwich Victoria in January 1894. At the end of 1894 he had left the club for Hebburn Argyle.


Two of the club's biggest crowds in that first season arrived when on FA Cup duty. Some 7000 saw Newcastle defeat the visiting Sheffield United 2-0 in late January, Wallace netting a brace; and then there was 10000 turn up for the visit of Bolton Wanderers in mid February, and, although Crate scored, Newcastle lost 2-1. The gate receipts for the Sheffield match were that of a hundred and seventy pounds, a nice princely sum in those early days.


The end of that first season and Newcastle had done rather well, finishing fourth in the league and reaching the Second Round of the FA Cup. They had played, and beaten, some illustrious teams, both at home and away, and a smattering of friendlies added into the mixture, to make up match numbers.


The first penalty to be scored was done late season when half-back Harry Jeffrey scored the second in a 2-0 win against Walsall Town Sifts in March. The club also made their only visit to Northwich Victoria, which ended in a 5-3 defeat, before their opponets dropped out of the league at the end of the season.


Goals were plentiful however as Tom Crate, Joe Wallace, and Willie Thompson all managed to net double figures. The club's debts though were crippling and with over twenty-six pounds owed to Derby County, amongst others, players wages were cut. This resulted in the summer departures of goalkeeper Andrew Ramsey, experienced forward Jock Sorley, and several reserves. But there some signings to. Bob McDermidd arrived from Dundee Wanderers for a fee of seven punds, ten shillings, Jack Smith from Sheffield Wednesday and a new trainer in Harry Kirk from Notts. County.


Newcastle United were deemed ready, if not entirely stable, for their second season in the English Football League.

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