Football is, hands down, one of the biggest sports in the world. There are millions of fans that enjoy every aspect of the game, and specifically its unique rules that make for some thrilling matches. While there are talent pools for football players all over the world, there’s no doubt that football has its home in Europe. And one nation that seems to be made up solely of football fanatics is England.
The English Premier League is known to have housed some of the best football teams in the world. Many football teams reach the top of the league and dominate their competitors for years before somehow falling from grace and moving away from the public’s eye. But without a doubt, Newcastle United is one of the clubs with the richest, most storied history in football.
The History of Newcastle United – The Early Years
Newcastle United’s history starts in the year 1892, practically at the dawn of what we now know as the sport of football. However, few people other than the most hardened Newcastle United fans know that the club was formed as a merger of two different clubs. These were Newcastle West End and Newcastle East End. So, when these two clubs have merged, they’ve formed a new club – Newcastle United, which remains true to its name to this very day.
From the very beginning of its existence, Newcastle United began to make a name for itself thanks to its unique, attacking style of play. It was not only interesting to watch, and it not only attracted hordes of new fans of football, but it was also very effective. Newcastle United started its run for glory and success by signing Frank Watt as the team’s secretary back in 1895, who promptly went on to sign talented football players to the club. Two of the club’s biggest signings back then were Willie Wardrope and Andy Aitkin, as well as John Peddie. It was John Peddie that helped Newcastle United shine back in the early days, becoming the team’s top goal scorer during his first year of playing. However, John Peddie had a notorious reputation of being difficult to work with. He failed to appear during training sessions, and he had numerous run-ins with his superintendents at the club. He even refused to play for Newcastle United on several occasions. This all culminated with him being suspended until further notice in 1900.
John Peddie had the knack for scoring goals. During his tumultuous tenure at Newcastle United, he scored 73 goals in 125 different matches. However, once again, his propensity to go against his superiors brought him a lot of trouble down the line, and the fans have had mixed feelings about him. On the one hand, they were admiring him for his zest for the game and his goalscoring skills. On the other hand, they were getting vexed by his performance off the pitch. Despite all this, John Peddie is known as one of the earliest football stars that have played for Newcastle United.
The club entered the Football League only two years after it was founded, in 1894. In what’s deemed a sure testament of Newcastle United greatness, the club quickly strung wins over their opponents. It was eventually promoted to the league’s first division, where the top English clubs competed in 1899.
And we can’t skip out on mentioning one of the biggest football shrines on the Old Continent, Newcastle’s football stadium, St. James’ Park. This is, in fact, the oldest football stadium in England. Football matches were being played there even before the founding of Newcastle United, all the way back in the 1880s. Today, St. James’ Park is still standing as a testament to the glory of football as one of the most popular sports that we have ever had the grace of seeing, and as Newcastle United’s football stadium, and continues to attract attention and admiration from football fans from all around the world.
Newcastle United in the 20th Century
Newcastle United proved to have the attributes of a great club already in the 20th century. The club was a breeding ground for football talents, and it was evident from the very beginning. Newcastle managed a number of victories and won the first division several times, winning the title in 1905, then again in 1907, and then again in 1908.
However, Newcastle United’s title runs were, at times, quite tumultuous, not unlike playing gambling games in an RTG casino. Alongside the club’s impressive victories, there have been some questionable defeats, such as the 1908 defeat to the club’s arch-enemy Sunderland with a horrendous 9-1 result. But Newcastle United, as a club, was unfazed by these occasional defeats from rivals, and the club won its first FA Cup title. But Newcastle United, as a club, was unfazed by these infrequent losses to rivals, and the club went on to win its first FA Cup title. However, not long after this, the First World War started, and the interest in football died down for several years, cutting Newcastle United’s impressive run short.
But the team managed to rebound after the war and had one of its best runs in its rich and storied history. The team started to make a statement by once again winning the FA Cup title in 1924. The high-point in Newcastle United’s history was marked by the acquisition of the services of one Hughie Gallacher, who went on to become one of Newcastle United’s legendary players. He quickly started to show his worth and was eventually promoted to the team captain. He led the team to win the first division title in 1927, and the club managed to win the FA Cup trophy in 1932.
After this impressive streak that provoked so many emotions and feelings, Newcastle United entered what’s known as one of the club’s darkest periods. The club’s performance started to deteriorate rapidly. This became evident when Newcastle United was relegated to the second division for the first time in the club’s history in 1934.
Things started to look well after the Second World War, and Newcastle United came near its old glory. The club reentered the first league in 1948 under the leadership of Jackie Milburn, a Newcastle United legend in his own right. A few years later, in the 1950s, Newcastle United managed to win the FA Cup trophy three times over a span of just five years. However, despite this impressive run in the FA Cup, the team didn’t manage to win any other trophies during this period.
Newcastle United in the Premier League
Things were beginning to shape up once again for Newcastle United in the early 1990s when the club entered the new English Premier League, where the best football clubs in football’s history compete to this day. Newcastle United started things on the right way by signing Kevin Keegan as the club’s manager. Keegan proved to be a highly talented, exceptional manager, and he helped the club rise to the top of the Premier League.
Newcastle United signed some top football talent during this time, including key players Alan Shearer and David Ginola. Even though the club started dominating the competition across all levels, it proved to lack just that bit of luck to rise to the very top of the mountain. They won second place in the Premier League in 1996 and 1997, coming very close to win the title. However, another club was starting to make a name for itself back then. This was Manchester United, lead by none other than legendary manager Sir Alex Ferguson – who won the Premier League titles in 1996 and 1997 when Newcastle United came in second.
Also, Newcastle United has had another impressive run at the FA Cup, coming in second place in 1998 and 1999, yet again having no luck to win a trophy. It seemed that the club had peaked its potential during this period, as at the beginning of the 21st century, Newcastle United’s performance and popularity have started to wane.
The club reached the low point in its history once again in 2016 when it was 19th on the Premier League rankings after 28 matches, of which Newcastle United only won 6. The club manager was the infamous Steve McClaren, who was eventually sacked for poor performance after only 9 months of tenure at the helm of the club. McClaren was replaced by football specialist Raphael Benitez who inherited the club in a very poor state, and he was unable to do anything to prevent the imminent relegation of Newcastle United.
However, Newcastle United managed to bounce back during the following year triumphantly by returning to the Premier League after winning the championship by winning 3-0 against Barnsley. Nowadays, Newcastle United continues to compete at the highest levels of English football in the Premier League.
St. James’ Park also experienced a great overhaul during the 1990s until the turn of the century. The stadium’s capacity for crowds was greatly expanded, and this signaled Newcastle United’s entry into the new era of football greatness. It’s a shame that the club didn’t manage to do well on the promise to become one of the biggest names in modern football, despite the fact it had all the markings for it.
Newcastle United’s Key Players
During the club’s rich and storied history, Newcastle United has had its fair share of extremely talented players defending its colors. Some of the most notable football players that have played and made a mark on Newcastle United’s history, in no particular order, are:
- Jimmy Lawrence,
- Gary Speed,
- Hughie Gallacher,
- Andy Cole,
- Alan Shearer,
- Les Ferdinand,
- Jackie Milburn,
and many others. Writing the names of a club’s best players is not an easy job, as it’s easy to accidentally leave out the name of a footballer that has had a huge, if unapparent, influence on the club’s history. However, the names we’re written above are of footballers that have undoubtedly helped Newcastle United become one of the top names in football as we know it, helping the club make championship runs and win titles in the top league and cups.
The player with the biggest number of games played for Newcastle United is Jimmy Lawrence. He had an impressive run of playing 496 games for Newcastle United, a feat that remains difficult to achieve in football to this very day. Jimmy Lawrence proved his undying loyalty for the club by playing in near 500 matches, taking the top spot on the list of Newcastle United’s most loyal players.
But without a doubt, if there’s one player that Newcastle United is known for, it would have to be the legendary Alan Shearer. This prodigious striker scored hundreds of goals for Newcastle United during his tenure at the club. Shearer was a fan favorite due to his incredible sense of loyalty to Newcastle United and due to his grasp on the game, scoring goals from many different positions, each more beautiful than the last. During his time at Newcastle United, Alan Shearer had scored 206 goals in total, which is, once again, a feat that’s very difficult to accomplish in professional football.
And with a statement like “I’ve never wanted to leave. I’m here for the rest of my life, and hopefully after that as well,” Shearer continues to impress with his loyalty to Newcastle United, for which he’s admired by football fans all over the world.
The Tyne-Wear Derby
Rivalries in football are fairly commonplace. There are many clubs that have enmities towards other clubs, and there are some truly longstanding rivalries even in a sport such as a football. In this regard, one of the sport’s oldest rivalries is known as the Tyne-Wear rivalry or Newcastle United vs. Sunderland.
The fact that these two football clubs are bitter rivals is not coincidental. The origin of their rivalry stems from political associations that the citizens of the cities of Newcastle upon Tyne and Sunderland have had in the past, even prior to the founding of the two football clubs. We won’t get into politics now, as this would be beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say that the longstanding rivalry of Newcastle United and Sunderland, and one of the biggest rivalries in the sport of football, stems from politics.
One of the most impressive things about this rivalry is how evenly matched these clubs appear to be when playing against one another. At the time of writing, Newcastle United and Sunderland have played 154 times against each other, across all the promotions of English football. Newcastle United had won 53 games against Sunderland, while Sunderland had won 51 games. The clubs have shared 50 draws. This is a pretty impressive statistic, and it is similar to playing roulette as you never know the outcome of the game. These statistics show that neither club has been able to defeat its nemesis successfully, and it suggests that the rivalry will continue for a long time to come. Both clubs have had some impressive wins when playing against one another, such as the aforementioned match when Sunderland won against Newcastle United with 9-1. But overall, the clubs have had a balanced history in which neither one managed to dominate the other continuously for a prolonged time.
And as is usually the case with bitter rivalries in football, the Tyne-Wear derby has experienced its fair share of incidents perpetrated by the most hardened football fans and hooligans. Fans of both clubs repeatedly arranged to fight each other in designated areas and staged bloody fights. During one match, in which Newcastle United was losing 2-0, the fans of Newcastle United stormed the pitch and tried to stop the match from being concluded. The police have had their fair share of work during that day, having to arrest more than 100 people.
But for the most part, the Tyne-Wear derby was quite civil, as all sports rivalries should be. The players of the two clubs have come out on the pitch time and time again. They have done their best to dominate their opponent, and they have shaken hands after the matches were concluded, as good sportsmen. Apart from the rare incidents of football fans and hooligans trying to take things out of the pitch, the Newcastle United vs Sunderland derby is a joy to behold, and a derby that’s enjoyed not only by the most hardened of Newcastle United and Sunderland fans, but also by football fans in general.
Newcastle United Ownership
Newcastle United is currently owned by Michael James Wallace Ashley of the Fraser’s Group Plc, where he’s the chief executive. Mike Ashley acquired the ownership of Newcastle United back in 2008 from longstanding owner Sir John Hall. The club came into the spotlight in 2020 when a Saudi-led takeover was announced. There was heavy backlash over this, as critics came out stating that the Saudi Arabia consortium was trying to “sportwash” the country’s numerous gross violations of human rights. Also, the consortium faced heavy criticism over the fact that the entire region in and around Saudi Arabia is notorious because football was streamed illegally, and piracy of sports broadcasts was running rampant. The deal eventually fell apart – but it’s still talked about to this day.
Despite the fact that Newcastle United has had lukewarm results lately, the club remains one of the biggest brands in football. Thus, Newcastle United receives a huge income and is the 17th largest club in the world in terms of annual revenue. In 2015, Newcastle United created €169.3 million. However, as impressive as it is, the club has had even better days to generate revenue. It peaked in 1999 when Newcastle United was pronounced to be the fifth club on the list of highest-revenue producing clubs globally. During this time, only Manchester United was ahead of Newcastle United regarding revenue generation from all the clubs in England.
Newcastle is known for the color and patterns of the players’ shirts, which, for the most part, remained intact ever since the earliest days when Newcastle West End and Newcastle East End merged to form the new Newcastle United football club. The shirts are of black and white stripes. These colors and patterns were picked as they were deemed neutral to the two merging clubs so as not to appear that any one of the two football clubs was dominant over the other during the merging.
Newcastle United also has a club crest with two seahorses and a castle as the two main motifs. The seahorses represent the Newcastle upon Tyne’s close relationship and bond with the sea. The castle represents the Norman keep for which the city is known and, actually, from where the city has gotten its name – Newcastle upon Tyne.
Newcastle United – A Name to Remember
As is the case with all great football clubs of history, Newcastle United has had its fair share of swings of fortune during the club’s past. Newcastle United has experienced the extreme highs and lowly lows of competing at the highest levels, winning the national titles and the cups on numerous occasions, but also having been relegated not once but twice.
Despite the fact that Newcastle United is nowhere near the peak of its popularity, a strong case can still be made for the club’s greatness. The more experienced, more knowledgeable fans of the sport know of Newcastle United’s greatness. And it’s just as obvious and, we would say inevitable, that the club will manage to rise again to the occasion and start winning trophies left and right soon.
With key players like Alan Shearer having proudly worn the club’s colors during its history, Newcastle United has not failed to inspire deep loyalty from its players and fans. We know that it will continue to do so for years and years in the future.