Tribal Football Rivalries – Newcastle United Vs Sunderland (Tyne-Wear Derby)

The Tyne-Wear derby is one of the most historic and famous local derbies in English football, contested between Newcastle United and Sunderland.

The cities are separated by just 13 miles and the conflict dates back to the English Civil War in the 16th century. Newcastle United were founded in 1892 and Sunderland were established in 1879.

Both clubs had different local rivals in the early stages of their existence in football. Newcastle West End and Newcastle East End were fierce local rivals until Newcastle West End folded due to bankruptcy in 1892. The two clubs subsequently merged into one club in 1892, which led to the establishment of Newcastle United.

Sunderland also had local rivals when Sunderland Albion were founded in 1888. Various Sunderland players broke away to join Albion but the team folded after just four years.

This increased the intensity in the rivalry between Sunderland and Newcastle United. There have been 153 competitive Tyne-Wear derbies with Newcastle winning 53 and Sunderland on winning 51 occasions.

Sunderland inflicted Newcastle’s biggest home defeat in the club’s history when they won 9-1 at St James’ Park in the 1900/01 season. Sunderland also hold the record for the most consecutive wins in the Tyne-Wear derby with a current record of 6 wins.

Sam Allardyce remains the only manager to take charge of both clubs with a spell at Newcastle in 2007-2008 and Sunderland in 2015-2016. 62 players have dared to make the transfer from one rival to another, including Michael Chopra, Andy Cole and Chris Waddle.


The first ever Tyne-Wear derby took place in 1883, but the first competitive fixture was won 2-0 by Sunderland in the FA Cup in 1887. In the 1900/01 season, the match was abandoned because 120,000 fans attempted to enter the ground, despite its maximum capacity of 30,000. The decision to abandon the game was taken aggressively and led to rioting, which left a number of fans injured.

Sunderland and Newcastle United fans were regularly spotted climbing trees and nearby building to view the game. The black cats won 9-1 in December 1908, to condemn Newcastle to their worst home defeat in their history.

It was dubbed the biggest Tyne-Wear derby in history when the two teams contested against each other in the 1990 play-off semi final. The first leg ended goal less and Sunderland won 2-0 at St James’ Park in the second leg. The toon supporters invaded the pitch, in an attempt to force the match to be abandoned. However, Sunderland went onto win but lost in the final against Swindon Town, but Sunderland were awarded promotion due to Swindon’s financial difficulties.

The pressure of the game has been evidently proven to be too much for the greatest professionals. In August 1999, former Newcastle manager Ruud Gullit quit following their 2-1 defeat to Sunderland, after leaving out top goal scorers Alan Shearer and Duncan Ferguson.

Sunderland earned promotion to the Premier League and joined Newcastle United in the English top flight at the beginning of the 1996/97 season. There were proposals to ban Newcastle fans from entering Roker Park on safety and security grounds.

Sunderland and Northumbria police made a last-minute agreement to allow 1,000 away supporters to attend the game, an offer in which Newcastle declined. The toon army went onto place a similar ban on Sunderland supporters for the reverse fixture.

Violence has broken out in recent years, including supporters throwing missiles at Joey Barton following Sunderland’s first win at St James’ Park for the first time in 28 years. There were 160 arrests in connection with a game in 2001 and Newcastle supporters rioted on the street following their 3-0 defeat at St James’ Park in 2012, leading to 29 arrests.

A 17-year-old fan ran onto the pitch and pushed over Newcastle United goalkeeper Steve Harper. This sparked several incidents of hooliganism and 24 arrests were made in the Tyne-Wear derby in the 2010/11 season.

Newcastle United won 5 consecutive games against Sunderland between 2002-2006. However, this record was beaten when Sunderland won their sixth consecutive Tyne-Wear derby in October 2015.

Sunderland survived in the 2015/16 season, whereas Newcastle suffered relegation, despite a late attempt to save their Premier League status under Rafa Benitez. Former Sunderland player George Holley scored the most goals in the Tyne-Wear derby, scoring 15 goals in 22 appearances.

Newcastle’s Jackie Milburn scored the most Newcastle goals in the derby with 11 goals. Former Newcastle goalkeeper Jimmy Lawrence made the most appearances, featuring in 22 appearances.

Tribal History

The rivalry between the two cities dates back to the English Civil War, which took place between 1642-1651. King Charles I awarded East of England Coal Trade Rights to Newcastle’s merchants, this had a negative effect on Sunderland.

Sunderland were influenced by the large amount of dependence on Scottish traders and supported Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians. Sunderland’s growth came from their coal-exporting background and Newcastle was a more dominant town and thwarted the exportation of coal from Sunderland’s dispatch point, which was the River Wear.

Newcastle sided with the Royalists and their allies were Durham City. If Sunderland had joined Newcastle in supporting the Royalists, the likelihood is that the Royal Charter, who limit town’s trade, would’ve given Newcastle an unfair advantage over Sunderland.

This subsequently culminated in the battle of Boldon Hill, in which Scotland defeated Newcastle and colonised the city with the support of Sunderland troops. The conflict continued during the Jacobite Rebellions in the late 1600s and early 1700s.

Newcastle supported Hanoverians favouring German king George, whereas Sunderland sided with Scottish Stuarts. There are also indications that the rivalry was initiated in the roman times.

Newcastle were previously based in Northumberland and Sunderland were situated in County Durham. However, the government decided to pair them together to make the region of Tyne and Wear.

Sunderland have the biggest population but Newcastle have a more efficient railway station and their own City airport. The rivalry has been sweetened between the two cities but football always bring out the history books!

Head to Head

Teams Played Wins Draws Goals
Sunderland 153 51 49 226
Newcastle United 153 53 49 222

Newcastle United have won more times in the Tyne-Wear derby with their 53 wins outweighing Sunderland’s 51. It shows the narrow margins between both sides with just under 33% of their meetings ending level.

Although Newcastle have been victorious on more occasions, Sunderland have hit the net 4 times more than the toon army. Both teams are possibly English football’s biggest underachievers with Newcastle failing to win a trophy since 1969 and Sunderland since 1973.

Sunderland have won the Old First Division on six occasions, although 3 league titles were won in the 18th century. They’ve also won the FA Cup twice and gained promotion through winning the league on 5 out of 6 occasions.

Newcastle are arguably the most successful team with 4 league titles, 6 FA Cups and an Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, which is the equivalent of the Europa League, in 1969. The magpies also won promotion back to the top flight 3 times, winning the Second Division/Championship league title on each occasion.

Click the links below for more information:

Wikipedia – Newcastle United Vs Sunderland

Telegraph – Newcastle Vs Sunderland – History

Virtual Sunderland – Newcastle Rivalry

Sports Byte – A history lesson on Newcastle Vs Sunderland



George Bennett

My name is George Bennett, I'm 19-years-old and I'm the founder and administrator for GB Articles Football Blog. I've been writing from the age of 12-years-old and decided to create my own blog to spread my passion for the beautiful game. The blog was created in May 2016 and I've began to assemble a talented group of writers since April 2017. I mainly cover the Premier League, although I also base some reports on the Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga and more!

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