The Tyne-Wear Derby
The two cities of Newcastle and Sunderland are just ten miles apart in the north-east of England. The rivalry between Newcastle and Sunderland dates back to the English Civil War between 1642 and 1651, when Newcastle was Royalist and Sunderland was Parliamentarian. A similar difference split the cities during the Jacobite Rebellions of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The Industrial Revolution also saw Newcastle and Sunderland competing in many different industries. In the late 1880s and 1890s the main football rivalries in Newcastle and Sunderland were cross-town affairs. In Newcastle a fierce rivalry existed between Newcastle East End (later to become Newcastle United) and Newcastle West End, which ended with West End’s bankruptcy in 1892. In Sunderland a breakaway club was formed called Sunderland Albion in 1888 but it was force to fold four years later. This paved the way for the intra-city rivalry to emerge, which it did during the 1900’s. A match in 1901 at St. James’ Park had to be abandoned as 70,000 supporters showed up to a stadium with a 30,000 capacity.
The 1996/7 season saw Sunderland and Newcastle both in the Premier League for the first time, but away fans were banned from the games as Sunderland’s home ground at the time, Roker Park, was deemed unsafe for a derby crowd, leading Newcastle to ban Sunderland supporters from the return game at St. James’. Newcastle Chief Executive Freddie Fletcher making it very clear who he felt was to blame for the situation when he famously said “Don’t blame Newcastle. Don’t blame Northumbria Police. Blame Sunderland!”
Unfortunately violence isn’t unusual between these two sets of passionate supporters, with the most recent occurring on 25th October, 2006 at The Stadium of Light, resulting in 29 arrests. There was also major trouble in 2001 when 160 supporters were arrested in connection to a Tyne-Wear derby game.