THE origins of Newcastle United Football Club belong to Victorian Tyneside and two local sides, Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End. Situated on either side of the city, these two pioneering teams developed from humble beginnings as offshoots of cricket clubs during the early years of the 1880's.
A great rivalry between the two factions took place for a number of years, but by 1892 it was the East Enders who had become the dominant force. West End ran into financial problems and on their demise East End moved across the city and took over West End's ground, St James Park.
Very soon they changed their name to Newcastle United and also changed their red and white colours to the now famous black'n'white stripes. They were elected to the Football League in 1893 and started on over a century of incident that has made the Magpies one of the games headliners.
Just prior to the turn of the century, Newcastle gained promotion to the top division after a series of Test Matches - an early version of the present-day play-offs.
United then developed a side which became Edwardian England's master outfit, but not before the Tynesiders went through a worrying period due to lack of support at the turnstile and lack of money at the bank. But through the help of their directors the club was propped up and they survived to become a force in the game.
Newcastle started to purchase talented players, especially from Scotland, and soon had a squad to rival all of England. Players like Colin Veitch, Jackie Rutherford, Jimmy Lawrence and Albert Shepherd. The Black'n'Whites had a team of international talent. There was Bill McCracken, Jimmy Howie, Peter McWilliam and Andy Aitken too. All were household names.
The Magpies lifted the League Championship on three occasions and reached five FA Cup finals in the years leading upto the First World War in 1914. Geordie fans had enjoyed ten years of being the team everyone wanted to topple. United played a style of football celebrated in the game's history. It was possession football in an entertaining, rousing fashion.
After World War One, the Twenties was just as eventful. The Black'n'Whites lifted the FA Cup at Wembley in 1924 defeating Aston Villa - only the second ever final to be staged at the famous stadium. And a record signing of Scottish international centre-forward Hughie Gallacher made sure United collected another Championship trophy three years later in 1927.
Famous names continued to pull on the Newcastle striped shirt. Apart from the legendary Gallacher, the Magpies fielded the likes of Neil Harris, Stan Seymour and Frank Hudspeth. Seymour was to become an influential figure for the next 40 years as player, manager and director.
It was back to Wembley in 1932 to compete in the infamous "Over the Line" FA Cup final with Arsenal. United won the game 2-1 after scoring a goal following a cross from Jimmy Richardson which appeared to be hit from out of play - over the line. There were no action replays then and the referee allowed the goal, a controversial talking point in FA Cup history.
Newcastle boasted master players like Sammy Weaver and Jack Allen, as well as the first player-manager in the top division in Scottish international Andy Cunningham. But after glory at the Twin Towers of Wembley, Newcastle's form slumped and by 1934 they had been relegated for the first time in their history.
Amazingly in the same season as they fell into the Second Division, United defeated Liverpool 9-2 and Everton 7-3 within the space of a week!
A rebuilding process took place in the years leading up to the Second World War and by that time former star winger Stan Seymour had been appointed to the Board of Directors. A determined character, he set the foundations of United's next great period.
Copyright: P. Joannou, Newcastle United Club Historian