Newcastle United
Tale of the Toon Army

Newcastle United Football Club (NUFC), fondly referred to as the Magpies, has etched its name into the fabric of English football history. Established in 1892 through the merger of two rival clubs Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End, the club's journey has been a captivating tale of triumphs, challenges, and the unyielding support of the Toon Army. Ha’way the lads!!!!!

The Golden Era

No, we aren’t talking about the current star assembled squad of 2023! In-fact, you have to go all the way back in time to the Edwardian period (1900 - 1910) when the Magpies reigned supreme over English football.

Between 1900 and 1910, Newcastle United won more football trophies than any other English club.

The club won three league titles and an FA Cup, playing modern and “scientific” football which was ahead of its time. During this ten year stretch, NUFC averaged a final league ranking of just better than 4th. This was reflected in their gate receipts with average crowds rising from 14,000 in 1902 to a whopping 33,000 by 1907. 

1905 the Golden Year:

It was during the campaign of 1904 - 1905 that Newcastle very almost became the first team to clinch a double. They secured the league title by a single point and were narrowly beaten by Aston Villa in the FA Cup final in front of a crowd of over 100,000 spectators.

The club was held in high regard with neutral fans up and down the country thanks to their artistic, short and skillful style of play. The team boasted an array of household names, 9 of which played at international level at some point of their careers

Impressively, with a wage bill less than that of Middlesbrough FC, the Toon Army recorded an operating profit of £5,487 with an income of £17,065 which was the highest in the country.

Continued Success:

NUFC went on to win more league titles in 1907 and then again in 1909 before getting their hands on the FA Cup trophy in 1910 (they were, frustratingly runners up in 1905, 1906 & 1908)

The Edwardian era proved decisively to be Newcastle's time at the pinnacle of English Football; the reign of dominance however drew to a close with the arrival of the First World War. It wasn’t until the 1926/27 season that the Magpies got their hands on another league title before winning the FA Cup again in 1932.

Newcastle’s winning ways resumed once more after the second world war with three FA Cup wins during the 1950s.

The year 1969 saw Newcastle lift their last piece of silverware for 50 years with the Inter-Cities Fair Cup. NUFC beat Dózsa of Hungary in a thrilling 6-2 final played over two legs.

Image Courtesy of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, under the Creative Commons License

Hallowed Ground
St James’ Park

St James' Park is the iconic home of Newcastle United FC. A place where the heartbeat of football resonates through the its bricks and stands. A place that has witnessed decades of passion, triumphs, and heartbreaks.

Nestled in the heart of Newcastle upon Tyne, this cathedral of football is more than just a stadium; it's a living reminder of the city's unconditional love for the beautiful game.

Image Credit:, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons

A Footballing Beacon in the Heart of Newcastle

St James' Park holds within its storied walls more than a century's worth of footballing tales. Its roots extend back to 1880 when Newcastle East End FC, a precursor to Newcastle United, first established a pitch on the grounds. Through a series of evolutions and renovations, the stadium has matured into the beloved arena we recognize today.

A Timeline of the home of the Toon:

  1. Genesis: St James' Park officially embraced the identity of Newcastle United in 1892, following the merger of Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End.
  2. Location Elegance: Nestled in the beating heart of Newcastle upon Tyne, St James' Park asserts its dominance over the cityscape with its distinctive silhouette.
  3. Seating Spectacle: With a seating capacity exceeding 52,000, St James' Park proudly stands as one of the grandest stadiums in the English Premier League.
  4. Leazes Legacy: Sir John Hall’s takeover of the club in 1992 saw some rapid expansion and upgrades thanks to his expertise in property development. The Leazes end was opened in time for NUFC’s debut in the Premier League in 93 with the Milburn Stand also being upgraded at the same time.
    1994 welcomed a new pitch, floodlights, a new drainage system and the development of the Gallowgate Stand.
    The corners were filled, producing an all-seater stadium with a new capacity of 37,000.
  5. Vibrant Vibe: Renowned for its fervent and vocal fanbase, fondly known as the Toon Army, St James' Park exudes an electrifying atmosphere on matchdays, making it a standout in English football.
  6. Sir Bobby's Tribute: A statue paying tribute to the legendary Sir Bobby Robson, one of the club's managerial maestros, graces the exterior, commemorating his indelible contributions.
  7. Record Revelry: St James' Park boasts a historic record attendance of over 68,000 spectators during a clash with Chelsea in 1930, though modern regulations have since adjusted the seating capacity.
  8. Revitalized Realms: Over the years, the stadium has undergone transformational renovations, with significant expansions and updates culminating in the early 2000s.
  9. Moniker Musings: Subject to debates on naming rights, the stadium briefly bore the moniker Sports Direct Arena before reclaiming its traditional title, St James' Park.
  10.  Global Gathering Ground: Beyond club clashes, St James' Park has hosted international football matches, including England's encounters, serving as a venue during Euro 1996.

St James' Park isn't merely a playing field; it's a symbol of the city's essence and the collective fervor of its football-loving community. With a history steeped in drama and an ambiance echoing the spirit of the "Toon Army," the stadium stands as an inseparable chapter in Newcastle United's enduring legacy.

Good times return
The Sir Bobby Robson Era

In a revival marked by flair and excitement, the Sir Bobby Robson era (1999-2004) propelled Newcastle United back into the limelight.

Notable achievements include a UEFA Champions League campaign in the 2002–03 season, memorable victories, and the Magpies' rekindled status as a force to be reckoned with.

Image: Sir Bobby Robson Statue, St James Park

Champions League Qualification (2001-2002): Under Robson's guidance, Newcastle United secured qualification for the UEFA Champions League in the 2001-2002 season. This marked a significant achievement for the club, allowing them to compete among Europe's elite.

Intertoto Cup Success (2001): In the 2001 summer, Newcastle won the UEFA Intertoto Cup, securing a place in the UEFA Cup for the subsequent season. It was a notable triumph and added to the club's European campaign.

Attractive Style of Play: Robson instilled an attacking and entertaining style of play at Newcastle, winning admiration for the team's flair and creativity on the pitch. The trio of Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, and David Ginola became synonymous with the exciting brand of football played under Robson.

Record Points Tally (2001-2002): During the 2001-2002 Premier League season, Newcastle United achieved a club-record points total, finishing in the fourth position. This was a testament to the team's consistency and competitiveness in the league.

FA Cup Runners-Up (1998-1999): While not directly within the 1999-2004 timeframe, Robson's early years at the club included an FA Cup Final appearance in the 1998-1999 season. Although they finished as runners-up, reaching the final was a significant achievement.

Revival of Key Players: Bobby Robson played a crucial role in revitalizing the careers of certain players. Under his management, Alan Shearer continued to excel as a goal-scoring talisman, and the team benefited from the contributions of players like Craig Bellamy and Kieron Dyer.

Building a Competitive Squad: Robson worked to assemble a squad with a mix of experienced campaigners and emerging talents. His recruitment included players like Gary Speed, Laurent Robert, and Nolberto Solano, contributing to the team's success.

Despite the challenges and changes in ownership during this period, Bobby Robson's era is remembered fondly by Newcastle United fans for the exciting football, European adventures, and the team's competitiveness on multiple fronts.

Legends of the Toon
Iconic Players

Newcastle United's illustrious history is adorned with legendary players who have left an indelible mark on the club's legacy. These football icons, celebrated by the passionate Toon Army, have become synonymous with the black-and-white stripes of Newcastle United.

Image Cresits: Bill Henderson / The SHEARER BANNER, St James's Park

Hughie Gallacher: The Prolific Forward

Hughie Gallacher, a prolific forward during the 1920s, is remembered for his incredible goal-scoring prowess. His sharp instincts and clinical finishing made him a crowd favorite. Gallacher's contributions played a pivotal role in securing the club's success, especially during the golden era of the 1920s.

Jackie Milburn: The Wor Jackie Era

Jackie Milburn, a true Geordie legend, symbolises an era known as "Wor Jackie." Milburn's electrifying pace, goal-scoring ability, and unwavering dedication endeared him to fans. His performances in the 1950s, including FA Cup triumphs, solidified his status as one of Newcastle's all-time greats.

Alan Shearer: The Premier League's Leading Scorer

Alan Shearer, the Premier League's all-time leading scorer, etched his name into Newcastle United's history books. As a talismanic striker, Shearer's leadership and goal-scoring exploits, particularly during the 1990s, made him an iconic figure. The statue of Shearer outside St James' Park immortalizes his legendary status.

Sir Bobby Robson's Era: Shearer, Beardsley, and Ginola

The Sir Bobby Robson era (1999-2004) showcased a trio of exceptional talents who became synonymous with Newcastle's resurgence. Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, and David Ginola formed a formidable partnership, bringing flair, creativity, and unforgettable moments to St James' Park.

Modern Icons: Kevin Keegan, Shay Given, and Fabricio Coloccini

Kevin Keegan, both as a player and a manager, left an indelible mark on Newcastle United. Shay Given, a modern goalkeeping great, made crucial saves and provided stability between the posts. Fabricio Coloccini, a commanding defender, captained the team with distinction during his time at the club.

These legends, each contributing a unique chapter to Newcastle United's story, are celebrated not only for their on-field brilliance but also for embodying the spirit and identity of the club.

Mike Ashley's Controversial Ownership: Navigating Turbulent Waters

No discussion about Newcastle United FC's recent history is complete without addressing the controversial ownership of businessman Mike Ashley. Since acquiring the club in 2007, Ashley's tenure was marked by a series of controversies, leaving an indelible impact on the Magpies' journey.

Mike Ashley - Acquisition and Initial Optimism

Mike Ashley's entry into Newcastle United initially sparked a sense of optimism among fans. However, this optimism soon gave way to a tumultuous period characterised by decisions that raised eyebrows and strained the relationship between the owner and the passionate Toon Army.

Friction with Fans

One of the enduring points of contention during Ashley's ownership was his perceived lack of investment in the squad and the club's facilities. Fans, known for their fervent support, expressed frustration over what they perceived as a failure to match the club's potential with sufficient financial backing.

Relegation Woes

Newcastle United's relegation from the Premier League in the 2008-2009 and 2015-2016 seasons under Ashley's ownership dealt significant blows to the club's status and financial standing. The Toon Army, accustomed to top-flight football, voiced their discontent with the team's struggles and questioned the direction under Ashley's stewardship.

Controversial Managerial Decisions

Ashley's decisions regarding managerial appointments and departures were another  source of controversy. The abrupt departures of popular figures, including Kevin Keegan and Chris Hughton, stirred discontent among fans and fueled the perception of instability at the managerial level.

The Sports Direct Arena

In another blow to the fans, Ashley renamed the famous ground  “The Sports Direct Arena” which was an initiative intended as a temporary measure to showcase sponsorship opportunities to interested suitors. Fast-forward to October 2012 and new main sponsors; announced a return of sanity, St James’ Park was restored as part of the deal.

Failed Takeover Attempts

The saga of potential takeovers and attempts to sell the club was a recurring theme. Various prospective buyers, including a notable bid by the Saudi Arabian-backed consortium, expressed interest, only for deals to falter, leaving the club in a state of uncertainty.

End of Uncertainty

The Saudi Public Investment Fund finally brought an end to a frustrating and painful 14 years of Ashley’s ownership. The deal which began proceedings in Spring 2020 was successfully concluded in October of 2021.

Hope & Anticipation
A New Golden Era Beckons

The Saudi consortium, led by Mr Al-Rumayyan, Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers rolled into St James Park with a message of hope, optimism and excitement. In an apparent dig at the outgoing incumbents, Mr Al-Ramayyan stated in his opening address to supporters and journalists:

“NUFC has been at the heart of the community for more than 125 years – there are season ticket holders today who are following in the footsteps of their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.

"As the new owners, we will listen to the community. Owning this club is not a responsibility we have taken on lightly and we will never lose sight of what it means to be part of Newcastle United."

The new owners have already made poignant, yet subtle changes around the ground. Shearer's statue was moved from Barrack road outside the stadium to within the boundaries of the ground. The match day bar has also been renamed to “Shearers Bar” by the new owners.

The Benton training ground has also been given a huge boost and overhaul with a £10,000,000 investment.

2022/23 Season Success:

The most impressive season for the club since the 2002/2003 season saw them clinch fourth spot in the Premier League and with it, the highly coveted “Champions League Spot”

The Magpies finished the season with 71 points, boasting a record of 19 wins, 14 draws and a mere 5 defeats. The success saw NUFC finish above the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool FC.

With record breaking sums spent on the arrival of new players during the 2021/2022 season and then again in the 2022/2023 season (130 million and 180 million euros respectively) the club appears to be on an upward trajectory to the pinnacle of European football like Chelsea and Manchester City before them.

2022/23 Season Success:
Champions League Qualification

The most impressive season for the club since the 2002/2003 season saw them clinch fourth spot in the Premier League and with it, the highly coveted “Champions League Spot”

The Magpies finished the season with 71 points, boasting a record of 19 wins, 14 draws and a mere 5 defeats. The success saw NUFC finish above the likes of Tottenham and Liverpool FC.

With record breaking sums spent on the arrival of new players during the 2021/2022 season and then again in the 2022/2023 season (130 million and 180 million euros respectively) the club appears to be on an upward trajectory to the pinnacle of European football like Chelsea and Manchester City before them.

Image: Alamy - Big Dan Burn Scoring against PSG in Newcastle's first game back in the Champions League on 4th October 2023.

NUFC: Fun Facts

  1. Magpies Moniker: Newcastle United is commonly known as the "Magpies," a nickname derived from their black and white striped shirts resembling the plumage of a magpie bird.
  2. Stadium Heights: St James' Park, Newcastle United's home ground, offers panoramic views of the city and is situated on top of a hill, contributing to its impressive and picturesque location.
  3. Record Attendance: The highest attendance at St James' Park was recorded on March 3, 1930, during an FA Cup match against Chelsea, with a staggering crowd of over 68,000 supporters.
  4. Entertaining History: Newcastle United holds the record for the most goals scored in a single top-flight season, netting 89 goals in the 1951-52 season.
  5. Early Innovations: In 1889, Newcastle United was one of the founding members of The Football League, showcasing their early involvement in organised league football.
  6. Famous No. 9s: The number 9 shirt at Newcastle United holds special significance, with legendary strikers like Hughie Gallacher, Malcolm Macdonald, and of course, Alan Shearer, donning the iconic number.
  7. European Pioneers: Newcastle United was the first English club to participate in European competitions, entering the Fairs Cup (now UEFA Europa League) in the 1968-69 season and winning it.
  8. Perfect Partnership: The partnership of Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand during the 1995-96 season was prolific, with the duo scoring a combined total of 49 goals in the Premier League.
  9. Community Commitment: The club has a strong commitment to the local community, and the Newcastle United Foundation engages in various charitable initiatives, including educational programs and community outreach.
  10.  Film Star Pitch: St James' Park played a role in the 1971 film "Goal!" where it featured in the climax of the movie as the setting for the fictional FA Cup Final.
  11.  Richest club in the world? We like to think they’re not just the richest, but the very best.