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Top 10: Best-ever Newcastle-Sunderland tussles

Re-buffed bribes, play-off pitch invasions and perfect free-kicks: they're all present and accounted for in our rundown of the best North East match-ups.


Where available, click the scoreline for highlights (worthwhile for a super goal from Super Kevin Phillips).

Newcastle 1-9 Sunderland, Dec 1908

This game sums up the topsy-turvy nature of the Tyne-Wear Derby. 


Billy Hogg and George Holley both scored momentous hat-tricks in the 30 minutes after half time, as the Black Cats enjoyed a stonking away win that's still the top flight's (joint) biggest ever.


Despite having home advantage and starting with the same line-up that  hit Nottingham Forest for four the previous week, the Magpies still ended up on the wrong end of this heavy reverse.


Remarkably, Newcastle still went on to win the title, winning nine of their next 10 games but only two of their last seven. They came pretty close in the FA Cup too, losing to eventual winners Manchester United in the semi-finals. 

Newcastle 1-2 Sunderland, Nov 1922

This one is remembered for its off-field antics (well, by those aged about 95 and over...), although it ended fittingly on it. 


Sunderland forward and record goalscorer Charlie Buchan was offered a bribe of £1,000 to throw the derby. But the England man reported the incident to the police, before rubbing salt in Newcastle’s wounds with a goal in the Black Cats' 2-1 victory at St James'. The bribe was later traced to an asylum in Bristol.


Sunderland were described as "a real team of winners" by a local observer that campaign, and came close to matching their tag. They finished runners-up to Liverpool by six points, netting 72 goals in 42 games (bettered only by ninth-placed Cardiff) with Buchan leading the individual charts on 30. 


Newcastle, meanwhile, lost only one more match at home that season to finish fourth, some six points behind their neighbours. 

Sunderland 1-6 Newcastle, Dec 1955

This Sunderland team were at times mentioned in the same breath as Manchester United's famed Busby Babes - but they didn't quite match up to the legendary Old Trafford side. The 55/56 campaign certainly didn't provide a Merry Christmas for the Black Cats, as they lost twice to their bitter rivals in as many days. 


This Boxing Day bashing was sweet for a Jackie Milburn-inspired Newcastle side who helped themselves to a hatful with two goals apiece for Wor Jackie, Vic Keeble and Bill Curry.


It proved a turning point in Sunderland’s title chase. Going into their Christmas football fest they were still only two points off leaders United, but three games in four days (they were beaten 4-0 by Huddersfield on Christmas Eve, and 3-1 by the Magpies after) took their toll - two points became six, and despite picking up into the New Year they were left rueing a dreadful end to the campaign which left them 17 points off the pace in ninth. 


They did exact revenge over Newcastle with a 2-0 win in the FA Cup quarter-finals that same season, but lost in the semis with a 3-0 humping by Birmingham. 

Newcastle 3-1 Sunderland, Jan 1985

Toon cult hero Peter Beardsley bagged a hat-trick in this majectic display, becoming only the second ever Newcastle player to do so in this fixture.


The first two goals, however, were shrouded in controversy with the game finely balanced. The first had more than a hint of offside about it, while the second came from a disputable penalty. Beardsley could even afford the luxury of missing a second spot-kick as the Magpies ran out comfortable victors against their struggling rivals.


Sunderland ended the game with nine men as Howard Gayle and Gary Bennett were sent off, encapsulating the frustrations of a season in which they were relegated without a whimper and lost in the League Cup final to drop-dodgers Norwich. They would eventually return dramatically in 1990 (more on which below), but not before a short stint in the Third Division after a disastrous 1986/87 campaign. 


Toon fans still sing about this win with a ditty claiming superiority over their rivals “because of New Year’s Day”.

Newcastle 0-2 Sunderland, May 1990

Newcastle were looking to bounce back swiftly to the First Division after finishing bottom the previous season. But after finishing third and ending up in the play-offs, they faced their sixth-placed rivals in the semi-finals.


The Magpies' potent pairing of Micky Quinn and Mark McGhee, with 51 goals between them, were expected to take them to the final. 


A quiet first leg at Roker Park had finished goalless (with Sunderland missing a penalty), teeing up an all-or-nothing second leg at St James' Park deemed the biggest Tyne-Wear derby in history. Contrary to pre-game predictions, though, it was Sunderland who romped to victory with a 13th-minute opener from Eric Gates, before Marco Gabbiadini sealed a famous win in the 86th minute.


Hundreds of Newcastle fans invaded the pitch in an attempt to get the game abandoned, but after a 21-minute break the game was resumed and completed. Sunderland lost to Swindon at Wembley, but were still promoted after their Wiltshire opponents were found guilty of tax dodging. A nice rebate for the Black Cats, indeed. 


Sunderland 1-2 Newcastle, Oct 1992

Kevin Keegan had made a spectacular return to Newcastle the previous campaign by helping the Magpies stave off relegation to the third tier. But he went one better in his first full season in charge.


The Magpies were buoyant after winning their first 12 matches, but they hadn't won at Roker Park for 36 years heading into this fixture.


Sunderland were resilient in their defence, and Newcastle needed an own goal from Gary Bowers to take a slender lead. When the hosts forced an equaliser in the 70th minute, it looked like this Tyne-Wear derby was meandering towards a 1-1 draw. 


But cometh the hour, cometh Liam O’Brien. The Newcastle midfielder ensured immortality in Toon hearts with an unstoppable free kick 14 minutes from time to earn his side three points and a key win in their title-winning campaign. The new Division One champions were promoted at a canter (eight points clear), while Sunderland avoided relegation by a mere point. 


Newcastle 1-2 Sunderland, Aug 1999 

Ruud Gullit had strolled into Newcastle a year earlier promising “some really sexy football” - but this one would prove as much of a turn-on as some nude shots of Pete Burns. 


The Dutchman knew he was on the ropes as he headed into this crucial derby - Newcastle had finished 13th in his first season and better things were expected. But he dropped both Alan Shearer and Duncan Ferguson to the bench in a bitter swipe at the pair, who had both expected to start.


Young Paul Robinson - incredibly, then a Sunderland season-ticket holder - led the line instead. But despite Kieron Dyer's 28th-minute opener, the Magpies were powerless to avoid defeat as the Black Cats' lethal front two as Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips helped themselves to goals in the second half (Phillips' a wonderful lob over Shay Given). Shearer and Ferguson were eventually thrown into fray but were unable to turn the tide.


Gullit resigned three days later. Peter Reid, meanwhile, led Sunderland to an impressive seventh-place finish as a red-hot Phillips ended up with 30 goals.

Sunderland 1-4 Newcastle, Apr 2006

For Newcastle fans it doesn't get much better than this. Even today the Toon Army still pay homage to this one with renditions of: “one-nil down, four one up, Albert Luque wrapped it up.”


It wasn’t quite as straightforward as the scoreline suggested, mind. Sunderland might have been rooted to the bottom of the table, but for the first 60 minutes they played like a team anything but. The Black Cats opened the scoring through former Arsenal man Justin Hoyte, and looked good value for their lead. 


But Newcastle responded in the final half hour with an avalanche of goals. Michael Chopra scored within 15 seconds of his introduction on the hour mark, before Hoyte went from hero to zero with a clumsy tackle which gifted Alan Shearer the chance to finish from 12 yards. He took it, of course, before Charles N'Zogbia and Luque provided the finishing touches.


It was Shearer’s 206th and final goal for the club, and also his last-ever game. Sunderland were relegated after finishing bottom with a pitiful 15 points, while Glenn Roeder's Newcastle clinched a (coveted) place in the Intertoto Cup in seventh. 


Sunderland 2-1 Newcastle, Oct 2008

Sunderland secure their first home victory against Newcastle in 28 years.


The Black Cats had lost six of their seven preceding derby matches against their arch rivals, but played with an intensity and desire that Joe Kinnear's men failed to compete with.


Joey Barton returned from a six-game ban picked up from assaulting Ousmane Dabo, and his every move was jeered by the home supporters. He was even flown into the ground via a helicopter amid fears over his safety. But Newcastle were unable to protect themselves on the pitch as their precious unbeaten away record was crushed.


Kieran Richardson's scorching free-kick proved decisive after Djibril Cisse and Shola Ameobi had exchanged goals, ensuring a valuable three points and memorable victory for Sunderland.


After their relegation heartache of '86 and '06, the Wearsiders were finally able to revel in their rivals' woes, as Newcastle were relegated to the Championship in May. That it was achieved under the temporary stewardship of Toon hero Shearer made things all the sweeter. 


This was arguably one of Roy Keane’s finest moment as Sunderland manager - and one of his final acts. He was replaced just over a month later by temporary boss Ricky Sbragia, who guided the Black Cats to safety by just two points. 

Newcastle 5-1 Sunderland, Oct 2010

Kevin Nolan clucked with delight as his hat-trick capped a vintage Newcastle display at St James' Park. 


Going into this one, Chris Hughton was a man under pressure after only one win in four and Newcastle a point behind Steve Bruce's useful Sunderland side.


The Black Cats started with Darren Bent and Manchester United loanee Danny Welbeck up front, but it was the hosts who made sure their frontline would have the real say on this game. After 34 minutes, Nolan had helped himself to a brace, before Shola Ameobi's penalty made it three on the stroke of half time. Ameobi notched his second 20 minutes from time, before Nolan wrapped up his hat-trick five minutes later.


Newcastle continued their rampant form as they beat Arsenal at the Emirates the following week, but Chris Hughton still ended up being dismissed in December. Geordie Bruce, meanwhile, lasted another year before being sacked.