The United with Newcastle means what it says, so confounding the Kipling couplet. East did in fact meet West at St James’ Park in 1892. Rival football factions buried the hatchet after years of bitter, senseless feuding going back to when grandfathers were boys and “live and let live” were foreign words. In fact, keeping the literary theme alive “Two clubs alike in dignity, in Newcastle where we set our scene”. 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.
First on the scene was West End, playing on Town Moor, also known as The Leazes. This was nothing more than a rough patch of land. In 1885 West were forced to move to Eskdale Terrace, Jesmond and vacated this venue in 1886 in favour of ‘a few acres of land with a notorious eighteen foot slope’, owned by William Neasham, instrumental in forming West End. The area was known as St. James’ Park, and had been the home to Newcastle Rangers, who had started life in 1878. West End’s closest rivals here were East End.
Speaking of which devil, East End was created in 1882 from the Stanley Club in the South Byker district and were joined soon afterwards by Rosewood FC. The club’s initial ground was at St.Peter’s in Byker and in 1886 they moved to Chillingham Road in the Heaton district where they stayed for the following six years.
As mentioned, West End and East End were fierce rivals, but by 1892 it was the East Enders who had become the dominant force. At the end of April 1892 West End club was on the brink of insolvency and extinction. West End offered their lease of St James’ Park to East End along with taking over what remained of the club’s assets, including their players. Within a week a deal had been agreed and in May 1892 East End formally agreed to move home to the more advantageous St James’ Park base near the city centre.
No longer being in the east of the city and in a bid to attract a wider support East End opted for a namechange. Voting was almost unanimous for Newcastle United. So on Friday 9th December 1892, East End became Newcastle United, although the legal title of the club was not altered until 1895.
The club, for the time being at any rate, retained their colours of red and white stripes – a fact which although true is one which comes as a shock to many a true Newcastle fan. The famous black and white which also giving rise to the nickname ‘Magpies’, were not to arrive until 1894, and for sometime they wore blue shorts.
Although officially “The Magpies”, in recent years the title “Toon”, particularly in relation to their fans, “The Toon Army” has grown in favour. The derivation – very simply from the Geordie pronunciation of “Town”. And yes, we do know that they aren’t Newcastle Town – a different team, in a different league, over a hundred miles away.
The club has used the City of Newcastle upon Tyne coat-of-arms during their history, specifically for FA Cup finals. The three ‘new castles’ in the shield denote the connection with the stronghold erected by Robert, William I’s eldest son, on the site of which Henry II raised the castle which remains to-day. In Saxon times the place was called Monkchester, the latter part of the name indicating it’s Roman origin as the site of one of the mile castles on Hadrian’s Wall.
The sea-horses refer to the town’s situation on a tidal river, to which it owes its prosperity. The royal lion and pennon of St George in the crest are appropriate to a town which, on several occasions during the fourteenth century, resisted attacked by the Scots, and stood a siege in the Royalist cause during the Civil War. The Latin inscription ‘Fortiter defendit triumphans’ translates as ‘She bravely defends and triumphs.’
During the mid 1970s and following 1980s era, Newcastle United used two different badges of a modern design on their famous shirt, one being our magpie set in a circle design with a castle, the other being plain NUFC. Today’s badge is modelled on the City coat-of-arms, the castles in the shield having been replaced by the club’s renowned black and white striped shirt.