It’s that time of year again: the new football season is upon us. On Saturday 11th August 2018, Newcastle United will embark on its 86th season in the top flight of the English football pyramid.

The first recorded football team to be based on Tyneside dates from 1877 at Elswick Rugby Club, though modern Newcastle United can trace its earliest history back to November 1881 with the formation of a team by the Stanley cricket team based in Byker. Playing in a strip of a red jersey and white shorts, the team won its first game 5-0 against the Elswick Leather Works second XI. In order to avoid confusion with a cricket club of the same name in County Durham, the team was renamed Newcastle East End FC in October 1882. The club entered a rivalry with fellow Newcastle team Newcastle West End FC, however, when West End found itself in financial trouble following a spate of bad seasons, its directors turned to East End for a merger. The merger resulted in the formation of one Newcastle team and the take over of the West End’s lease on St James’ Park (today the sixth largest football stadium in the UK) in 1892. In an effort to start drawing in larger crowds, Newcastle East End was renamed Newcastle United in recognition of the merger on 9th December 1892.

Photo Credit NUFC

The club’s success began at the start of the 1903/04 season. During this time, the team was built up with a promising squad of players who went on to dominate football in England for a decade, winning the League cup on three occasions during the 1900s. The club won its first FCupup in 1910, following a nail-biting two-match final against Barnsley. The first game finished one goal each to force the replay at Goodison Park in Liverpool. Newcastle, now playing in its iconic black and white strip, came out the better of the two teams in the replay, beating Barnsley 2-0 in what was described by the Times as a “fast and exciting” game. Newcastle’s next FA cup success would come in 1924, beating Aston Villa in the second cup final to be held at Wembley Stadium.

After 35 years playing in the top flight of English football, Newcastle United was relegated to the Second Division at the end of the 1933/34 season. The club continued to stagnate over the next decade, not gaining promotion back into the First Division until 1948. The 1950s heralded a revival in fortunes for the club, with three FA cup titles over a five-year period. Good things don’t last forever, and despite this good run, the team found itself relegated back into the Second Division in 1961. Under the managership of former player Joe Harvey, Newcastle was once again promoted back to the top division following its crowning as Second Division champions in 1965. Under Harvey, Newcastle qualified for its first European competition and found itself in a strong and optimistic position going into the 1970s.

Photo Credit NUFC