This is a short piece written for the 2014 Northern League Cup Final match programme. The match was played at St James’ Park, where Marske United beat Whitley Bay 2-1 after extra time. The Northern League is celebrating its 125th anniversary years this year.
The first Northern League match at St James’ Park was played 125 years ago in September 1889 between the two Newcastle clubs West End and East End. St James’ was the home ground of West End, and it looked very different to how it does today. There were no stands, and no real facilities of any kind, just a pitch surrounded by soil embankments. Supporters paid sixpence to get in, and the players got changed in a nearby pub.
‘The West End ground is most unsuitable to football,’ reported the Northern Echo. ‘Between goal and goal there is a most pronounced dip… a greasy, muddy slope of the most treacherous nature.’ If you look closely you’ll see that the St James’ pitch still has a slope today. It was the location that made St James’ special, perched above the town walls at the heart of Newcastle. Continue reading