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Roker Relives... Newcastle United 1-9 Sunderland AFC, 1908

Normally for this sort of thing I'd rewatch the match, check out some newspaper reports, or recant my own memories. Well, I stumbled upon this newspaper report, and found it so beautifully written that it needed seeing by a wider audience.

So, I bring you the views of "Tityrus" of the Athletic News, 7th December 1908...

When some of the beardless boys have become grandfathers they will gather the younger generation round them to tell a tale of Tyneside, about eleven stalwart Sunderland footballers who travelled to St James’ Park and thrashed the famous Novocastrians as if they had been a poor lot of unfortunates from some home for the blind. The greatest match of this season in the North provided the sensation of the year, and we shall have to turn back to the days when the game was in its infancy for a parallel performance in a match reputedly of high class.

This was ‘the majority match’ of the redoubtable rivals of the North East coast. I mean that it was their 21st in connection with the League tournament, and the wicked Wearside wreckers besmirched the ‘scutcheon of Newcastle with a big blot that cannot be obliterated, even by Time, the great healer of wounds, Sunderland established a record in this match.

Goal was piled on goal in the second half until the Geordies must have been sick at heart. To properly appreciate the collapse of Newcastle let me say that, though the teams were on an equality at the interval, the Wearside cohorts swooped down on the Tyneside fold with such irresistible rushes that they scored eight goals in 28 minutes during one period of the second half... Newcastle United, like most clubs which have made history, have befallen some strange experiences, but their last is in some senses the most extraordinary and the most humiliating.

The game was only eight minutes old when Hogg dashed ahead, and Lawrence, realizing that he was uncovered, went to meet his man. He and Hogg seemed to be on the ball at the same time, but the Sunderland captain got in his shot as Lawrence fell, and the ball slowly rolled into a tenantless goal...

The visitors played so well that the United defence were seldom given a rest. However, a minute before half-time the referee awarded a penalty kick for hands by Thompson... Shepherd netting with a high drive. Thus was the record made level...

The Wearsiders overwhelmed their opponents (in the second half). They threaded their way through them as easily as the circus rider jumps through the tissue-paper hoops (Holley 3, Hogg and Bridgett each 2, and Mordue increasing the score).

All these goals had been, as said, notched in 28 minutes, and the last five of them in eight minutes. The Sunderland forwards simply lined up in procession time after time, left their opponents floundering in the roar, and bombarded and shelled the goal as easily they would light a cigarette. And Holley’s smile would have made the Goddess of Tragedy laugh.

Such is an outline sketch of a memorable match, the likes of which we may not see for years. Sunderland were far the heavier team, and they suffered the grey scene and the dark surroundings with their dare-devil dash... but Arthur Brown rather reminded me of the boy who sat in the tree while the giant carried it along, and then when they had arrived the boy glided off the branch and said: "We’ve done it"... Holley was the deftest and most dangerous forward on the field. His shooting is proverbial, and I question if England ever was so blessed with inside-lefts, for there are at least three men worthy of a cap, and Holley is one of them...

The half-backs were a dour set, with one outstanding figure, and he Charlie Thompson. The man is a host, and so robust that he needs either a very powerful man or a very cunning centre to outwit him. Shepherd has the strength, but not the craft...

I should like to say something to comfort Newcastle United in their hour of trouble, but there are few crumbs of consolation to be discovered, I do not blame Lawrence. The poor man was there to be shot at, as he had not any cover or protection from the backs... Both backs made the dreadful mistake of placing the ball at the Sunderland forwards. This was like trying to keep the tide with a besom... Veitch was the only man who showed any solidarity and class, what is one amongst so many? The team, as a whole had neither the physique nor experience to cope with such opponents. If nine tailors make a man, what do nine goals make? Ask Newcastle.

Newcastle United: Lawrence; Whitson, Pudan, Liddell, Veitch, Willis; Duncan, Higgins, Shepherd, Wilson, Gosnell.

Sunderland: LR Roose; Forster, Milton; Low, Thompson, Daykin; Mordue, Hogg, Brown, Holley, Bridgett.

Tityrus, Athletic News, 7th December 1908.

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