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On This Day: 4 September 1996 – Roker Park hosts its last-ever Sunderland v Newcastle derby game

ON THIS DAY (1996): The floodlights were on and the away fans were out as Sunderland took on local rivals Newcastle United at Roker Park for the very last time.

Soccer - Sunderland Photo by Peter Robinson/EMPICS via Getty Images

On this day in 1996, we took on Newcastle in the last ever derby in Roker Park’s 99-year history. It was a game played out to a strange backdrop, with away fans banned from both fixtures due to concerns over crowd trouble.

Although this game started brightly – a first-half penalty from Martin Scott at the Fulwell End giving us a half-time lead – we lost the floodlit game 2-1 thanks to second-half goals from Beardsley and Ferdinand. Apart from Scott’s goal, the highlight of the evening was David Ginola’s hair being introduced to a pie from the paddock. Because he was worth it.

The Fulwell End poised to erupt as Scott puts away his penalty

While losing the game was disappointing, Roker Park had seen some spectacular derby fixtures over the years. By my reckoning (and I’m sure someone will correct me!) we’d played 63 fixtures at home to Newcastle, winning 23, drawing 23 and losing 17. As an aside, our all-time record against Newcastle is impressively symmetrical, winning 53, drawing 50 and losing 53.

The highest attendance at Roker Park for a derby saw 68,004 see a 2-2 draw play out in 1950, Ivor Broadis and Len Shackleton – both players who turned out in black and white too – getting our goals.

Our biggest win at Roker was a 5-0 win in November 1930, a brace each for Jimmy Connor and Billy Eden and a goal from Bobby Gurney securing the win. In goal for Newcastle that day was Albert McInroy, who had joined the black and whites the year before from Sunderland after playing 227 games for us.

Our last Roker Park derby victory, of course, came in 1980, when Ken Knighton’s side – destined for promotion – won 1-0, thanks to a Stan Cummins goal.