Surely there’s nothing better than a home win against your closest rivals at Christmas with both goals scored by a local boy. And when over 30,000 packed into Roker Park on a bright and breezy Saturday afternoon in late December of 1912, that’s exactly what they were treated to.
Both teams came into this Division 1 game having lost their Boxing Day fixtures, Sunderland going down two-nil at home to Sheffield Wednesday and Newcastle losing by the same scoreline away at Liverpool. Newcastle had several players injured for this game with Rutherford, Whitson, Hudspeth, McDonald, and Blake ruled out by the Magpies’ doctor, and Jay was brought into the side for Jobey at the last minute.
The playing surface was quite soft as the game kicked off at 2pm, Newcastle winning the toss and deciding to play with the wind at their backs. The visitors had the early pressure, but from the point that Joe Butler in the Sunderland goal was equal to a fine shot from Jock McTavish, the home side took control of the game.
Charlie Buchan and Jackie Mordue led the Sunderland attack, but it was Seaham’s finest, England international striker George Holley, who gave the Lads the lead on 33 minutes with a superb shot.
Newcastle’s injury woes only got worse before half time, with the ball hitting back Dick Little in the midriff and he was forced to retire hurt. In the second half both sides attacked and both Bulter and his counterpart in the Mags’ goal, Jimmy Lawrence, were kept busy throughout.
However, it was Sunderland who made the decisive breakthrough when Jimmy Richardson drew the Newcastle defenders toward him then played through Holley who netted for his second of the game four minutes before the end.
Sunderland finished the calendar year in the eighth position, but would lose only once more their way to winning the league that season. Bob Kyle’s glorious team only narrowly missed out on the double when they failed to pick up their first FA Cup against Aston Villa at the Crystal Palace the following May.
You can learn more about the life and times of George Holley in the On This Day article by Andrew Smithson that marked the anniversary of his birthday earlier this year.