Every so often, we are reminded that there is more to supporting Newcastle United than nurturing extraordinary delusions of grandeur or helping Mike Ashley provide highly paid employment for recovering criminals. There is also a deep sense of history, as shown by Michael Hudson*, the thoughtful Mag behind the excellent blog on non-league football Accidental Groundhopper, in these reflections on what he judges to have been the first Tyne-Weart derby, back in 1644.
It started with coal. In north-east England, everything started with coal.
The produce of the Northumbrian coalfield had been shipped from Newcastle since the middle of the 13th century, around the time the city’s mayor, Nicholas Scott, was leading a group of armed merchants in setting fire to the rival port of North Shields (an attempted historical re-enactment by residents of the Meadowell Estate went slightly awry in 1991).