Sat uniquely right in the heart of the city, St James’ Park has been home to Newcastle United Football Club ever since the club’s formation back in 1892.
Given its geographical position, there are at least three times as many pubs within a half-mile of this stadium than at any other such venue in the country which makes it a favourite for travelling as well as home supporters.
St James’ Park’s History
Initially, where St James’ Park now stands was simply an extension of the nearby grazing land of the Town Moor which to this day is owned by the Freemen of the City.
In 1880, Newcastle Rangers began playing there before moving to Byker in 1882, then returning in 1884 just before the club folded. Newcastle Went End took over St James’ Park in 1886, and when they merged with Newcastle East End in 1892 to form Newcastle United, the football club as we know it began its long journey here.
From 1920 right up to the ’70s and beyond, the football club struggled with planning permission. Initially, only a small roof was allowed over the Leazes End and then floodlights were fitted in 1950. In 1972, work began on the East Stand while eventually in 1987 the Milburn Stand was built as the main stand.
With the club on the up, it was extended in 1993 to form what Sir John Hall described as a “mini Wembley”, while the major 1998 expansion took it way up to its current 52,000+ capacity which makes it one of the biggest football stadiums in England.
Many, many changes have been made to St James’ Park over the decades, but these days the venue is made up of the following things:
- Capacity: 52,305
- Record Attendance: 68,386 for Newcastle United v Chelsea in 1930
- Pitch: 105m x 68m, a pure grass surface
- Stands: Two sides at SJP currently cannot be built on; the East Stand and the Gallowgate End which are joined by the Gallowgate East corner. The intimidating larger structures are the Milburn Stand containing boxes, dressing rooms, press etc, and the Leazes End with all corners joined.
Memorable Matches at St James’ Park
Since Newcastle United was created they have played every home game here, so there are many matches to choose from. The ones of most significance one could argue, however, are these five.
Newcastle United 3-0 Ujpesti Dozsa
Newcastle last claimed major silverware way back in 1969 in the Inter-City Fairs Cup. Back then, finals were played over two legs and so when Hungarian outfit Ujpesti Dozsa arrived at St James’ the cup was on the line. Two goals from Bobby Moncur and one from Jim Scott in front of 60,000 people did the damage on a great day as the Toon went on to land the trophy.
Newcastle United 5-0 Manchester United
Having been beaten 4-0 in the Charity Shield by Man United, Kevin Keegan’s entertainers were out for revenge here. In what is generally regarded as the best performance by a Newcastle team ever, goals from Darren Peacock, David Ginola, Les Ferdinand, Alan Shearer and an outright classic from Philippe Albert meant a 5-0 thrashing for Alex Ferguson’s side in what was a white-hot atmosphere in October 1996.
Newcastle United 8-0 Sheffield Wednesday
After suffering the misery of the mercifully short-lived Ruud Gullit era, local hero Sir Bobby Robson took over at St James’ and in his first home game, his new side humiliated Sheffield Wednesday 8-0. In a stunning performance, the main man Alan Shearer netted a Premier League record five times during the match.
Newcastle United 5-1 Sunderland
On Halloween 2010, Newcastle played bitter local rivals Sunderland in an early Sunday kick-off in front of a full house. After a mix-up, Kevin Nolan scored an acrobatic first goal and was set-up by Andy Carroll for a second shortly after. A Shola Ameobi double either side of half-time made it 4-0, while a Nolan hat-trick sent the Leazes end into raptures. A late consolation was not enough to spare Sunderland’s blushes as the game finished 5-1.
Newcastle United 4-4 Arsenal
In February 2011, the greatest Premier League comeback happened at St James’ Park. Arsenal were 4-0 up within 27 minutes here before a stirring comeback in the second half meant it was 4-3 in the closing minutes. When the ball came to Cheik Tiote at the edge of the area, he hammed a left-foot shot home at the Gallowgate to complete the scoring.
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