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Five Fun Facts #2 Newcastle United

Today we continue with our Five Fun Facts feature with a guest post by Michael Hudson. A gentleman blogger who is doing a wonderful job organising and promoting the upcoming Northern League Day on the 9th of April 2011. So without further ado we present for your delectation and edification five amazing and astounding facts about that giant of English football, Newcastle United.

1. Newcastle really is United, having been formed in December 1892 as the result of Heaton-based Newcastle East End taking over their Northern League rivals Newcastle West End, who after a short spell as the city’s strongest club had run into serious financial difficulties by the end of the 1880s. East End played in (horror of horrors!) red and white stripes, while West End turned out in red and black halves. After losing five times in a single season to their local rivals – who had turned professional in 1889 - West End folded and East End took over the assets of the club, including the lease on their ground, St James’ Park. On Friday 9th December 1892, in a meeting held at the city’s Bath Lane Hall, the name of the club was changed to Newcastle United, Newcastle City and Newcastle Rangers having been previously rejected.

2. Red & White Stripes? hadaway! 

Red and White stripes Newcastle East EndNewcastle United were elected to the newly-formed Football League Division Two at the start of the 1893-94 season, still wearing East End’s red and white stripes. After several problems with clashing kits, and with ill-feeling still rife over both West End’s dissolution and East End’s move to St James’, the board of directors voted to ditch East End’s colours in favour of black and white stripes. Within a decade the club had been promoted and won the first of three title victories in just five years. It would never have happened in red.

3. The windscreen wiper was invented by Gladstone Adams, Newcastle’s official photographer, who had driven from his North Tyneside home to see the Magpies lose 3-1 to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the 1908 FA Cup Final. Caught in a snowstorm on his journey home, Adams hit on the idea of the windscreen wiper while wiping the front of his car by hand. He patented his design in 1911. That same year Newcastle made the Cup Final again – and lost to Bradford City.

4. Although clubs had been experimenting with artificial lighting since steam-powered lamps were used at Bramall Lane in 1878, the first Football League game to be played under floodlights wasn’t until February 1956 at Fratton Park in a match between Portsmouth and FA Cup holders Newcastle United, who won the game 2-0.

5. Contrary to the commonly held belief, history’s finest exponent of the offside trap never once played for a team managed by George Graham. Billy McCracken, a Northern Ireland international left-back who made 432 appearances for Newcastle between 1904 and 1924, winning three league titles and one FA Cup. In combination with defensive partner Frank Hudspeth, McCracken became so adept at playing opposition forwards offside – by February 1925 the Magpies had played in six goalless draws and were regularly booed at away grounds - that the FA were forced to amend the law itself, requiring two rather than three defenders to be in advance of the forward. McCracken later managed Hull City to the semi-final of the 1930 FA Cup and, as a scout for Watford, discovered a young goalkeeper by the name of Pat Jennings.

Thanks to Michael for those fine Newcastle United facts. You can read more by Michael over at his excellent blog The Accidental Groundhopper and also follow him on Twitter.

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