25 October ~ Both Sunderland and Newcastle United go into their derby at the Stadium of Light today in the relegation zone. Sunderland are bottom with just three points and no wins so far, though there is hope – they have won their previous five matches against Newcastle.
On New Year’s Day in 1985 the two teams had lost three games in a row and were struggling at the wrong end of the top division, with Sunderland 15th and Newcastle 18th. In front of 36,529 at St James’ Park, Peter Beardsley scored a hat-trick (and missed a penalty) to earn victory for a weakened Newcastle team. Colin West briefly gave their opponents hope, scoring in the 70th minute to make it 2-1, but they had Gary Bennett and Howard Gayle sent off.
Sunderland won just 14 more points in the remainder of the season and were relegated in 21st place, ten behind QPR and safety. By 1987 they were playing in Division Three. Newcastle, who had been promoted from Division Two the previous season, eventually climbed up to 14th.