Unusually, this year sees the annual Boxing Day fixture played at home for only the second time in over 10 years with Stoke the visitors. We’ve had a relatively good record when The Potters have turned up and a 3-0 win in our first meeting with them in 1899 has set the tone, Jock Peddie bagging two that day. Stoke were on the receiving end of a 6-0 thumping from the F.A Cup holders on the opening day of the 51/52 season with Jackie Milburn scoring a hat trick, our other scorers were Charlie Crowe, Bobby Mitchell and George Robledo respectively. Another convincing win was to follow in 1969 with Benny Arentoft, Jim Scott (2), Bryan Robson and Wyn Davies all got on the scoresheet in a game that ended 5-0.
The victory in 69 came during Stoke’s only real prolonged period in the top flight other than the present day; the next game of note was in 1973 when goals from Tommy Gibb and former player/coach/comedian/bookie runner Terry McDermott separated the two sides in a 2-1 win for The Magpies. A few years later in October 1976 a solitary goal from Paul Cannell was the difference; both sides were back in the top flights after their own respective spells in Division Two later on in 1984. A game in which Joe Allon led the line on his own on his full debut and goals from John Anderson and Chris Waddle settled the game in United’s favour.
The sides met again in the second tier in 1990 when Micky Quinn and a brace from Benny Kristensen scored in a 3-0 victory for The Magpies. The next time we faced The Potters at St. James Park was on a whirlwind night in January 2008, when at around 5pm news that The King himself was returning to the building, a mad rush for tickets ensued and a special atmosphere was created as Kevin Keegan arrived mid- game to see a 4-1 win with goals from Michael Owen, Claudio Cacapa, James Milner and Damien Duff a sideshow from the bigger story that evening. Stoke were promoted to The Premier League shortly after that and they beat us at home for the first time in over 30 years, despite Kevin Nolan’s opener from the spot; second half goals from Kenwyne Jones and a horror own goal from James Perch gave all three points to The Potters in a rare away win for them.
A season later we took our revenge however, in the middle of that winning streak towards the end of the 11/12 season which almost resulted in Champions League football we put in a performance of Champions League quality which was, in the writers view our standout display of that season with a Papiss Cisse goal sandwiched in between a Yohan Cabaye double. The last meeting between the two sides came In March when the same two scorers Cabaye and Cisse with a 93rd minute strike snatched three points for The Magpies.