Beefy's North East England Page.

Newcastle versus Sunderland - the Geordie / Mackem rivalry
1. How it all began

People of the North East - who is who & where they come from
1. Mackem 2. Geordie
3. Sand Dancer 4. Quaker
5. Smog 6. Monkey Hanger
  7. Sandraker 8. Pit Yacker
9. Northumbrian  
Click here to see a map of who lives where...

Newcastle v. Sunderland - How it all began.

Many people know about the intense, bitter rivalry between Newcastle and Sunderland.   But how many people know how it actually began.   It is largely associated with the football, but the truth goes back a long time before the beautiful game, to a series of forgotten events in the English Civil War (Cavaliers v. Roundheads).

In 1642, before hostilities started, King Charles I awarded the East of England coal trade rights to the coal merchants in Newcastle, giving them effective control of the movement of coal in and out of the North East of England.   This put their counterparts in Sunderland out of business.

Two years later, Newcastle was attacked by the Scottish army, siding with Cromwell against King Charles.   Newcastle, the surrounding areas and the rest of the North of England had sided with King Charles, with the exception of Sunderland, which acted as a supply base for the Scottish army.   Their followed the Battle of Boldon Hill, in which an army gathered from Newcastle and County Durham was defeated by a combined Scottish - Mackem army.   Newcastle was subsequently captured by the Scottish.

Hence forth, began the bitter, intense and at times childish rivalry between Newcastle and Sunderland.   Now, just for good measure, the Boro (Middlesbrough) have joined in.   [>Mackem]

People of the North East - Who is who and where they come from.

Have you ever noticed wherever you go, that if someone says they are from the North East of England, they are automatically labelled a Geordie, even if they don't come from Newcastle.   But nothing is ever that simple.   If you are not from the North East, sit back and read the following and you will see that it is wrong to call us all Geordies.


1) Mackem.

Person born within site of the Wear.   Definitions vary as follows, with the first definition being considered the most important:

a) Anyone born within the boundaries of the original town of Sunderland, not including Washington and Houghton - le - Spring added later as parts of the City of Sunderland.

b) Anyone born within the boundaries of the Borough or the City of Sunderland (Sunderland became a city in 1992), including Washington and Houghton-le-Spring.

c) Anyone born within the boundaries of the city, plus Seaham, Murton, Easington and other places defined as being in the old East Durham Coalfields.

d) Anyone born within site of the Wear, from the source up at Wearhead to the mouth of the river at Monkwearmouth.   This therefore includes places such as Durham, Bishop Auckland, Wolsingham and Stanhope.   Definitions of 'Mackem' mostly don't include these latter areas.

The term is derived from Mack'em and Tack'em, dating from the early ship building industry (i.e. the people on Wearside 'mak[e] them' and other people 'tak[e] them') and started off as an insult to the people of Sunderland by the Geordies.   In recent years, however, the people of Sunderland have taken the name to be part of their identity as Wearsiders.

Teessiders or 'Smogs' sometimes refer to Mackems as 'Plastic Geordies', meaning that they sound like Geordies, but they're not quite the real thing.

The name 'Black Cats' refers to Sunderland Association Football Club and it's supporters (familiar due to their red and white striped strips), replacing 'Rokermen' or 'Rokerites' when the club moved from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light.   The 'Black Cats' name comes from a gun battery of the same name once positioned at the mouth of the Wear, though one story details the nickname coming into use due the appearance of a black cat in the Sunderland changing rooms marking the beginning of a winning streak for the club.   The 'Black Cat' mascot (now called 'Sampson' and accompanied by mate 'Delilah') replaced 'Fido the Dog' early in the 20th century.   [>Geordie]

2) Geordie.

Person born within sight of the River Tyne.   A person is normally defined as being a Geordie, if they are born within the area starting from Wylam in the west through Newcastle to Tynemouth in the east.   Definitions vary, with Gateshead, South Shields (see 'Sand Dancer') and other areas to the south of the Tyne included in some (notably the 'Scott Dobson' definition).   Stricter definitions only include the area stretching from Scotswood through the actual City of Newcastle and onward to Byker and Walker, plus also Benwell, Fenham and Heaton (the old pre 1970's 'City and County of Newcastle upon Tyne').

'Geordie' is a local pronunciation of 'Georgie', derived from the name 'George'.   There are number of possible origins for the term 'Geordie'.   The two favourite ones are:

  1. The name Geordie or Georgie ('for George') was given to people of Newcastle and the surrounding areas, when they supported George II during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.   The name may even go back as far as being for the supporters of George I during the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion.

  2. Tynesiders may have alternatively acquired the name 'Geordie' from Sir George Stephenson (of 'Rocket' steam train fame), either due to local miners preference for his lamp rather than the safety lamp of Sir Humphrey Davis or due to Londoners referring to sailors on coal ships from Newcastle as 'Geordies' after Sir George Stephenson attracted contempt for his views on railways after a Parliamentary Commission on the subject.

The often used term 'Magpie' refers only to Newcastle United Football Club (based at St. James Park) and it's supporters, this due to their black and white striped strip.   Their mascots are two magpies by the name of 'Geordie' and 'Maggie'.   [>Sand Dancer]

3) Sand Dancer.

Person born within the boundaries of South Shields.   This is a relatively new definition, dating back to a performance of the same name by three performers from South Shields, I believe called Wilson, Keppell and Betty in the 1950's.   Note that people that live in South Shields can consider themselves Geordies.

South Shields has a non-league football club (no website), the football strip colours being claret, club nickname, the Mariners.   [>Quaker]

[Associated football club: South Shields (non-league).]

4) Quaker.

Person born within the boundaries of Darlington.   This name comes from the Quaker Christian movement which gained a foothold in Darlington, after the beginning of the Quakers (or Society of Friends) by George Fox in 1647, a movement which strongly believed in non-violence.   He was born in Fenny Drayton in Leicestershire, preached in several places in Britain, before he and many of his followers emigrated to the Americas in 1671 after persecution of the movement.   He returned in 1673, just to be imprisoned again for his beliefs.   The association of the Quakers with Darlington is one that has remained to this day, despite not actually starting in Darlington.   

Darlington's football club has recently also been referred to as the Darlo by it's own fans.   The football strip colours are black and white hoops and they are now based at Neasham Road, moving from their former ground at Feathams.   [>Smog]

5) Smog.

A fairly new name, referring to anyone living in Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar (the latter also referred to as 'Sandrakers').   This is associated with the pollution generated by the large concentration of industry in the Teesside area.   The definition for Yorkshiremen, Tykes, has also very rarely been used, as Middlesbrough prior to the early 1970's, used to be within the boundaries of Yorkshire.   Middlesbrough supporters like to refer to themselves as the 'Boro' and 'Smog', 'Smoggie' of 'Smog Monster' are terms used by other people living in the North East, rather than by people living in Middlesbrough itself.   Their football strip colours are red with white shorts, mascot 'Roary the Lion'.   Formerly based at Ayersome Park, their home ground is now the Riverside Stadium on the banks of the Tees.   [>Monkey Hanger]

6) Monkey Hanger.

Person born in the town of Hartlepool.   Allegedly, during the Napoleonic wars, a French ship called the Chasse Maree was wrecked on the coast at Hartlepool.   There were no survivors, with the exception of a lone monkey, wearing a French uniform (dressed as such to amuse those on ship).   The monkey was found by some locals and questioned in a beach based trial.   Obviously, the monkey could not answer.   The locals concluded the monkey to be a French spy, as the locals did not know what a Frenchman looked like.   The poor animal was thus sentenced to death and hung from the mast of a fishing boat.   To this day, this has remained a source of embarrassment for people living in Hartlepool and it is best not to call anyone from Hartlepool by this name, as some regard it as a term of offence.   

(Information taken from the Sunday Sun newspaper, January 30th 2000.   Copyright Newcastle Chronicle and Journal Ltd.)

Hartlepool United have also been labelled with this title, so much so that they've turned the joke around and now have a mascot called 'H'Angus the Monkey'.   Their football strip colours are light blue and white stripes and their home ground is Victoria Park (formerly named Victoria Road).

To add insult to injury, 'H'Angus the Monkey' stood for election as Mayor of Hartlepool in 2002 and the person inside the monkey suit narrowly won.   One of the promises he made was to give all school children free bananas, a promise which he later had to go back on.   But what will be remembered is long after 'hanging the monkey', the people of Hartlepool later voted for one to run their town.    [>Sandraker]

7) Sandraker.

Term sometimes used in Middlesbrough to describe people who live in Redcar.   Derived from the practice of the collection of coal debris off the beaches carried out not just in Redcar, but also along the Durham coast.   This coal was then sold on to householders and other domestic suppliers.   The source of this debris was the dumping of coal slurry onto the beaches of County Durham, which was then washed down the coast as far as Teesside.   The term itself is very local to the Teesside area.   Away from Teesside, the proximity of Redcar to Middlesbrough means that the name 'Smog' will also be applied to this area.   [>Pit Yaker]

[Associated football club: Redcar Town (non-league).]

8) Pit Yacker.

Someone who worked as a miner in the Northumberland and Durham coalfields.   [>Northumbrian]

9) Northumbrian.

Normally someone born in Northumberland, but can be applied to anyone in the North East of England (and the extreme South East of Scotland), as the ancient kingdom of Northumbria extended from the Humber right up to nearly Edinburgh.   There even used to be an ancient Northumbrian dialect or language of the name.   [>Menu]