Football is a big sport in Newcastle. Earlier it was a grassroots sport and had only small teams with few players. The players comprised shipyard workers, miners, shopkeepers, labourers and local communities. It was in 1877 that the Elswick Rugby Club played their first game. This marked the early beginnings for Newcastle football. Following this, many football associations emerged thus marking the pace for the popular commercial game. The Tyneside association and Newcastle United were among the pioneering teams that inculcated interest in the sport among Newcastle citizens. Subsequently another football team named Newcastle Rangers emerged during the early 1880s. They made their home base at a ground near Leazes Terrace that came to be known as St James Park. This paved the way for the emergence of many small clubs in the city, prominent among them being Stanley FC of Byker which was originally established from a cricket academy in 1881.
The city's West End also started competing with the North-East to develop a football profile. However, cricket continued to play an important role in the development of football and especially in the establishment of Newcastle United. In the beginning, the cricket pitch was used to play the game until it was moved to St James Park. Unfortunately due to a financial crunch, the West End Football club was closed and its members joined the East End Club. Later in 1892, the East End Football Club changed its name to Newcastle United. Thus two stars were born - the city of Newcastle, which gained the status in the same year as its football club. The club played its first game against Middlesbrough and won 2-1. Thus football started gaining momentum in the Newcastle region and continues to remain as popular.