Newcastle United and Sunderland rivalry returns for foot game to benefit mental health

It has been six years since Newcastle United and Sunderland last contested the Tyne-Wear derby. March 20, 2016 was the last time these two bitter rivals faced each other – a match which saw the Magpies stop the rot of six games in a row as Aleksandar Mitrovic scored a spectacular equalizer at St James’ Park.

A temporary truce between the two towns comes to an end this Sunday at the Swan Hunter Recreation Ground in Walker – the home of Newcastle East End FC – as the Magpies take on the Black Cats in a foot football match. The slower adaptation of the world’s most popular sport came a decade ago and the North East is already home to several competitive teams.

Foot-soccer mainly attracts older people, but participants of all ages are welcome. Dave Noble, who organized the derby to raise awareness about mental health, founded Last Legs FC in 2018 after becoming addicted to the hobby. The club have since been recognized by the Newcastle United Foundation for their community work through the Be A Game Changer campaign.

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Dave thinks foot soccer is the perfect pastime to stay active while maintaining that competitive edge. “When you’re approaching 50 and feeling fit and still want to be competitive, foot football is a good way to do that,” he told ChronicleLive. “It helps you stay healthy and improves your mental health.

“It’s basically six-a-side football. The ball can’t go higher than the height of the crossbar, you’re not allowed to tackle from behind and you’re not allowed to sprint. As for running at foot, everyone runs a little bit, but the rule is that as long as you have the sole of one foot on the ground – at all times – you are not breaking any rules.

The match takes place on Sunday

The idea was born when Dave contacted Eddy Hope, who runs the Tyneside Life YouTube channel. The original plan was to produce a video about the local foot football scene, but Eddy saw an opportunity to add a bit more bite to the occasion – while raising awareness for a worthy cause.

He told ChronicleLive: “The reason for the Tyne-Wear derby theme is to spark the interest of Newcastle and Sunderland fans. When I do the video, I’m going to beef it up to look like a “grudge” match.

“It’s mainly a sport for the 50s and 60s, us people who progress a bit and can’t run as fast, but there’s no age limit. Jogging football would probably be more accurate.

Visitors are invited to attend the Swan Hunter Recreation Ground in Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 4UP to watch Newcastle vs Sunderland. Kick-off time is at 2 p.m. and the game will also be streamed live on the Black & White Vision Facebook page.

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