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2013 - The North-East Sporting Year
It has been another action-packed year in North-East sport, and as 2013 draws to an end, Chief Sports Writer Scott Wilson looks back at the highs and lows
The year starts badly for Newcastle United and Sunderland as they both crash out of the FA Cup at the hands of lower-league opposition. Newcastle lose to Brighton for the second season in succession, while Sunderland are beaten by Bolton in a third-round replay at the Stadium of Light.
Struggling in the bottom half of the table, Newcastle splash the cash during the January transfer window, signing five French players. Results pick up as they claim a crucial win at Aston Villa.
Newcastle Falcons continue to dominate at the top of the Championship, while Newcastle Eagles continue to push for the BBL title.
Darlington Mowden Park take over at The Northern Echo Arena and attract more than 1,000 spectators to their opening game, an emphatic 62-7 win over Bromsgrove.
Newcastle resume their Europa League campaign and progress to the last 16, with a penalty from Shola Ameobi securing a 1-0 win at Metalist Kharkiv.
Middlesbrough’s league slump sets in as they concede four goals in back-to-back away games at Ipswich and Crystal Palace, and are also knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea.
Yarm School enjoy their biggest sporting success as they beat Felsted School to win the Daily Mail Schools Cup final at Twickenham, with Teessider Zach Kibirige scoring the winning try.
Martin O’Neill is sacked as Sunderland boss in the wake of a 1-0 home defeat to Manchester United. The Northern Irishman exits with his side struggling in 16th position in the league.
Newcastle reach the Europa League quarter-finals as a last-minute winner from Papiss Cisse secures a 1-0 aggregate victory over Russian side Anzhi Makhchakala.
Sunderland appoint Paolo Di Canio as their new manager, and after a great deal of controversy over his political links, the Italian leads his new side to a dramatic 3-0 win over Newcastle at St James’ Park. A bad month for the Magpies also sees them concede six goals at home to Liverpool and crash out of the Europa League at the hands of Benfica.
Durham start the County Championship season with a win over Somerset, but then slump to a heavy defeat at the hands of Warwickshire.
Darlington take their first step on the long road back to the Football League as they win the Northern League title with a record points total.
Spennymoor Town celebrate the biggest day in their history as they beat Tunbridge Wells at Wembley to claim the FA Vase. More than 8,000 fans travel from the North-East to watch Keith Graydon score the winner.
Newcastle and Sunderland both survive in the top-flight, although the former leave it late, beating QPR on the penultimate weekend to make themselves mathematically safe.
After finishing top of the table at the end of the regular season, Newcastle Falcons beat Bedford in a two-legged Championship play-off to win promotion back to the Aviva Premiership.
Hartlepool manager John Hughes is sacked at the end of the League One season, and replaced by former Middlesbrough and England centre-half Colin Cooper.
Durham beat Warwickshire to move to the top of the County Championship table, and also perform strongly in the Yorkshire Bank 40-Over League.
Fifteen-year-old Matthew Fisher creates history when he becomes Yorkshire’s youngest post-war first-team player. The Easingwold teenager takes a wicket on his debut at Scarborough.
Gateshead International Stadium stages the European Team Athletics Championships, with the likes of Mo Farah, Perri Shakes-Drayton and Jessica Judd winning their individual events for Great Britain. Russia claim the overall prize.
Stockton-born Geoff Parling stars for the British and Irish Lions as they play the opening two Tests of a series that will eventually end in a historic win over Australia.
Durham’s County Championship title push continues with a resounding 279-run win over Derbyshire that features centuries from both Keaton Jennings and Scott Borthwick.
Steph Houghton and Jill Scott both star for England at the Women’s European Championships, but the tournament is a disappointment as Hope Powell’s side fail to progress beyond the group phase.
Chris Tomlinson finishes fifth in the long jump at the Anniversary Games, and is controversially omitted from the Great Britain squad for the World Championships despite Greg Rutherford struggling with injury.
Sunderland embark on a summer spending spree that will eventually see 14 new signings arrive at the Stadium of Light.
North-East sporting history is made as Durham Emirates ICG stages its first Ashes Test against Australia. The game is a thriller, with Stuart Broad running riot during Australia’s second innings to ensure that England win the Ashes outright.
Paralympic gold medallist Josef Craig enjoys more swimming success as he claims two world titles and sets a new world record at the IPC World Championships in Canada. Olympian Kat Driscoll wins the synchro trampolining crown at the World Games in Colombia.
The new football season begins, with Newcastle and Sunderland both struggling in the opening few matches. Middlesbrough also find themselves in the bottom half of the Championship table.
There is sad news as Ferryhill’s Phill Nixon, a former BDO World Darts Championship finalist and Northern Echo Local Heroes Awards winner, dies at the age of 57.
More than 50,000 fans attend St James’ Park for a charity game to mark Steve Harper’s two decades of service with Newcastle United. A Newcastle select XI take on a legends side from AC Milan.
The Great North Run witnesses one of the closest finishes in the race’s history as Mo Farah narrowly fails to overhaul Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele in the final few yards at South Shields.
Sunderland sack Paolo Di Canio after the Italian remonstrates with his own supporters on the field at West Brom. Kevin Ball takes temporary charge.
Durham claim their third County Championship title in the space of six seasons. The success is a particular triumph for head coach Geoff Cook, who suffered a heart attack earlier in the summer.
Rockliffe Hall puts itself on the golfing map as it stages the English Senior Open. It is hoped the tournament, which is won by Denmark’s Steen Tinning, will pave the way for a full European Tour event in the future.
Gustavo Poyet is appointed as Sunderland’s new manager, and the Uruguayan enjoys a notable early triumph as Fabio Borini’s dramatic late strike secures a 2-1 Wear-Tyne derby win over Newcastle.
Tony Mowbray is dismissed at Middlesbrough after the club concede three first-half goals at Barnsley. Mark Venus is named as interim manager while Steve Gibson searches for a new boss.
Middlesbrough appoint Aitor Karanka as their first overseas manager, and the Spaniard wins his first home game as Grant Leadbitter’s late penalty sees off Bolton.
An in-form Newcastle win all four of their league games, a run that sees Alan Pardew named Manager of the Month and Tim Krul win the Player of the Month Award. Sunderland remain infuriatingly inconsistent, losing to Hull and Stoke but beating Manchester City.
West Rainton’s Kat Driscoll becomes the most successful British trampolinist of all time as she claims the team and synchro titles at the World Championships in Bulgaria.
Newcastle end a 41-year wait for a victory at Old Trafford as Yohan Cabaye’s second-half strike secures a 1-0 win over Manchester United. Sunderland beat Chelsea in extra-time to make the semi-finals of the Capital One Cup.
Ben Stokes becomes the second Durham player to score a century for England as he makes 120 in the second innings of the third Ashes Test against Australia in Perth. England, however, lose the series.
Darlington’s Stuart Hall becomes only the second North-East boxer in history to claim a world title as he beats South African Vusi Malinga in Leeds to lift the IBF World Bantamweight crown.
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