POLICE in riot gear were called in to quell disturbances involving fans following yesterday's Tyne- Wear derby.

Newcastle United supporters clashed with police in Newcastle city centre following their team's 2-0 victory over arch-rivals Sunderland at St James' Park.

Dozens of police officers in riot gear entered Newcastle Central railway station - which was temporarily closed to the public - following clashes in the area.

Several Newcastle supporters, many with their faces covered, were taken away by Northumbria police.

Later, Northumbria police said a total of 11 people had been arrested for a variety of mainly drink-related offences. Four people were held inside St James' Park while another seven were arrested outside the ground.

Police used horses to drive back fans attempting to get to Sunderland supporters who were returning to their coaches outside St James Park. There were also clashes as some fans tried to get to trains carrying Sunderland supporters back home to Wearside. Witness Hugh Macknight, 34, from Newcastle, said: "There was an army of police with dogs, riot gear and horses and there were about 300 fans corralled on Pink Lane in the city centre.

"The fans were angry and were throwing bottles and glasses and chanting and the police were pulling people out of the crowd and making a few arrests."

A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said the derby had passed without serious disorder.

She said: "Some of those arrested were known and were taken into custody to prevent problems escalating.

"Also, there were a number of localised clashes among fans, but these were relatively isolated and brought quickly under control by the police, who took fair but effective action against those involved."

Chief Superintendent Neil Mackay, head of the forces operations unit, said: "The vast majority of fans behaved well.

"Four arrests out of a crowd of 52,000 is still phenomenally low and, although there has been an increase compared with last November's derby, it can still be said the match generated a great atmosphere."