On 25th August 1999, Sunderland came back from a goal down to defeat Ruud Gullit’s men. Goals from Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips won bragging rights for the Mackems.
Gullit had dropped club captain and Newcastle legend Alan Shearer for the match, alongside Duncan Ferguson. In an attempt to assert his power over the dressing room, the Dutchman had inadvertently shot himself in the foot.
Despite Newcastle’s controversial team sheet, they got off to a great start. Kieron Dyer lifted his shot over Tommy Sorensen after 27 minutes to give the home team the lead. Peter Reid’s side went into half time 1-0 down on a bleak day in Tyneside, with the rain pouring down.
However, the lads’ fortunes changed when they won a free kick on the right-hand side. Nicky Summerbee sent the ball into the box and who else but Niall Quinn got his head to it. A trademark Quinn header, beating his man in the air and nodding it into the far corner.
Shearer was finally introduced in the 73rd minute, but it was too little too late. With the scores level, Kevin Phillips found himself one-on-one with keeper Tommy Wright. Wright saved the first point-blank shot but Phillips, with his back to goal, swivelled round and lobbed the keeper from an incredibly tight angle. Shearer had only been on the pitch for two minutes, and the Mags were now down and almost out.
In the dying minutes of the match, disaster nearly struck for Kevin Ball. The captain attempted a thunderous tackle 30 yards from goal, but it’s safe to say he was saved with a slice of luck. Presumably because of the torrid conditions, the ball went flying towards his own goal, and had beaten a helpless Sorensen. Fortunately though, it hit the crossbar and Sunderland were able to leave with all three points.
Ruud Gullit was met with a chorus of boos at full time, and the former AC Milan player resigned three days after the derby defeat.