This is one of a small number of songs about the game. The song was written when football was in its infancy and rules were far less protective than today. Football had been gaining popularity from the 1860s following the formation of the Football Association in 1863. The popularity of the game truly began to spread in the North East when a northern team won the Challenge Cup Competition for the first time in 1882. When the Football League was formed in 1888 local teams such as Newcastle Rangers, Elswick Rangers, and the Tyne Club amalgamated into two teams known as Newcastle East End and Newcastle West End. In 1895 the two teams finally merged to become Newcastle United and moved from their respective grounds to the famous St. James's Park we known today.
This song is taken from perhaps the only surviving copy of the small songbook written by late nineteenth century music hall artist, James Weams. The book was published in 1887 by John Barnes of the Groat Market, Newcastle, and is numbered 'no.1'. Presumably there were to be more of these small publications, but how many followed and what form they took is not possible to say. The book contains what would become some of the most famous and popular 'Geordie' songs to be written. In particular 'Neibors belaw' struck a chord with the thousands of inhabitants of 'Tyneside flats' across the region and has become one of the Newcastle's most well known songs.
At the time this book was printed, music halls had become the chief form of indoor entertainment for the working class. Theatres like the Gaiety Theatre of Varieties, the New Tyne Concert Hall and the Percy Hall and Cirque provided the venue for entertainers such as Joe Wilson, Rowland Harrison and others. Although this is only a small publication, like William Thompson's songbook of twenty years earlier, the book is invaluable as a rare example of a working musician's repertoire at the height of Music Hall's popularity.