|Full name||Gateshead Thunder Rugby League Football Club|
|Competition||Kingstone Press Championship 1|
|National League Two||1 (2008)|
|Most capped||217 - Robin Peers|
|Most points||389 - Paul Thorman|
Gateshead Thunder is a professional rugby league club based in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear in England. In the 2013 season they will play in the Kingstone Press Championship 1 competition, the third tier of rugby league in the United Kingdom. They play their home matches at Gateshead International Stadium, known as the "Thunderdome" in rugby league circles.
Gateshead Thunder was founded in 1999, and is the only professional rugby league club in North East England. Their reserves play in the Rugby League Conference National Division under the name Gateshead Lightning. The club have won one championship during their run, in 2008.
Early rugby league on Tyneside 
There have been several Tyneside-based rugby league teams over the years. Wallsend RFC flirted with the code in the early years of the Northern Union, a South Shields team joined at the turn of the 19th to 20th century and in 1938, Newcastle moved south of the River Tyne and played a season of matches at the White City Sports Stadium but did not rejoin the league after World War II. Several other teams have come and gone in the intervening years.
The Charity Shield match and several full and junior internationals were held at the International Stadium from the 1980s and over the next two decades. An academy team, the Gateshead Mets, was formed, which played against the academy teams of professional clubs.
Super League 
Mid-way through the 1998 season, Gateshead was granted a franchise in the Super League ahead of Swansea and Cardiff. A competition was held to determine the name for this club, and Gateshead Thunder was born with Shaun McRae as head coach.
Despite early season problems in attracting fans to a new summer sport, by the end of the season the average gate had risen to 3,895. Gateshead finished in sixth place – just two points outside the play-offs. They had beaten St Helens RLFC home and away and beaten Wigan Warriors 'on the road' in Edinburgh at Tynecastle. Matt Daylight was the joint leading try scorer in Super League and winger Ian Herron was one of the deadliest goal-kickers in the top flight.
Gateshead Thunder claimed to have lost £700,000 during their one year in existence and on Monday 15 November 1999 the board announced they would merge the club with Hull Sharks, accepting a £1.25 million fee from Super League Europe to do so. The Association of Premiership Clubs blocked proposals for the newly merged company to enter a separate Hull-based team in the Northern Ford Premiership  and so the new club would be called Hull F.C. and play all its home games in Hull. This was widely seen as a takeover simply to allow Hull to remain in Super League.
The fans of the Gateshead club set up a campaigning organisation, Thunder Storm, to fight the "merger". Although this proved unsuccessful, it was the catalyst for a new Gateshead Thunder to be formed. The new Gateshead Thunder was accepted back to play in the Northern Ford Premiership on 2 August 2000 with a similar bid from Bramley being rejected. The new board had the stated objective of winning back Gateshead's place in Super League back within five years.
Second squad 
The new Thunder's first game was a friendly for the "Tolent Cup" against another club that had been threatened with merger, Sheffield Eagles. The first official game was on 3 December 2000 with an 18–0 defeat to Hull Kingston Rovers. They finished third bottom under coach Andy Kelly with back to back wins over Hunslet and York were the only league successes and a win over amateurs Wigan St. Judes in the Challenge Cup.
Financial problems were again to trouble the club. A bold plan for the 2002 season failed, and when only one draw, 12–12 against Featherstone Rovers, was recorded after the first two months Thunder were forced to cut their losses. Andy Kelly and the club's 15 Yorkshire-based players, were released as Thunder went into administration with spiralling debts.
Third squad 
Club sponsor Mike Jeffels took over the club through his Kicks Leisure organisation. Former Bradley coach Paul Fletcher was brought in, taking over a young, inexperienced and predominantly locally produced side. Although they came close to victory against Keighley and Swinton, Thunder Mark III lost every game to finish bottom of the table.
2003 saw eight Australians added to the squad, along with Bill Ryan as a coaching adviser. After just eight games of the season, Kicks Leisure withdrew their sponsorship, chairman Steve Worsnop left the club and coach Rob Jones refused to work with the club's first team following a dispute with the remaining contract players. Thunder had debts which were reportedly in excess of £50,000.
A panel of supporters, including committee members of Thunder Storm took over the running of the club in the interim period. This management committee was successful in persuading the Rugby Football League (RFL) to allow Gateshead Thunder to enter National League Two. A business case based on the funding provided by the members' club, lottery and matchday income was accepted by the governing body but was still £8–10,000 short of the minimum needed to run the club for the rest of the season, and a series of fundraising efforts were organised to fund the shortfall.
Fourth squad 
The new era of Thunder Mark IV came with the Arriva Trains Cup victory over Workington Town at Gateshead RUFC's ground; the International Stadium being unavailable. Fundraising efforts and sponsorship from local companies meant that by the end of the 2003 season Gateshead finished the year in the black, with all debts paid. On the field, however, the situation deteriorated: coach Paul Fletcher resigned after a defeat by London Skolars. The board appointed Seamus McCallion as head coach. The former Durham Cricket Chairman and head of Century FM, Bill Midgley, joined the board.
2005 saw the arrival of Dean Thomas as head coach at Gateshead. Dean was able to strengthen the squad, bringing a multi-national flavour to Tyneside rugby as he recruited players from Australia, the West Indies, Fiji and elsewhere. The strategy paid off, and Thomas guided Thunder into the play-offs, before they eventually went out to Workington Town. Off the field, the club underwent a restructuring, with new investment coming from Essex-based financier Neil MacPherson. The club returned to the status of a limited company, with three directors. After two stalled attempts, it was agreed that Gateshead Thunder would be allowed to use Newcastle Falcons' Kingston Park stadium for a game against York. They also played a game at the venue in both 2006 and 2007, and the club stated that they hoped in future to be able to play one game a year at Kingston Park. Dean Thomas guided Gateshead into the play-offs for two seasons running. He left the club at the end of the 2006 season and was replaced by former Castleford coach, Australian Dave Woods.
2008 National League Two Champions 
The 2008 season saw Gateshead wildly exceed expectations, going unbeaten for much of the year and winning promotion to National League One for the 2009 season as champions. It was strongly rumoured that the club would be relocating to Kingston Park, Newcastle on a permanent basis from 2009 onwards; a name change was also mooted. However the club have since confirmed that they will be continuing to play at Gateshead International Stadium for the foreseeable future, and launched a new logo which effectively confirmed that a name change was also off the agenda.
2009 The Co-operative Championship 
Thunder's plans for the 2009 season were disrupted when it was announced that Dave Woods had been sacked. Assistant Coach Chris Hood temporarily took over the coaching duties, and was later appointed permanently. With only a handful of players signed at the point of Woods' departure, Hood was forced to put together a squad at the eleventh hour.
Several high-profile signings were made by Hood such as former NRL players Nick Youngquest, Kris Kahler, Paul Franze and Russ Aitken but could not join the club until May 2009 at the finale of the French Elite season where all were plying their trade. Super League players such as Hull KR's Liam Watts and Castleford Tigers' Nathan Massey, Jamie Cording and Joe Arundel were also taken on loan with a view to boosting the squad.
However after a struggling start to the season, Thunder appointed Steve McCormack as Head Coach with Chris Hood returning to his role as Assistant Head Coach in April 2009.
Through the efforts of Hood (victories against Whitehaven & Doncaster) and McCormack (victory against Oldham), Thunder were guided to being the last non-Super League team competing in the 2009 Challenge Cup. They reached the quarter-finals, playing against St Helens but lost 66-6. League victories against Halifax, Widnes, Leigh and Toulouse gave Thunder a chance of completing the 'great escape'. Gateshead Thunder secured their Championship status at the expense of Leigh with an away win against Doncaster 0-56 in the final match of the regular season.
However, Gateshead Thunder's owner Steve Garside wound up Gateshead and Newcastle Rugby Ltd which ran the club in October 2009. Thunder Rugby Limited was formed in November 2009 as Gateshead's new parent company by the previous company's chairman Rod Findlay, Assistant Head Coach Chris Hood and Business Development Manager Keith Christie.
Recent history 
Due to the short turn around from formation to the start of the league season, Hood took over the reins again for the 2010 season. In that year, with a squad of predominantly local based players, the clubs fulfilled both its fixtures and financial commitments – far more than some other clubs of the time. At the end of the season, Hood stepped down again and 2011 saw the club employ Richard Pell as Head Coach.
After a half a season of difficulty on the field, the club and Pell mutually parted company and the club went back to basing itself around the local game. Kevin Neighbour, Thunder’s highest appearance holder, became Head Coach.
Neighbour, a member of the victorious 208 National League 2 winning side, and a valuable member of the 2009 Championship squad, has began to re-build the team’s playing ethos to match that of the club.
Since November 2009, Thunder have firmly rooted themselves in their local community, with a productive business culture that has seen the company record a profit each year since its creation and close relationship with sponsors and supporters alike, all twinned with a vibrant community programme which seen Thunder awarded the 2011 The Co-operative Community Programme of the Year.
2013 squad 
* Announced 17 February 2013:
2013 transfers 
|Player||Club||Until end of||Date|
|Luke Hardcastle||Hull Kingston Rovers||October 2012|
|Nick Johnson||Hull Kingston Rovers||October 2012|
|Benn Hardcastle||York City Knights||October 2012|
|Jack Smith||Castleford Tigers||October 2012|
|Jack Stearman||York City Knights||October 2012|
|Dave Sheldon||Blaydon||October 2012|
|Callum Cockburn||Edinburgh Eagles||October 2012|
|Dom Heap||Rugby Union||1 Month Trial||October 2012|
|Brett Waller||Doncaster RLFC||October 2012|
|Ryan McBride||Australia||October 2012|
|Matt Barron||Australia||October 2012|
|Mike Mitchell||Released||October 2012|
|Ryan Steen||Released||October 2012|
|Ashley Thackeray||Released||October 2012|
|Tabua Cakacaka||Released||October 2012|
|Dan Mole||Released||October 2012|
|Scott Woods||Released||October 2012|
|Olly O'Mara||Released||October 2012|
|David Cash||Released - Work Commitments||October 2012|
|Craig Olugbode||Released||October 2012|
|Danny Wilson||Released||October 2012|
|Chris Griffiths||Released||October 2012|
|Richard Moody||Released||October 2012|
|Josh Taylor||Released||October 2012|
|Will Bate||Released||October 2012|
|Ashley Williams||Released||October 2012|
|Dan O’Sullivan||Released||October 2012|
|Ryan Clarke||Released||October 2012|
|Ben Smith||Released||October 2012|
|Robin Peers||Retired - Assistant Coach||N/A||October 2012|
Player records 
- Correct to end of 2005 season.
- Most tries in a match: 5 by Andy Walker vs London Skolars 22 June 2003
- Most goals in a match: 11 by Ian Herron vs Wakefield Trinity 5 September 1999
- Most points in a match: 26 by Ian Herron vs Wakefield Trinity 5 September 1999
- Most tries in a season: 25 by Matt Daylight, 1999
- Most goals in a season: 105 by Ian Herron, 1999
- Most points in a season: 246 by Chris Birch, 2005
- Most career tries: 36 by Kevin Neighbour, 2001-date
- Most career goals: 137 by Paul Thorman, 2000–2004
- Most career points: 365 by Paul Thorman, 2000–2004
- Most career appearances: 115 by Steve Bradley, 1999-date
Team records 
- Biggest victory: 66–6 vs Wakefield Trinity 5 September 1999
- Worst Defeat: 132–0 at Blackpool, 16 May 2010
- Highest attendance: 6,631 vs Bradford Northern, 16 May 1999
Former players 
- National League Two Champions: 2008
Gateshead run a junior team in the Gillette National Youth League.
- Evening Chronicle "Thunder agree deal to continue playing at Stadium". Retrieved 2008-11-08.[dead link]
- "Thunder Launch New Logo". Gateshead Thunder RLFC. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
- Gateshead Thunder on YouTube
- National League website
- Gateshead Thunder forum on rlfans.com
- Gateshead Thunder Fans Forums – RugbyLeague.org
- Gateshead Thunder forum on lasttackle.com