Gateshead Thunder (1999)
|Exited||1999 (merged into Hull F.C.)|
Gateshead Thunder was a professional rugby league club founded in 1999 in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, England, which merged with Hull Sharks after only one season. A new club, bearing the same name, was later formed to retain rugby league in Gateshead.
In 1998, Gateshead were officially granted a franchise in the Super League ahead of bids from Swansea and Cardiff. The club was named Gateshead Thunder, the name chosen in a contest, with Shaun McRae as head coach.
Fan attendance in the early part of the season was poor, but rose to 3,895 by season's end. The Thunder finished in sixth position, just two points outside the play off places. They had defeated St. Helens home and away, as well as beating Wigan in the 'on the road' fixture at Tynecastle, Edinburgh. Matt Daylight was the joint leading try scorer in Super League IV and winger Ian Herron was one of the leading goal kickers in the league.
During their sole season in the league, the Thunder claimed to have lost £700,000, so on 15 November 1999, the board announced their intention to merge the Thunder with the Hull Sharks, for which they were paid a fee £1.25 million by Super League Europe. The Association of Premiership Clubs blocked attempts 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' and play all their home games in Hull itself. The 'merger' has since been accepted to be a simple takeover of Thunder by Hull F.C. to allow them to retain their Super League status.
Fans of the original Gateshead club who were opposed to the merger established Thunder Storm, a grassroots organization to keep the clubs separate. Although this ultimately proved to be unsuccessful, the degree of local fan support resulted in the formation of a new Gateshead Thunder club. The new Gateshead Thunder was accepted to play in the Northern Ford Premiership for the 2001 season.
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