It’s been a fantastic season for our Tyneside neighbours Gateshead FC as they push for promotion. No-one could have imagined this would have been possible considering the summer the club had in 2018 with uncertainty surrounding it. Despite Gateshead being in the play offs their highest attendance this season came in the North-East Derby against Hartlepool United which had a attendance of 2,678 and Hartlepool brought 1,477 of the gate with to bring a decent crowd to the International stadium with the match a) two local sides, b) Boxing Day and C) No United match on at SJP. Gateshead fans have a connection with Mags as it seems a majority support both Tyneside clubs with Gateshead of course being the second club of our supporters from the town just over the Tyne.
Disappointment is felt because Gateshead isn’t getting the numbers through the gates as they deserve. Yet go back to Gateshead semi final in the FA Trophy 2017/18 the match was delayed because of the crowds out side the stadium trying to get in for a 3pm KO, the match was delayed to allow fans to get into the ground. As a fan of both Newcastle United and Gateshead you could feel the potential the Tynesiders have as a club if this 2,264 which turned up on that day was to return on a regular basis. Gateshead is a club which has had a stormy history, several incarnations have formed and failed, the current club forming in 1977 after Gateshead AFC. Gateshead played its football in the Football league from 1930 till 1960 until they were kicked out of the league because of the old re-election system which was used up until 1968. This system saw Gateshead removed because they were too far North and replaced by Peterborough United. The club has had its ups and downs like every other but they have made history by making the FA cup 3rd round for the first time in 50 years and that trip to Wembley for the play off final in 2014 which saw the club lose 2-1 to Cambridge United.
The 2018/19 season brought a summer of uncertainty with a serious doubt about the club’s future existence going into the new season. The Heed lost several key players from the previous season such as Danny Johnson (Motherwell), James Montgomery (Forest Green Rovers), Paddy McLaughlin (Hartlepool) and more. Cub captain Scott Barrow, JJ O’Donnell and Fraser Kerr stayed at Gateshead alongside former Magpie and manager Steve Watson. The 18/19 team was buttressed by bright local talent like Greg Olley, Jon Mellish, Cameron Salkeld, Ansley Pears (Boro Loan) and Jack Hunter, a former Newcastle United under 23 captain. Gateshead also managed to recruit the services of former United, Portsmouth, Wolves central defender Mike Williamson who brought experience into an inexperienced Tynesiders’ side. Gateshead have impressed by pushing for the play offs and picking up great results such as 2-1 win over Salford City, 3-0 away win at Chesterfield and by the same score line at home to Aldershot Town. The club was flying high and come January 2019 then manager Steve Watson moved onto York City after two wonderful years at the International Stadium which included an FA Trophy semi final against Bromley and the push for promotion in 2018/19. After Watson’s departure ex-club captain Ben Clark stepped in as manager and enjoyed an extensive unbeaten run.
Gateshead has huge potential with the right backing from a football mad area but also once the transfer embargo has been lifted we can hopefully improve the current side and build towards League 2 football. As a fan of both Newcastle United and Gateshead I would love to see more Mags come through the door at the International Stadium for a push towards the play offs. The dream is promotion back to the Football League for the first time in 59 years.
As I write there is still 6 matches to be played at the International Stadium so next time your not at St James’ Park come along and get behind the lads. We have all seen how far clubs such as Huddersfield Town and Bournemouth have came in recent years from nowhere in the Football League so anything is possible and with the right support from owners and fans clubs can progress. You wouldn’t believe Gateshead were pre-season relegation favourites, have one of the smallest budgets in the league, operate under a transfer embargo, a first time management team (Ben Clark, Ian Watson and Mike Williamson), 15 senior outfield players and only one recognised striker. Crowds have turned out at Gateshead previously when needed and have undoubtedly been Newcastle United supporters keen to see their fellow Geordies and nearest neighbours progress. How about we do the same again?