Clarky’s at the wheel – Part 2

Time for part 2 of our lookback at whatever the flying fuck happened to Lee Clark and his many… many players.

Scott Fenwick (June 2019 – May 2019)

So aye, this will be an interesting one. Having spent time at Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesborough’s academies, the Allendale native began his playing career with Gretna 2008 before making the move to Northern League side Newcastle Benfield in 2010. He’d bag 32 league goals in over 2 years, at a time when the Northern League was fiercely competitive when compared to todays standard. He’d switch to Durham for 2 years where h would smash 52 goals in 73 games in the league between 2012 and 2014, where he would then make the move to Dunston. 11 goals in 14 games would see him move to Hartlepool in November 2014 (despite interest from Sheffield United) and became a professional for the first time.

It was by then you could tell Scott was a press man’s wet dream, happy to chat shite for whatever reason. In the build up to Spartans and Pools FA Cup clash, Scott came out in the local press saying something along the lines of ‘I know all about Blyth, having played against them loads’… when in fact Scott had never played against us. Sadly, the links to the interview are long broken so getting the exact quote is awkward.

Anyway, Scott would be well regarded by Pools fans notching 6 goals in 19 league games and helping them avoid relegation thanks to Ronnie Moore. The following season didn’t go so well, where Scott would only grab 4 goals in 23 games. In the summer of 2016, he was released and Fenwick joined newly relegated National League club York City. Things wouldn’t exactly go to plan, scoring only 2 goals in 24 games as York were relegated to the National league North.

2017 saw him link up with Darlington, playing 4 games and leaving in August for Naxxar Lions of the Maltese topflight. Come January though he’d move to Chelmsford City of the National League South, scoring 11 goals in 11 games to end the season. His 2018/19 season wouldn’t go as well though, only grabbing 9 goals in 36 appearances and left the club that summer, ending up at Spartans as the big marquee signing of the summer. When discussing the move and Lee Clark in particular, he said “He was one of the entertainers, he was part of the famous Kevin Keegan squad that was my childhood growing up. It was funny because a few years ago I should have signed for him at Kilmarnock, when he was there he chased me all summer and I made a decision to go to York City instead – a decision I think in hindsight I ended up regretting. Even though I ended up playing at Wembley with York, I think back and should probably have gone up there with him in that instance. The fact I didn’t burn any bridges with him and I now have the chance to play with him again I snapped his hands off this time.” Funny reading that back now, knowing they wouldn’t exactly be friends for long.

Scott did bag a few in pre-season (mainly penalties) and got the Croft Park faithful a bit hyped but for me, a moment from a throw away friendly against North Shields would sum him up as a player. As Rhys Evans broke down the right-hand side and hoyed a cross into the box less than a yard in front of Fenwick, where he could have very easily controlled it and put a shot away… but instead he just didn’t move for the ball and began berating Rhys about the cross, to the bemusement and laughter of us lot behind the net.

Like many of the players in that team, Scott failed to impress. For a striker who claimed he was an ‘Old-school nine, a good target man, aggressive, good in the air and holds the ball up well’ he seemed well of the pace. Often struggling to impact the games he featured in not exactly being a threat to opposition defenders. He would get injured in late August before suffering a ligament injury in the Northumberland Senior Cup in the October. He would last feature for Spartans as an used substitute against Bedlington Terriers in January 2020, and would be released by Micky Nelson that May.

Now, I did have a long bit wrote out about how Lee and Scott DID NOT get on but, maybe we’ll save all that stuff for Lee’s part.

Since leaving Blyth, Scott has bounced around between Cork City, Forfar Athletic, Workington and has just recently signed for Consett.

Josh Nearney (June 2019 – August 2019)

Supposedly a mate of Fenwick’s, Josh arrived at the club having had came through at Hartlepool United where he failed in to break into the first team despite loans at Darlington 1883, Whitby Town and Whitley Bay. Following his release from Pools in 2017, he went back to Whitley Bay and became a key player in the team, but put a transfer request in during the summer of 2018 and linked up with Whitby.

He featured 14 times for them before moving back to the Northern League with North Shields and of course linking up with Blyth in the summer. Admittedly I don’t remember a great deal about him, I think he came on as a substitute once? Anyway he requested a release early on due to reported work commitments and he’s never played football since.

Ursene Mouanda LOAN (June 2019 – January 2020)

One of weirder earlier signings. Picked up by Rangers after some time at Monkseaton, he would spend 18 months with Kilmarnock (poor bloke) before linking up with Fents and Picton at South Shields in 2018. He would feature 26 times before joining Spartans on a season long loan. As many expected, he didn’t exactly impress and only featured 10 times, mostly early in the season.

The loan would be cut short in the January, where Blyth reportedly had to pay a fee to do so. He was released from South Shields that same day and sign for Dunston UTS, where he’s played ever since.

Craig Spooner (June 2019 – July 2019)

A product of Newcastle United, the all-round centre midfielder was released by the Toon in 2018 and moved to North Shields, where he’d have an impressive season and was snapped up by Spartans. Despite impressing in pre-season and being far from poor in his 3 games for Blyth, he was released alongside Dale Pearson in the middle of August out of the blue. It wouldn’t shock you to know that Craig was another one that Lee didn’t like for no reason.

After leaving Spartans he moved onto Whitley Bay, having a good spell and being picked up by West Auckland but moved to North Shields before the season ended. A decent few years for North Shields saw him make the move to Ashington, where he’d establish himself as a mainstay in the team and playing a key role in the recent up run. He was rumoured to have been made an offer by Spartans this summer, but the offer was poor to say the least. One of few players on this list I’d happily see back at Spartans. Shame about his trim these days though.

Chris Mason LOAN (August 2019 – August 2019)

Another one of those odd loan signings. Mason had been recovering from a horrible injury after being a bastion at Spennymoor for over 10 years at the heart of the defence. At Blyth he did okay, appeared to be very rusty but he was obviously gone before he could establish himself at Spartans.

He would get back into the Spenny side prior to COVID ending the season, but would spend the 2020 season at Newton Aycliffe. He re-joined Spenny in November in 2021 is still registered as a player, as well as the becoming the strength and conditioning coach.

Nathan Harker LOAN (August 2019 – December 2019)

Spending his entire youth career with Newcastle, Nath even made the bench on a few occasions prior to his loan spell with Blyth. For various reasons, he didn’t impress at Spartans despite the hype surrounding him. Again, it’s speculated he was yet another one Lee Clark decided he didn’t like. His loan was cancelled in December following the arrival of Zak Hemming, and he would then be released in the summer of 2020.

After an unsuccessful trial at Sunderland, he signed for Scarborough on non-contract basis but failed to get a league game. He left in October to sign for Bedlington Terriers in the second tier of the Northern League. After dropping all the way down to the 10th tier of English football, Nathan’s career began to finally turn around as he was seen as a star player for Bedlington and had a superb game against Spartans in the Northumberland Senior Cup. In the summer of 2022 Nath joined Whickham where he helped them go on a bit of a cup run. At the moment he’s looked at as one of the star players in that side and is expected to make the jump up to a high level in the near future.

Lewis Ritson LOAN (August – January 2020)

A South Shields native who came through the academy at Hull City (when they were sort of good) Lewis joined Blyth but would constantly be in and out of the team. Whenever he did play, I’d always get him mixed up with Tom Devitt (that’s not racist to say, is it?) as Blyth’s defence struggled under Clark. Lewis would leave Blyth when his loan expired and be released by Hull in 2020.

Following a trial, Lewis would be signed by everyone’s favourite youth club Whitby Town in September 2020. His first season was cut short due to covid, but he’d have a good start to the 2021/22 campaign before a cruciate injury ended his season. At present he has not played since sadly.

Callum Roberts (August 2019 – January 2020)

Arguably the only thing the club got right in this period. A highly thought of youth prospect at Newcastle United, Cal would get his shot in the first team limited to FA Cup appearances, where did once score against Blackburn in January 2019. Loan spells at Gateshead, Kilmarnock and Colchester would prove to be unsuccessful and to the surprise of a few, he was released in the summer of 2019.

After turning down deals with Middlesbrough and Olympiacos, we opt to sign for Spartans on non-contract terms after training with the club for a few weeks. Personally, I’d say anyone who choses Blyth over Olympiacos might need some help, but that’s just me. After a few weeks of sublime form and single-handedly winning games, he’d sign a contract at Spartans to the shock of everyone.

After 25 appearances and 17 goals, he was eventually snapped up by Notts County of the Vanarama National League for a reported fee of £10,000 plus sell on fees. He would play in 8 games scoring 3 goals before COVID ended the season. His first full season at Notts would be hampered by injury, as he only made 9 appearances but during the 2021/22 season, he would dominate the league.

Scoring 16 goals in 36 league games, Cal was one of the main reasons Notts Country secured a play off spot. Considered one of the best play makers in the league by now, speculation was rife as to when Cal would be picked up by a bigger team as Notts County failed to secure promotion in the play offs.

In August 2022, he’d be picked up by SPL giants Aberdeen for a fee that is rumoured to be £75,000 to £15,000 depending on add on’s etc. As Spartans had a sell on fee of 10% it’s unclear how much we actually got. Since moving to Aberdeen, Cal has only played 2 games due to injury.

Lewis Hawkins (August 2019 – June 2020)

An active box-to-box midfielder, Hawkins was a Boro lad who progressed through Hartlepool’s academy and went onto make over 100 appearances for Pools as they slid down from League One to the National League during his time. After a few loans at Spennymoor Town and York City he was released in 2019 and initially linked up with Guisborough Town of the Northern League to the shock of many.

By the very end of August though he was snapped up by Spartans as they desperately needed midfielder reinforcements. He’d go on to have a good spell at Blyth, capped of by scoring a 40-yard wonder goal away at Kidderminster. Sadly though he’d be one of the lads released by Nelson in June 2020, and he’d eventually sign for Whitby Town. He’s been a mainstay of the team ever since and considered a key player for the Seaside outfit, who’s probably still good enough to do a job at this level.