So, before we get into this, I’ll stress this is meant to be a bit of fun. Most of the lads listed below are perhaps either a little bit out of price range or have their sights set on higher levels of football, but it’s a lot more fun than writing about a Northern League XI. Anyway, on with the nonsense.
Firstly, lets have a look at what I’d project is our starting XI ahead of the new season…
Obviously we are in desperate need of centre backs, wingers and forwards. On top of that we could probably do with another solid centre midfielder so, lets have a look at some of the free agents and such in the region to see if we can find some quality players.
Centre Back – Joe Tait
Granted, this one is pretty fucking obvious. It feels like we’ve been linked with Joe since the dawn of time, with him even featuring for us in pre-season back in 2010.
At 6’2 and with over 200 appearances in the National League North, his experience and quality makes him a can’t miss sort of singing. It’s likely he’ll be wanting top dollar, so if we bag him I’d expect he’d be one of our highest earners, not that I’d complain.
He may be 33, but he’d bring some much needed leadership to the team that we seemed to lack at points last season when injuries piled up.
Centre Back – Fraser Kerr
Another 6’2 behemoth, Fraser spent time at Motherwell and Birmingham as a youngster before dropping down the Scottish Leagues. He switched to Gateshead in 2017 and was a breakout player during their ill-fated and cash strapped 2018/19 season, where he was sold on the cheap to Hartlepool.
Since then he’s bounced around between Torquay, Chesterfield and York City in the National League from where he was released by the later this summer. With over 150 appearances in the National League, he’s an ambitious target for sure who we’d face competition for and again, he’s cost a bit in wages but he’d be worth it. That is of course, if he’s still based in the North-East.
Plus, he’s from East Kilbride which looks like Glasgow’s answer to Blyth so he won’t have to acclimatise.
Centre Back – Carl Magnay
I believe Carl is still in talks with Gateshead at the moment, but if he fancies a return to part time football, surely Spartans is a logical destination for the former Chelsea player.
The winner of the TV Series Football Icon back in 2007, Carl spent his youth career at The Blues. After his release he returned home and signed for Gateshead, playing a part in the Heed’s play off final loss in 2014. Over the last few years he’s plied his trade Grimsby, Hartlepool and Spennymoor before returning to Gateshead.
Capable of playing at right back as well still, Carl would be another much needed leadership prescience in the team. A solid centre back and canny good on the ball, he’s likely not as pacey as he used to be and has had the odd injury in the past. Again though, he’s seemingly versatile across the defence so he’d be handy to have when injuries occur.
Centre Mid – Will McGowan
This one should be pretty obvious. He knows the lads (wey the ones that are left) and what Fents wants. Problem being, are South Shields willing to sell him? For the right fee I’d assume so but Arca may want to give a chance in his team, and other teams around us with more cash may have him on their radar.
As a young lad with a very bright future in football, he’d be a bit of a coup if we managed to sign him up permanently.
Right Wing – Mitchell Curry
Okay this one is definitely the most ambitious one here but, this is meant to be a bit of fun so let me dream.
Mitch is a local lad who started at Middlesbrough and spent some time on loan at Harrogate in 2017/18 and Inverness in 2019 before having a bit of a breakout spell at Gateshead on loan before being released.
A spell with the Mackems was followed by some time in the USA with Miami reserves (technically Fort Lauderdale CF) under Phil Neville was followed by a brief spell with Hartford Athletic, in America’s 2nd tear.
Having watched a few highlights of his and reading up on what Gateshead fans thought of him, he seems like a really talented lad who reminds me a bit of Cal Roberts. A proper inside forward with an eye for goal who can turn defenders inside out.
In the Sunderland Echo just a few weeks back he said “I’m biding my time as I haven’t played regularly. People have short memories in football when you haven’t been playing, people forget you. I’d like to stay as northern as I could as I’ve lived away from home for a long time. I’d like to go to the Conference or around that level and play games. I need to go somewhere and play games, it has been a tough 18 months after leaving Miami and the Hartford experience, I have a point to prove,”
Again, it’s ambitious one but he has the potential to be a match winner if we brought him in.
Left Wing – Junior Mondal
Most of us will be aware of Junior by now as on a few occasions, he’s taken the piss out of us on the pitch with some of his performances.
For those who aren’t aware, Junior is a Redcar lad who started at Middlesbrough, spent some time with Spennymoor but failed to get a look in before making the switch to Whitby where he shone. He was snapped up Forest Green Rovers in League 2 where he spent 18 months before spending the illfated 2020/21 season at AFC Fylde.
He returned to the North-East in 2021, where he’s sign for Darlo but seemingly didn’t fit into Armstrong’s plans most of the time, spending some time on loan at Marske in 2022 and again in 2023.
A technical player who’s capable of playing on both wings and as a number 10 who has a history of scoring the odd spectacular goal and has the pace to beat most full backs at this level, Junior feels like a more realistic option but a great one nevertheless.
Left Wing – Adam Wilson
A quick look at Adam’s Insta shows he’s currently in LA at the moment, making this one an unrealistic one from the start but fuck it. He’s on the list so he’s ganning in.
Adam was a classic example of Newcastle United’s ineptitude when it comes to developing players in the academy, as when he was released at 23 years old he hadn’t even had a single loan spell.
He trained with Spartans last summer and according to the lads who would watch training now and then he was fucking phenomenal. Sadly for us though he’d sign for TNS in Wales, where he’d win the Welsh Prem and qualify for the Champions League, which is only ever so slightly more prestigious than a Northumberland Senior Cup runners up medal I suppose.
He doesn’t seem to have played for TNS for a few months, and if he is back in the North East, he needs to be a priority. A winger who has bags of flair, pace and is capable of goals. Sadly though, again this one is an unrealistic one seemingly.
Striker – Darius Osei
A lad I’m sure a few of you have heard about by now, Darius was brought in to South Shields in early 2020 by Fents after he’d set the league alight whilst at Stalybridge Celtic. He’s recently just turned down a deal from Shields, making him a free agent.
Notching 27 goals in 76 appearances in the league below over the last 2 seasons, Darius has bags of pace and seemingly likes to play on the shoulder of defenders. He also has experience in the Football League with Oldham Athletic.
A pretty decent goal record but could he make the step up? Personally, I’d take the risk.
Striker – Mark Cullen
Another ambitious one but, the Ashington born forward looks like he’s near the end of recovering from a major injury after rupturing his ACL.
A Newcastle United junior alongside Paul Dummett and Mark Gillespie, Cullen started at Hull before featuring for Luton, Blackpool and Port Vale prior to moving back to the North East with Hartlepool in 2021 ahead of his switch to Fylde in early 2022.
Despite having spent the last 18 Months out with injury, Mark’s played at every level between the Premier League and National League North making 342 career appearances, scoring 75 goals and he’s still only 31.
If he is back in the North East, he’s an unrealistic signing who’s probably lost a yard or so of pace but with his finishing abilities as he’s already demonstrated against Spartans in 2022, he’d be a sublime addition though, he’d likely need some pace around him to help get the best out of him. Think Alan Shearer between 2001 and 2006.
Striker – Eddie Thomas
People tend to winge when we sign Northern League players, but Eddie seems like he’s more than worth the gamble.
A product of Gateshead’s academy team that won some trophy I can’t remember (a can’t be arsed to google it either) in 2022, Eddie had already featured for Crook Town and Dunston in the 2021/22 season making 18 appearances and scoring 9 goals.
He signed a professional deal with Gateshead last season and was loaned to Newcastle Benfield where he had a good spell, but was released in the middle of the season. He joined Newton Aycliffe making 14 appearances and bagged 12 goals as they won promotion to the Evo-Stik East, or whatever the fuck it’s called these days.
A good young prospect who’s about the height of the crossbar and knows how to find the back of the net, he’d be a solid investment who’s only going to continue to get better.