INTERVIEW – JON SHAW “The squad are capable of putting another run together”

Now 10 weeks into his role as Spartans manager, Jon Shaw has already experienced the highs and lows of management in his brief time at the helm of the most famous non-league club in the world. That being said, Shaw seems to be relishing the opportunity and the challenge he has at Blyth saying “I’ve always wanted to be a manager and what a great challenge this has been so far. I’m learning all the time about dealing with the players as individuals and the team as a whole, but I suppose the biggest thing is at times to not over think it. You can’t help but think when a result doesn’t go your way about what more could you do but we have principles we work from and believe it the way we do it and how hard we work.”

After a successful opening month in charge, the last few weeks have not gone to plan for Shaw as Spartans have only picked up 1 win from their last 10 league games while having to deal with multiple injuries throughout the team. Player of the Year frontrunner Michael Liddle has been missing for the last 6 weeks, forwards JJ Hooper, Harry Gardiner and Oli Thompson have all missed several weeks on top of Joe Oliver’s injury, goalkeeper Dan Langley being recalled by Oldham Athletic and defender Finn Cousin Dawson’s suspension.

Despite all that though, Shaw is optimistic about the coming weeks with players returning from injury stating “Obviously not long after we’d taken over the results put us in a great position but a couple of unfortunate mistakes in games and injuries to key players have made it tough. We’ve battled hard through this period and put some good performances in where we deserved more. We’re getting those players back now and training hard. We’ve added a few lads as well which I’m grateful to the club for and I’m sure the squad are capable of putting another run together between now and the end of the season to secure our place in the league.”

Though Spartans have been off the boil in recent weeks and results haven’t gone our way, the team has shown plenty of spirit and character as they’ve fought back to claim vital points against title chasing Scunthorpe and play off hunting Boston United. Shaw added ”The lads that have played and battled for the last 6/7 games when we’ve been down bodies have been immense and I feel for them that I haven’t been able to freshen it up and keep them at their sharpest. They’ve given everything and played till the last second in the games to get those points that’s could be vital.”

Spartans now face a potential make or break week as 20th place Kings Lynn who are in good form travel to Croft Park tomorrow, 21st place Darlington who are in even better form travel up on Tuesday night before Spartans make the trip to 18th place Southport next Saturday. Shaw knows how big this next week is but acknowledged that the other remaining games were just as important, saying “The next 3 games are big but so is every game. I’m sure there’s an element of nerves and excitement in the squad. We have to take that there’s a bit of pressure on us now but if we carry on playing the way we have been, work hard and cut out the mistakes we can beat anyone, so it’s going to be great run in.”

With the Spartans faithful set to pack Croft Park ahead of two huge home games, Shaw stressed that the team are keen to repay the faith and the support they’ve had in recent weeks, stating “The fans of every club are the heart beat. Our fans are amazing at home and away, win lose or draw they support us and the lads have to appreciate that as I’ve been at a few clubs where that’s not the case. The support of the fans deserve rewarding and we’re all desperate to do that and enjoy the rest of the season together, staff, players, volunteers and fans.”