Interview – Michael Liddle “When we’re at it we’ve got a chance against anyone”

Spartans stalwart Michael Liddle has been one of the in-form players throughout the opening 2 months of the season, which was been Spartans best start to a campaign since returning to the National League North in 2017.

The 33-year-old was plagued by injuries in the previous 2 campaigns, however since the start of the season he’s probably put in some of his best ever performances in a green and white shirt, winning the club’s POTM award for August and seemingly looking fitter than ever.

His explanation behind all this? “Magic beans!” apparently. He did add “To be fair I’ve made more of an effort to keep my diet right since pre-season, lost a load of weight, spent more time on recovery and all that shite and it’s paying off so far. Thinking I should have been more like this for last few years and not got inured as much”.

With 2 goals already this season, the marauding full back has equalled his highest goal tally in single season once again, levelling his 2 goals in the 17/18 season with Blyth and his 2 for Gateshead in 2010/11. He joked “Not sure what’s going on here like but I can confirm I’ve peaked! Reckon I’ve got the full backs scoring award locked up anyways, no chance Rhys is getting 2!

The team’s early success this season under Fents has taken most of us by surprise, given the slow start to the transfer business this summer, some poor displays in pre-season and with the team not getting much of a chance to gel much ahead of the league campaign. That obviously hasn’t been the case though, and Lids reckons “The team we’ve got when everyone is fit really suits the way the gaffer wants his teams to play. On top of that we’ve genuinely got a very strong squad! It came together last minute but a lot of the lads had played together before which helped, you can’t really say we’ve got any weak links so when we’re at it we’ve got a chance against anyone.”

Spartans eventually had 10 new and returning players though the door this summer, and Lids reserved special praise for both Will McGowan and Harrison Clark, saying “Obviously super Willy Mac but we all knew how good he was from last season. Harra has been a nice little surprise; I think he’s been very good slotting into that back 5 and he’s an even better lad.”

Having gotten married this summer and becoming a ‘Dog Dad’ a few months ago, when asked if he’d calmed down and stopped his adventures on the metro he said, “Aye I’m a veteran now so them days are gone, no more daft carry on!”. Though I suspect that to not be true.

Despite playing alongside and sometimes against many Spartans cup heroes from the 08/09 season and the 14/15 cup run, the furthest Lids has gone with Blyth in the FA cup is to the 4th qualifying round in his 5 full seasons with the club. When asked about his desire to have a proper run with Blyth he said “I would love it honestly. I always say a decent cup run is all I’ve not really had at Blyth and with the history of Spartans and the FA Cup it would be class to get one and have your name talked about for years after you’ve left”. He jokingly added “Or be like Ste, score a worldly and then keep talking about yourself for years so no one can forget you!”.

Not wanting to overlook this Saturday’s opponents though, Lids commented when asked about Worksop’s recent success “They’re doing really well. I don’t know loads about them, but people have said they’re quite direct, got some big lads and might be a bit like Alfreton. We will really need to be at it, we’ve seen against Alfreton and Bradford PA what happens when we’re not at the top of our game, so it’s up to us put in a shift and a good performance. 

When asked about his dream route to the promised land that is the 3rd round of the FA Cup, he said “Tough one to finish on. A decent home tie if we get through against Worksop, someone our league or below. Accrington Stanley 1st round because I had a class time there, but the managers fucked me off and would love to beat them! Not bitter or out though. And then someone like Portsmouth, someone big that it would be on TV and do a job on them”.

Of course though, his dream tie in 3rd round was either Sunderland or Newcastle. Given that Lids is a passionate Sunderland supporter, he’d no doubt relish an opportunity to play against the Toon! Or at least a chance to play against his beloved Sunderland, whom he played for as a youngster.