Firstly mate, congrats on your success since leaving Spartans! Can you fill us in on what exactly it is your up to these days?
Thank you! I’m the Newcastle United writer for NewcastleWorld. The site has only been running 12 months or so but it’s going well. I’m loving to be honest, especially after pre-season trips to Austria and Portugal. Covering the club since the takeover is a privilege and a great experience.
You spent about 4 years working at the club in a few roles. What was some of your favourite moments at the club?
Ah, it’s got to be the play-off season under Al. From beating Stockport County away and Adam Wrightson scoring a late winner at FC United of Manchester, both will live with me forever, especially the latter. You’re not supposed to celebrate in the press box but I went wild that day (as did Stu Dick and Phil Castiaux btw), which was a bit sly because the goal actually relegated FC United! We also played Leyton Orient away in the FA Trophy that season.
Similar sort of question – throughout your time at the club what would you consider to be some of your proudest achievements to be, and what challenges did you find the most difficult to overcome at the club?
Proudest achievements… I’d have to say announcing 15 (probs more) signings in three or four days when the likes of Nipa, Budds, Lidds and Robbie etc returned last year. I produced, filmed and edited all the interviews and signings videos. Bearing in mind I was a volunteer, it took over my life (I pretty much slept at Croft Park that week!) but it was so worth it seeing the reaction of the fans after a tough few years. Most difficult… definitely the Covid months because there was little positivity surrounding the club, so the club’s social media platforms took a battering! Doing stuff like live streams was a stressful experience as well. Basically, football is shite without fans.
Any funny stories from training/awaydays you can tell us?
Kris Thackray was so good at singing Ice Ice Baby on the way back from away games that he could have easily been mistaken for Vanilla Ice himself. I also vividly remember Lewis Horner putting on a different voice and prank calling former media manager Stu Dick on the hotel landline and telling him to had to leave his room when we stayed over for Leyton Orient. And then there’s the legend Peter Henderson. Most of the stuff Peter did on the team bus was mad and at times grim but totally hilarious. What a bloke. Would do anything for anyone.
Shag marry kill – Rhys Evans, Nathan Buddle and Jordan Watson?
Hahaha fkn hell I can’t answer that. I wouldn’t kill any of them, they’re all top, top lads. A cop out answer, I know, sorry.
Throughout your time you’ve probably have to deal with over 100ish players (especially in the Lee Clark era) any ‘interesting’ or funny cut moments or unaired interviews you can tell us about?
Remember when we were hammered 8-2 by Morpeth Town in the Senior Cup on the Wednesday then got beat 3-0 at Darlington on the Saturday? Well, Alun basically resigned during his post-match interview because he felt so let down by the lads. But after the camera went off, he regathered his thoughts and we agreed to cut that part of the interview. I love Alun, he’s honest as they come and wears his heart on his sleeve. He stayed another 18 months before moving to Darlo. There’s countless times I’ve had to edit interviews because either me (mostly me) or a player fluffed their words!
What advice would you give to anyone getting involved in football media, especially at non/league level?
Be prepared to put in long hours for free, only then you’ll earn a paid gig (if that’s your ambition anyway). And just embrace it. Proper corny this but I stayed at Blyth for four years simply because I grew to love the club.
Obviously Fents is in the job now. How do you think he’ll get on and what will he need to do to improve the side?
I’ve got no doubt Fents will keep the club in the league, unfortunately injuries are non stop at the minute. He’s got a dressing room full of honest, hardworking lads who genuinely care about the club. The summer will be interesting – the budget and who he signs will dictate what happens next season and beyond. I hope the board back him because he’s got all the tools to take the club forward.
Lastly, how would you like to see the club improve in the near future and what changes would you like to see?
Blyth Spartans is a club with so much potential, you don’t truly realise how big the club is until you’re in and around it. I’d love to see Blyth promoted into the National League in the future but unfortunately that isn’t a realistic ambition at the moment.