Once A Spartan, Always a Spartan – Part 1

In the first of what will be a 2-part update, we take a look to see where the lads who’ve featured for us in recent seasons have ended up and how they’re getting on at their new clubs.

The first big departure this summer was of course Toby Lees, who left for Darlington to the delight of their supporters. Things haven’t gone to plan for Darlo thus far losing 3 of their opening 4 games while conceding 9 goals. Lees did bag a goal for Darlo on his debut, but also was directly responsible for one of Curzon’s goals. Toby and Darlington are far too good to be stuck struggling at the bottom of the league though, so I suspect they’ll have an upturn in form within a few weeks.

Cedric Main linked up with National League side York City after manager Micky Morton brought him in, though York’s new owners have splashed the cash and apart from a few chances in pre-season, he hasn’t seen much action. Fellow forward Jayden Ferguson made the switch back to Scotland this summer, signing for Lochee United who play in the *checks notes* McBookie East Region Midlands League… aye, I’ve not got a fucking clue either. Anyway, Jayden has featured 6 times for them and bagged 3 goals, as they sit 3rd in the league.

Midfielder Josh Gillies signed for Northern League stalwarts West Auckland Town and has featured 3 times grabbing 1 assist so far for West, who sit 10th in the league. Josh also appears to be signed for the reserve side in the Wearside league. Another Midfielder on the move this summer was Matty Cornish, who signed for Asheville City in the USA, then quickly moved to Lionsbridge (I think) and helped them to get into some cup final. He’s recently returned to the UK and has just signed for Northern Premier League side Marske United.

Danny Barlow was also on the move this summer, signing for local side Morpeth Town where he seems to have smashed it so far. He’s featured in all 4 games, playing a starting roll for the most part and has bagged 2 goals, one of those being a dramatic 96th minute equaliser against Matlock. Isaac Walker was another summer departure, as he returned to Redcar Athletic for a reported £3,500. So far though despite a good summer transfer window Redcar have struggled, losing 3 of their opening 4 games this season including a defeat in the FA Cup. Isaac is yet to bag a goal since his return, but I expect that will soon change.

Both Matty Dopson and Nathan Buddle signed for newly promoted Ashington, and so far, neither have featured that much. Doppa is seemingly being kept out the team by former Gateshead right back Kyle Errington. Buds had missed the start of the season with a groin injury (apparently) but featured this Tuesday gone against Ossett United. Ash currently lie in 16th place after 3 games.

Matty Elsdon has had a successful start to life at Hebburn Town, picking up a man of the match award earlier this week, as Hebburn have picked up 3 wins out of 3 in the league. The only blip came last week, as they were knocked out the FA Cup by Heaton Stannington. Michael Richardson has signed forms with Newcastle Blue Star, where he’ll play when available this season. He’s featured at right back and in centre midfield as Blue Star have won 4 out of 4 so far this year. He’s recently been joined at Blue Star by former Under-19 Alfie Livermore, who featured for Spartans first team in pre-season and sporadically last season. Another youngster who’s done well so far this season has been striker Jay Errington, who’s broke into the starting XI at Newcastle Benfield and already has an assist to his name this season. Young Josh Walker who featured against York City in the FA Trophy is also in the Northern League, joining Heaton Stannington.

Blyth Town have snapped up a number of last season’s youngsters, including Ben Fell, Evan Fogarty, Charlie Walker, Luke Heppell and Taylor Chapman who featured for Spartans Under 18’s last season is also signed up. Sir Robert Dale is also staring for Town at present after departing Ashington this summer. Town have so far won 8 from 8 with Robbie, Evan, Ben and Luke starting in most games.

Despite notching 6 goals in 18 games last season, Troy Chiabi is without a club. I can’t seem to find any record of him signing for anyone after Spartans or playing for anyone in pre-season, so Christ knows why he’s not been picked up by anyone just yet.

Midfielder Liam Ravenhill who featured for Spartans on loan for a month in October last season would go onto join Spennymoor, where he’d only play once before returning to Doncaster Rovers. He made 6 appearances in League 2 last season but is yet to feature this year. Another brief loanee was Sam Hodgson, who bagged 1 goal in just a handful of appearances before his injury. He’d sign for Marske United after leaving Spartans, and has this season joined Morpeth Town on a 6-month loan. Gateshead midfielder Connor Pani who failed to impress during his loan spell at Spartans was given a new deal at Gateshead this summer and seems to be involved in and around the first team so far this season.

Sam Fishburn who had his loan spell at Spartans cut short, was loaned to Morpeth, and only scored 6 goals in 30 games. He was released by Carlisle this summer, and was then picked up by Fleetwood Town on a 1-year contract. Another lad who had his spell with Spartans cut short was Ryan Barrett, who made 3 appearances for Whitley Bay at the end of last season before moving to Cornwall to sign for Mousehole AFC, who play in the Southern League Division One South.

Goalkeeper Matty Alexander who was on the bench a few times last season featured for Alnwick Town under a dual reg, and he appears to have stayed on there as their first-choice keeper in the Northern Alliance. Forward Josh Scott who left Spartans in December last season and joined Marske United, making 5 appearances before switching to Northern League side West Auckland, where he’s been the main man over the last few months.

Lastly, we have loanee Michael Spellman, who eventually signed a new deal with Sunderland, and has played a few first team games for Sunderland in pre-season. He’ll again mainly play for the under 21’s, but I expect him to be loaned out again this season at some point.