Newcastle United Giving A Helping Hand Across The Tyne?
With many pundits tipping Newcastle to be scrapping for Premier League survival, Alan Pardew would surely have jumped at the chance to be in with a very realistic chance of European football.
Similarly, over the river at the International Stadium, Gateshead’s media manager Jeff Bowron would certainly have taken the opportunity to be playing out the remaining three games still in with a chance of making the playoffs.
So in a season which has seen both clubs over-achieving, what is next?
Well, two tricky fixtures could decide how the rest of the season plays out. Bowron describes the Heed army’s away game against Bath as, “massive.” Indeed, should Gateshead take all three points at the weekend then they go into the final two games with everything to play for. Manager and former Mag, Ian Bogie, has stressed the importance of this to his players; “The players are fully aware of what is at stake and what has to be done and if we can win at Bath it will set up the two home games next week.” So much so that Tuesday’s game at home to Luton will be televised on the Premier Sports TV channel.
Gaining promotion to the Football League would be a massive accomplishment for Gateshead and would be a great way of holding on to top players such as record breaking Jon Shaw; who has scored an impressive thirty five goals so far this season. Shaw is set to be offered a ‘good deal’ for next season and holding on to key players will be made all the more important should they achieve promotion.
Moving into the Football League would be mutually beneficial for the two big Tyneside clubs according to Bowron. He is absolutely right in saying this, to have a team on Newcastle’s doorstep moving up through the leagues could be vital for the development of some youth team players.
To have a sound, professionally run club like Gateshead to send young players to, rather than them going off to Sheffield or Milton Keynes would give Pardew a chance to keep up to date with their progress and would boost Gateshead’s first team squad in what would be a long hard first season in the Football League.
So far this great link between the two clubs has resulted in recent loan deals for Joan Edmundsson, Jak Alnwick and most recently Welsh under-21 international Paul Dummet who has played well across the back four, earning a man of the match in the process. Then of course there is James Tavernier, who really developed under Ian Bogie before loan spells at Carlisle United, Sheffield Wednesday and the MK Dons, and is now pushing for a first team place at Newcastle.
With a number of Newcastle reserve players rumoured to be released at the end of the season, Gateshead will have a close eye on the situation looking for any players to improve the squad, with Bowron adding that any decisions on player arrivals will be made by Bogie.
Progress however, comes at a cost. An FA inspection on the International Stadium would cost £1000 alone.
One way in which this cost could be helped would be with a high profile friendly against a strong Newcastle team at the International Stadium.
With the Olympic Games being held at St. James’ Park this year there will be no way of staging any home friendlies. Adding to that the fact that Pardew has recently revealed the likelihood of a return to America being unlikely due to Newcastle’s possible involvement in European competition, a warm up game just over the river could be a perfect start for both teams next season.
Bogie recently told the Sunday Sun that Gateshead will have a, “laser-levelled pitch”, for the new season, they also look to play football at every opportunity and are by no means typical of the division they play in.
Surely any strong team sent by Newcastle would see a sell out at the International Stadium, which would massively boost Gateshead’s finances for the forthcoming season. I for one, would be happy to cross the river and pay £10 or so to see what would surely be a very entertaining match.
Thanks very much to Jeff Bowron, and good luck for the rest of the Season.
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