Community spirit is fueling Gateshead’s fire as they bid for historic Wembley appearance

By Mark Carruthers

Gateshead assistant manager Ian Watson wants to give the local community “something to be proud of” when his team take on Barnet in the FA Trophy semi-final on Saturday afternoon.

Ian Watson and Mike Williamson (photo Alamy)

The Tynesiders have endured a challenging season on the pitch as their injury-decimated squad has battled relegation from the National League after securing promotion as last season’s National League North champions.

Mike Williamson’s side have shown flashes of title-winning form in recent weeks and are heading to Saturday’s home tie with the Bees thanks to two impressive wins against Aldershot Town and Dagenham and Redbridge that took them out of the relegation zone. .

Saturday’s quarter-final clash will be another big occasion for Gateshead as they look to continue their journey back from the crisis that brought the club 72 hours into going out of business just under four years ago.

A rescue offer launched by a fan-led consortium set them on the road to recovery and they hope they will reach a new destination at Wembley by securing a first appearance in the FA Trophy final on non-league finals day in May. .

Speaking before the semifinal, Watson said NLP: “He is one for the club and he is one for the fans.

“As a coaching team, sometimes you get bogged down with the fact that we are in a relegation battle and you are totally focused on that all the time.

“If I’m honest, I haven’t really thought about the game, so when it comes, it’s a bit distracting.

“But this is huge for the fans, a Wembley game, 90 minutes, is a direct shootout and we always say we want the community to be proud of the club and I think occasions like this do that.

“They get a little bit of attention, it promotes the club, it’s better for the community, it gives the community a club to be proud of.”

Gateshead have a number of players unavailable for the tie after they played their previous clubs in earlier rounds.

And one more key figure will also be missing after Heed’s player-manager Williamson suffered a knee injury that looked serious in the final moments of training earlier this week.

Credit: MI News and Sport /Alamy Live News

However, Watson insisted that the former Newcastle United defender will remain an influential presence for his team between now and the end of the season and stressed how lucky they are to have him at the club.

“If you know Mike, his mentality is just ridiculous.

“He went down with three minutes left in the session, passing the ball back and his knee completely collapsed out from under him.

“It doesn’t look good, a scan was done to see what the damage is. But he will guide us, whatever it may be, on the pitch, off the pitch, he is an incredible coach that we are lucky to have in the football club and his presence will be enough to see us until the end of the season.”


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