Our summer series studying our opponents in the National League during 2017/18 continues with a short trip up the A19 to the International Stadium.
Nickname: The Tynesiders
Who’s in charge?
Gateshead turned to the experience of Neil Aspin in November 2015 when they needed a replacement for Malcolm Crosby, who had departed after just five months in the hotseat.
Aspin was actually born in Gateshead but began his playing career with Leeds United where he made almost 250 appearances as a defender during a seven-year spell.
He was just as successful at Port Vale, who paid £150,000 for his services in 1989 and he played some 409 times for The Valiants before a spell with Darlington was followed by a short stint with Pools, for whom he played 11 games in 2001.
Aspin cut his managerial teeth with Harrogate Town in 2005 but was offered the chance to step up at FC Halifax Town in 2009 and he guided them to three successive promotions before departing in September 2015.
How did they get on last season?
The Heed looked on course for a play-off spot when a last-minute winner against Woking at The International Stadium in March saw them move in to fifth spot in the National League table.
It had been their seventh win in eight undefeated games and few could have predicted the dramatic loss of form that would follow as Neil Aspin’s men tasted victory just once in their final eight outings.
In the end, that was what cost them and they ended up finishing eighth in the table but there was enough signs of encouragement to suggest they could have a bigger say in 2017/18.
When did we last meet?
Whilst we have played them in pre-season games and at Reserve level in recent years, Gateshead and Pools have not met in competitive action since the Tyneside outfit reformed in 1977.
If we look back in history, Pools regularly came up against a Gateshead side in the North Eastern League, Division Three North and latterly Division Four.
Where do they play?
The International Stadium has been home to Gateshead since their reformation in 1977. Built in 1955, the multi-purpose arena can hold up to 11,800 fans though its primary use has always been for athletics.
When do we play them?
The National League fixtures are due to be released at 1pm on Wednesday 5th July.
Mark Carruthers of NonLeagueDaily.com gives us his thoughts on Gateshead going in to the new campaign…
“Last year was a strange one for Gateshead.
“It was Neil Aspin’s first full season in charge of his hometown club and he gutted their squad, releasing long-serving players like Jamie Chandler and James Curtis. In came a whole raft of signings, as he looked to put his own stamp on the club.
“Maybe it shouldn’t have been a shock that, with virtually a whole new squad, inconsistency harmed their play-off bid.
“At times they were excellent, at times they were poor. Wins against the likes of Dagenham & Redbridge, Barrow and Forest Green Rovers came as easily as defeats against North Ferriby United and Maidstone United.
“But I think last year was about laying foundations for this season. There have been big name departures. Young full back George Smith moved into the EFL with Northampton Town. Captain Liam Hogan was taken back to his native North West by ambitious Salford City, soon to be joined there by midfielder Gus Mafuta. Personal issues saw key defender Manny Smith move back down to Wrexham.
“So far Aspin has brought in Macclesfield Town defender Neil Byrne, FC Halifax Town striker Richard Peniket, Wrexham midfielder Russell Penn and former Pools youngster Kieran Green.
“Work is ongoing as Aspin looks to bolster his squad ahead of a busy season and some key targets have been tempted by other clubs.
“If the Heed boss can bring in the right players, they could challenge for the play-offs. If not, I think a mid-table finish is more likely.”