Armstrong credits predecessor Tom Wade as Blyth Spartans win promotion

Blyth Spartans fans applaud the players after they secured the league title. Picture by Bill Broadley
Blyth Spartans fans applaud the players after they secured the league title. Picture by Bill Broadley

Blyth Spartans manager Alun Armstrong was delighted to achieve his aim of promotion to the Vanarama National League North on Saturday with a 3-0 win over Halesowen Town.

But he was quick to give credit to predecessor Tom Wade for the role that the former Blyth boss played in their Evo-Stik Premier League triumph.

Armstrong took over the reins after Wade resigned from the club back in September, and the former Stockport County, Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town striker went on to lose just four games in his first managerial role as he steered Spartans to promotion with three games still to play.

However, despite ending the club’s five-year wait to return to the second rung of English non-league in his first season, Armstrong made sure he credited Wade for the role he played in the club’s success this season.

When asked what he thought about Blyth Spartans being Evo-Stik Premier League champions, Armstrong replied: “It is what I said we would do when I arrived. I came here looking for promotion.

“When I said that I wanted to go up, I think a few people thought I was a little bit daft in saying that as it was my first managerial job. However, I had seen the players prior to my arrival and I knew what was required to get there.

“The lads have been absolutely outstanding. It’s not me out on the pitch, it’s the lads; we just give them a little bit of guidance and a helping hand.

“We haven’t over complicated things. We took on a great squad that Tom had built and I must give credit to Tom, without a shadow of a doubt.

“I spoke to Tom on Saturday and he messaged me as well, so some of the credit for this achievement has to go to him. He said he had taken the club as far as he could, which everyone knew, and we build on that.

“You look at the lads that I have brought in and they have all been outstanding as well. To win the title in such a style against Halesowen was unbelievable.”

A jam-packed 1,167 crowd inside Croft Park saw Spartans celebrate promotion after goals from Luke Armstrong, Sean Reid and substitute Adam Wrightson were enough to see off Halesowen Town and claim the three points needed to claim the Evo-Stik Premier League time.

However, the 42-year-old hopes that the performance might entice some new fans to return next season.

Armstrong added: “It was fantastic to see so many people inside Croft Park to see us win the league. I just hope these people who came for that one match have seen how good Blyth Spartans are and enjoyed the way we play football.

“To have nearly 1,200 people here was breathtaking. We just have to make sure they all come back week in and week out from now on.”

With celebrations starting as soon as the final whistle sounded, some fans might be forgiven for forgetting that Spartans still have three games of the season to play, as well as a Techflow Group Senior Cup final against North Shields.

Armstrong added: “I just want the lads to enjoy this moment and I want the fans to enjoy it as well as we have got to get back to work in a few months time and it’s going to be a lot tougher. However, let’s think of what we’ve done.

“I think back to after that Warrington defeat and the controversy I caused with my post-match interview, if you can remember the words I said, but I think it turned the season around for me.

“Those words turned the lads around as well because they won the next game after that and that was when I knew I had the lads on board with me.

“For every single player that has played since I took over, whether they are still here or have left and gone elsewhere, I just want to say thank you for what you’ve done to get us where we are.”