Blyth AFC are showing their intent ahead of their first campaign in Northern League division one after making four big signings.
The Braves will be aiming to battle at the top of the league and have brought in midfielder Adam Forster, forwards Dylan Williamson and Ben Harmison and defender Jack Walker.
Harmison, whose brother James won the second division with Blyth last season, becomes the second forward to sign for the club this summer.
The striker played cricket professionally for both Durham and Kent before switching to non-league football in 2017, signing for his hometown club, Ashington.
He then went on to sign for North Shields last season and was one of their stand-out players, scoring 21 goals in 25 games for the Robins. Joint-manager Skinner believes the signing of Harmison is a “big one” for the club.
He said: “The signing of Ben is somewhat of a coup for us. He’s a player, who has attracted a lot of interest from a number of clubs and we’re delighted that he has chosen to join Blyth.
“Ben’s much more than a target man, which is sometimes how he’s perceived. He has good technical ability and is a real handful for defenders due to his ability both in the air and as a footballer with good link up play.”
Forster made 203 appearances for North Shields after signing for the Northern League outfit from Blyth Spartans and the midfielder won the FA Vase – scoring in the final at Wembley Stadium in 2015 – and Northumberland Senior Cup with the Robins.
The 25-year-old arrives at Blyth with vast experience under his belt and although Forster said the decision to leave Shields was hard, he’s excited for the new chapter in his footballing career.
He said: “It was never going to be an easy decision to leave Shields, but I’m very happy to have signed for Blyth and I’m looking forward to getting started.
“I’ve worked with Jon before and know what he’s all about. I know how he likes his teams to play football and that suits me. I know some of the lads in the Blyth team and know that Jon and the management team have put together a great bunch.
“Speaking to the lads I know, Blyth are an ambitious team, who want to do things next season, which is always exciting playing in a team who want to push themselves.”
Joint-manager Jon McDonald added: “Foz is a terrific acquisition for Blyth AFC. He can do a bit of everything as a midfield player.
“He’s very mobile, technically very good and has the ability to travel with the ball and can also score goals. There’s not many of his type around.”
Forward Williamson has spent the last three years with neighbours Ashington and has scored 15 goals in 43 games for the Colliers.
Prior to his spell at Woodhorn Lane, the striker played for Bedlington Terriers and was part of the squad when McDonald and Ian Skinner was at Welfare Park.
“I’m over the moon to be signing for Blyth as it’s a club on the up and has big ambitions for the future,” he said.
“That’s obviously part of the reason I signed, along with there being a great squad at Blyth and with a few good signings, it’ll be even stronger than it already is.“
Skinner said: “We tried to sign Dylan towards the end of last season, however, out of respect for his club at the time, we waited until now.
“Dylan has shown great resilience to come back from an ACL injury. He’s a forward with pace and aggression who likes to play on the shoulder of defenders and I’m sure, with a good pre-season, he can score goals for us in the First Division.”
Walker, who had a spell for Darlington between 2014 and 2015, has played at Northern League level for the likes of Whitley Bay, West Auckland Town and Seaham Red Star in recent seasons and arrives at Blyth with a lot of experience under his belt.
The full-back is a great acquisition for the Braves and will be challenging for a starting position next season. Walker is delighted to have put pen to paper and links back up with two of his former managers.
“I’m delighted to sign for the club,” he said. “I’ve worked with Skins and Jon before and played, arguably, my best football when playing for Skins at Durham.”
Skinner added: “Jack’s a versatile player, who can operate anywhere across the back line. He has a real enthusiasm for the game and I look forward to working with him again.
“He has good experience at this level and above having played for the likes of Durham City, Darlington, North Shields and most recently Whitley Bay.”