Blyth Spartans add midfielder Hooks to management team
Long-serving midfielder Neal Hooks has been appointed assistant manager at Blyth Spartans.
The club have been on the lookout for a new number two since John Cornforth, appointed in June to replace the outgoing Lee Picton, resigned from the role one month later.
Spartans have opted to promote from within, handing the 29-year-old his first coaching role.
“Neal has decided to go into management pretty early, and I think he’ll do well,” said manager Tom Wade.
“He came to see us last week asking if he could apply for the job. We were a little bit shocked, as he’s still classed as a player. He’s very keen, so let’s see if we can get a future Blyth manager out of the playing squad.”
For Hooks, his job as a business development manager has had ramifications on his playing career.
“My work commitments are changing, and it means I might not have the energy to play as much as what I have done in the past, so I saw a good opportunity to get involved,” he admits.
“I might be down the far end of the country one day, then travelling back up to make training and take sessions with the lads, but it means I might not have the energy to commit fully to playing.”
Hooks has worked extensively under Wade as a player and said he is looking forward to working with him behind the scenes at Croft Park.
“It will be quite exciting to learn the game from Tom,” he said.
“He’s very experienced and he’s done a fantastic job at Blyth so far. For me, it will be a good thing to learn from him.”
The playmaker has spent much of his career in the north east and is confident that the club can benefit from his experience.
He added: “I know the club inside out and I know the people that are involved, but I also know the league as well and the level of football.
“I’ve worked for a lot of good managers and worked with a lot of good players.
“I think that a lot of it is knowing what the players want and how they operate, and I can bring a lot from that side of the game.”
Not yet 30, Hooks has been described as a ‘top drawer player’ by Wade, and still expects to be pulling on the green and white jersey when the situation calls for it.
“I’ll still be very much a part of the playing staff as well,” he insists.
“If we have any injuries or people are perhaps not performing to the level that they can, I’ll still be keeping myself fit and available for selection.
“But I’ll be focusing more on helping out Tom and being an assistant more than anything.”
Having played alongside the current squad, Hooks is convinced that Spartans can go one better than last season and reach the Conference North.
“I think we’ll be pushing for promotion, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” he said.
“It was very disappointing the way things ended last year, but I think we’ll have gained vital experience from that, and hopefully we can kick on this season, push for promotion and finally get it.”