Blyth Spartans boss Michael Nelson relishing the return of Croft Park faithful
Blyth Spartans manager Michael Nelson is relishing the prospect of seeing supporters back at Croft Park – and called on the Green Army to turn up in numbers to see his new-look side.
It was an impressive week for the former Hartlepool United and Norwich City defender after he made several eye-catching additions to his squad for the new National League North season.
Former Spartans favourites Sean Reid, Michael Liddle, Jordan Watson and Dan Maguire have all returned to the club after their departure from Darlington.
Centre-back Nathan Buddle has also re-joined after leaving Spennymoor Town and South Shields winger Josh Gillies returns to wear green and white for the first time in over a decade.
New faces have arrived too after former Newcastle United academy striker Lewis McNall, Boston United defender Karl Byrne and ex-Hull City youngster Jordan Hickey all joined.
A hectic few days was rounded off in impressive fashion when it was announced Nelson had convinced Gateshead stalwart JJ O’Donnell to make a permanent move to Croft Park after spending a short loan spell with Spartans last season.
A wave of positivity has reverberated around the Spartans supporters, who have had to endure two testing seasons where only Covid-19 and the subsequent decision to curtail both campaigns saved their club from suffering only the second relegation in their history.
Supporters have been unable to attend home games since a 3-0 defeat against Altrincham in February 2020 – but they are set to return when the new National League North season gets underway in August.
Nelson is hoping to experience the “unique” atmosphere provided by big attendances at Croft Park as his new-look side seek to deal with the hype caused by the week’s positive moves in the transfer market.
He told the Post Leader: “Last season was a little bit rushed with Covid and trying to get something in place and see what was available.
“Recruiting on the back off a poor season was tough and I know it’s the same this year – but when one good player comes in, you can use that as leverage to attract better players.
“That’s what I told the chairman, if we got on good player in, we would find it easier to get three or four in alongside them.
“There’s a lot of hype and excitement and we have got to deal with that as players and coaches.
“You have to live up to the hype, it can’t just be left as hype.
“The chairman and board have had a lot of negativity in recent times, but he has put his cards on the table.
“He’s allowed me to bring these players in so it would be great for the supporters to show their hand and vote with their feet.
“I’ve been told Croft Park has a unique atmosphere when there is a big crowd in there and I would love to see our supporters come back in big numbers.
“They’ve had a tough time over the last couple of seasons, and now with Covid, but I hope we can see them back very soon and giving us all a taste of that atmosphere.”