Blyth Spartans fought off competition to sign Liam Agnew, reveals Michael Nelson

Blyth Spartans manager Michael Nelson has revealed that he fought off competition from a number of clubs to secure the signing of Liam Agnew.

Thursday, 24th September 2020, 5:50 pm
Blyth Spartans manager Michael Nelson. (Credit: Kris Hodgetts)

The midfielder spent last season on loan at National League North rivals Gateshead – but has been looking for a new club after his release from League Two club Harrogate Town was confirmed earlier this week.

The move sees Agnew reunited with his former Gateshead team-mate after Nelson had a spell as a player-coach with the International Stadium club in the first half of last season.

The Spartans boss believes that his previous relationship with the former Sunderland under-23s midfielder helped him win the race for his services.

He said: “He had a very good season last year when I worked with him at Gateshead - he played a number of games and helped them get into the play-offs.

“He was someone I looked at right at the beginning of the summer, but he had a year left at Harrogate.

“I spoke to Harrogate about him and the possibility of bringing him in on loan, but it looked like it was going to be too high in terms of the contribution they wanted.

“There were a few other clubs in for him as well, so it went quiet but picked up again in the last seven days.

“I hope working with me again, knowing how I work and the way I sold the club to him had an impact on his decision.

“Early on in the summer, there were other clubs looking into taking him on loan, so I’m really pleased that we’ve managed to convince him to join Blyth.”

Nelson revealed that he was always confident that he would be able to add quality to his squad, despite working on a tight budget.

The early part of the summer saw the Spartans boss complete the signing of a number of promising youngsters as Greek striker Panos Katsamagkas and South Shields duo Kieran Charlton and Callum Guy all signed on at Croft Park.

However, Nelson has stepped up his recruitment drive in recent weeks with the additions of experienced midfielder Simon Heslop, former Newcastle United under-23s goalkeeper Brendan Pearson and former Gateshead duo Connor Thomson and Paul Blackett.

Nelson admitted that he understood the concerns of supporters – but revealed that he was always confident that he would be able to add experience to his squad as the summer wore on.

“I’ve said with a few of the deals we’ve done - we wouldn’t be able to get them done if it wasn’t for the generosity of the fans - and this one is very much the same nature.

“Our recruitment was really slow at the beginning of the summer - I saw on social media concerns from fans that everyone was signing players and we weren’t.

“We never really panicked. We always maintained that the closer we got to the season, players were going to come down the ladder and we were quite confident.

“We didn’t think this was going to come off two or three weeks ago but Liam organised a settlement with Harrogate and we were able to get him in for a deal that suits him and us as well.”

Spartans will discover who they will face in their first competitive game of the season on Friday lunchtime when the draw for the FA Cup second qualifying round is made.

Northern League clubs Whitley Bay and Consett, Nelson’s former club Gateshead and National League North rivals Darlington and Spennymoor Town are all possible opponents in the tie that will take place on Saturday week.