Jordan Cronin: The good times - and smiling faces - are on their way back to Blyth Spartans

The Blyth Spartans band is back together – and isn’t it just bloody exciting?

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 10:25 am
Nathan Buddle has returned to Blyth Spartans. (Photo: Kris Hodgetts)

Rewind the clock back to this time two years ago, devastated and helpless supporters watched on as favourite after favourite departed Croft Park.

A loyal, tight-knit group that guided the club from mid-table in the Northern Premier League to the National League North play-offs - gone.

It was totally and utterly heartbreaking and Blyth have barely recovered

Indeed, the club did its best to rebuild.

A big name in Newcastle United icon Lee Clark arrived as manager, built a new squad from scratch but left the club second bottom of the table.

With 10 games remaining, Michael Nelson picked up the shattered pieces and relegation was fortuitously avoided following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nelson, in the midst of a national health crisis, did all he could to turn it around but in truth, was probably thankful the season was again made null and void in February.

And he wasn't the only one.

But here the lads are - Dan Maguire, Nathan Buddle, Michael Liddle, Sean Reid and Jordan Watson back ready to help steady the ship - 995 Blyth appearances between them.

In difficult times, you couldn't really turn to a better five players who know exactly what it means to wear those famous green and white stripes. Pride in the badge.

As the saying goes, the band is back together.

Nelson deserves enormous credit for bringing them home. It'd be wrong to mistake the key role he played in it all.

To all-but have a full playing squad signed in May when the season doesn't begin till August is a testament to his hard work and understanding of what is needed to get the club pulling in the right direction again.

And of course, the chairman Tony Platten. He recognised the struggles on the field in recent times and has made a big commitment to help put it right.

He's also put faith in a manager who absolutely deserves a real crack at the football club.

That said, expectations must be managed accordingly this season.

It'd be easy to expect a play-off charge or a top-half finish - and while the squad that walks out on day one of the season is capable of doing that, it's important to understand patience is still required.

There are still some key decisions to be had. A goalkeeper is still needed, as is a new club captain.

But most importantly, the spine’s in place.

The players retained from last season - Connor Thomson, Rhys Evans, Jamie Clark and Corey McKeown will benefit massively from their arrivals.

Josh Gillies is another who adds tons of experience. Jordan Hickey and Karl Byrne could prove to be shrewd additions.

A fully fit Lewis McNall can score bags of goals at this level.

This has the potential to be a long-term project but in the short-term, Nelson has moulded a team together to put the smile back on the supporters' faces.

After a lot of doom and gloom, excitement is quickly seeping back in - and that's exactly what it is all about. Hope.

What's that song by Flo Rida? Come on baby let the good times roll...