Spartans keeper Conor Grant on his first season between the sticks at Croft Park

BLYTH Spartans kepper Conor Grant has described his delight at the learning vurve of a season he has experienced with the Croft Park outfit.

Since making his debut away at Witton Albion on the opening day of the campaign the 23-year-old has been a regular fixture between the sticks and feels that the level of games he has played will only aid his development as a keeper.

He said “If someone had told me in July that I was going to play close to forty games this season I would have been delighted.

“I’m still young in relation to the position that I’m playing, so to play the amount of games I have is a big boost in the development of my game.

He added “In regards to this season for me personally there have been plenty of highs and lows, but that is all part of the learning curve.

“These experiences, good and bad, must be learned from and used to fuel my future development.”

Grant was brought to the club by former manager Tommy Cassidy, joining from Scottish Club Gretna FC 200 and despite only being with Spartans since July, he has found himself up against three different competitors for the coveted number one shirt.

Recently former Newcastle United and Universitario de Deportes stopper Mark Cook signed for Spartans and Grant feels that competition for places can only be seen as a positive for those competing for a place in Tom Wade’s lineup.

He said: “We’ve had plenty of good contenders for the goalkeeping position throughout the season, but thankfully I’ve managed to keep my place for the majority of the season, excluding my recent spell out with injury.

“Cookie has come in and is obviously a good keeper who has an impressive pedigree, but that only motivates me to work even harder and keep improving in order to hold on to the number one shirt.”

It’s safe to say Grant has experience many different changes during his brief spell with the club, none more so than in the managerial hotseat.

The recent appointment of Tom Wade as Spartans manager took Grant’s manager count to three after playing under Tommy Cassidy and Paddy Atkinson.

But the Carlisle born stopper revealed that along with the rest of the Spartans squad he was “delighted” to see Wade put in permanent charge going into next season.

Grant said: “The lads are delighted that the club have stuck with Tom and John for next season as they have brought a much more organized and professional approach already in the short time they have been at the helm.

“Having three managers in one season is never going to be a recipe for success and I think that has shown.

“What we need now is a bit of continuity and stability at the management level.”

He also went on to praise Keeper Coach Carl King, who returned to the club in February after a four month absence.

Spartans confirmed this week that the coach would be staying on at Croft Park next season and Grant is happy to benefit from the knowledge provided by King.

“Kingy is a huge influence for me at the club,” he said, “and I really missed him and that influence in the spell he was gone.

“Playing goalkeeper is a difficult and often lonely position so it is vital to have that figure on board who understands when you want to analyse something you did right or wrong and why that happened.”

When the appointment of Wade was announced Spartans chairman Tony Platten confirmed that the move was made with an eye on getting preparations right for next season.

Grant agreed with that point of view and feels it’s about time the players and the club in general gave the supporters reward for their loyalty during a testing season at Croft Park.

He said “We now must finish of this season well, but more importantly get things right for next season, so we can start to produce the goods on the pitch to get Blyth Spartans up into a position that the clubs size, prestige and most importantly supporters deserve.”