Former Newcastle United stars set to celebrate historic title win
Former Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson has led Gateshead back to non-league’s top tier after a three-year absence.
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Seeing a player clad in black and white proudly lifting silverware above their head in front of jubliant supporters will hopefully become a regular occurance on Tyneside over the coming years.
But that emotional scene is exactly what will be played out at Gateshead’s International Stadium on Saturday afternoon as they Heed celebrate their National League North title win.
Managed by former Magpies favourite Mike Williamson, Gateshead have battled back from almost going out of business three years ago and are now looking stronger than ever after securing a return to non-league’s top tier.
Their title triumph was all but confirmed by a 2-2 draw at play-off contenders Chorley - but they were officially declared as champions moments after the full-time whistle when news second-placed Brackley Town had only taken a point from their visit to Hereford.
Coincidentally, it will be Hereford that will provide the opposition at the International Stadium this weekend as the Heed get their hands on silverware after claiming their first league title since a Northern Premier League triumph in 1996.
The man given the honour of lifting the National League North champions trophy will be Heed captain Greg Olley - a player that came through the ranks at Newcastle and trained alongside the likes of Cheik Tiote, Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye during his time on the other side of the River Tyne.
An emotional Olley reflected on a remarkable season and revealed his pride at leading the club back to the National League.
He told Newcastle World: “It’s emotional seeing the supporters, the players and the volunteers celebrating together.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling to know we are back where we started and where I started this journey.
“I’m very proud because this is an unbelievable set of lads to work alongside.
“The fans, the coaches, the volunteers, it’s just a special club.
“We’ve all pulled together to make it happen and it’s just so special.”
Plans are already underway to celebrate the title win in style at the International Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Heed hierachy are anticipating a larger attendance that they hope will set new records as Williamson and his players get their hands on silverware following the game.
But once the celebrations subside, focus will quickly turn towards preparing Olley and other former Magpies players like Owen Bailey, Adam Campbell and Jack Hunter taking on the likes of Scunthorpe United, Oldham Athletic and Southend United in next season’s National League.
Despite coming face-to-face with a whole host of former Football League clubs, the Heed skipper believes his side can shine at a higher level as they look to prove themselves once again.
He said: “We know what we are capable of and we have shown what we can do.
“I think some people put us down because it’s Gateshead and they write us off.
“They’ve been proved wrong many a time before and we’ve proved them wrong with what we have done this season.
“I think our team could have competed at the level above and we know we can compete at that level.
“It’s down to us to show that next season.”
Gateshead have confirmed Saturday’s game will be all-ticket for supporters wishing to sit in the Tyne and Wear Stand at the International Stadium.
More details can be found via the club website here.