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Newcastle United U23 v Blyth Spartans: Northumberland Senior Cup Final

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Fan Focus: Chatting with an old marra ahead of Sunderland v Blyth Spartans this afternoon!

Ahead of Sunderland’s first pre-season friendly, we spoke to Blyth Spartans media assistant (and ex-Roker Reporter!) Niall Bromley to get the lowdown on Terry Mitchell’s side...

Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Matthew Crichton: In Blyth’s Twitter bio, it says “the most famous non-league football team in the world” - what is the reasoning behind that?

Niall Bromley: Until Lincoln did it in 2018, Blyth were the only non-league team to get to the quarter final draw of the FA Cup, losing to Wrexham at a sold out st. James Park - that was back in 1979, and since Blyth have reached the third round twice.

So we are known as a bit of a cup team!

MC: This will be Sunderland’s first match of pre-season, where are Blyth in terms of being up to speed?

NB: We came back to training last Tuesday and have had two sessions since, so it’s still very much early days, it will be four sessions in total by the time the game comes round.

MC: Sunderland have been fairly quiet in the transfer window so far, have Blyth brought in some new players?

NB: We’ve managed to tie up 13 of the 15 players we offered renewals to at the end of the season, and we’ve since signed Michael Richardson from Hebburn and Alex Nicholson from Gateshead.

Both players have played for us in the past so they know what it’s all about, I suspect there will be at least 3 new faces in before the season starts!

Newcastle United U23 v Blyth Spartans: Northumberland Senior Cup Final
Terry Mitchell guided Blyth to victory over Newcastle in the Northumberland Senior Cup Final back in May.
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

MC: Back in November 2021, ex-Consett manager Terry Mitchell was appointed as Blyth’s boss and steered the club away from relegation, are you excited to see him have a full season in charge?

NB: Terry has been very good since he joined the club, picking up wins against 3 of the top 6 including champions Gateshead, so I’m very much looking forward to seeing how it will be this season with his own squad and a full pre season behind him.

MC: In the National League North, Spartans are up against the likes of Darlington and Spennymoor, what are your expectations for the new season?

NB: I think Blyth underperformed last season, the expectation was to be at least mid table, and I think that is the expectation again this year, with the talent and experience we have, we should be looking at a top half finish.

MC: Can we expect to see any former Sunderland players lineup for Blyth?

NB: Danny Barlow who we signed from Whickham was in Sunderland’s academy until he was 16, and left back Michael Liddle was an academy graduate from Sunderland back in 2008 - he’s currently enjoying his second spell at the club.

MC: Sunderland loaned defender Patrick Almond to Blyth last season, would you welcome more reserve players joining the club on loan again this season?

NB: Of course, Paddy was tremendous for Blyth, Sunderland have always had an excellent academy and if we can get more like Paddy then that would only be a positive for the club!

Newcastle United v Sunderland: Premier League 2
Before being released this summer, Patrick Almond made 24 appearances on loan from Sunderland, scoring once.
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

MC: In terms of style of play, how does Mitchell set up his side?

NB: He likes to play out from the back, keep the ball down and pass and move, he liked to change his system depending on who we play, But I think we will see more consistency with his system this year now he has a full pre season.

MC: I imagine both sides will mix their teams up, so which players do you think can cause Sunderland problems during the match?

NB: JJ O’Donnell was Blyths top scorer last season with 15 from midfield, and some of the goals were pretty spectacular! He’s a fan favourite and loves it at Blyth, so I think he could cause some problems on Saturday!

MC: Lastly, what is your honest prediction of the final score?

NB: Well it’s only a 60 minute game and it’s so early in pre-season, so I’d expect a low scoring Sunderland win, either way it will be a good run out for both teams.


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