Matthew Crichton: Ex-Newcastle defender Mike Williamson has been in charge of Gateshead since 2019 - how would you summarise his tenure in charge so far?
David Gaddess: Mike has been a revelation since arriving at the club, first as a player then as manager, along with his assistant Ian Watson, they have cultivated a young hungry side that plays attractive football.
It has been said by many that he is the best manager we have had in many a year if not the best ever, a league championship and Wembley appearance for a club our size is unbelievable.
MC: The Heed finished 14th in National League last season, how did fans view that achievement?
DG: Last season was a real tail of two halves, the first half was riddled with injuries, we had about 10 players out at one time and for a club with a small squad it was always going to be an uphill battle when you had money men like Wrexham in the same league.
That said just before Christmas we got players back and Mike and Ian used the loan market very well, which saw us become the form side behind Wrexham and Notts County during the last few months of the season.
MC: Gateshead also got to the FA Trophy final last season, were they were defeated 1-0 by Halifax - how was your experience of Wembley?
DG: Wembley was amazing, not as bittersweet as our playoff final defeat in 2014, this was a celebration of how far the club had come in such a short space of time.
We went to the game with 13 senior outfield players, as lots of the loan players I mentioned in the previous question had already been cup-tied before the loans started.
But we gave it everything and only tasted defeat to a goal we gifted them, they couldn’t break us down.
MC: In terms of players, there are a few ex-Sunderland lads involved, how was Kenton Richardson performed at the club so far?
DG: Kenton was an under the radar signing, having been on loan at Spennmoor the season previous.
Since he arrived he has grown from strength to strength, and his England C call-up as was a sign of his development.
MC: Stephen Wearne left Grimsby last season to drop back into the National League with Gateshead, were you delighted to see the tricky playmaker sign a new deal?
DG: If I’m honest I didn’t believe Wearne would extend his stay at the Heed, as his display after he arrived was formidable, goals, assists and beautiful on the eye.
Those displays had me believing he would be back in the EFL this season.
That said the manager is building something special here and it’s great to see players wanting to buy into that, and being a local lad makes it even better.
MC: The last of your trio of ex-Sunderland players is Jordan Hunter, what are you expecting from him following his successful time with South Shields?
DG: Jordan is a player I’m excited to see, his move to Shields proved he is hungry to play as I believe he was offered terms at SAFC, but chose to play first-team football.
Now he is making a step up to the National League I expect nothing but the same drive from him in a Gateshead shirt.
MC: Aside from Hunter, who else have Gateshead brought in this summer?
DG: In earlier questions, I mentioned the loan market that we used to great effect, well the two players that a difference in midfield became available on a free transfer. Ed Francis and Callum Whelan have joined permanently.
Both players are very good on the ball and like to keep it moving, while also having the work rate Mike and Ian demand from their squad.
MC: In addition to the above-mentioned, who could cause Sunderland problems?
DG: Our captain Greg Olley is always dangerous when given space, he can pick a special pass out to the wings or through the middle, where often you will find Adam Campbell making stealthy runs on the defensive blind side.
MC: Lastly, for a bit of fun, what is your prediction for the final score?
DG: If I’m totally honest, the score doesn’t matter to me in a game like this, what I want is for Gateshead to give an honest account of ourselves.
It would be great if some Sunderland fans enjoy our display and take in some games next season when Sunderland aren’t playing.
Add to this a great crowd, it’s games like this that can help Gateshead set up our season financially.
Lastly, if anyone can not make the game we at the Heed Army Podcast provide full match commentary for home games, so we would love you to join us.