Gateshead’s Jon Mellish has been named as the best young player in Non-League football.
And it seems our award – sponsored by Sportsbeat – had an immediate effect on the youngster’s career with Carlisle United swooping for the centre-half’s signature on Wednesday, not even 24 hours after he had picked up his gong at Stamford Bridge!
South Shields-born Mellish, 21, models his game on Manchester City’s John Stones.
“Normally people who score the goals get the awards but it’s nice to be recognised as a centre-half,” he said. “I like to get on the ball and step in so that may have helped me stand out.
“I like John Stones, the way he gets the ball down and gets the play going. That’s the way I like to play.”
Mellish had been close to turning professional before, having been part of the youth set-up at Sunderland until he was 16. After he was released he set his mind on earning game time in men’s football as soon as he could.
His performances earned him call- ups for England C. And now he has honed his skills in Non-League, he believes others should do the same rather than standing still at academy level with professional clubs.
“Coming from Non-League makes you appreciate everything a bit more plus it makes you ready for men’s football” he said. “It stands you in good stead for climbing the leagues.”
Mellish, a product of Gateshead’s under-19s side, was one of the stars for the Heed this season as they finished ninth in the Vanarama National League – and he will always be grateful to them.
“People often say Gateshead is a sleeping giant and I think that’s right,” he added. “Gateshead fans have been terrific. It’s been hard for the players this year but it’s been even harder for the fans.
“I did not expect to get any recognition for what I’ve done this season.
“It gives you a great feeling. I’ve played in every league game which was something I was not expecting.
“To finish ninth was a big thing for us and we were unlucky to fall just short of the play-offs.
“I wish the club all the best.”