A trio of Non-League clubs were recognised by the scribes from the North East Football Writers Association at their annual awards night on Sunday.
Dunston UTS, Gateshead and Morpeth Town were all honoured alongside England and Manchester City captain Steph Houghton and Newcastle United duo Fabian Schar and Sean Longstaff.
Current Northern League champions Dunston received recognition for their impressive title win and for reaching the fourth and final qualifying round of the FA Cup.
After speaking on stage, manager Chris Swailes revealed his pride at seeing his club invited to the event.
— Mark Carruthers (@MarkCarruthers_) February 23, 2020
The Dunston boss told The Non-League Paper’s Mark Carruthers: “It’s great to be alongside some great guests and to go on stage to collect our award. It’s a fantastic football club and I am honoured to be part of it.
“We had a brilliant year winning the league last year and getting so close to the first round of the FA Cup and this just tops it off.”
Morpeth Town collected their award for a successful season too, the Highwaymen completing a BetVictor Northern Premier League South East Division and Northumberland Senior Cup double in their first ever campaign at Step Four of the National League System.
Highwaymen manager Nicky Gray told The NLP’s Carruthers: “We were here when we won the Vase in 2016 and nights like this show how far we have come as a club.
“To be alongside the likes of Dunston and Gateshead, and the other guests that are here tonight, it just shows that we are progressing as a club.”
— Gateshead FC (@GatesheadFC) February 24, 2020
While Dunston and Morpeth were recognised for the on-field success, Gateshead were honoured for the efforts made by everyone involved in saving the club from the threat of closure.
The haphazard tenure of former owner Dr Ranjan Varghese and his financial advisor Joseph Cala took the Heed to within 72 hours of going out of business.
But the combined efforts of the Gateshead Soul group, local businessmen and a number of officials and players ensured that the International Stadium outfit are still going strong this season in National League North.
Heed club captain Scott Barrow reflected on a “difficult year” and described his pride at seeing the club honoured at the awards night.
“It’s been well-versed what happened over the last 12 to 18 months and how close the club was to going,” explained the Welsh wing-back.
“There were times when it felt as if we wouldn’t have a club and it’s credit to the fans and a number of other people for keeping us going.”
He added: “It’s been great to be recognised here tonight and we are all very proud to be here. The future looks good for the club now and hopefully we can build on the foundations that have been put in place.”
The three clubs followed in the footsteps of the likes of Marske United, Spennymoor Town, Stockton Town and Darlington in attending the weekend’s prestigious annual awards.
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