Paddy McLaughlin is hoping a fresh-faced Gateshead side can follow the lead of this year’s Vanarama National League champions Cheltenham Town.

Gary Johnson’s troops clinched an immediate return to the Football League with two games to spare, ending the season 12 points clear of second-placed Forest Green Rovers.

Boss Johnson overhauled the Robins’ squad last summer, bringing in 14 new players ahead of their first campaign back in the non-league game.gheadlogo

It was to work a treat, as Cheltenham racked up a staggering 101 points en route to the title, having never been out of the top-two since September.

Gateshead, meanwhile, ended the season a distant ninth, beaten 17 times in the National League while conceding a whopping 70 goals.

Boss Neil Aspin has been quick to ring the changes, with McLaughlin one of only four players to be offered new terms at the International Stadium.

The 25-year-old duly penned a two-year deal last week, having struck five times in 41 appearances in his maiden season on Tyneside.

Despite a turbulent end to the campaign, McLaughlin feels there is much to be excited about at the International Stadium, and believes the new-look Tynesiders can draw inspiration from the Robins’ exploits this term.

He said: “You look at Cheltenham, and they’ve just been relentless.

“Even when they’ve slipped up, they’ve always bounced back. They’ve been hard to break down and hard to beat.

“They have been consistent – and that’s what we have to strive to be.

“We have produced some unbelievable performances this season, and we’ve picked up some great results, especially on the road.

“But we’ve let ourselves down with some really poor performances and some really poor results.

“So, if we can find some middle ground – and find some consistency – then hopefully we’ll be challenging at the right end of the table.

“It’s sad to see a lot of players move on – we had a good bond, and we’re talking about people’s livelihoods.

“But, it’s nice to know I’m a central figure in the manager’s plans.

“It’s exciting to see what’s going to happen – I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on which new faces are brought in this summer.

“There are going to be a lot of new arrivals, and hopefully we can really build something.”

It wasn’t until July last summer when McLaughlin finally secured a one-year deal at the International Stadium, having been released by Grimsby Town two months earlier.

And this time out, the former Northern Irish U21 international is grateful to have his long-term future taken care of.

He said: “I came to Gateshead on trial and got myself a deal, but it was getting towards mid-July by the time I was all sorted, and that uncertainty is never easy to live with.

“So, to have it all done this year, I can go away and enjoy my summer and come back ready to hit the ground running.

“A two-year deal gives me a bit of security, and it suits both myself and the club.

“If I go and have an unbelievable season next year, I can’t just walk off into the sunset for no money.

“Personally, I’d say I’ve had a decent season, especially from November onwards when the new gaffer came in.

“One of my aims was just to get back playing again to show people what I can do, because I hadn’t had a lot of game-time at Grimsby.

“I’ve done that, but the season as a whole was a bit of a disappointment, because we didn’t have any success in the end.

“We got very close to Wembley in the Trophy and ran reasonably close to the play-offs for a long time, but just missed out on both.”


Follow us on Twitter

Contact Us

Editor: Chris Brookes
t: 0191 442 1001
HYPoint, Saltmeadows Road, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear. NE8 3DA

Get in touch

3 + 7 =

© 2021 Baltic Publications Limited