Goalkeeper Paul Woolton is enjoying life at Croft Park and the Newcastle United stopper hopes to stay at Blyth Spartans for longer, once his initial 28-day loan spell is up.
The 18-year-old joined Spartans from Rafa Benitez’s Championship side last Friday and was described as “outstanding” by Blyth boss Alun Armstrong on his debut in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Barwell.
And Washington-based Woolston hopes to remain at the Evo-Stik Premier League club for the foreseeable future – as he acknowledges that the loan will no doubt help his development.
When asked if he is hoping his loan spell will be extended, Woolston replied: “It’s not my decision, but I know I can affect it with my performances on the pitch. I’d like to stay, but I’ve just got to see how my time goes and hope that Alun wants to keep me on.
“I want to do well at Blyth and I’m looking forward to it.
“It feels really good to be at Blyth, especially considering the size of the club. It’s going to be a good experience for me and it can only help my career in the long run.”
This loan isn’t the youngster’s first taste of Non-League football – as he enjoyed a month at Vanarama National League North side Darlington 1883 earlier this season – and Woolston enjoying the experience of “proper” football.
Woolston explained: “Playing at Darlington and then coming here, you learn that football at this level isn’t nicey nicey. It’s proper football and you’re playing for a reason.
“Academy football isn’t really played for anything other than development, whereas these lads are playing for their careers and win bonuses etc. They work during the day as well, which makes it even harder.
“Being in the academy is good, but I don’t think too many players would relish playing at this level. Once you come to teams like Blyth, that’s when you realise what football is all about.
“There’s more of a dirty side to the game, it’s stronger and it’s more physical. It gives you a bit of a culture shock compared to what you’re used to, but it’s great.”
After a debut to remember at Barwell, the young goalkeeper will hope to make his first home appearance in Saturday’s Buildbase FA Trophy tie against Halesowen Town. Woolston is hoping to help his side progress with another win this weekend and continue to repay his teammates for the tremendous welcome that they’ve shown him.
He said: “I’m certainly looking forward to playing at Croft Park on Saturday. I played there last season for Newcastle in the Senior Cup and I saw then just how good the crowd is.
“Hopefully, they’ll be the same again on Saturday – as it’s a big big game in the Trophy. If we can get a good run in that, then it only helps the club.
“They’re all good lads here and they’ve made me feel really welcome. In the changing room, on the bus and even out on the pitch, they’ve looked after me and it was nice to be able to repay them by helping them get the three points at Barwell.”