Following the departure of former Wales international John Cornforth, Evo-Stik Northern Premier League club Blyth Spartans have turned to their playing squad to appoint a new assistant manager.
Experienced midfielder Neal Hooks will step into the dugout alongside manager Tom Wade in what will be the twenty nine year old’s first coaching role.
Hooks is in his second spell at Croft Park, after initially joining the club from Ilkeston Town in 2009.
He left Spartans following their relegation from the Conference North in 2012, but returned months later when then-Spartans manager Tommy Cassidy brought him back to the club.
Hooks has also had spells with Ross County, Newcastle Blue Star and Australian club Sunshine George Cross during his career.
Now he moves into his first coaching role and that move delighted Spartans boss Tom Wade, although talking to the club’s official website he did admit to some surprise at Hooks’ interest in the vacant position.
He said “Neal has decided to go into management pretty early, and I think he’ll do well,” says Wade. “He came to see us last week asking if he could apply for the job. We were a little bit shocked, as he’s still classed as a player. He’s very keen, so let’s see if we can get a future Blyth manager out of the playing squad.”
Hooks believes that his new role can be of benefit to both himself and the club, stating his belief that his knowledge of the Spartans dressing will help him develop in the role.
He said “I know the club inside out and I know the people that are involved, but I also know the league as well and the level of football. I’ve worked for a lot of good managers and worked with a lot of good players. I think that a lot of it is knowing what the players want and how they operate, and I can bring a lot from that side of the game.”
However, thoughts of hanging up his boots are far from Hooks’ mind, as he confirmed he would still be available for selection throughout the season.
“I’ll still be very much a part of the playing staff as well.
“If we have any injuries or people are perhaps not performing to the level that they can, I’ll still be keeping myself fit and available for selection. But I’ll be focusing more on helping out Tom and being an assistant more than anything.”
Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Image: Blyth Spartans AFC