Blyth Spartans have boosted their squad ahead of the Vanarama National League North campaign with the signing of Whitby Town’s prolific goalscoring midfielder Dale Hopson.
The Croft Park club have paid an undisclosed fee for the twenty four year, who scored over thirty goals for the Seasiders last season.
Despite spending much of the season in midfield, Hopson finished third in last season’s Evo-Stik Northern Premier League goalscorers, with only Stourbridge’s Luke Benbow and his new Spartans team mate Dan Maguire beating his twenty six goal haul.
Hopson handed in a transfer request at the Turnbull Ground earlier this month and after the two clubs agreed a fee, he completed a deal to take him to the Northumberland club on Saturday morning.
Shortly after putting pen to paper Hopson told the Spartans official website “Obviously, pre-season is already underway [but] I’m looking forward to getting started properly with the games. It’s a big club and a big step up for me from Whitby, so I can’t wait to get started.
“I think – from a playing point of view – when I spoke to Alun, I seemed to get the satisfaction that I needed [to sign for Blyth] from talking to him. I’m glad it’s all done and dusted now really.
“It doesn’t bring any pressure, I don’t think. I think it’s more flattering than anything, but – like I say – I’m just looking forward to getting going with the games.”
It’s been a relatively quiet summer for Spartans boss Alun Armstrong.
Hopson’s addition is only his second new signing of the summer, following on from defender Ian Watson returning to Croft Park from Spennymoor Town.
Last week Armstrong admitted that he had been hard at work since the season ended as he looks to strengthen his squad ahead of a testing season.
And that hard work has paid off with the signing of Hopson, and the former Middlesbrough and Stockport County striker revealed that he is a player he has always enjoyed watching.
Armstrong said “He scored over 30 goals in all competitions last season and he’s someone I was definitely watching. We knew he was dangerous and we haven’t really got a player like that as such.
“It’s cost a lot more than I’d have wanted to pay, to be totally honest, but that’s the current market and it appears to have taken off for some reason. For someone of his ability though, you have to pay to the money.
“The biggest thing for me is that he scored nine out of nine penalties last season, whereas we pretty much missed nine out of nine penalties!
“I’ve obviously spoke to ‘Macca’ [McTiernan] regarding this and his thoughts are that he’s a top player and he’ll fit in the side. He’ll not be like Luke [Armstrong] as such – where he’ll run in behind – but he’ll be a better link-up player, where he’ll be able to get in between the lines.
“We’ll be playing him higher up the pitch, whereas Whitby played him more midfield. We’d be playing him more as a ten, off ‘Nipa’ [Daniel Maguire] and creating opportunities for him that way.
“That’s where I see him; I don’t want to see him do what he did for Whitby and come deep to get the ball – as we’ve players that can do that already. Then again, even if he did, it would then be up to Sean Reid, ‘Macca’, Jordan Laidler or whoever else is playing at that time to get forward as well.
“He’s a really nice footballer, who can contribute a lot of goals. He has plenty of positions he can play in, but – again – ideally, he’d be playing off ‘Nipa’, because that’s how I’ve sold it to him and that’s where he wants to play.
“I should also say that the chairman and the executive committee have bankrolled the move, which is great – as they fully support us. I’d like to thank them for that, because they’ve put a lot of trust in me to buy players with that kind of money.”
Spartans Chairman Tony Platten added “The executive committee is fully supporting the manager to build the best possible squad for the coming season. Having two of last season’s top three Evo-Stik Premier League goalscorers in our squad will give us the best possible chance of making good progress in the Vanarama National League North this season.”
The Spartans kick off their pre-season schedule with a home game against Ebac Northern League club Newcastle Benfield on Tuesday 4th July.
Article: Mark Carruthers (@marknldaily)
Image: Blyth Spartans AFC