As he makes a return to EBAC Northern League club Whitley Bay, new manager Ian Chandler brings with him memories of a trophy-laden past.
After a three year gap, Chandler returns to a club where he found success as a player and in his previous spell as the Seahorses manager.
It was back in 1989 when a twenty one year old Chandler left the professional game following his release by Aldershot Town and moved into the non-league game with Whitley Bay.
He scored 120 goals in 260 games before leaving for Durham City and made a return to the Bay in 2001, following spells with the likes of South Shields and Blyth Spartans.
In May 2002 Chandler wrote his name into Bay folklore, as his extra-time header handed the club their first ever FA Vase win against Tiptree United.
A third spell at the club came in January 2004, with Sunderland born Chandler making his first move into management in a player-manager role.
A Northern League title was secured in 2007, before the club made FA Vase history, winning the trophy on three consecutive occasions between 2009 and 2011.
Chandler left the club in 2014 and took over as manager at another of his former clubs, Durham City.
Now he is back where many say he belongs and he is happy to be back at the club he has become synonomous with.
He said “I think I joined when I was twenty or twenty one, when I came out of the professional game, and I have been here ever since, barring three or four years maximum.
It has been a long time but I am pleased to be back at the club.
“I think it’s a mutual thing to see if we can sort things out. We aren’t in a mess, we just have too many games to play between now and the end of the season.
Two or three wins in a row will sort us out and put things right. If things go well then next year could be a very good year as well”
But what of those glory days that Bay supporters still bask in?
Memories that are, according to Chandler, “special times” and he expressed his desire to bring them back to North Tyneside.
“There are dozens of memories. The three years we won the FA Vase back-to-back were unbelievable, then the year we won the league on the last day of the season thanks to at win at Billingham Synthonia.
There were good trips in the Unibond League when I played alongside the likes of Kevin Todd, Paul Ferris and we had John Carver (pictured left) in the team back then. They were speical times and hopefully we can have more”
However, there is a long road back to those days, with the Seahorses languishing in nineteenth position in the Northern League table, albeit with six or seven games in hand on many of their relegation rivals.
Now tasked with helping the club escape the dreaded drop, Chandler admitted that relegation is a concern but is taking heart from their performances in his first two games in charge, single goal defeats against third place Morpeth Town and fourth place Newton Aycliffe.
“You have to be concerned about relegation, we can’t say otherwise because we are fourth bottom of the league.
Teams above us are winning, teams below us are winning.
As much as we have played two good games in my first two games here in Morpeth and Newton Aycliffe, who will both finish in the top six this season, we have given a good account of ourselves and we just need to work on the cutting edge and that final ball”
Survivors from their FA Vase triumph are few and far-between, with only Craig McFarlane and Callum Anderson remaining from their 2011 Final victory over Coalville Town.
After a week of assessing his squad Chandler revealed that he is “pleasantly surprised” by the standard of players he inherits from former manager Paddy Atkinson.
“It doesn’t take too much in terms of changes to get us back to where we were I think. The last two games we have lost 1-0, there is some work to be done but we have a good core of players, I am quite pleasantly surprised by it.
We had similar at Durham, a young team and Whitley Bay is the same right now.
The “older players” are twenty five or twenty six, people like Callum Anderson, Richard Flynn and Chris McDonald.
I don’t think we are far away though”
Interview: Mark Carruthers