It was not the result Blyth Spartans striker Dan Maguire would have wanted as he marked his 250th appearance in Saturday’s match against Darlington, but the 25-year-old spoke to the Spartans’ website about his career to date.
‘Nipa’ has come along way since joining the club in September 2012 – signed by former Spartans boss Tommy Cassidy from Northern Alliance side Seaton Delaval at the age of 19 – making his debut just a few days after signing in the FA Trophy against Witton Albion.
His first Spartans strike came on the 8th January in the Doodson Cup against Stocksbridge Park Steels in a 5-3 win – coinciding with his 20th birthday.
“On my birthday it was great to get that goal. I’d missed some sitters and I know that, but I thought I hit it pretty well tonight and it was great to see it go in. It was a great ball in and once I got my first touch I knew what I had to do with it”. Dan Maguire, January 2013
Maguire made 26 appearances in his first half a season with Blyth Spartans, netting on seven occasions, and that was only the start for ‘Nipa.’ He also picked up two Port of Blyth Player of the Month awards and the Supporters’ Player of the Season award to end the 2012/13 season – as well as the Players’ Player of the Year award.
“It was a great start for me at Croft Park, coming in from Seaton Delaval, it was obviously a step up and it took me a couple of games to get used to level of football, but I felt like it went well, and I adjusted well.”
In 2013/14 Maguire made 50 appearances, scoring 27 times and assisting 19 times, helping Spartans improve from their 16th place finish during 2012/13, to an 8th place finish one year later. He once again picked up the Supporters’ Player of the Year award, also earning and England ‘C’ call-up for the first time.
“Of course, it’s an honour to be selected for England, but the main thing was for me to establish myself at Blyth and help us push up the table after a difficult couple of years.”
The 2014/15 season – under the stewardship of Tom Wade – was a season to remember for Spartans and Maguire. Two goals in the First Qualifying Round replay against Darlington FC – before adding to his FA Cup tally against Skelmersdale in the next round.
In a game Maguire at the time described as “the biggest game of his life,” ‘Nipa’ netted twice as Spartans defeated Altrincham in the FA Cup First Round Proper in a 4-1 victory. Spartans would famously go on to beat Hartlepool United in Round Two before going out to Championship Birmingham City 3-2 at Croft Park.
31 goals in the 2014/15 campaign – from 56 appearances – led Spartans to a 6th place finish in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier as the Croft Park side just missed out on a play-off berth.
“That was one hell of a season,” Maguire commented, “the FA Cup run is something very few players at our level will ever be apart of, playing on National TV against Hartlepool United is the stuff of dreams and then seeing Croft Park full when we took on Birmingham City, it was great, something I’ll always remember.”
A 2nd place finish in 2015/16 saw Maguire score 16 goals in 43 appearances, before a stunning 2016/17 season saw the 25-year-old score 37 goals as Spartans lifted the Evo-Stik Northern Premier title, as well as the Northumberland Senior Cup for a second time in his tenure.
“Everything clicked last season, the whole team atmosphere and the performances on the pitch were outstanding. We’d been threatening to win the league the last year or so – and to do it in the style we did with 101 points and winning by a massive margin was outstanding.”
His first campaign in the National League North started off in electric fashion as he led the league goal scoring charts until injury struck mid-way through the season. Now having returned, Maguire is looking to add to his 250 Spartans’ appearances and 132 goals.
“It’s time for us to push on and try and make the play-offs. We’re going through a tough spell at the moment and we’ve got to turn it around. We have the quality and the players to make the play-offs.
“I’ve spent the majority of my career at this club, and I’m really looking forward to what happens next, promotion to the National League would be a huge achievement for me and this club. I’m enjoying my football so long may that continue.”