By Stephen Burton
After a summer of change, the Lee Clark era is set to begin this Saturday as Blyth Spartans face Gloucester City in their season opener at Croft Park.
Clark’s arrival early this summer has led to a whole host of new faces brought to the club, and many have hit the ground running during pre-season.
Spartans have helped themselves to nine wins in 10 games, culminating in an impressive victory over Aberdeen XI last Sunday in the Texo Challenge Trophy.
There will also be a bucket collection at Croft Park on behalf of the Justin Edinburgh Foundation, a charity set up in memory of Leyton Orient’s late head coach who tragically passed away in June, aged just 49.
Spartans face a Gloucester side who finished 17th in National League South and desperately struggled for goals, managing only 35 over the course of the season.
Despite this, the Tigers were impressive on the road and managed nine wins away from home to keep themselves safe from relegation.
The club also received a boost in the off season, with plans approved for a new stadium which could see them return to Gloucester after over 10 years away from home.
Mike Cook has been in charge at the club since January when the club were on a miserable 17 game winless run and second from bottom in the league. Cook oversaw an impressive upturn in form which saved the Tigers from relegation, as well as securing himself the Manager of the Month award for April.
Initially having just signed until the end of the season, the club’s impressive form meant Cook was kept on for the 2019/20 campaign.
Striker Fabian Robert popped up with several vital goals last season and grabbed himself the Player of the Month award in April alongside his boss. The former French under-20 international originally signed on loan from Forest Green last season but has since signed permanently, and no doubt will be looking to continue from where he left off last campaign.