Blyth Spartans have appointed a new head Coach.
Paddy Atkinson has left Northern league Bedlington Terriers and joined the Spartans for their first Evostik Northern Premier League campaign. Wickham born Atkinson, who had two spells at Croft Park as a player, commented: “I was fortunate enough to be involved in many successes at Welfare Park but felt it was time to move on from the Northern League. I had a great time with the Terriers and wish their management team of Keith Perry and Neil Saxton all the best.”
42 year old Atkinson started his playing career at Sheffield United after trials with West Bromwich – to whom he travelled with Alan Shearer, fell through. He then moved on to Hartlepool where he scored two goals as an 18 year old centre forward on his debut. Following spells at Gateshead and Barrow he got a call from Kevin Keegan at Newcastle in the mid 1990s asking him to go for a trial. He scored in games at Liverpool and Everton and spent two and a half years in the Magpies reserve side playing alongside Steve Watson and Lee Clark.
When the St. James’ reserve side was dropped Atkinson moved to York City for three and a half years before being transferred to Scarborough. Financial troubles at the Yorkshire club saw him move to Blyth before an offer to return to the full time game at Queen of the South where he won the 2nd Division Championship and the Bells’ Scottish Cup.
Aged 34 he began coaching with the Scottish side. Returning to the north east he coached at Durham and Benfield where, as assistant manager, he won four trophies in four seasons.
His extensive playing and coaching experience (he holds a Uefa B badge) will be invaluable at Blyth.
“Having played at centre forward and later in my career in midfield and left and right back I understand the different elements of a team’s structure,” he said. “I like to use that experience when, in coaching sessions, I put a forward in defence so he can learn how to play to outwit them and vice versa.
“My philosophy is not to worry about the opposition – let them worry about you. I like to play an attacking game as long as you are tight at the back. I don’t go for prolonged passing along the back four and midfield only to lose the ball. I prefer getting it to the wingers and up front.
“Organisation and building an understanding is key in a team and that is something I think I can help with at Blyth – alongside the levels of fitness. This is something to work on in pre-season. Even at my age I’ll be participating in all the preseason work which the players will have to do!”