Blyth Spartans under-19s were officially crowned as NLFA North Division champions on Wednesday afternoon as they received their winners’ medals and trophy at Croft Park which was presented by National League Head of Player Development Gary Owers.
Next to the first-team’s successful battle against relegation, the achievements of the under-19 squad were definitely the major success story of the 2022/23 season.
The youngsters won the National League North Academy Division when they defeated York City in their final league game of the season after coming from behind to beat the Minstermen 3-2.
Speaking after the final day victory over York City, first-team manager Graham Fenton said: “They all did the club amazingly proud not just today but across the whole season. It’s a magnificent achievement of all the players and Liv!”
Huge praise should not only go to the players but also to coach Liviu Cristea whose tactical awareness and attacking style of play made the youngster’s games a joy to watch.
Liviu enjoyed a playing career which included spells at Espanyol Barcelona, Steaua Bucharest and Dinamo Bucharest before he began his coaching career after injury cut short his playing time – he joined the club last summer and his impact has been immediate.
Many of the squad have been snapped up by Northern League clubs for next season as the players make the transition into adult football.
The club will definitely be monitoring their progress as they gain experience in the adult game and it would certainly be a warming accomplishment if some of them return to join the first-team squad in the next couple of years.
Next season promises to be just as exciting when our under-18s who finished as runners-up in the National Youth Alliance I Division step up to the academy division.