Montgomery returned to his native North East from Telford United when he agreed a one-and-a-half year deal at Gateshead in January 2017. A relative of Sunderland FA Cup winning goalkeeper Jim Montgomery, James spent the early part of his career at Middlesbrough’s academy before moving to Guiseley in 2013. The highly-rated young stopper then spent time at the Nike Academy prior to joining Telford in 2015.
Hanford put pen to paper on a one-year deal with the Heed in August 2016, following his release by League Two side Carlisle United. Born in Swansea, Hanford moved to Rochdale as a teenager, only to find his first-team opportunities limited at Spotland. A spell with the Glenn Hoddle Academy in Spain followed, before Hanford returned to England with Hereford United. After two years at Edgar Street, the ‘keeper took in a season with Maltese outfit Floriana before linking up with Carlisle in 2014.
Youngster MacDonald signed first-team terms with the Tynesiders in the summer of 2015, having played a handful of games for the club’s U19 side the season prior.
Right-back Bolton agreed a three-year deal with Gateshead just days after helping FC Halifax Town to FA Trophy glory at Wembley in May. The 23-year-old had been brought to West Yorkshire by former Shaymen boss Neil Aspin, joining on loan from Macclesfield Town late in the 2013-14 campaign. After making his switch a permanent one, he went on to make more than 80 appearances for the club before leaving to reunite with Aspin at the International Stadium.
Left-sided defender Smith joined the Tynesiders from hometown club Barnsley in June. The 20-year-old came through the ranks at Oakwell, making his first-team bow in a 1-0 defeat to Preston North End in December 2014. He went on to make over 40 appearances for the Tykes at first-team level, a virtual ever-present in the first-half of the 2015-16 campaign. Smith also took in a short loan spell at Crawley Town last term, figuring four times for the Red Devils.
Smith put pen to paper on a two-year deal at the International Stadium following his release by Wrexham in May. A centre-half by trade, the 27-year-old came through the ranks at Walsall, making over 150 appearances for the Saddlers at first-team level before moving to Notts County in 2012. After two years at Meadow Lane, he linked up with Wrexham, where – impressively – he played every single minute of the Dragons’ 2014-15 campaign. He almost repeated the trick last time out – missing just two games as Gary Mills’ side posted an eighth-place finish in the Vanarama National League.
Manager Neil Aspin moved quickly to land versatile defender Hogan from Tranmere Rovers following completion of the 2015-16 campaign. The 27-year-old had previously played under Aspin at FC Halifax Town between 2010 and 2013, winning two promotions with the Shaymen before leaving for Fleetwood Town. After turning out for the Cod Army 24 times, he linked up with Tranmere via a brief loan spell with Macclesfield Town. Though he began his single season at Prenton Park as an ever-present, Hogan was restricted to just 18 appearances for Rovers after suffering a knee injury in November.
Fyfield became the third former Wrexham player to sign for Gateshead ahead of the 2016-17 campaign, turning down a new deal at the Racecourse Ground to move to the North East. Comfortable at left-back or as a centre-half, the 27-year-old had previously played under former Gateshead boss Gary Mills at York City, earning promotion to the Football League with the Minstermen in 2012. He dropped back into the fifth-tier to join Grimsby Town in January 2014, and spent the following season with Welling United before linking up with Mills for a second time at the Racecourse Ground.
Neil Aspin’s first permanent signing as Gateshead boss, York linked up with the Tynesiders following his release by Wrexham in May. The winger was an almost ever-present for the Dragons during his two-year stay at the Racecourse Ground, finding the net 18 times in 90 appearances all told. Originally from Leicester, York first made a name for himself at Nuneaton Town, winning promotion to the National League with the Boro in 2012 before following manager Kevin Wilkin to North Wales.
Hugely versatile, Brundle joined the Tynesiders from Vanarama National League rivals Braintree Town in June. Comfortable in central midfield, behind the striker or at full-back, the 21-year-old took in spells at Millwall, Cambridge United and Yeovil Town as a youngster before linking up with Bristol City midway through the 2013-14 campaign. A move to Cressing Road followed, where Brundle made 87 appearances over the course of a two-season stay. All three of Brundle’s goals last time out came in the closing month of the season, including a close-range strike against the Heed at the International Stadium.
Livewire winger Ajala swapped Torquay for Tyneside ahead of the 2016-17 campaign after turning down the offer of a new contract at Plainmoor. Born in London, he earned a move to Bristol City in 2012 after catching the eye for Hayes & Yeading United. Ajala made two appearances for the Robins at first-team level, taking in loan spells with AFC Wimbledon and Cheltenham Town before joining Welling United in January 2014. He moved to Torquay that summer, briefly switching to Dover Athletic the following year before returning to Devon.
Teenage winger Wrightson put pen to paper on an 18-month deal with the Heed in January 2016. A product of the club’s link-up with Gateshead College, Wrightson had broken into the first-team just three months earlier, having made a telling impact for the Tynesiders at U19 level. After making his debut in an FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round defeat to Worcester City, Wrightson chipped in with a number of assists before seeing his maiden season cut short by a shoulder injury.
A powerful central midfielder, Mafuta agreed a new one-year contract with the Tynesiders following a hugely impressive end to the 2015-16 campaign – his first at the International Stadium. A Londoner by birth, Mafuta started out with Colchester United before moving to Bristol City as a teenager. There, he captained the club’s U21 side before taking in a short loan spell with Nuneaton Town, where he was to emerge as a key figure. Following his release by the Robins, he linked up with the Heed following a successful trial period.
Young winger Hannant agreed non-contract terms with Gateshead in August 2016, following a successful trial period at the International Stadium. Originally from Norwich, Hannant spent the 2015-16 campaign with Northern League Division Two side Team Northumbria.
Capped by Northern Ireland at U21 level, McLaughlin linked up with Gateshead ahead of the 2015-16 campaign, following a successful trial period at the International Stadium. Having started out at Newcastle United, McLaughlin first made a name for himself at York City between 2011 and 2013, a virtual ever-present as the Minstermen secured a return to the Football League in his maiden campaign at Bootham Crescent. Two seasons with Grimsby Town followed, where the midfielder racked up more than 60 appearances before returning to the North East.
23-year-old Johnson struck 15 goals for the Heed during the 2015-16 campaign – his first at the International Stadium. The frontman was on the books at both Middlesbrough and Hartlepool United as a youngster, before taking in a spell with Spanish third-tier side Real Murcia. A prolific year with Guisborough Town followed, enough to earn Johnson a move to Championship giants Cardiff City. After finding his opportunities limited in South Wales, he linked up with the Tynesiders via loan spells with Tranmere Rovers and Stevenage.
Sheffield born forward Jordan Burrow was signed in November 2016 from National League North side Halifax Town on a one-and-a-half year deal. As a striker who has scored goals at League One level with Stevenage before dropping down to the National League, Burrow is a capable striker who reached double figures in both the 2014/15 and 2015/16 campaigns while at Lincoln City and Halifax respectively.
Athletic frontman Bell put pen to paper on a two-year deal at the International Stadium in June, following his release by League One side Rochdale. Having come through the ranks at Spotland, Bell made a handful of appearances for Dale at first-team level, his first a cameo in a 1-0 win over Coventry City. He was loaned out to Droylsden and Chester last time out, figuring three times for the Blues in the Vanarama National League.