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.
Another young defensive signing from the summer of 2017, Theo Vassell joined the Tynesiders following a successful trial period. The former Stoke academy player spent the previous season on loan at Chester from Walsall and was part of a Lions defence that recorded seven straight National League clean sheets between September and October 2016. The right-back coincidentally made his professional league debut at the International Stadium for Chester, but for him it was one to forget, as the Heed secured a 3-0 victory.
Welsh left-back Scott Barrow signed for Gateshead in June 2017 following a season at Southern Premier side Merthyr Town after previously impressing in League Two with Newport County. A Swansea City youth player, Barrow left the Liberty Stadium outfit in 2006 and honed his trade with Port Talbot Town and Tamworth over a seven year period before switching to Macclesfield Town in 2014 where he was later named in the Conference Premier Team of the Year.
Scottish centre-back Fraser Kerr signed a contract with the Heed in July 2017 after spending the past two seasons in the Scottish League One with Cowdenbeath and Stenhousemuir respectively. The Birmingham City youth graduate didn’t make a first-team appearance for the Blues before he moved back north of the border to Motherwell. The 6ft 2in defender and former Scotland Under-21s international then went on to make 66 appearances for the Well between 2012 and 2015, scoring one goal as he helped them to back-to-back runners-up finishes in the Scottish Premiership.
Byrne joined Gateshead from National League rivals Macclesfield Town ahead of the 2017/18 season. The Irish defender progressed through Nottingham Forest’s youth academy before joining Rochdale in 2012. However the young defender made just three league appearances for the Greater Manchester club between short loan spells at Barrow and Southport. A successful spell at Telford United then followed before he was snapped up by the Silkmen, with whom he helped reach the FA Trophy final in 2017. Named as Gateshead club captain ahead of the 2017/18 National League season.
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.
Young defender Danny Burns joined the Heed from Buxton in September 2016 and spent the remainder of the 2016/17 season with the Bucks. An imposing centre-half, Burns linked up with Buxton after being released by Cambridge United in the summer of 2016. He spent much of the 2015/16 campaign out on loan, taking in spells with Bishop’s Stortford, Cambridge City and Lowestoft Town. Now Burns will be hoping to make an impact during his first season on Tyneside.
After a successful season for the Gateshead Under-19s side, the full-back made his first team debut in the final game of the 2016/17 National League season. Shortly after, he was offered a professional contract with the club.
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.
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.
Midfielder JJ O’Donnell completed a remarkable comeback from injury as he featured in the Gateshead starting XI for the first time in two and a half years at the back end of the 2016/17 season. His impressive displays in the final four matches of the season saw him awarded with a one year contract at the club. O’Donnell initially signed for Gateshead on loan from Luton Town in January 2014 and helped the club reach the Conference play-off final at Wembley. His stoppage time goal against Grimsby Town in the play-off semi-final at the International Stadium is sure to live long in the memory of many a Heed fan and following the end of his loan spell, the then 22-year-old signed for the Tynesiders on a permanent basis. A rare foot condition then threatened an early retirement for the left-sided player but plenty of hard work, support and determination literally helped O’Donnell get back on his feet with Gateshead keeping him involved through the role of kit manager – a position at the club he still holds today.
Veteran playmaker Russell Penn signed permanently for Gateshead following the end of the 2016/17 season. The former York City and Cheltenham Town captain spent the first half of that season at the International Stadium on loan from Carlisle United before agreeing a deal with Wrexham until the end of the campaign. The 31-year-old opted to return to the North East and with approximately 300 appearances in the Football League under his belt, no player in the Heed squad is more experienced.
Industrious midfielder Kieran Green joined Gateshead from Hartlepool United on a permanent basis after spending a brief loan spell on Tyneside that was cut short due to injury. Green made his first and only start during his temporary spell with the Heed in the 2-0 defeat at Dover Athletic in April 2017. One month later Gateshead offered him a one year deal following his release from Pools. The Stockton born youngster has also spent time on loan at Spennymoor Town and Frickley Athletic.
After initially being released by the club as a teenager after suffering an ACL injury during an Under-19s match in February 2016, White demonstrated remarkable tenacity by continuing to train with the club and eventually earning himself a professional contract just over one year later. He made his National League debut in April 2017, coming off the bench in a 2-0 defeat at Dover Athletic.
Towering forward Richard Peniket is another former Halifax Town man brought in by their former manager Neil Aspin. Snapped up by Fulham as a teenager, Peniket spent the early part of his professional career on loan at various Football League and National League sides prior to a move to Tamworth in 2013. A season later, the former Wales Under-21 international joined Halifax Town, where he would go on to score two vital National League North Play-off goals to help the Shaymen return to the fifth tier in 2017.
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 proficient target man who reached double figures in both the 2014/15 and 2015/16 campaigns while at Lincoln City and Halifax respectively. He then netted eight times in his first half-season at Gateshead.
Former Scotland Under-19 international Jordan Preston became the Heed’s eighth summer signing in 2017 when he penned a one-year deal following the end of his contract at fellow National League side Guiseley. The youngster netted seven times for the Lions in the 2016/17 season as they escaped relegation on the final day. A graduate of Blackburn Rovers’ academy, Preston has also spent time on loan at Scottish League side Ayr United.
Athletic frontman Bell put pen to paper on a two-year deal at the International Stadium in June 2016, 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. Bell netted twice for the Heed in 2016/17 and was awarded the club’s Player of the Month in January 2017. He has since spent time on loan at Chester City for a second time before returning to the International Stadium at the start of 2018.
Young forward Macaulay Langstaff signed a deal with the Heed from Northern League Division Two side Billingham Synthonia in February 2017. Langstaff was loaned back to the Synners for the remainder of the 2016/17 season and was instrumental in helping them to a third place finish and promotion to Northern League Division One.