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.
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.
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.
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.
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 experience under his belt, no player in the Heed squad is more experienced.
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.
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. And after some impressive displays for the Heed first team over the course of the 2016/17 season, Hannant signed his first full-time professional contract with the club.
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.
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, helping them to a third place finish and promotion to Northern League Division One.
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 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.