By Jack McGraghan
Gateshead Soul Player of the Season Tom White says he’ll cherish the memories he and his team-mates have made as the 2018/19 National League season drew to a close on Saturday.
The Heed were tipped by many to be battling relegation before a ball had been kicked, but instead found themselves fighting for a shot at promotion to the Football League with Ben Clark’s side narrowly missing out on a play-off place.
White is one of many young players on Tyneside who grasped their opportunity with both hands, and the 21-year-old was handed the Player of the Season award at Saturday evening’s presentation by Gateshead Soul after making 46 appearances and netting three goals.
“We would have been over the moon [with a ninth-place finish],” said the midfielder.
“It’s not surprising to me because we’ve got a good team, obviously things off the pitch and players leaving has affected our end position because I think we had potential to go far.
“If you had offered us it at the start of the season we would have taken it and we can all be proud of ourselves, but I think there was potential to go a bit higher.”
White bounced back from an anterior cruciate ligament injury playing for the club’s under-19 side three years ago to nail down a key role in Gateshead’s senior line-up – as well as earning an England C call-up in in March.
Like many of his team-mates have reiterated throughout the season, the togetherness at the club proved integral to their success.
“Everyone has stuck together from the fans, to the players, to the staff,” he continued.
“We’ve created a real bond and we’ll probably all keep in touch for the rest of our lives I think.
“We’ve made loads of memories, we’ve had some ups and some downs but the togetherness of the lads is something really special.”
With the curtains now drawn on an eventful season on and off the pitch for the Heed, it could be the last time the players take to the field as a squad – something that heralds a bittersweet feeling for White.
“It’s a sad feeling, but that’s football I guess,” he added.
“We’ve just got to cherish the moments we’ve had together, we’ve played with no fear all season and it’s a special moment but obviously it is a sad one as well.
“I just can’t reiterate how much I’ve loved this season and how much love I’ve got for the club and the fans – it honestly means the world to everyone in the dressing room.
“We’ve done it the hard way and I wouldn’t change anything in that changing room and I wouldn’t change the fans for anything in the world, so I want to thank the fans because they’ve been brilliant.”