Former Sunderland man Ben Clark talks of promotion push with Gateshead

Ben Clark in his Sunderland days.
Ben Clark in his Sunderland days.
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GATESHEAD find themselves joint top of the Blue Square Premier at this tender stage of the season after an unbeaten start to the campaign from Ian Bogie’s men.

CHRIS YOUNG spoke to Heed skipper and former Sunderland defender Ben Clark about the aspirations at the International Arena.

There WILL be no boorish chanting of “We are top of the league” emanating from the away changing room at Fleetwood Town on Saturday.

A seventh victory out of eight on the bracing Lancashire coast could send Gateshead clear at the summit of the Blue Square Premier, yet they are predictably remaining grounded at their encouraging start to the season.

Given the International Arena is one of the most recognisable landmarks on the Great North Run course, Gateshead should be suitably aware that the season is a marathon, not a sprint.

But there is still a softly-spoken confidence among Ian Bogie’s side that this could be the year to end 50 years of exile from the Football League.

Despite a seven game winning streak in February, Gateshead never threatened to barge their way into the promotion picture last season – finishing 21 points adrift of the play-off spots.

But Bogie’s recruitment drive, coupled with the Conference’s two big hitters Crawley and AFC Wimbledon both now plying their trade in League Two, has fostered confidence that the Heed can sustain a promotion push.

Ex-Sunderland defender Ben Clark, now in his second season on Tyneside, believes the building blocks are in place to restore the North East’s quota of league clubs after Darlington joined Gateshead in the Conference just over a year ago.

Clark said: “There is no team that is an outright favourite for promotion. The best two teams went up last year, but now anyone can beat anyone. “

Read Chris Young’s feature in full in today’s Echo.