How £10m Dwight Gayle was marked out of game by Northern League defenders

Dwight Gayle may be a £10million striker hoping to become a Newcastle United folk hero, but there was a time when he couldn't get the better of a Northern League defence.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 1st July 2016, 7:27 pm
Updated Friday, 1st July 2016, 8:32 pm
Ben Cattenach and Dwight Gayle, right, when Stanstead took on Dunston
Ben Cattenach and Dwight Gayle, right, when Stanstead took on Dunston

Gayle signed for Newcastle today in a huge deal after Rafa Benitez identified him as the forward to propel the Magpies back to the Premier League.

The 25-year-old striker, like England and Leicester hero Jamie Vardy, began his career in non-league football.

Dunston's players celebrate after beating Stanstead

And it was with Stanstead that, as a teenager, he came up against Northern League side Dunston UTS in an FA Vase tie back in 2011.

Gayle, even then, was pinpointed as a 'star' player, not just because of his flashy boots and confident strut, but because of his pace and aerial ability.

Not that those attributes fazed the Dunston defence, who were among the meanest in non-league circles at the time, led by former captain Ben Cattanach.

They snuffed out Gayle's threat, winning the fifth round tie 2-0, and while UTS didn't go on to win the competition that season, two years later Cattanach and Co eventually won the Vase at Wembley.

Dunston's players celebrate after beating Stanstead

That game against Gayle, however, still sticks in the memory.

"Billy Irwin, our manager, had watched Stansted prior to the game and it was clear that he was the star man during the team talk," said Cattanach.

"At the time he could only have been 18 or 19. I remember he was small and skinny, had white flashy boots on and walked with a confident strut.

"I had to mark him on corners and he was surprisingly good in the air.

"There was talk of him carrying an injury before the game but he started sharp and had a few chances.

"From what I remember we scored quite early and then retreated to defend deep for the rest of the game, to prevent him running in behind us.

"Not having any space in behind stifled his game which was all about pace, a bit like Vardy."

Even though he didn't find the net that game, Gayle still left a lasting impression on the Dunston team.

And Cattanach now hopes the striker goes on to terrorise Championship defenders better than he did Dunston all those years ago.

"I don't remember him having a significant impact but he clearly had something about him," added Cattenach.

"I saw loads of promising youngsters playing football but not many went on to better things. I hope he does well for Newcastle."