Ex-Newcastle defender Mike Williamson signs for Gateshead - and reveals why

Mike Williamson has returned to the North East
Mike Williamson has returned to the North East

Former Newcastle United defender Mike Williamson has returned to the North East to sign a one-year deal with National League club Gateshead.

The 34-year-old becomes the latest new addition to Steve Watson’s much-changed Heed squad that have started their league campaign with two wins out of two

Williamson has trained with the Gateshead squad for the last three weeks and appeared in the pre-season win at Blyth Spartans.

He put pen to paper on a one-year contract on Friday morning and is available for selection when Dover Athletic visit the International Stadium on Saturday.

Heed boss Watson revealed that Williamson will move back to the North East and explained that the former Magpies centre-back has bought into being part of a largely inexperienced squad.

“I explained to him how we’ve had our backs to the wall all summer, how we’ve built a young hungry squad and Mike bought into that straight away," said Watson.

“He was committed to living in Newcastle with his family long before we spoke, he’s got a lot of ties up here and it works out well for both parties.

“I know Mike has had offers from elsewhere over the summer and he’s certainly not here for any other reason, he wants to play for the football club.

“He believes in the process and what we’re trying to do, the only reason it hasn’t been done earlier was to get him playing competitive football as he hasn’t for a while.

“He’s been patient, he hasn’t demanded to sign I like the way he’s one about things and I think he’ll enjoy it here."

Williamson had a six-year stay on Tyneside between 2010 and 2016.

It was former Magpies manager Chris Hughton that took him to St James Park in January 2010.

He went on to play a key role in helping the Magpies secure promotion into the Premier League and was also part of Alan Pardew’s squad that qualified for the Europa League in 2012.

He left the club to join Wolves in January 2016 and spent last season with Oxford United.

He now returns to the North East to join Gateshead and admitted it feels like coming home.

“I feel like I haven’t left and it has only been a couple of years.

“I was speaking to my wife on the way up and said it feels like coming home again, it’s a nice feeling.

“My time at Newcastle was special, we spent six years here and we have roots here.

“It was the best spell of my career.

“The area, the fans, everything is fantastic and I had a good relationship with them.

“Everything fits with this move.

“I made the decision to move back based on family and met Steve (Watson) one afternoon and he presented exactly what the task was.

“He has passion, he has a fantastic career behind him and he understands what we have to do here and how difficult the task is”

Williamson becomes the most experienced player in the Gateshead squad and admitted he is comfortable with playing a senior role on and off the pitch.

“Part of being an experienced player is helping to develop players and that is where my main interest is.

“Making sure they are living right and playing right, making sure they are happy away from the pitch will produce results on it.

“It is the youngest group in the league and the manager has given me the freedom to have a big impact on and off the pitch.

“We have started well this season.

“It’s a young, hungry squad and they have shown what they are capable of doing.

“It is a long season ahead but we are an honest group and we are ready for the challenge”