Gateshead continue to re-build squad

James Gordon

Gateshead have released seven of their 2009 squad as they continue their preparations for next season.

Stewart Sanderson, Jason Payne, Tabua CakaCaka, Robin Peers, Dave Vernon and Scott Woods have been told they can leave the club when their contracts expire at the end of November.

Luke Branighan, who was offered a two-year deal by Thunder, is set to join Halifax while Ben McAlpine informed the club of his intention to return to Australia earlier this season.

Chief Executive Rod Findlay said: “On behalf of everyone at Gateshead Thunder I would like to thank all of the 2009 Squad for the effort that they have put into the club’s first season in the Co-operative Championship. The club finished just below the play offs in 7th position but narrowly avoided relegation by points difference. The fact that there was such a fine margin of error shows that everyone’s input at whatever level was vital.

“To all of those players leaving the club at the end of the season I would like to thank them for serving the club with distinction in this and previous seasons. I would also like to wish them all the best with the rest of their careers. We hope to see them again at Gateshead International Stadium, where they will always be made welcome.”

The club are talking to existing players Danny Wilson, Neil Thorman and Ryan Clarke for next season, while Kevin Neighbour and Matt Barron have agreed to remain at the club in 2010.

Coach Steve McCormack is also hoping to announce two new signings for the 2010 season shortly, and the club are also waiting for final regulations from the RFL regarding loan signings and dual registration for next season.

The former Widnes and Whitehaven coach said: “We achieved our aim for 2009 which was to stay up and consolidate our position but this is the time for the club to kick on.

“I am glad that so many of the current squad are staying and I am looking forward to welcoming the new recruits when pre season starts at the end of November. We will hopefully have a very strong team.”

As well as the above, Thunder already have Dylan Nash, Andrew Henderson, Michael Knowles, Russ Aitken, Chris Parker, Nick Youngquest, Ryan McBride, Kris Kahler and Paul Franze signed up for next season.