Gateshead have been to Darlington today to train on the pitch ahead of their historic fifth round Challenge Cup tie on Saturday.
Thunder face Oldham at the Northern Echo Arena, home of Darlington FC, who have allowed Gateshead to train on the pitch today and tomorrow in preparation for the big game, which could see Gateshead reach the quarter finals of rugby league’s oldest competition for the first time.
A large number of the Thunder squad attended Darlington’s last home game of the season against Brentford a fortnight ago and were impressed with the facilities.
Gateshead born, Chris Parker stated: “I was really impressed with the facilities at the Northern Echo Darlington Arena. We looked at the players, fans and corporate areas and they are all top class. I am sure everyone will enjoy their day. Hopefully they will all see a Thunder win. It would be great to make even more history by making it to the Quarter Finals.
“It is a massive honour for me to play for my home town team but like everyone connected with the club we feel that Gateshead Thunder represents the whole of the North East. This is a great opportunity for us to showcase rugby league in another part of the region and we look forward to the traditional strong North East support from current Thunder fans and new fans alike.”
Durham lad, Matt Barron, who returned from injury in last week’s victory over Doncaster, is also looking forward to the tie.
He said: “I am from the Durham area and so it is great that Thunder are coming to this part of the region to play such a historic match. When the Finalists run out at Wembley at the end of August we will know that we have made history this season. A 5th Round tie is a great achievement for the club and a Quarter Final match would be an even bigger bonus.
“But we’re not dreaming of Wembley or the next round yet. We have a job to do on Saturday. This is my first Challenge Cup match this season after a frustrating injury and I just hope I get to play.[New Head Coach] Steve McCormack will be watching us all in training and we will all want to impress and get in the 17 man squad.”
New Head Coach Steve McCormack took the reins on Tuesday and this will be his first match in charge of Gateshead Thunder.