Former Redheugh Player BIO: Paddy Atkinson

We would like to introduce you to former Redheugh player Paddy Atkinson.  Below is his bio in his own words:

“Best move I ever made as a kid was to Redheugh Boys Club – they were like my 2nd Family”

Brought up in Whickham I was asked to join Redheugh Boys club at the age of 13/14. I knew of their history and players they coached so I couldn’t say No.

On my first visit I met some wonderful people Evan Bryson, Terry Ritson, Alan Blackburn, Alec McPherson, Tommy Leonard and Micky Hughes. You could see they had installed a respectful, hardworking and a winning mentality within the club. You could feel it every time you entered the premises, with cups on show and memorabilia from x players for all to see.

I remember playing with some great lads in the team, managed by Terry Ritson. Fantastic players with outstanding ability who wouldn’t fail to make it to the top in today’s modern game, with the likes of Alan Lamb, Ants Cullen, Gary Wright, Alan Dowson, Paul Barrett, Graeme Jones, Paul Dent, Billy Irwin and many more.

What sticks in my mind was playing in the Ayr International Tournament, where we played against schoolboy teams from many league clubs. I think we played Chelsea Boys in the final of the tournament and we never looked out of place with the talent we had. We won the Sedgefield Tournament which was a great achievement in itself, with so many good teams participating and won the league and cups for our age groups for many years.

We trained twice a week and everyone turned up as the club was like a 2nd family to everyone. Seppi did the warm-up. Military style and who can forget his wall stand, with bent knees 45 degrees for 2 minutes to strengthen the legs up. He would call you out if you didn’t do it right, it was pure agony Ha Ha Ha, before going outside in the school yard for the rest of the training session.

Players stayed until closing time, as it had table tennis tables, pool tables, a snooker table and tuck shop. Everyone wanted to win at everything as Redheugh boys club simply bred winners.

I remember coming to the boys club just about every night to play doors with the sponge ball in the school hall area. I was determined to beat the masters of the game Alan Lamb, Paul Barrett and Graeme Jones (Bonna). If I beat them, they would be down the next night for revenge, to win.

It was while at the boys club I started getting scouts from different league clubs knocking on my door. Newcastle Utd (Peter Kirkley) Sunderland, WBA, Sheffield Utd, Middlesbrough and many of the other players did too.

In the school holidays I would go on trials. At 13/14 (which wouldn’t happen now) I met up with Alan Shearer, Barry Wilson (Wallsend / Cramlington Boys), Alan Scur (Wallsend Boys) and Paddy Conway (Montague boys) at Central Station. We would travel to West Bromwich Albion, sharing digs during the trial period.

We all used to meet up again on the Newcastle Utd trials where I got the X52 bus from Whickham via Dunston where Paul (Gazza) Gascoigne used to get on. I’d walk up to St James Park with him as he was a Redheugh Boys lad, before getting the makeshift van/minibus to the Benwell training ground. The trials at Newcastle were a bit bland as their strategy was to sign big physical lads (ie Davie Halam) so Shearer and Wilson ended signing for Southampton and I went off to Sheffield Utd to sign school boy forms.

At 16, the legend Ian Portifield persuaded me to go to Sheffield Utd. I left school in May 1986 and went off to live in Sheffield in June 1986 to start my apprenticeship.

We had a decent team at Sheffield Utd playing in the Intermediate League. It included, Clive Mendonca, Chris Marsden, Mitch Ward, Dane Whitehouse and Simon Grayson. We ended up winning the league title in the first year, competing against a very good Newcastle Utd side who had Gazza, Joe Allen, Paul Stephenson, Kevin Scott, etc who ended winning the FA Youth Cup.

I went on a month’s loan to Hartlepool Utd to get physical experience before returning to the club, only to find out Manager Ian Portifield had left for Chelsea. Things at the club started to change when Billy McEwan took over. Players had to buy own food, military training sessions, running and long ball style. The legends of the club Keith Edwards, Peter Withe, Kevin, Arnott, Ken McNaught, Colin Morris, Peter Beagrie all wanted to leave and transferred out.

Results didn’t go Billy’s way so Danny Begara took over for a short spell before Dave Bassett came in. Bassett got me and Clive Mendonca in a room and basically said, “I want to bring in London players as they understand my philosophy and what I want but I will find you both new clubs.”

Clive went off to Doncaster then Rotherham and I went off to sign for Hartlepool Utd (1988) in the 4th Division (the 2nd Division as it’s known today).

Bob Moncur, John Craggs & Pop Robson were the management team at Hartlepool Utd and my first game as an 18 year old was V’s Lincoln City @ home as great lad Andy Toman was injured. I scored 2 on my debut. You never forget the feeling scoring on your debut in front of home fans. It what you dream of as a kid.

We had a good FA cup run that year and I was picked for the 2nd game V’s Bournemouth who were two Divisions above us. I remember Brian Honour scoring to make it 1-0 before Bournemouth scoring a dubious penalty to make it 1-1. I hit the post in the last minute and could have made Chairman John Smart 500,000 in TV revenue as we would have played Man Utd at home in the next round. Something he reminds me of even today, Ha Ha. We lost the replay 4 or 5-1…

We had some decent players in the team, Paul Baker, Rob McKinnon, Brian Honour, Joe Allon, John Tinkler, Russel Doig, Keith Knobbs, Tony Barratt, etc.

On the way to an away game V’s Cambridge Utd 6.00 am in the morning, I was travelling with Paul Baker and Rob Mckinnon and had a car crash. We hit black ice and a tanker. I cracked a bone in my leg and couldn’t play for 8 weeks. I lost my place in the team to a great lad Joe Allon.

With no car, I started travelling in with new signings Alan Lamb and Don Hutchison my old Redheugh Boys pals. Bob Moncur left the club and Cyril Knowles came in who eventually fell ill and passed away.

I remember my contract coming to an end and the club was being investigated by the Inland Revenue. The club couldn’t offer long contracts and offered me 3 months. I knocked it back as players weren’t getting their wages and signed for Gateshead FC in the Conference for Manager Dave Parnaby.  (1990/91).

We had some great lads at Gateshead, Derek Bell, Peter Harrison, Keith McNall, Paul Doolan, Tony Robinson, Rob Hulse and Neil Leonard.

After scoring on my Gateshead debut at the International Stadium, Dave Parnaby left 2/3 games into the season. Tony Lee came in and made it clear he wanted to bring players in from his Northern League winning side Billingham Synthonia, so I left to play for Barrow FC under Manager Ray Wilkie. (1990/91).

I used to travel across to Barrow for training with Ray Wilkie and the other players twice a week. What I great bloke Ray was. He loved his football and knew just about every player in non-league within the North-East. He won the FA Trophy at Wembley and the club had a buzz about the place.

I remember scoring one of my first goals against Gateshead FC in the local derby with Simon Smith in goal. Think we won 1-0 that day. Micky Farrey who is a good friend of mine from Whickham kicked lumps out of me that day Ha Ha but was nice to get the winner. I got a thigh strain and not one physio could make it better, so I went to see Redheugh’s old school physio Tommy Leonard and he put thigh right within 10 days. Magic fingers with his little fire in the physio room. Ha Ha.

Then Ray Wilkie took ill and passed away. It was one of the saddest days in football losing such a great man of his stature. The club changed overnight. Players were starting to come from Liverpool under Manager Jonny King and the North East players like Danny Wheatly, Paul Doolan, Paul Campbell, Robbie Vincent, Keith McNall, Gary Messenger all left. I was travelling to Barrow on my own and it was a long slog in the winter months going across to the lakes twice a week.

Manager Jonny King was good bloke, (a bit of a Liverpool gangster) who knew everyone and could get you anything you wanted and the players were top lads but I was getting a bit fed up at this time.

So many managers at such a young age. I just wanted to be settled at a club and enjoy my football again like I did at Redheugh Boys Club.

Alan Cook who was Ray Wilkie’s Assistant Manager at Barrow took over at Workington FC and signed all the North East players and X Barrow players. A few of the lads got in contact with me and asked if I wanted to sign to save travelling to Barrow. I signed for Workington (1993) playing in the Unibond Prem Division.

The ground was an old league ground and looking at pictures today the ground hasn’t improved much Ha Ha. But travelling with the boys again Paul Doolan , Paul Campbell and Danny Wheatley in his left hand drive car (which was something else by the way) lifted my spirits.


Playing for Workington was probably the first time in a lot of years where I was enjoying my football again. Playing well consistently again, no pressures and scoring goals. It was then a few scouts came to watch and there was specualtion Crystal Palace and Birmingham City were watching games. Not sure how much that was true but I then got a phone call at work from Newcastle Utd manager Kevin Keegan.

I thought it was one of the lads making a prank call as that was the norm in the football banter world. But after eventaully believing him he asked if I would come on trial so they could have a look. 1st game away to Liverpool at Anfiled, meet at St James for the coach and don’t be late he said. How could I say No.  So off I went.  (1994).

I remember the Anfield sign walking down the tunnel stairs , “This is Anfield” and the pitch was like a carpet. I was playing up front with Alex Mathie and was brought down for the penalty and game finishing 1-1. I couldn’t believe I was playing in the same side as legends, Kevin Brock, Scott Sellars. What great players who could keep the ball for fun. My next game was Everton away at Goodison and the games kept flowing after that. The reserves played at Gateshead Stadium and my most memoral game for the reserves was V’s Man Utd. Gary Neville, Paul Scholes, Gilespie were all playing and Newcastle signed Gillespie after the game. I curled one in from 25 yds drawing 3-3.

Jeff Clarke (top bloke) was the Reserve Team manager and he kept me updated on comments from Keegan. Kevin was ruthless if players didn’t perform. He fell out with Jason Drysdale and Steve Guppy so he asked me if I could play full back in one game. I’d play anywhere so said yes and that’s how I became a full back at the age of 24.

I eventually got the call from KK. He told me, quality was so high with million pound players coming in so I’d never get in his first team. The standards were so high but he liked my hard work and commitment so wanted me to continue to play in the reserve team to set example on a non contract basis. We agreed terms per game, so I could keep my job, train when I could at Maiden Castle and play in reserves. Crazy agrement but it worked for me.

Kevin Keegan then fell out with the FA as they wanted the reserves to play 10 games at St James but he had just paid millions on a new pitch. He wasn’t going to be told what to do by the FA so he scrapped the Reserve Team. All players didn’t play much game time so most of them left; Huckerby, Armstrong, Mathie, Hooper, Hottinger, Papavasalou, Holland, Brayson, etc. I had calls from Raith Rovers, Leyton Orient, Ipswich and York City.

I met with all clubs. York were playing in the 1st Division and the terms were right, an hour down the road so I ended up signing a 3 year full time contract with them.  (1996).


I played at York City for 3 seasons with some great players, Paul Stephenson, Gary Bull, Steve Tuthill, Rodney Rowe, David Rush, Graeme Murty, Richard Creswell, Johnathan Greenining , Darren Williams, Dean Keily, Paul Barnes, Paul Baker, Alan Pouton. Some of them went on to play in the Prmiership.

Then York started to sell the best players, Greame Murty to Reading, Richard Creswell to Sheff Wed, Johnathan Greening to Man Utd, Dean Keily to Bury, Paul Barnes to Burnley, Paul Baker to Torquay, Darren Williams to Sunderland. We struggled in the league for the next two seasons and even a riot kicked off at Brighton. We had to play behind closed doors after the season ended and win to stay in the 1st Division. We won 3-1 but it was tough for everyone as the club wouldn’t spend on quality players and the Manager Alan Little who was a great lad was eventually sacked.

Mick Wadsworth was the manager of Scarbrough FC and called me up in Malia during the summer break to join Scarbrough FC. They had just lost in the 2nd Division play off finals and had some good players at the club. Jon Kay, Gary Bennet, Richard Brodie, Chris Tate, Jamie Hoyland, Wayne Bullimore, Neil Campbell, so I joined them. (1999).

Expectations were high from the previous season and pre season was good. I expected a good season ahead but how wrong was I. What I saw in 12 months you could make a movie from it. Ha Ha.

Mick Wadsworth was a top coach but had his own style of management. He liked to put winning quotes on the dressing room blackboard, told players not to wear Predator boots as they weren’t worthy to wear them or wear England sports wear because we hadn’t played for England. Players who weren’t in the squad didn’t like him so stood in their underwear in winter hoping to catch the flu so didn’t have to travel to away games. Players wages bounced each month as the club had financial difficulties. Mick Wadsworth tried to strangle a player after the Hartlepool Utd game (Wayne Bullimore) for wearing Predator boots and missing an easy chance, injuries/operations weren’t getting paid and players had to travel in cars to away games. Wow.

Mick Wadsworth ended up having a breakdown and sacked before moving on to Colcshester, Southampton and Newcastle Utd under Boby Robson. Colin Addison came in (what a funny bloke) as we couldn’t win a game even though we were playing ok. Colin moved me into midfield and brought in a few new faces, Tony Park GK, Nathan Jones, Paul Robinson, John Trewick. We won the next 6/7 games and looked favourites to stay in the league. I remember playing at Hull City away Easter Monday, a local derby and there were 30,000 there. Then the unimaginable happened, a football story that would stay in the minds of football fans forever. GK Jimmy Glass scored in the last minute (94th minute to be exact) for Carlisle Utd, survived relegation and sealed Scarbrough FC’s fate into the Conference League. You couldn’t make it up.
I needed a groin operation and the club wouldn’t pay for it so I had to go through the FA to pay for the surgery. A long winded process seeing 2/3 sports specialists who kept giving me an injection and telling me to rest. I decided to see Newcastle Physio Derek Wright and he diagnosed my condition in 5 minutes and put my name forward to a surgeon who conducted the operation within a week.

I rested for 3/4 months, but Mick Tate kept asking me to go to Blyth Spartans as they were near the bottom of the league. I kept knocking him back as I wanted to make sure the groin was right. I’d seen too many players rush back and end up going back in for surgery. I played for Mick the last 10/12 games of the season and we won all of them with some great lads Ian Chandler, Micky Farrey, Stevie Stewart and Ian Dixon. What a top bloke Mick Tait was and all the players loved playing for him. The club was decent and I enjoyed my time there as a player but Mick Tate quit at the end of the season as couldn’t get on with the Chairman.

(2000) I got a phone call from John Connelly, Ian Scott, Warren Pearson from Queen of the South in Scotland so I signed, playing up there for 3/4 years. My time at QOS was unbelievable. A great set of lads GK Andy Goram, Jimmy Thompson, Andy Aiken, Steve Bowey, Peter Wetherston, John O Neil, Derek Lyle, etc. We were well looked after as the club gave us a club people carrier to travelin, free hotels to stay over and decent win bonuses if we beat local rivals like Stranraer. The club hadn’t won the league as champions for 50 years or won the Bells Scottish in 56 years. We won them both and the papers were calling it “The Geordie Invasion.” Ha Ha.


At 32/33 I wasn’t playing enough so I was asked by Ian Scott who took over from John Connelly to take the QOS Reserve Team. I thought I’d give it a go. My first steps into coaching / management. We won the league and cup the first season in the reserve league but it wasn’t the same as playing. I was not travelling up to Dumfires with the North East players as when the 1st team was away the reserves would play at home so it become a bit of a chor travelling to Scotland on my own. I decided to look for a caoching role in the North East.

I met great lad John Watson at Durham City and I helped him with the team for a couple of months but they kept asking me to play. I played a 5/6 games but playing in front of 3 men and a dog at Brandon Utd away on a cold January Tuesday night made my decision easy to hang up my boots.

I applied for the Newcastle Benfield FC job in the 1st Division Northern League and got offered the Assistent Managers Job. Paul Baker took on the Manager role which I was happy about, as it was my old team mate from my Hartlepool Utd and York City days.(2005). Together, we won the League Cup, got the quarter final of the Vase and 3rd round of the FA Cup. By 2008/09 we won the Northern League, League Cup and Cleater Cup. We had some great players in the team, Kevin Leighton, Jonny Brown, Shaun Bell, Karl Baston, Steven Buzzeo, Mark Atkinson, Adam Scope, Andy Grainger GK, Stephen Young, Tony Chilton, Alu Banguara, Paul Anthony, Ian Graeme.

Paul Baker left in Jan 08/09 season, so I took over as interim then permanent manager. I suggested Tom Wade come in as assistant as he was looking for a football job and we worked together until Tom left to go to Blue Star. I was solely running the team and kept asking Chairman Jimmy Rowe (top bloke) for an assistant. He told me Tom Wade had left Blue Star, would I take him back. I said bring him back as joint manager. He can deal with team affairs, wages and I’ll concentrate on the coaching. It worked, we won the league that year.

Paul Baker came back in for a 2nd spell but I moved on to Bedlington Terriers as I had moved up to Northumberland when I got married.

I was at Bedlington Terriers with Keith Perry & Tony Lowery (2 top blokes) for a few seasons (2009/2011) and always remember a billionaire (Bob Rich) coming into the club asking to take the team to Buffalo USA for game. We went over for 10 days and the BBC made a documentary.

Ex-Toon legend Tommy Cassidy then asked me to go to Blyth Spartans as 1st Team Coach (2012). Tommy’s budget was slashed by a few quid so top players started to leave to join clubs paying big money. I remember the first pre season training session and we had 8 players. Tommy Cassidy was sacked without explanation which he took badly as he was a well respected legend of the game. I was asked to take over so I took the managers job for 3-4 months but the conditions, working relationships and budget was challenging, for example I paid £1,000 for a player (Craig Hubbard) out of my own money. The club gave me a cheque for £500. I had to ask the player to pay me back £30 a week out of his own wages to make up the shortfall. Tom Wade asked to join the club and Tommy cassidy kept asking who he was when he kept turning up for training. I was aware what he was up. The chairman appointed him as my assistant without my say so but decided to give it a go as worked together before. I found out he was meeting players & having meetings behind my back so I resigned.

2013 I went back the Newcastle Benfield as a coach under a great lad Steve Bowey. I remember beating the mighty Spennymoor away and getting to the quarter finals of the Vase with Bowsa and Gareth Macalindon.


2014 I was asked to apply for the managers job at Whitley Bay as legend Ian Chandler had resigned. I intially took over from Leon Ryan but found out Chan had left as his coach had been bullying players. Paul Macalduff the chairman just wanted success back on the pitch and bring attendances up even though I was given a low budget. With great coach and funny lad Paul Johnson as my assistant we created a great dressing atmoshphere with some great lads. Peter Watling, Adam Shanks, Chris Reid, Chris Mac, Michael Laws, Sam Norris, Alex Kempster, Andy Jennings and had a great cup run in the FA cup in our 2nd season. Gates were increasing again, 800-1000 fans. We were the only Northern league club left in the FA Cup. I remember playing against Matlock and we drew 1-1 away. The replay was 3-3 but played with 9 men from 60 mins and extra time eventually winning on penalties. The atmosphere was electric and players / fans still talk about that game today. We got beat off Chorley from Conference North 3-2 next round and we would of got a Conference team in next round if we had won.

2016 I moved on to Bedlington Terriers for a 2nd time as manager for 2 seasons before moving onto Killingworth FC in the Alliance 2018 as 1st Team coach with Mark Rooke & Nathan Beckham as manager. We won the League 3 times, Beneveland Bowl and League Cup. Great times.


I still do coaching now at Killingworth today (2024) with some great lads. Richie Mitchell, Stu Purvis, Derek Bell, son Liam Bell, Coach Gar Collier and Mark Rooke.  I also spend time on my Friday Nights Sports Show on Koast Radio 106.6FM. We will cover the Northumberland Senior Cup final from St James Park in May.


Thank you Paddy for your fantastic words and photos.  We wish you all the best for the future!!  All at Gateshead Redheugh!



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Gateshead Redheugh 1957 (Redheugh Boys Club), Bolam Street, Eslington Park, Eslington Pavillion, Gateshead, NE8 2TZ
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