An impressive first six months but the coaches set the standards high as they target trophies next season

Meet the Management: From left to right: Tony Fawcett, Chris Bannon, Wayne Buchanan and Simon Moody.

In part two we will speak with a former teammate of Jay-Jay Okocha, an FA Vase winner and the man who makes the team tick. WRITES ADAM TONES.

First up is Simon Moody, the Whickham assistant coach has been a close friend of Tony (Fawcett) for several years and was delighted to join the Lang Jacks. 

Simon started playing football when he was eight for his local team and progressed up through the ranks.

Moody’s father was the secretary at Whitley Bay at the time, a club he’s played for and followed for many years. 

Simon retired at the age of 35 after breaking his leg as well the arrival of his children limiting his playing time. 

His passion for the game has never left him, he was back coaching after taking his son Jack to training. 

Simon said: “Jack (son) wanted to play football, I rocked up to watch a kid’s session, and this bloke collared me and 20 odd years later here I am.”

“I worked with Jack’s age group and the same set of kids for 11 years, when they came out of junior football I didn’t want to just walk away. 

“I wanted to get them into senior football and ironically met Tony (Fawcett) on a FA coaching course. 

“We got talking and he had a reserve team at the club he was at, and they didn’t have many players.”

“We ended up with 9 or 10 of them playing for the first or second team at Lindisfarne at the time.

“I went in with the reserves, with the young kids I was bringing through for a year. 

“Tony wanted to move some of the kids into the first team, so I moved up with them and I think we’ve been together ever since.”

Simon created a solid bond with Tony while at Lindisfarne, Ryton, and Whitley Bay before their move to Whickham. 

Moody said: “I trust him with my life, I line up with his values. He’s hard-working, honest and likes to win. 

“People don’t see how much he cares about the people that play for him; he will go out of his way to help people.”

When asked about his relationship with Chris (Bannon) and Wayne (Buchanan) he said: “It’s dead interesting, I’ve met Chris and Wayne before, but I had never worked with them. 

“I absolutely love it; I learn every day from the two of them. The four of us work well together, there is no ego, and we all bounce off each other.

“The two lads bring high standards, really good work ethic like Tony and their both straightforward.” 

When asked about how he thinks the season has gone since joining the club, he added: “I think if I’m being realistic, I think you would have to say we are delighted with how it’s gone.

“The lads have bought into everything they have been asked to do.

“They’ve bought in and worked hard; it wasn’t pretty to start with, but the team is migrating more to how we would like it to be.”

“I’ve enjoyed it, it’s a good club and a good set of lads and I love the coaching set-up.”

Simon highlighted Whickham’s home victories over Newcastle Benfield and Ashington as two highlights of his season so far. 

Whickham number two was impressed with the quality of goals his team scored and the manner in which the team went about both games. 

Moody is a man who wants the club to keep striving forward, when asked about the team’s ambitions, he replied: “I just want us to get better every time, if you train well and get better tactically and get smarter the results will look after themselves.”

“I would love to be right at the top of the league, and a Vase or FA Cup run would be really great for the club.”

Moody spoke of how impressed he has been with the players since joining the club.

He added: “The quality of the players not just their ability but their personalities as well, and their work ethic has been fantastic.”

“It’s reflected off the pitch, the people of the club, committee and fans are all sound, every one of them is sound.”

Next up is Wayne Buchanan, the man who made his professional debut at White Hart Lane and the former teammate of Jay-Jay Okocha. 

Wayne has a wealth of football experience both as a professional, semi-professional and Northern league standard. 

Bucks as he’s also known was born in Banbridge, Northern Ireland, one of his proudest moments came when he represented his country in European qualifiers.

Buchanan played alongside former Premier League stars such as Steven Davis, Chris Brunt and Chris Baird at youth, Under 21 and Under 23 levels.

Wayne started playing in the Northern Ireland schoolboy teams at a young age. 

He started at Banbridge youth club before moving to the semi-professional level with Portadown Football club in the Irish Premier League when he was just 15 years old. 

After a string of highly impressive performances, Buchanan joined Bolton Wanderers in the English Premier League once he had finished school.

Bucks stayed at Bolton for four years after being originally signed by Colin Todd. 

The former defender trained regularly with former Chelsea and Barcelona striker Eidur Gudjohnsen along with Kevin Nolan, Jay-Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff and Jussi Jaaskelainen to name a few.

Sam Allardyce handed Buchanan his Bolton debut against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in the FA Cup, a moment he will never forget. 

Buchanan also had a spell with Chesterfield before returning to Northern Ireland and helping Lisburn Distillery qualify for Europe as club captain. 

Wayne also had successful spells with Blyth Spartans and Ashington, captaining both clubs as well as leading Blyth on an impressive FA Trophy run. 

The former central defender has also represented Sunderland RCA, Morpeth Town, and North Shields in the Northern League. 

Buchanan, 40, has loved his first six months at the club and reflected on his team’s performances.

He said: “Since we came in the attitude of the boys has been brilliant. They straight away bought into what we were all about. 

“I remember the first training session there were not many there, we were thinking about what we are going to do. 

“One game at a time we were getting the team together and we managed to be quite pragmatic in our approach. 

“Be solid and have a threat going forward, get a win and get off to a solid start and we’ll build from there.

“Every one of the boys has really bought in and trained brilliantly, in a way you have to give them the credit.”

Wayne is hoping next season will bring promotion by winning the league as well as competing in the FA Vase. 

He said: “We want to win the Vase it’s everyone’s dream to go to Wembley. 

“Definitely promotion over a 38-game season, we are definitely aiming for promotion because we should be able to put the consistency together to do that.”

Finally, I spoke with Chris Bannon, the man that has spent half his life between the sticks. 

Bannon started at the age of eight when he used to attend Newcastle United goalkeeping coach Simon Smith’s training camps at Monkseaton high school. 

Bannon has also gone on to play for Northern League sides North Shields and Whitley Bay as a goalkeeper. 

A highlight of Bannon’s career during his two-and-a-half years with North Shields was winning the FA Vase at Wembley in 2015.

The following season he went on to win the Senior Cup beating favourites Blyth Spartans at St. James Park. 

Chris was in and around the Newcastle academy coming close to making it as a professional, the club, however, chose Frazer Forster instead due to his height. 

The goalkeeper went on to play for New Hartley before joining Morpeth Town. 

Bannon has won his fair share of silverware, winning league titles with Walker Central in the Alliance Divisions as well. 

After a stint with West Allotment, Bannon joined Hebburn but injury halted his time with the club. 

Bannon got the call from Fawcett to join his team at Whickham after he decided to call time on his playing career. 

Chris spoke about his first six months at Whickham and the way the players have responded.

He said: “I think it’s going better than expected, when we came in, we were maybe in a false position and could have been doing better.

“Tony, Simon and Bucks have been really good, we have got our philosophy and our approach. 

“All of the lads have bought into it and made it a bit easier as they’ve bought into it. It’s accelerated how well we have done.

“All of the lads seem to have bought into what we are trying to achieve.”

Chris is hopeful of next season with big targets, one’s he knows the squad can achieve. 

He said: “Hopefully next season we can win the league and win the Vase.

“I think the Vase you need a bit of luck, sometimes it’s harder in the early rounds as you’re playing local teams.

“If we get a home draw, I fancy us to beat anyone, our away form has not been the best so we would need to improve on that.

“I think all the lads would love to have a bit of a run, and it would be nice to get to Wembley. 

“I think it would be good to win the league, I think it’s hard to win the league but we’re good enough.

“I think if there were another 10 games of the season, I think we would be right up there.”

Bannon touched on the ability of Whickham number one James Anderson.

He said: “His feet and hands are so good, he’s definitely the best goalkeeper in the league.

“He doesn’t probably get the praise he deserves because he is so good. 

“One of my pet hates is when you see a lot of young goalkeepers do the camera saves, but if you watch James, he makes some really difficult saves look easy.

“He’s just really good, his talking is excellent you’ve got to remember he’s only 19 but, on the pitch, you don’t get that he looks like a mature experienced goalkeeper.”

Bannon has been impressed with the feel of the club since joining in October. 

He added: “The committee have been great; the lads are all nice lads, and everyone gets on well it’s a good atmosphere and a good dressing room.”

Next season can’t come quick enough for the Lang Jacks, and as some would say preparation, preparation, preparation is the key to success. 

One thing is for sure this team will be prepped and ready to go when the first whistle of the new season is blown. 

Just like I finished part one, the future looks bright for the Lang Jacks. 

Meet the Management – Simon Moody

Age: 57

Occupation: IT Project Manager

Favourite Team: Newcastle United 

Favourite current manager: Pep Guardiola

Favourite past manager: Bob Paisley

Best advice you’ve received: “Be straight with people, give everything your best”

One word that makes a great footballer: Commitment 

Other interests: Cricket

Meet the Management – Wayne Buchanan 

Age: 40

Occupation: Teacher 

Favourite Team: Liverpool

Favourite current manager: Jurgen Klopp

Favourite past manager: Bill Shankly 

One word that makes a great footballer: Bravery to get on the ball

Other interests: Spending time with his family

Meet the Management – Chris Bannon

Age: 34

Occupation: Accountant 

Favourite Team: Newcastle United 

Favourite current manager: Jurgen Klopp

Favourite past manager: Sir Bobby Robson

Best advice you’ve received: “Be all in or don’t bother at all”

One word that makes a great footballer: Hard work 

Other interests: Swimming and Golf.

Wayne Buchanan and Chris Bannon warm up.

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