Gateshead FC can confirm that Alex Nicholson has decided to leave the club and full-time football following the conclusion of the 2021/22 season.
‘Nicca’ has proven an integral member of the first-team squad since arriving as Mike Williamson’s first signing in June 2019, amassing 83 appearances across all competitions and scoring three goals.
The defender’s consistent performances during the 2019/20 season earned him the Players’ Player of the Season award as Gateshead reached the Vanarama National League North play-off semi-final.
His 30 appearances during the 2021/22 season helped The Heed reach the Emirates FA Cup second round as well as lifting the club’s first league title since 1986, earning promotion back to the Vanarama National League.
Nicholson admits the decision to leave was a difficult one, saying: “It was extremely tough and I debated it for a long time, but I’ve had my other business for the past few years so I knew the time would come at some point where that and football might get in each others’ way.
“It’s come at a time when I’ve been enjoying my football at Gateshead but it has got to that point maybe a little bit quicker than I thought it would, where I need to put my focus a bit more into my other stuff without football and work clashing.
“With my workload elsewhere it has become more and more stressful at times, where I’ve been rushing around here there and everywhere straight from training, or not being able to make important meetings or certain sessions that I need to be at because of the timings of full-time football.
“If we’re travelling to a game on a Friday that takes up a day as well and sets me back with my workload, and getting promoted as well will increase that travelling even more.
“I’ve got still got plenty to give football wise, but unfortunately the time has come that I need to step away from the full-time side.”
Nicholson’s arrival at Gateshead International Stadium came in period of transition for the club, with Williamson and assistant manager Ian Watson fresh at the helm and looking to build their first squad as Gateshead prepared for life in the National League North following demotion.
Despite not knowing the squad of players he would end up playing with, Nicholson did not take much persuading to sign up.
“I’d known Busted [Ian Watson] and Chris Bell [club physiotherapist] for years,” he said.
“I understood the position Gateshead were in, but I spoke to Mike as well and it didn’t take much persuading to put trust in what they were doing at all.
“I didn’t really count it as a big leap, I know a lot of people might have seen it that way with there being no team, but knowing Busted and the type of person he is I knew what it could potentially turn into.
“It’s been a constant progression and it was brilliant to be part of that over the last three years, not just on the playing side but the club as a whole getting back on its feet in the first place and then building to the point it is at now is brilliant.”
Nicholson made his final bow at Gateshead International Stadium in the 2021/22 season closer, emerging as a 63rd minute substitute as The Heed rounded off the campaign with a 2-1 win over Hereford in front of the club’s league record crowd of 4,129 before lifting the National League North title.
Although the thought of what could be in the National League lingers, the defender admits being able to depart on a high helped him make his decision.
“I’ve spoken to a few people who have mentioned that [leaving after winning the league], and it helped, but it is also a point when I’m stepping away and thinking could I manage to stay on in the league above,” he added.
“There’s a little bit of disappointment there as well but it’s almost like I’ve come here and done what was set out to do, which was to gain promotion back to the National League.
“A lot of people will say as well that the way we’ve done it, with the style we’ve got and going about it the way we have, is almost just as pleasing as winning it.
“Leaving on a high is a good thing, and I think it did sway the decision that I’ve done what we set out to do, so it’s a good time to call it.”
All at Gateshead FC would like to thank Alex for his contributions during his three seasons with the club, and wish him the best of luck in his career both inside and outside of football in the future.