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FEATURE | Kenton Richardson on a half-century in black & white, choreographed celebrations & October’s Player of the Month
Jack McGraghan
Author: Jack McGraghan

13th November 2023

This interview is taken from issue 216 of HeedLines, sold at our Vanarama National League fixture against Dorking Wanderers on Saturday, November 11.

October was a busy month for Kenton Richardson.

The 24-year-old made his 50th appearance in Heed colours in our last game at Gateshead International Stadium, before being voted as our Player of the Month for the first time by supporters only a few days later.

Richardson is the first player other than an attacker to earn the monthly accolade this season, following on from Marcus Dinanga and Stephen Wearne, but for him it is merely recognition for the work he has put in over the last 17 months.

“It’s always nice to be recognised if you’re performing well,” he said.

“I’m putting in the work every day, for me it’s all about developing and improving. I’m always looking at different ways I can get better or parts of my game that I can adapt, so it’s nice to get that recognition on the back of it.

“When strikers are scoring goals they’re always going to be more likely to win that stuff, so it was a nice surprise to pick up the accolade.

“Throughout my career I’ve struggled with injuries, so all I want to do is be available to play every single game.

“I look forward to every game, and I can’t wait to get into them.

“It’s a big milestone for me to reach 50 games for Gateshead as well, as I’ve absolutely loved my time here.

“I love every minute, coming into work every day and giving my all with a great group of lads and staff, so I’m over the moon to hit 50 games.”

Although he might not exactly be known for his goalscoring exploits, Richardson doubled his Gateshead goal tally with an equalising strike away to Rochdale last month after netting his first against Ebbsfleet United in August.

If the goal itself was pleasing on the eye, the pre-planned celebration – organised on the team bus en route to the game – only added to the aesthetic.

“Me, Archie, Boots, Ed, Greg and Wearney were sat on the bus on the way to the game watching this guy doing an interview,” Richardson explained.

“After every question he would pull this model face, so we were saying imagine if you were playing football and started doing that face every time the camera was on you.

“I said someone should do it when they knee slide after scoring and everyone started laughing saying, ‘Well it’s not going to be you doing it because you’re not going to score!’

“Funnily enough that night I’ve popped up with a rare goal, and it was straight in my head to run to the camera and do it!”

Photo: Emilio Kirtley

That strike came a couple of weeks too early to include Richardson’s new look, which he is sporting for this month as part of the annual ‘Movember’ tradition.

He joins Robbie Tinkler in growing out a new style of facial hair in order to raise funds and awareness in combating men’s’ health issues such as prostate cancer and mental health struggles, following on from previous first-team members’ efforts.

“I’m channelling my inner Zohan!,” he laughed.

“There were a few lads who did it last year and raised money for a great cause, which I think doesn’t get as much attention as it should.

“Tinks was doing it this year and he asked if anyone wanted to get involved, and I knew from last year after not taking part that I wanted to do it this year to help raise awareness for men’s health.

“I’ve gone for a goatee and I’ve grown my hair out a bit, so I think I look like the Zohan a bit.

“I’m definitely not competing with Tinks though – he’s had a beard since he was 14!”

Back to on-field matters though, with today’s game against Dorking Wanderers offering the opportunity for Richardson and company to put a couple of difficult results behind them.

Defeats against AFC Fylde and Yeovil Town have been a minor side-track in The Heed’s play-off hunt, which sees them sitting eighth before this afternoon’s round of fixtures.

External doubters will point to the change in dugout personnel last month, but Richardson says there is no one he and his team-mates would rather be working alongside.

“For us, the transition has been seamless,” he said.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a group of players gutted to see a management team leave, but I think I speak on behalf of the players when I say that we wouldn’t want anyone else other than Rob, Louis and Mags.

“They’re three fantastic coaches and all of the lads absolutely love them, because we know that they give their all for us every day.

“They’re here until late hours striving to make us better and we’ll run through walls for them just as we did for Mike, Busted and Belly.

“The lads come in every day with a positive attitude and we know how good a group we have – staff and players.

“A few bad results hasn’t changed that and we still have faith in what we’re doing, so we’ll continue to work hard in climbing the table and getting towards the play-offs.”

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