Greg Olley says he couldn’t have asked for better team-mates to have led in his first season as captain after being named in the Vanarama National League North Team of the Season.
The midfielder joined Cedwyn Scott and Macaulay Langstaff as part of the 11 players named in the league’s End of Season Awards, with Langstaff and player-manager Mike Williamson also named as the Player and Manager of the Season following The Heed’s title-winning campaign.
Olley capped his first season as skipper with silverware as well as eight goals and 28 assists in all competitions, with six and 25 of those coming in the National League North.
“I’m quite proud to be in the Team of the Season, especially as it’s voted for by all of the players in the league,” he said.
“Knowing there are a few of us included with Mike as the Manager of the Season as well shows how well we’ve done this year.
“As a midfielder if I can chip in with goals then perfect, but clean sheets are just as important for me.
“It was a bit of a freak season in terms of assists and I don’t know if I’d ever do that again!
“I’m quite a laid back character so I just go out to hopefully play well.”
Several points have been raised as key factors in Gateshead’s charge to their first league title since 1986, but Olley feels the character to recover from defeats by going on long unbeaten runs was a major difference compared to previous seasons.
“That was where I think we should have the most credit, because in another time we’d probably go two or three defeats after losing at Brackley.
“To go unbeaten after that was reflective of the whole season, and having spells where we’d go unbeaten after losing shows how good of a team we were to face adversity like that.
“Drawing at Chorley lifted all of the stress and meant we could enjoy the Hereford game, but to win that last game as well was really important for us.”
Bookmakers set Olley’s side as 20/1 outsiders to finish top of the league table, but Gateshead quickly became regarded as one of the finest sides in the division and went on to win 29 from 42 league games on their way to promotion.
The skipper says he always fancied his chances at helping The Heed return to the fifth tier, adding: “From pre season and the first game at Hebburn I thought the team we had we should be pushing for promotion, if not pushing to win the league.
“It was perhaps a surprise for everyone looking on with us being set at 20/1 odds – we realistically had no chance according to that.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better set of lads to captain and for Busted [Ian Watson] and Mike to be in charge as well, they’ve made it so much easier for me.
“I never would have expected to win the league as captain but I’m very privileged to have had that chance.”