Record Breaking Birtley say goodbye to four players. 

Aidan Rutledge grabbed the headlines this year with 61 goals in all competitions. The Gateshead-born youngster joined last summer from Leam Rangers in the Wearside league and took to the higher level like a duck to water. His goalscoring exploits caught the eye of many other clubs, but he stayed loyal to Birtley and in doing so has earned a professional contract at National League Gateshead, where we’ve no doubt his career will continue its upward trajectory.

Paul Bryson is still speechless following Aidan’s record breaking campaign. “Aidan… Wowsa! He was our number one target for the striker position at the start of the season. We brought him in and I don’t think any of us expected him to do what he has. His attitude is first class, the way he applies himself and his attitude towards football. He is now getting his rewards. He’s another lad who is just a great person. This season has been one of the tightest dressing rooms I have been involved in, Aidan has been pinnacle to that. It’s a great move for him, he has bags of potential and he can do the hardest thing in football. He scores goals. We would love to see him bag regularly for Gateshead FC. 

 

Aidan notched 61 goals for The Hoops and has secured a move to Gateshead FC (Credit to SL Sport Photos for the image).

Aidan is not the only Hoops striker to depart, as stalwart frontman Joe Barwick has decided to take a step back from Saturday football. Joe was signed by former boss Paul Beat back in 2018 following a tip-off, and it proved to be a shrewd move, as he notched 62 goals in 145 appearances across his five seasons at the club. Joe’s commitment to the cause has been unwavering, and although he lost his place at the beginning of this season, he fought his way back into the side and made a valuable contribution to our promotion success.

Paul Bryson was full of praise for a brilliant club servant. “Joe has decided to retire although he will still sign a form for the club. Joe has recently been promoted at work and wants to show commitment to his career. The biggest compliment I can pay Joe is that every side in football needs a Joe Barwick in their team. He’s superb on the pitch and gives absolutely everything. He works really hard, he gives you no problems but he understands the game. He understands his own game. Off the pitch he’s an absolutely top draw club man.” 

Joe scored 62 goals for Birtley Town including a goal away at Bury FC in the FA vase.

At the other end of the pitch, we say goodbye to Conor Grant, who has retired following an impressive career which included stints at Dundee United, Gretna, and Ashington. The experienced keeper was one of the first signings of the Bryson & Foster era, and was a calm & collected presence between the sticks, going on to record 12 clean sheets in 39 appearances for the Hoops.

Brysa was quick to thank Conor for an outstanding season. “Conor came in as an experienced goalkeeper, we seen the best of Conor towards the end of the season. He really came into his own. He got us over the line with a save in the penalty shoot-out. Conor is very professional in everything he does, his training, he’s really mehtodical, his warm up is completed proffesionally. I can’t speak highly enough of him. He is getting married this year and has other things going on with work so he has decided to retire. If Conor did decide to get back into the game then I think he would make a great coach. He’s a top lad.”

Conor Grant has retired from football. The final save of his career was the all important one in our penalty shoot-out victory over Billingham Town

Last but not least, we say farewell to Tom McIntyre, who has taken up an offer to join North Shields FC. The teenager signed from Ryton & Crawcrook Albion earlier in the campaign, and belied his age with some dynamic appearances in the middle of the park. Tom made 27 appearances in total, scoring five goals, a few of which were absolute worldies.

Paul Bryson added “We added Tom as a young lad from Ryton and after the first couple of months of the season and he went on to more than play his part in the promotion season. He was outstanding at Bedlington away, he was very influential. We are disappointed to see him go as we would have loved for him to stay. He’s decided to move to North Shields so we wish all the best.”

Everyone at Birtley would like to thank Aidan, Joe, Conor & Tom for their contributions, and wish them all the best in the next chapter of their careers. The rest of the squad have committed for the 23/24 season and the club will announce new signings in due course.