A half-season loan spell at Gateshead brought 22 appearances, four goals and a National League North championship winner’s medal for midfielder Taylor Charters, with further reward on his return to Brunton Park with a new one-year deal on the table.
That was quickly agreed, with the 20-year-old now committed to the club until the summer of 2023 with a determination to add to the 38 appearances he’s already notched up.
“I’m really happy to get it all signed,” he told us. “I obviously knew I’d been offered a deal at the end of the season so I was really excited to get it done.
“I’m just looking forward to getting going now. I’ve been here since I was eight and I want to play as many games in the first team as possible. I think I can really kick on this season.”
Being part of the Heed squad that clinched the title turned a good experience into a great one, and he admitted that it had done wonders for his confidence.
“I think going on loan was good for my development,” he agreed. “I wanted to go out, and the manager at the time thought it would be good for me as well.
“It’s given me good experience of regular men’s football and I think it’s proved that I can do it at a good level. I’ll hopefully be able to replicate that in League Two this coming season.
“I was obviously wondering what might happen with my contract when I first went out, but it just gave me extra motivation to play well while I was at Gateshead.
“All you can do is try to do your best in every game. I think I did that, and I think that gave me the chance to get this contract. Now this is another opportunity for me to prove myself at a higher level.”
Watching the change in the manager situation remotely at the end of February can’t have been easy, but he revealed that it was a case of getting his head down and concentrating on what he had to do.
“When we had the change of manager it was strange because I wasn’t involved in any of it, I was just following it on Twitter, but I was just focusing on my football over there,” he said.
“I know Simmo came to the Chorley game and I think he’s watched a few clips of me as well from the last couple of years.
“He’s probably seen me play in a couple of different positions, which is why he wants me to think about being the type of player who can do that.
“I spoke to him on the phone when he told me I was being offered a contract and he said he sees me as either a left wing back, midfielder or even a left winger, so that gives me versatility.
“I think he’ll just be looking for hard work and the quality to go with it as well. To be honest, being able to play a couple of positions will only help me going forward in my career.
“As long as I can get on the pitch, it doesn’t matter where I’m playing. I’ll always try and help the team as best as I can and hopefully do well in whatever position I’m playing.
“My debut against Walsall when I got man of the match was great and I think I can replicate that performance as regularly as possible.”
Looking more at the achievement through the second half of last season, he commented: “My time at Gateshead was class. I was just desperate to play games in January.
“I enjoyed coming off the bench a few times here, but I really wanted to start and play regularly. It was a drop down a couple of leagues but it’s still a good standard and it really helped me in terms of getting on with it.
“I went for a month to start with, but I was enjoying my time there and playing games, so when they said they wanted to extend it I think it was good for both clubs, as well as me. I got to play games and we obviously went on to do what we did.
“I played in a couple of different positions when I was over there as well, and I think the best way to learn is when you’re on the pitch and playing regularly.
“No matter what position I was in, I was learning. Even though I’d played in midfield for all of my career recently, I was still learning things when I played there.
“I moved to left back, which is where I ended up playing most of my games at Gateshead, and I learned even more. That’s just added to my versatility, which can only be a good thing.”
So, what about adding that title win and medal to the CV?
“It was a great feeling to win the league,” he said. “We’d been top for most of my time there but we still made sure to take each game as it was coming.
“There are some good teams in that league and it was really tough, but with the quality we had in the team we felt like we were going to win it.
“Even though we were confident, there were still a few results which didn’t go our way. I think the game where we beat Kidderminster 4-0 was when it became more real.
“They were up there with us and everyone was talking about how they would be the team that were going to be competing for it. I think once we’d beaten them so convincingly we started to realise that we really could do it.”
“The dressing room was a really good place to be because everyone was so positive,” he added. “After you win a game you celebrate for a little bit, but after that you just have to concentrate on the next one straight away.
“To have won a league and got the medal and things that go with it is a bit surreal really. It was a great experience, but like everything in football things move quickly and it’s only four weeks until we’re back in for pre-season. I’m just focusing on that now and seeing what comes.
“I think I’ve learned a lot in terms of football but also a lot about myself as a person during my time there.
“I was living away from home which was quite hard and there was a lot of travelling involved, but I’ve learned I can handle all of that sort of thing. The most important thing is that football wise it’s shown me that I’m capable of playing regular games in men’s football.
“And I got a few goals and assists as well, which was good. I’ve done all of that in training for a long time, but it’s in the games where you really want to do it because it means you’re helping the team.
“That gives me the confidence that I can come back here and do the same for the first team. With it only being a year I know I’ve got to prove myself now to try and earn another contract so that I can stay here even longer.”
Looking ahead to the return for pre-season, he told us: “I’m injured at the moment but I’ve been doing a lot of work with Ross in the gym, so hopefully I’ll be back for that.
“It’s looking good so far, so I’m hoping to be ready for the first day of pre-season, but I don’t want to jinx it!
“I just can’t wait to get going again.”
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