SHAUN Reay is refusing to consider the possibility he could be the new Alan Shoulder after his goals helped ignite another famous FA Cup run for Blyth Spartans.
Reay struck twice in the first half against Shrewsbury Town in the Blue Square North side’s shock 3-1 win in the first round at Croft Park and the 20-year-old also played a key role in the second round replay win over Bournemouth.
That has earned the youngster from Boldon Colliery favourable comparisons with Shoulder who, having starred in Blyth’s run to the fifth round of the FA Cup in 1978, signed for Newcastle United the following season.
Reay, who has also played for Harrogate Town on loan, joined the Spartans in October after growing disillusioned by the lack of first team opportunities at Darlington, where he had progressed from the youth team.
But many at Blyth – who face local rivals Gateshead in a vital league game at the International Stadium today – believe he has the talent to return to a higher level. “Things never worked out for me at Darlington and I was frustrated,” said Reay, who made his Blyth debut against Sheffield FC in the qualification rounds. “I was never given a run in the side, the manager kept bringing new players in and I’d had enough.
“I thought I needed to do something else so I’ve started studying for an accountancy degree part-time and playing for Blyth in spare time. It’s been brilliant for me because I’m playing every week and that is helping me develop as a player. I’ve not given up on a league career, but I couldn’t wait around at Darlington when I wasn’t getting a chance. It would be nice to sign for a league club again in the future, but I’m really happy at Blyth.
“I hardly played football for a year at Darlington and I wanted to get some sort of qualification behind me in case football didn’t work out.”
Reay, though, also insisted he did not want to know if they are going to be scouts in the crowd against Blackburn Rovers on Monday night, when a good performance could generate plenty of interest in the forward.
He added: “It’s been perfect timing for me coming to Blyth. This cup run has been tremendous and better than anything I’ve experienced before. I could have been playing in a reserve game at Darlington this week, instead I’m preparing to play Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup, which is unbelievable really.
“I guess the cup run we’ve had might have generated some interest in some of the players, but I don’t know if there have been any scouts come to watch me.
“You don’t tend to hear about that and I’d rather not know anyway, I’d rather just concentrate on the game, I don’t want to think about anything else.”
Another upset against Blackburn also has added appeal for Reay who, as a lifelong Newcastle fan, admits he was less than impressed with new Rovers manager Sam Allardyce during his short spell at St James’s Park.
He said: “It’s extra special to have all my family there watching the game. We’re all Newcastle United fans and I think they are desperate for us to beat Blackburn to get one over Sam Allardyce. He isn’t very popular with a lot of them because he wasn’t very good as manager of Newcastle. We’ll see, though, it’s a massive gap between our level and the Premier League so we know it’s going to be extremely tough for us.
“They are an excellent side with some world class players, it will just be fantastic to be out there competing with them.”