Dons winger relishes Gateshead Thunder reunion

Dons' Stewart Sanderson celebrates his try with Dean Colton against Sheffield. Picture: Andrew Roe
Dons' Stewart Sanderson celebrates his try with Dean Colton against Sheffield. Picture: Andrew Roe

Stewart Sanderson has warned his team-mates not to underestimate his former club Gateshead Thunder.

Sanderson enjoyed three successful seasons at Thunder - helping the North East side win National League Two in 2008 - and the club remains close to the 28-year-old’s heart.

But the experienced winger says there will be no room for sentiment when the Dons launch their National Rail Cup campaign at the International Stadium on Sunday.

Sanderson said: “Gateshead have struggled in recent years but there’s never an easy game at this level.

“We’re expecting a tough afternoon and we need to make sure we’re at our best.

“Going back up to Gateshead is always something I look forward to, although it’s a little bit nerve-wracking returning to one of your old clubs.

“At the same time it’s exciting to go back.

“I studied at the University of Teesside so the North East is a part of the world I know well, and I’ve still got a few mates up there.

“I don’t tend to hear much from them now but the text messages have been coming through in the build-up to this game!

“It’ll be nice to see a few old faces - I had some great times up there,” he added.

“When I first signed for Gateshead they were really struggling but in my second season we won National Two and then we managed to stay up the following year.

“Unfortunately the club then went into administration and that’s when I left for Dewsbury.”

Sanderson, who missed the Dons’ last outing against a Doncaster Select side, faces competition from Dean Colton and new recruit Tom Hodson for a starting berth this weekend.

But the Whitehaven-born winger is relishing the extra competition for places and has high hopes that Doncaster can enjoy a successful season.

“You do put that bit extra in when you know there are other quality players at the club vying for your shirt,” he said.

“It’s good to have that competition for places because it makes everyone work harder for their place.

“Pre-season has gone really well for us.

“We started things off with the walk from Scarborough to Whitby which was a good team building exercise and we’ve kicked on from there.

“It was a very good win against Hunslet and although we lost against Sheffield, I thought we played well.

“It’s important we now take that form into Sunday.”