At Tales From Sport, we believe in giving athletes the platform to tell their stories first-hand. Of course, fans of any sports will always have their own opinion on what a players greatest moment was, but does that player feel the same? Or is there another, more personal moment that stands above all others?
In this series, we will be asking professional athletes from various sports one simple question, What do you consider the greatest moment of your career?
In the second edition of this series, We will find out what moment Professional Footballer Danny Newton considers the greatest of his career.
‘My Greatest Moment in Sport’ by Danny Newton
I would say this is the favourite story of my career due to it being the FA Cup and the way in which I scored my second goal after coming on as a sub.
I felt I was playing well in the weeks leading up to the second-round game against Swindon. I was told I’d be starting on the Saturday to then being told the day before the game I was on the bench. I was disappointed and frustrated not to be starting, especially since it was the first time in my career I had reached this stage of the cup, but I knew I could make a difference when I came on.
It was about 60 minutes into the game, and it was 3-2 to us, but it was an end to end game that could go either way. Within minutes of coming on, I had a header from a few yards out set up by Matty Godden, which I took to make it 4-2. Then, with not long left, I tackled the Swindon midfielder in my own half before running the length of the pitch, nutmegging the centre back and taking the ball round the keeper to slot home and kill the game off at 5-2. My celebration was scratching my head in disbelief in front of the fans.
It was a memory that will live with me forever.
Danny Newton Biography:
Unlike many players who have played in the English Football League, Danny Newton did not officially become a professional football player until he was 26 years old. The Liverpool-born striker started his football career at Leicester City’s development centre as a child. However, he disappointingly failed to make the step up into their youth academy. Nevertheless, Newton continued to play football. At 13 years old, he joined a Sunday League team managed by his step-father. His talent was clear to everyone there, with the striker outperforming under 18’s teams at just 16 years old. The future professional told ‘The Comet’ that his Sunday League experience “toughened me up quite quickly”.
At 17 years old, alongside pursuing an apprenticeship in electrical engineering and working in his step-father’s warehouse, Newton joined the Conference North side Hinckley United. The striker’s opportunities were limited during his first season with ‘The Knitters’. However, the 2010/2011 season was far more prosperous for the future professional. He managed to break into a solid attacking unit that was the third-highest scorers in their division despite finishing 15th. The young attacker started ten games and came off the bench 18 times during the campaign, scoring three goals.
The 2011/2012 season was Newton’s breakthrough year. He made 41 appearances for Hinckley United and formed a deadly strike partnership with future Premier League player and current Watford and Jamaican hitman Andre Grey. The duo scored a combined 29 goals during the campaign, with Newton netting 13 and Grey ending on 16. Unfortunately for the pair, their performances were not enough to keep ‘The Knitters’ from finishing in the relegation zone. But, they managed to retain their place in the Conference North after both Darlington and Kettering Town were relegated to further divisions after financial problems.
Both Newton and Grey left Hinckley at the end of the season to move up a level to the National League, one tier below the English Football League and professional football, joining Nuneaton and Luton Town, respectively. However, the strikers endured vastly different fates in their new division. While Grey was a star at Kenilworth Road, Newton failed to make a single appearance in the opening games of the 2012/2013 season. As a result, he was loaned back to Hinckley United, initially for just one month, but it was subsequently extended to three. During this period, the forward made 11 appearances and registered two goals.
Nuneaton recalled Newton from his loan in November 2012 and finally made his debut for the club that same month, coming off the bench during the team’s 1-0 loss to Telford United in the FA Trophy. The former Leicester City’s development centre player made ten appearances for the Warwickshire team, but he was only in the starting lineup for half of those and failed to find the back of the net.
Newton was once again loaned out, dropping down two divisions to join the Southern Football League outfit Barwell FC. The attacker had a disappointing debut, receiving his first red card during the team’s 3-1 defeat to St. Albans City. However, despite the dubious start to his Barwell journey, Newton enjoyed a decent period for The Canaries, playing all remaining seven league fixtures following his suspension and scoring three goals.
At the end of the 2012/13 season, Newton joined Barwell FC permanently. The striker described his time at Nuneaton as “one of my worst years in football because I felt like nothing was working. No matter what I did it was never enough. I was never playing and I felt unsettled.” He also admitted that he was “very close to packing it all in,” telling ‘The Comet’ that “I wasn’t getting massive amounts of money to be travelling away every other weekend to not even be in the squad. I still had to travel and I thought to myself ‘I could go work in the factory, earn more money and be home by one o’clock in the afternoon instead of 11 o’clock at night.'”
Newton experienced a very successful period at Barwell, scoring 11 goals in just 13 appearances and consistently earning ‘Man of the Match’ awards. His impressive form and newfound fitness caught the attention of Conference North side Brackley Town. Newton joined The Saints in October 2013 and attempted to step back up to the higher division. But, the former Hinckley United man struggled in Northamptonshire. He made just eight appearances for the club, starting once and failed to find the back of the net.
After just three months as a Brackley Town player, Newton knew he had to secure a move elsewhere. Luckily for the Liverpool-born man, fellow Conference North side Leamington was willing to take a chance on him, offering a contract until the end of the season. Newton knew he had to impress during this period, and he certainly did just that. The striker scored ten goals in 18 appearances for The Brakes during the 2013/14 season. His performances dazzled Leamington’s management enough to earn a new one-year deal with the club.
The 2014/15 season saw Newton achieve the best season of his career up to that point personally, but he suffered a heartbreaking campaign with his team. The striker managed to net an impressive 16 goals in 36 appearances and was the team’s top goalscorer. Not only was he leading the line, but mid-way through the season, he was made captain of the Warwickshire side. Newton won three end-of-season awards, including the Player of the Year. However, despite their striker shining, Leamington finished 17th in the Conference North and was relegated to the tier below.
Despite enjoying his time at Leamington, Newton knew he would have to leave the club if he wanted to continue chasing his goal of becoming a professional player. After leaving a lasting impression on The Breaks, the striker departed with a heavy heart to join Conference North club Tamworth FC.
Newton’s time in Staffordshire ended up altering his career forever. The start of his Tamworth tenue was somewhat troublesome. The attacker was forced to play out of position on the wing and, despite his prolific goalscoring form towards the end of the previous season, it took Newton fourteen games to score his first goals for his new club. He finally broke his duck by scoring a brace against Lowestoft Town in October 2015. After finally finding his shooting boots, the striker finished the 2016/16 season with ten goals in 36 appearances, despite missing three months due to an injury. Amazingly, Four of these goals came in the same match. Newton became the first Tamworth player in 16 years to net four times in a single appearance during his team’s 5-3 victory against Stalybridge Celtic.
Newton signed a new one year deal to remain at Tamworth for their 2016/17 campaign. That season was when the energetic striker managed to take his performances to the next level and finally showcase his true talent. Newton was unstoppable. First, he embarked on a ridiculous goalscoring run from late August to mid-November, scoring an outrageous 13 goals in 12 games, netting four separate braces during that period. Then, almost unbelievably, he managed to replicate this feat later in at the end of the season. The Leicester-raised striker finished the season with a sensational 28 goals in 39 appearances. To nobody’s surprise, he swept the end of season awards and won the second Player of the Year award of his career. Unfortunately for the red-hot attacker, Tamworth just fell short of the playoffs after an impressive season.Embed from Getty Images
During the 2016/17 season, Former non-league player turned Premier League winner Jamie Vardy decided to create his own academy, named The V9 Academy. The Leicester City icon’s goal was to help non-league players replicate his journey by getting them into the professional game. So, Vardy and his scouts embarked on a journey to find the best 42 players outside of the Football league and invite them to a week-long camp in June 2017, held at Manchester City’s first team campus.
Danny Newton caught the eye of the V9 team during his second season at Tamworth. The striker told ‘The Comet’ “We were playing against a team that were top of the league and they came to watch some of their players. “I played really well against them, tore them to shreds and scored the winner. I got a message on Twitter the next day asking me if I wanted to be in the V9 Academy. I didn’t know anything about it at the time so I had a look, saw what it was about, what they were trying to do and thought ‘I’ve got nothing to lose’. I was 25 or 26, these chances don’t come round very often, so I’ve got to take it with both hands.”
During his time at the V9 Academy, Newton experienced his first taste of a full-time schedule in football. While playing for Tamworth, he also worked at a Carbon Fibre factory and played football part-time. The goal-getter played three friendlies during his week at the academy and was watched by over 60 professional scouts. Newton’s performances thoroughly impressed and attracted the attention of several EFL clubs.
Shortly after finishing his stay at the V9 Academy, Newton jetted off on holiday with his future in the balance. However, just a couple of days into the striker’s end of season break, he was informed that League 2 side Stevenage FC wanted to offer him a professional contract. So, after cutting his holiday short, Newton officially signed a two-year deal with The Boro in June 2017. In doing so, he became the first graduate of the V9 Academy to earn a professional contract and finally achieved his life-long goal.
After years of battling in the non-league of English football, Danny Newton finally made his professional football debut during Stevenage’s 3-3 draw against Newport County on the opening day of the 2017/18 season. He scored his first professional goal in the same game, netting the Hertfordshire club’s third of the game. Alongside his goalscoring prowess, Newton’s hard work and tenacity on the field saw him quickly become a firm fan-favourite amongst The Boro faithful. The striker notched 16 goals in 51 games across all competitions during his inaugural season as a professional, including a last-minute equaliser against the club’s bitter rivals Luton Town, and finishing as Stevenage’s top goalscorer. For the third time in his career, and for his third different club, Newton was named Player of the Season during the End Of Season awards. He remarkably managed to earn all three versions of the award available, with his fellow players, the fans and the Supporters Association each individually voting him to win the honours.Embed from Getty Images
Unfortunately for the hard-working striker, his remaining three seasons at Stevenage were riddled with injures, which were poorly managed by the club’s backroom staff. Newton started the 2018/19 season by scoring and assisting twice in his first seven league games. However, a collection of injuries kept forcing the forward to miss a handful of games in a row on multiple occasions. The former Tamworth man was playing through pain for months, with the club managing his injuries by providing injections, but eventually, it was decided that it would be best to go under the knife. He successfully underwent a surgical procedure in February 2019. Despite reportedly being out for the remainder of the season, the attacker was back in The Boro lineup by the end of March. He scored on his return but was re-injured just 20 days later after a poor tackle in a game against Grimsby Town. This latest injury ended his season prematurely. His time on the shelf limited him to just 29 appearances in all competitions during the campaign, scoring six goals.
Newton’s miserable injury spell continued during the 2019/20 season. The 2017/18 Player of the Year featured in the open ten games of the season, scoring twice, but later admitted that he was still injured during this period and “shouldn’t have been playing.” The V9 Academy graduate did not participate in any fixtures that season beyond September 2019, with him focused on fully recovering from his injuries instead. Newton may have potentially returned toward the end of the campaign had Covid-19 not forced the Football League to end their seasons early.
After almost a year without kicking a competitive football, Newton finally returned to the Stevenage team for the start of the 2020/21 season. Unfortunately, despite providing the team with his trademark relentless energy and fantastic pressing play, goals were hard to come by throughout the campaign, scoring just four times in 34 appearances in the league. However, he was also deployed on the wing or in attacking midfield for many games, which may have contributed to a lower goal return than expected.
Newton bid farewell to Stevenage after his contract expired in the summer of 2021 after four years at The Lamex Stadium, leaving every Boro fan with incredibly fond memories and immense appreciation for his contributions to the club.
As of writing this article, Newton is a free agent. However, he will likely not be without a club for long.
An enormous thank you to Danny Newton for contributing to this article. We are honoured to have him as our first professional footballer to write for our site. All of us at Tales From Sport will be keenly following him during the next step of his career.