He once famously took Paul Gascoigne to Boston United but Steve Evans' affinity for football in the north east goes well beyond the mercurial midfielder.

The Dunston superstar arrived at York Street in 2004 and made five appearances in three-month spell.

It's Gazza's native Gateshead to which Evans will take his new team, Stevenage, on Saturday for a first round FA Cup match.

And the Scot knows exactly what type of challenge the Heed, and their north east players, will provide.

Evans said: "Newcastle United are at the opposite end of the spectrum to Gateshead but they are the same people.

"I’ve always said they are like Glaswegians, where people will afford their match ticket before they think about feeding their kids.

"It’s a bit dramatic but in many cases it is true.

"It’s a hotbed of football and it’s been given a real surge by the investment into Newcastle and how Eddie has got them playing.

"There will be a spin-off at Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Hartlepool and Gateshead too.

"I’ve always enjoyed going to Gateshead, you get treat properly, they are good people and they have good owners who give their team a chance."

The style of football will also be familiar to a man who started his own playing career at Clyde.

Evans said: "It’s like going to Scotland. In pre-season, as much as my staff are saying go to Portugal or go to Italy, I’ve always wanted to go to Scotland because it will be hard and physical and competitive.

"I’d put the north-east very much like that and we’re under no illusion that we are in for a physical test on Saturday."

But despite his love of the football in the region and the people, Evans has never come close to managing any of their clubs.

"Leeds was as north as I got," he said, "but I’ve been to them all and you can see the passion as soon you get up there and the pride they have in their own football club.

"And it’s exactly the same at Gateshead and Hartlepool as it is at Sunderland and Newcastle."