Kicks Leisure withdrew support and supporters, and committee members persuaded the RFL to enter National League Two

Club sponsor, Mike Jeffels, took over the club through his Kicks Leisure organisation and former Bramley coach Paul Fletcher, was brought in, taking over a young, inexperienced and predominantly locally produced side. Although they came close to victory against Keighley and Swinton, Thunder Mark III lost every game to finish bottom of the table.

2003 saw eight Australians added to the squad, along with Bill Ryan as a coaching adviser. After just eight games of the season and with the club in a difficult financial position, Kicks Leisure withdrew their sponsorship and chairman Steve Worsnop left the club.

A panel of supporters, including committee members of Thunder Storm, took over the running of the club in the interim period. This management committee was successful in persuading the RFL to allow Gateshead Thunder to enter National League Two. A business case based on the funding provided by the members’ club, lottery and matchday income was accepted by the governing body but was still significantly short of the minimum needed to run the club for the rest of the season, fundraising efforts were organised to fund the shortfall.