How far-flung South Shields FC fans are backing their team – from 3,000 miles away

From left to right, branch members Paul Fada, Chris Zahra, Roy Woods, Dave Jackson and Barry Hopper at Bakus famous Flame Towers.
From left to right, branch members Paul Fada, Chris Zahra, Roy Woods, Dave Jackson and Barry Hopper at Bakus famous Flame Towers.

Far-flung Mariners fans are hoping for a real ‘Tweet’ on Saturday – as they support their team from almost 3,000 miles away.

The Baku Mariners - made up of exiled supporters working in Azerbaijan’s capital city - will be backing South Shields FC from afar as they bid to reach Wembley.

From left to right, Paul Fada, Joel Middleton and Nick Jones ahead of skiing the Caucasus Mountains at the Azerbaijan - Russian border.

From left to right, Paul Fada, Joel Middleton and Nick Jones ahead of skiing the Caucasus Mountains at the Azerbaijan - Russian border.

Shields are taking on Coleshill Town over two legs in the semi-final of the FA Vase - with the first tie to take place on Saturday.

Members of the club’s most far-flung supporters’ club are determined not to miss out on the action – and will be kept gripped by Twitter updates.

Joel Middleton, part of the group, said: “Unfortunately, a few of us will be in Baku for the first leg of the semi-final, but that will not stop us from supporting the mighty Mariners on what we hope will be their journey to Wembley.

“The fantastic commentary on Twitter, video coverage, highlights, photos and radio reporting (complete with a few shout-outs for the Baku Mariners), ensured that we can keep up to date with every minute of the lads’ successes. We were at the quarter-final, and were completely blown away by the atmosphere and passion the fans and players had for each other.

Now that the club have support from all corners of the globe, we are certain that the lads can make it to Wembley

Joel Middleton

“It is really eye-opening to see Geordies and Mackems celebrating the success of their local football team together, as Sanddancers.”

The group, made up of Paul Fada, Joel Middleton, Dave Jackson, Paul Cinque, Barry Hopper, Chris Zahra, Billy Pollard, Keith Tomlin and John Price, work on the BP Shah Deniz Oil and Gas Platforms being built near Baku.

Clad in South Shields FC shirts and scarves, they sit in a bar each time the Mariners are playing huddled around a phone, keeping up with the team’s progress via Twitter.

When members of the group are home, they get to as many Mariners games as possible, along with their very own flag.

Joel added: “The longer we work out here in Azerbaijan, the more Sandys we meet, and the more members we recruit to the Baku Mariners. Now that the club have support from all corners of the globe, we are certain that the lads can make it to Wembley – an achievement they would wholeheartedly deserve.

“The Baku Mariners would be proud to add the voices of Paul Fada, Joel Middleton, Dave Jackson, Paul Cinque, Barry Hopper, Chris Zahra, Billy Pollard, Keith Tomlin and John Price to the chorus of South Shields’ Wembley anthem: ‘Savaloy Dips on Wembley Way’.”