South Shields FC are gearing up for the longest trip in the club’s modern-day history later this month.
The Mariners are travelling to Southampton-based Team Solent in round five of the FA Vase.
Despite the 660 mile-round trip, hundreds of Shields supporters are expected to back their team in Hampshire.
A victory would put the Mariners into the quarter-finals, with the club dreaming of a first visit to Wembley for the final.
Club historian and vice-president Bob Wray, who has followed the club since 1947, fondly recalls a trip to London to watch Shields take on Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup in 1970.
The journey to Southampton on Saturday, January 28 will be even longer, and Mr Wray is already excited about the occasion.
In my lifetime, this is certainly the longest trip I can remember the club havingBob Wray
He said: “In my lifetime, this is certainly the longest trip I can remember the club having. The longest journey I made to watch Shields was for the FA Cup third round match at Queens Park Rangers in 1970.
“This trip will bring back some good memories of that, because we’ve largely been restricted to local fixtures since then.”
Since Shields defeated Morpeth 4-0 last Wednesday to reach round five, supporters have been taking to social media to tell of their excitement ahead of the long trip.
Mr Wray added: “The town has been starved of a decent side for so many years. People have bought into it now there has been a bit of success. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s something like 300 or 400 Shields fans there.”
Club sponsor Westoe Travel has launched two deals in conjunction with the club to take supporters to Southampton.
A coach will leave South Shields at 5.30am before returning after the match, with a seat costing £36 for adults and £34 for children.
A train and hotel deal, meanwhile, is also available, with the train to depart Newcastle at 6.55am on Saturday, January 28 and return the following afternoon, with supporters staying at Hotel Ibis, in Southampton.
That package costs £144 per person. Anyone interested in either option can contact Westoe Travel by calling 0191 455 2292 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, the Simonside Branch of the club’s supporters have also organised coach travel. The coach will leave the Satellite Pub, in Henderson Road, South Shields, at 5.30am, at a cost of £22 per person. To book, call 07706 517010.