The promotion party may be in full swing – but ambitious bosses at South Shields Football Club already have their sights set on ushering in a new era of success.
The Mariners kicked off jubilant celebrations after securing their place in Northern League Division One with a hard-fought 1-0 win at Easington Colliery in front of hundreds of travelling fans on Thursday night.
Mouth-watering derby clashes with North Shields and a trip to Whitley Bay now await the all-conquering side – who still have the small matter of a league title challenge to complete before the final whistle is blown on one of the most memorable season’s in the club’s history.
The club have swept all before them during an impressive campaign – backed to the hilt by a growing army of supporters.
South Shields have regularly been cheered on by crowds of more than 1,000 throughout the season.
Hopes are high that the fast-improving outfit are on the road to years of success, with this week’s momentous win just the first step on the journey.
Hopefully this will act as a good springboard.Geoff Thompson
The joyous scenes at Easington were a far cry from a little over 12 months ago, when a hardy band of fans were forced to make the trek to Peterlee to see their team in action after the club were left without a home town base when the lease on their ground expired.
But a remarkable transformation in fortunes was set in motion when businessman Geoff Thompson took over the chairman’s hotseat and bought the club’s Filtrona Park ground – renaming it Mariners Park – last June.
Back on home turf after a tough two-year hiatus, they haven’t looked back since.
Mr Thompson unfortunately missed out on seeing the big win in person but is confident there will be many more chapters left to write in the club’s ongoing success story.
Mr Thompson said; “I had a commitment I was unable to get out of. I saw the videos, though, including the one of the players celebrating in the dressing room, which looked like a lot of fun.
“The lads have deserved that celebration for the work they have put in.”
Mr Thomson believes the talented squad being assembled will have plenty more to shout about in seasons to come.
He added: “The backing of the supporters has been terrific. Getting momentum behind us this season was important, just as it was important to get success early with promotion in the first year. Hopefully, this will act as a good springboard. We’re already planning for next season, on and off the pitch.”
Mr Thompson has already began to revamp the club’s facilities, with Newcastle United icon Alan Shearer on hand to officially open the renovated function room in November.
Management and players alike will now shift their immediate focus towards clinching top spot in the Northern League second-tier.
They hold a healthy seven- point advantage over second-placed Billingham Synthonia and have three games in hand moving into the crucial final weeks of the campaign.
Mr Thompson is keen for one more celebration before the curtain is brought down on the season.
He added: “We’ve got a fantastic squad and the lads have done a great job. We want to push now to win the title.”