Cup fever builds again in South Shields as Mariners shock Darlington

South Shields striker Carl Finnigan celebrates his second goal at Darlington with the huge travelling support. Picture by Kev Wilson.
South Shields striker Carl Finnigan celebrates his second goal at Darlington with the huge travelling support. Picture by Kev Wilson.

Cup fever is building again in South Shields after the town’s football club equalled its best-ever FA Cup run.

Chairman Geoff Thompson watched from the terraces with the fans as about 700 Mariners supporters cheered their team to a famous 3-0 win at Darlington.

Shields went into the game as underdogs against a Darlington side ranked two leagues higher than them.

But they were on the front foot from the start and continued their love affair with cup competitions just four months on from lifting the FA Vase at Wembley.

Saturday’s victory put them into tomorrow’s draw for the third qualifying round for the first time since 1997, and is the furthest the club has gone in the FA Cup since reforming in 1974.

The huge travelling support was singing in the rain at Blackwell Meadows – and hailed their heroes afterwards.

Fantastic lads, the whole town is proud of you

Billy Philpot

On the Gazette’s Facebook page, Billy Philpot posted: “Fantastic lads, the whole town is proud of you.”

Peter St Clair added: “Excellent! Could be playing Sunderland soon at this rate of progress. Well done to all concerned.”

Meanwhile, chairman Mr Thompson also came in for praise.

David Michael Graham wrote on the All Things Mariners Facebook page: “Geoff Thompson is a top bloke.

“He stood with us for the full 90 minutes on the muddy bank in the pouring rain at Darlington.

“His craic was great and he answered all questions about the club’s plans with enthusiasm. Soaking wet with a borrowed Shields scarf wrapped around his head, he was as diplomatic as he could be about Darlington’s treatment of the Shields fans.

“Asked if he fancied a couple of pints after the game, he said ‘I might have a few bob in the bank, but if I’m not home by seven my wife would bury me at the bottom of the garden!’

“Genuine top bloke.”

Shields are now two wins away from booking their place in the first round of the FA Cup.

If they make it to that stage of the competition, they could come up against Football League opposition.