Managing South Shields expectations could be Lee Picton’s toughest task

Lee Picton with physio Andy Morris and the FA Vase on the way home from Wembley. Picture by Peter Talbot.
Lee Picton with physio Andy Morris and the FA Vase on the way home from Wembley. Picture by Peter Talbot.

South Shields boss Lee Picton believes managing expectations after an historic campaign could well prove his toughest task ahead of next season.

The Mariners completed their 2016/17 season on Sunday by lifting their fourth trophy – the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium, courtesy of a 4-0 victory over Cleethorpes Town.

Our toughest job will be keeping people’s expectations on an even keel

And while Picton is delighted with the direction the club is heading, he is urging fans, players and people connected with the club to keep their feet firmly on the ground.

“We’re very proud of winning four trophies,” said the Mariners joint manager.

“I guess our toughest job next season will be keeping other people’s expectations on an even keel.”

The dust has barely settled on Shields remarkable season and already people are looking ahead to what life might be like in the Evo-Stik First Division North.

Despite being a long way back from North Shields in the Northern League Division One title race, the Mariners clawed their way back in the closing months of the campaign to dramatically claim the prize thanks to a remarkable unbeaten run which stretches back to November 2016’s 1-0 defeat to the Robins.

The manner of that title win, having been so far behind their rivals at one stage, got the juices flowing at Mariners Park as the season came to a crescendo.

And the three cup final wins, including one under the famous Arch at the weekend, to seal a quadruple has certainly got the town buzzing.

But that success would not be achieved were it not for hard work behind the scenes.

And Picton admits his coaching staff have already started putting the ground work in for the start of 2017/18, with targets identified, talks planned and pre-season plans to arrange.

“One thing for sure, myself, Graham, Martin Scott and the backroom staff will be focusing on the next season ahead,” he said of the next few weeks.

“The preparations will start in earnest.”

While Picton is keen to get work started on next season, in the short-term his players will be honoured and congratulated by the town in an open top bus parade planned for tomorrow.

Picton, though, will not be in attendance. Instead he will be on a pre-booked holiday.

“The parade is a brilliant way to round things off and draw a line under the season as a whole,” he said.

“It generally shows the level of support we’ve been blessed with this season.”