Opinion: South Shields FC littered with unsung heroes – Wembley is for them

Nearly two hours after the final whistle, with the celebrations in full swing still in the club bar, the clean-up operation was still going on.

South Shields had just reached Wembley for the first time in their history – a momentous, incredible occasion on a raucous afternoon at Mariners Park.

A huge crowd is set to be in attendance at Mariners Park for tomorrows quarter-final tie. Image by Peter Talbot.

A huge crowd is set to be in attendance at Mariners Park for tomorrows quarter-final tie. Image by Peter Talbot.

Almost 3,500 people had crammed into the ground to witness history being made, and hundreds were still there, upstairs wityh the players and the staff as they celebrated long and hard into the night.

Downstairs, pitchside, vice-chairman Gary Crutwell was walking around the ground picking up empty crisp packets, cans and other assorted litter.

“I should have delegated this better,” he grinned. “But I’ll be here late enough celebrating – don’t you worry.”

If anyone deserves the celebrations, it’s the likes of Gary, secretary Phil Reay, and long-standing committee men such as Bob Wray and others. The list is too long to mention them all, but the hard-working volunteers who man the turnstiles, club shop, refreshments hut and more know who they are.

When times were tough, they stuck by the club. Through thick and thin.

Chairman Geoff Thompson has come in and completely revamped the club. He deserves enormous praise, as does Mike Orr and many others who are turning South Shields FC into a community hub, the talk of the town.

It’s a team effort, on and off the pitch.

Matchdays now are so busy that Gary & Co often don’t get the chance to watch the game. Most committee men missed Julio Arca’s stunning opener which set them on the road to Wembley yesterday, so concerned they were with other menial tasks.

There will be no need for any of that at Wembley. No litter-picking, no money-counting, no maintenance.

They can take in the surroundings, watch the match, enjoy the day out. And boy, do they deserve it.