A record-breaking crowd cheered South Shields FC one step closer to Wembley on a remarkable day at Mariners Park on Saturday.
A ground record of 3,161 piled in to watch Shields demolish Newport Pagnell Town 6-1 in the FA Vase quarter-final.
The town is backing us brilliantly and we can’t thank our supporters enoughGraham Fenton
Those excited supporters will now be eagerly awaiting finding out the club’s semi-final opponents when the draw is made this morning.
The previous highest attendance for the ground had been set earlier this season, when North Shields claimed a 1-0 victory over the Mariners in front of a crowd of 2,651.
There was no such trouble for South Shields this time, with goals from David Foley, Wayne Phillips, Dillon Morse, Robert Briggs and two from Gavin Cogdon making it an afternoon of celebration.
Shields joint manager Graham Fenton afterwards paid tribute to the town for coming out in support of their team.
He said: “We’re hugely appreciative of all the people who came along to support the club.
“It made it a lot easier for us.
“I think some of the Newport players might have frozen a little bit, because they won’t have been used to playing in front of so many people.
“The town is backing us brilliantly and we can’t thank our supporters enough.”
The Mariners have enjoyed a remarkable renaissance over the last two seasons.
The club spent two years playing home games 20 miles away, in Peterlee, after the lease on Mariners Park ended in 2013.
However, after Geoff Thompson took over the club as chairman in 2015, Shields returned to their former ground, and crowds have since mushroomed, while success on the field has followed.
Saturday was a new high for a club seemingly very much on the up.
Fenton’s fellow joint manager, Lee Picton, said: “It was a fantastic day all-round for everyone at the football club.
“To do this on our home patch and give everyone the opportunity to see a game of this magnitude, and for us to perform so well, was massively pleasing for everybody.
“Myself and raham have been on successful FA Vase runs in the past with other clubs, and we enjoyed really good support with those clubs, but nothing on this level.
“I can’t imagine what the crowd is going to be like for the semi-final, and if we do manage to get through that, you can only guess how many we could potentially take down to Wembley.
“The support we’re getting is incredible and we’re massively appreciative of it.”