Shields were a Premier side in Northern League

South Shields FC.
South Shields FC.

Before the advent of mobile phones, many football fans would take a tiny transistor radio to the match with them to catch up with the half-time scores.

This and other memories came flooding back for one ex-South Shields chap, who got in touch following the recent series of articles about games at the town’s Simonside Hall ground.

South Shields football match.

South Shields football match.

Mike Seales, who now lives in Worcester, told me: “I was brought up just around the corner from Simonside Hall, and have happy memories of watching some very good Shields teams in the second half of the sixties.

“Those of my generation will remember the likes of Colin Lemon, who preceded Bert Garrow in goal, Len Smith, Gerry Donahue, Tommy Pickford, Billy Thompson, Colin Lambton, Billy Robinson and Bobby Elwell.

“Len was a prolific goal-scorer, and Gerry moved on to play for Scarborough, who were a force in non-league football at that time.

“Shields played in the Northern Premier League, and among our arch rivals were Wigan Athletic, recent visitors to St James’ Park.

“As is self-evident, the clubs’ fortunes took divergent paths.

“A previous piece you published mentioned the well-documented third round FA Cup tie against QPR in January 1970, but what about Shields remarkable win in the second round?

“After a 0-0 draw at Simonside Hall, we beat Oldham Athletic on their own patch in the replay. That was a brilliant win.

“I remember the visit of Sir Stanley Matthews in April 1966. I believe that Val Coyne, younger sister of Shields’ left back Billy Thompson, has confirmed that Billy played against Matthews that day.

“By this stage, Sir Stanley was 51 years old, and I’m guessing that Billy, who, to use a phrase in common usage at that time, liked ‘to get stuck in’, was wondering about the potential consequences of playing his usual game against the ageing gentleman!

“These were the days when fans carried hand-held transistor radios to pick up the half-time scores from the big games and relate them to those around them.

“South Shields played open, attractive football during these years and, at their level, few sides were a match for them at Simonside Hall. I, along with many others, very much enjoyed watching them week by week.”