FOOTBALL fans in South Shields are over the moon after it emerged that the town’s football club is coming home.
It has been two long years since the Mariners headed off from Filtrona Park in Shaftsbury Avenue.
I hope they come back firing on all cylinders and make it to Wembley like North Shields did.Steve Jones
The last couple of seasons has seen the team playing its ‘home’ matches’ in Peterlee.
Now a deal has been struck to bring the club back to Filtrona.
The ground – to be renamed Mariners Park – is being bought by Geoff Thompson, chief executive of energy consultancy firm Utilitywise, who is also becoming chairman of the club.
Speaking this week, he said: “I’m confident that there are some very exciting times ahead, and the first step towards that was to ensure it got back into the town as quickly as possible.”
The club expects to be playing at the ground by the start of next season.
Former Labour councillor Arthur Meeks, 79, of Moffatt Villas, South Shields, said: “I’m not a great football fan, but that is fantastic news for the town.
“Peterlee isn’t that far away, but if you have a couple of kids and you don’t have a car, it’s a bit of a bind on public transport.
“I’d congratulate Geoff Thompson on taking on the club. I know his company Utilitywise left South Shields, but that decision was taken for the best interests of his company and he’s a businessman after all.
“This decision shows his commitment to the town.”
Retired refuse collector Joe Dowson, 65, of Petrel Close, South Shields, said: “I used to go to the odd game about five years ago because one of the traders on the market I know was secretary of the club.
“You’d get about 200 or so in there and there was always a good atmosphere, but I’ve never gone through to Peterlee, it’s too far. Having them back in the town is great.”
Bill Grieves, 74, a retired driving instructor from Westoe, said: “That’s fantastic news, it will be great to have it back again.
“We used to hold the monthly meetings of our drivers’ association at Filtrona Park. We got the venue for free and it was a friendly atmosphere.
“It’s been a big miss and I’m glad they’re not going to be building houses on it like they did at Simonside Hall.”
Retired museum assistant Angus McDonald, 67, from South Shields, has happy memories of following the team down to London in January 1970 to watch them take on Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road in a Third Round FA Cup match.
He said: “We got well-beaten but it was absolutely tremendous.
“There were bus loads of fans from every pub and club in the town heading down to London. The club is an asset to the town and it should be based within Shields, there’s no doubt about that.
“Playing matches in Peterlee was ridiculous and it will be great to have them back.”
BT South Tyneside worker Steve Jones, 54, added: “I hope they come back firing on all cylinders and make it to Wembley like North Shields did. The club had a long tradition and it felt like that was coming to an end when it moved to Peterlee.
“I’m glad that, against the odds, there has been a happy ending and that they’re on the way back.”
Volunteer worker Sue Pullen, 60, of The Lonnen, South Shields, added: “If it’s called South Shields FC, the team should play in the town. That’s just common sense.”