How team spirit helped carry South Shields to title triumph
Leader Jon Shaw says South Shields' team spirit has been the key to their latest title triumph as they look to finish another successful season in style.
The Mariners secured a third league championship in a row on Tuesday by beating Radcliffe 4-0.
They host Kendal Town tonight and Colne on Saturday as they look to break through the 100-point barrier in what has been a tough campaign.
Shields stepped up from the Northern League a year ago and have faced hugely increased travel demands in the Evo-Stik North Division.
Shaw believes the way they have dealt with that challenge is testament to the spirit in the dressing room.
He said: “I’m really proud of all the lads.
“It has been a long season, and it has been worth it in the end.
“It’s so important that we’re not just a good bunch of players, but a good bunch of lads.
“Everybody is pulling the same way and wants to be a part of it.
“Everyone wants to win, but we want to do it together, which is massively important.”
The Mariners can now look forward to two final fixtures at Mariners Park, where they will get the chance to celebrate in front of bumper crowds.
Shaw has heaped praise on the Shields support for their efforts this season.
He added: “You see the same faces all the time, and it’s a brilliant atmosphere.
“It makes every game feel like a home game.
“Wherever we go, we take about 200 or 300 fans with us at least, which is unbelievable for this level.
“I’m really pleased that many of them made it to Radcliffe on Tuesday and enjoyed their night.
“We’ve got tonight and Saturday to maybe see another 3,000 fans in and really get the celebrations started.”
Shields went into this season as heavy favourites to win a third promotion in a row – and indeed, a third title on the bounce.
Because of that, an element of relief has been included in their celebrations.
Shaw said: “You should be absolutely ecstatic the moment you win the league.
“The first thing that hits us is a bit of relief, because there’s a lot of expectation on us.
“We’ve done it in plenty of time, though, and everybody is absolutely buzzing.
“We can enjoy it now for the next week.”
Kick-off in tonight’s game is at 7.45pm, with admission – to be paid at the turnstiles – costing £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.
Shields are hoping to welcome back Barrie Smith and Lee Mason, although Gavin Cogdon, Julio Arca and Shaw are all doubts.