The stunning transformation of South Shields Football Club has been told in a new book.
From Eden to Paradise: The Incredible Fall and Rise of South Shields Football Club chronicles the club’s rollercoaster ride from being within weeks of becoming extinct to winning the FA Vase at Wembley.
Written by Gazette sports editor Ross Gregory, the book looks at how the Mariners went from playing in front of 12 paying fans at a rented ground at Peterlee’s Eden Lane to lifting silverware as 15,000 Sand Dancers watched on.
Ross said: “My background is in non-league football so I thought I’d better get the book written while South Shields are still a non-league club. The way things are going, that might not be the case for much longer.
“Geoff Thompson, Lee Picton and Graham Fenton were superb in giving me plenty of access behind the scenes, but it isn’t just a book chronicling their success, it is about the journey the club has been on.
“I particularly wanted to tell the story about how close the football club came to folding, had it not been for the dedication and commitment of the ‘Peterlee Posse’.
“The likes of Geoff, Lee, Graham and the players get all the headlines - and rightly so at times - but without the work of the committee men, mostly done in their spare time and at huge personal expense, South Shields wouldn’t have a football club today.
“It is as much about Gary Crutwell, Phil Reay, Bob Wray, David Fall, Bob Scott, Daniel Prince and many others who get a deserved mention in the book, as it is about your Julio Arcas and Carl Finnigans.”
The success on the pitch, however, is a huge part of the story and the book charts the incredible run of results since Thompson took over as chairman in 2015.
It tells how the Mariners romped to the Northern League Division Two title under the management of Jon King, reveals details of the shock sacking of the popular boss, and then the stunning 2016/17 season which saw Shields win four trophies, culminating in an amazing weekend at Wembley as 15,000 Sand Dancers descended on London for the FA Vase Final.
“There’s been so many highlights for the club over the last few years, with three successive promotions and six trophies, but Wembley was undoubtedly the pinnacle,” said Ross.
“Contrast that with the 12 paying punters who turned up to a game at Peterlee just two years earlier and it is a remarkable transformation.
“South Shields has had such a chequered, troubled history and those were some dark days, so it has been a privilege to be able to cover the story in happier times.
From Eden to Paradise: The Incredible Fall and Rise of South Shields Football Club is available priced £14.99.
A limited number of signed copies are available by contacting the author on 07739 300613 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
It can also be bought from The Back Page, or ordered from Amazon in paperback or Kindle version.