South Shields FC are set for another momentous occasion after being handed a plum draw against Hartlepool United in the FA Cup.
Shields’ remarkable cup run continued on Saturday as they beat York City 3-2 in a dramatic game at Mariners Park.
I’m sure the town will get behind the club again and there will be another brilliant crowdGeoff Thompson
They will now meet another former Football League side in Pools, in what is the last qualifying round of the competition.
Another sell-out crowd of close to 3,000 is expected for the game, which looks set to be held on Saturday, October 14.
It’s an occasion Mariners chairman Geoff Thompson is already licking his lips about.
He said: “The response from the town to what we’ve been doing over the last two years has been absolutely amazing.
“That has been evident more than ever in our FA Cup run, and it’s fantastic for us to be able to look forward to another high-profile home tie.
“It’s certainly going to be a hugely testing tie against Hartlepool, but there’s no reason why we can’t give them a really good game and try to proceed further.
“I’m sure the town will get behind the club again and there will be another brilliant crowd.”
The club’s change in fortunes over the last two-and-a-half-years has been remarkable.
Three seasons ago, the Mariners were playing home games in Peterlee in front of crowds of about 80, and the future looked bleak.
Mr Thompson took over as chairman in the summer of 2015 and returned the club to Mariners Park, and there has been huge success since.
The club has won five trophies – including the FA Vase at Wembley earlier this year, and two promotions – and now regularly attracts crowds of more than 1,500.
Saturday’s game drew in 2,806 supporters, with home tickets having sold out. It’s likely they will do so again for the tie against Hartlepool, although ticket details have not yet been announced.
Mr Thompson added: “It’s ironic that the ground might not be quite big enough to satisfy the demand for this game. That just demonstrates the ongoing potential of the club.
“It’s the job of me and everyone working behind the scenes to get the club in the right place to accommodate even bigger crowds.
“We’re working very hard on that, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
“It’s only three seasons since the club was playing in front of about 70 people at Peterlee, so the turnaround has been incredible and difficult to predict.
“We’ve just got to continue with our planning to create extra capacity and make sure we give our fans the best experience possible at Mariners Park.”