A party atmosphere greeted South Shields Football Club’s return to competitive action in the borough on Saturday – despite the homecoming not going to plan on the pitch.
The Mariners played their first league game back at Mariners Park, in Shaftesbury Avenue, after a two-year exile in Peterlee on Saturday.
However, Northallerton Town ran out 3-2 victors in front of a bumper crowd of 417, which was double that of the top attendance in the whole of the division last season.
Among those in attendance were the Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Richard Porthouse, and Mayoress Patricia Porthouse, as well as members of the football club’s junior teams, who released balloons ahead of kick-off.
Club vice-president Bob Wray said: “On what was a day blessed with great weather, it was fantastic to see a crowd of over 400 at Mariners Park supporting the club.
“It was a really great and pleasant atmosphere, with plenty of colour and excitement at the club’s return to competitive football at the ground.
On what was a day blessed with great weather, it was fantastic to see a crowd of over 400 at Mariners Park supporting the clubBob Wray
“The club has undergone a huge change, certainly compared to this time last year. This is a new beginning and a new era.
“Unfortunately, the opposition spoiled the party on Saturday, but that’s football.
“It was a great pleasure to welcome the Mayor and Mayoress to the ground to grace the occasion of the opening game of the season.
“As a club, we’d like to thank everyone who attended, and hope to welcome them all back in the not too distant future.”
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Richard Porthouse, said: “I am absolutely delighted to see South Shields Football Club back in the borough.
“I was also thrilled to be asked to attend their first match at their former football ground, which is now their official new home.
“I wish the team the best of luck for the rest of the season.”