South Shields FC set to invest in drainage after big Boxing Day derby is postponed

South Shields FC chairman Geoff Thompson is hoping to make pitch problems at Mariners Park a thing of the past.
South Shields FC chairman Geoff Thompson is hoping to make pitch problems at Mariners Park a thing of the past.

South Shields FC chairman Geoff Thompson has revealed he plans to significantly improve the drainage at Mariners Park in a bid to make pitch problems a thing of the past.

As with most Northern League clubs, the Mariners have suffered from a number of postponements in recent weeks because of heavy rainfall.

The average league attendance at Mariners Park so far this season is 670. Image by Peter Talbot.

The average league attendance at Mariners Park so far this season is 670. Image by Peter Talbot.

Today’s eagerly-awaited derby with Hebburn Town was postponed on Christmas Eve because of the state of the pitch.

For Mr Thompson, that postponement, as well as the recent call-offs of the FA Vase game against Morpeth Town, was a ‘huge disappointment and frustration’.

And it is a problem he is hoping can be significantly reduced in the summer.

He said: “The pitch is absolutely a priority for us. We’re going to invest significantly in that to improve it ahead of next season.

In the close-season, we will get the pitch up and put the drainage in, and hopefully that will mean that we won’t have this problem as much next season

Geoff Thompson

“When we got involved and came back to Mariners Park in the summer, you could see that it was a great playing surface.

“The weather this Christmas has been almost unprecedented, though, and the pitch hasn’t coped with it, as has also been the case at most Northern League grounds. We have already had quotations for some significant improvements to the drainage.

“In the close season, we will get the pitch up and put the drainage in, and hopefully that will mean that we won’t have this problem as much next season. It will be a significant investment.

“It has been frustrating, because the FA Vase game has now been postponed three times, and the Hebburn match on Boxing Day, which everyone was extremely excited about.

“That was a huge disappointment and frustration, but we’re not alone in having this problem. All that we can do is make the right investment and try to make sure the pitch can cope with it better next year.”

More than 1,300 tickets had been sold for today’s match, a figure which did not include the club’s season ticket holders and pass holders. A crowd of about 2,000 was expected.

All of those tickets have now automatically been transferred to the rearranged date, which is yet to be announced, meaning the new fixture will be expected to break both the Northern League Division Two, and ground, record.