South Shields FC ‘won’t rest on laurels’ in 2016 – with more plans revealed

Geoff Thompson has revealed some of his and South Shields FC's plans for 2016.
Geoff Thompson has revealed some of his and South Shields FC's plans for 2016.

South Shields FC chairman Geoff Thompson has insisted the club ‘won’t rest on its laurels’ in the new year.

Mr Thompson took charge of the Mariners in May - bringing the club back to its former home, Mariners Park, in Shaftesbury Avenue, after two years in exile in Peterlee.

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.

Since then, significant improvements have been made to the ground, facilities and playing staff, the team are currently on a run of 20 consecutive wins, top of Northern League Division Two and attracting impressive crowds.

Mr Thompson wants to bring Conference football to Mariners Park, which would mean a jump of five leagues, and the immediate aim is to install a 3G pitch at the ground, as well as new drainage on the first-team pitch.

There are also plans to build new stands ahead of next season - but Mr Thompson has made it clear he is just getting started.

He said: “It’s interesting to reflect on just what a short space of time we’ve had to do things so far.

“There have already been improvements off the field with the changes to the ground and the new function rooms, and it’s nice to see the community using those.

“The old Mariners Club was used heavily by people in the town, and hopefully people will like the changes which have been made and use the facilities away from the matches as well.

“We want to further the ground improvements so that there are more seats and more covered areas.

“We’re hoping to put some new stands up, or certainly improve the facilities for supporters to make the whole experience of watching Shields better.

“We have appointed architects to look at that, and see what we can do at Mariners Park longer-term.

“Once we get to the end of this season, the plan is to then immediately make those improvements so they are ready for next season, and invest in a 3G pitch for the bottom part of the site. That will be another significant investment.”

Shields’ average attendance in Northern League Division Two this season is 670. The next highest in the league is 154.

They have had three crowds of over 1,000, including the division record 1,412 which watched a 9-1 win over Tow Law Town in November.

Mr Thompson added: “We’ve still got a long way to go, and there’s a lot of hard work ahead.

“We’re also focused on expanding the junior section – the guys involved have done an outstanding job with it – and want to see South Shields represented from little dribblers right the way up to a reserve and first-team.

“We’re trying to make the club a centre of the community, and the support we’ve been getting at the games has been superb. The players are really enjoying that.

“Ultimately, the club has got to be able to stand on its own two feet, and be commercially viable, and I can see signs already that it will be the case.

“It needed the initial investment, and there is some further investment required, but the whole purpose is to make the club a little hub that members of the community can come down and use.”