Stalwart South Shields FC fan to celebrate 70 years supporting the Mariners

Richard Bailey first started following South Shields FC in 1945, and has seen them play at grounds including Horsley Hill, Simonside Hall and Mariners Park.
Richard Bailey first started following South Shields FC in 1945, and has seen them play at grounds including Horsley Hill, Simonside Hall and Mariners Park.

A veteran football supporter is set for a double celebration this weekend as his team makes its competitive return home and he marks 70 years of following the club.

Richard Bailey, 82, started watching South Shields FC in 1945 after his father Bill returned from the war.

When my father came home after the war, the first thing he did was took me to the football

Richard Bailey

It is now almost 70 years to the day that he took in his first game, which was played at Horsley Hill, and on Saturday the Mariners will return to play their first league game back at Mariners Park, in Shaftesbury Avenue, since a two-year exile in Peterlee.

Shields will host Northallerton Town at 3pm, and Mariners stalwart Mr Bailey, a former teacher, is looking forward to the occasion.

Mr Bailey, now a vice-president of the club and a long-standing committee member, said: “When my father came home after the war, the first thing he did was took me to the football.

“He only lived until 1947, but he took me to watch Shields playing at Horsley Hill during that time, and I remember getting the single-decker bus from Stanhope Road to the ground.

“I was just pleased to be going to watch football, as I had never seen it before. I’ve been watching South Shields ever since.

“There have been so many ups and downs over the last 70 years for the club, and this season, there is a lot of positivity.

“It’s fantastic we’re back at Mariners Park, and I think we’ve got a team that is more than capable of winning the league. I’m confident we’ll win promotion.”