You are FANtastic! Arca, hat-trick hero and boss hail South Shields supporters after record-breaking day

South Shields celebrate after beating Tow Law 9-1 in front of more than 1400 people.
South Shields celebrate after beating Tow Law 9-1 in front of more than 1400 people.

South Shields supporters have been hailed for helping the club enjoy a record-breaking weekend.

A crowd of over 1,400 flocked to watch South Shields FC on Saturday as the club broke the attendance record for Northern League Division Two.

But the game would not have even gone ahead at Mariners Park if it was not for a hard-working group of about 30 volunteers who answered the club's call for help in getting the pitch playable.

They were rewarded not just by the bumper gate of 1,412, but also by a superb 9-1 victory over Tow Law Town for the Mariners as they made it 17 wins in a row.

The match was in severe doubt on Saturday morning, and work was needed to remove remaining surface water to ensure it passed a pitch inspection.

The pitch was eventually passed fit, and Shields then broke the divisional attendance record, which had been set by North Shields two seasons ago on the day they lifted the Division Two title.

It was the third crowd of over 1,000 at Mariners Park so far this season, and manager Jon King has heaped praise on those who got Saturday's game on, as well as those who kept the club alive during its two-year exile in Peterlee, which ended this summer when new chairman Geoff Thompson bought the ground.

Mr King said: "I don't think we can thank the volunteers enough.

"They were desperate to get down here and get the game on, so a massive thanks to them.

"To then have a crowd of over 1,400 was absolutely fantastic.

"This club has seen some dark times over the last two or three seasons, but we stuck at it.

"You have to give huge credit to the likes of (vice-chairman) Gary Crutwell, and committee members like Bob Wray, Philip Reay and David Fall.

"Thanks to their hard work in keeping the club alive, Geoff has been able to invest, and the fans are responding incredibly.

"The town is getting behind us, and I think we're giving them a team to be proud of."

David Foley netted a hat-trick against Tow Law, and also had words of praise for the volunteers.

He said: "The club is fantastic to be involved in, and credit to Geoff Thompson and everyone who is involved that nobody sees, like those who worked on the pitch.

"There was a great number who came and gave their time up, which they didn't have to do. They ultimately got the game on.

"Everyone from the players upwards would like to thank those volunteers for getting the game on for us.

"It wasn't pretty at times, but I can only imagine what it would have been like if they didn't do that and give up their time."

Former Sunderland and Middlesbrough midfielder Julio Arca was also on the scoresheet for the Mariners, and added: "It was great to see so many fans come to the game despite the weather. It was cold and wet, but the support was incredible.

"If they come to support the team and we give them back a score of 9-1, it's great, and sends everyone home happy.

"I'm glad I got here when the club was starting from scratch, and I'm sure it's going to go a lot further.

"There's a lot of people working very hard behind the scenes, and the players are doing their bit on the pitch.

"A lot of work went in to get the pitch right, and we'd all like to thank everyone who helped out for getting the game on."