'Huge occasion' - South Shields chairman Geoff Thompson prepares for emotional FA Cup weekend after stunning club progress
South Shields chairman Geoff Thompson has admitted he is preparing for an emotional occasion as the Mariners prepare to face Forest Green Rovers.
Seven years have passed since Thompson bought into his hometown club and began a journey that has led to three promotions, two cup wins, and FA Vase Final triumph and a first appearance in the first round of the FA Cup.
The latter tally will be doubled on Saturday lunchtime when the Mariners face the League One strugglers in front of a club record crowd at the 1st Cloud Arena.
Ahead of a historic moment for the town, Thompson praised the local community for their reaction to the progress of the club and called on the Mariners faithful to roar their side on to a shock win.
He told The Gazette: “We’ve enjoyed a positive time with the club and Saturday is just another step on the journey we have been on. Everything we are doing is for the town and the local community and it is wonderful to see South Shields in the national and worldwide spotlight.
“We can’t wait for what is a huge occasion for the football club and the local area and we shouldn’t forget we had to play our last first round tie at Cheltenham Town behind closed doors two years ago because we were all under Covid restrictions at the time.
“It’s been a challenging few years for everyone but moments like Saturday, and what we will experience at the 1st Cloud Arena, will make all of the stress and hard work feel worth while.
“I am looking forward to seeing everyone get behind Kevin and the players and I am sure there will be a fantastic atmosphere as we look to pull off a win against a Football League club,” he added.
The previous record attendance of 3,464 at the 1st Cloud Arena was set during the second leg of the FA Vase semi-final against Coalshill Town in 2017 as the Mariners secured their place at Wembley with a 4-0 win - but that figure was officially surpassed on Thursday afternoon.