Julio Arca wants to finish career at South Shields

South Shields captain Julio Arca.
South Shields captain Julio Arca.

Midfielder Julio Arca has revealed that South Shields is likely to be the last club of his playing career.

The Argentinian was honoured for his services to the Mariners at the North-East Football Writers Association Dinner on Sunday.

And after receiving his award he discussed his time at Mariners Park and looked ahead to the future.

The former Sunderland and Middlesbrough star spoke of his admiration for South Shields and admitted that he “can’t see himself playing anywhere else.”

The 37-year-old said “At the moment people keeping asking me ‘How long are you going to play?’

“It’s hard to say how long can I keep playing for of course.

“I feel good enough to carry on playing and I have another year on my contract with South Shields.

“We will see what happens next season but I honestly can’t see myself playing anywhere else.

“I can’t see myself starting over again and I like the club, I like the people involved, the volunteers and the players and coaches.

“It means a lot to me so if I feel good enough to play another season I will have a chat with the club but we will take it season by season.”

The Mariners’ remarkable quadruple-winning season was also honoured at the event at Ramside Hall.

Joint-manager Graham Fenton received the award on behalf of the club, with owner Geoff Thompson also in attendance.

Arca spoke glowingly of the work that Thompson has put in at Mariners Park and believes that the South Tyneside businessman has started something special.

“The club is going back in time,” said Arca, who returned to football after retiring with a foot injury.

“It is going back to where football was 20 years ago, it is something special.

“He (Thompson) is starting a family club, the players are socialising with the players, we chat with them after the games.

“The people are all working-class people, they are doing everything they can for the club.

“Some people were volunteers, some are getting paid now and some have full-time jobs.

“It is part of the town and we are working together to move the club forward.”

Arca’s side have taken the step up into the Evo-Stik North in their stride and are in pole position with the season heading towards its finale.

The Mariners sit a point clear at the top of the table and crucially they hold a game in hand over their nearest challengers Hyde United.

The odds seemed to stacked in their favour, with the Mariners having only one fixture remaining against a fellow top-six side.

That will come with a visit to a fourth-placed Bamber Bridge on Saturday, March 20.

Winning the Evo-Stik North title would mean a third consecutive promotion and Arca believes that the next level will bring some tough challenges for the club on and off the pitch.

“Hopefully this season we will get promotion and then we know next season will be harder,” he added.

“We can go as far as we want to go I think.

“Financially, things will change because we will be playing at a higher level.

“If we get promoted we will need one or two new faces because it will be hard in the next league.

“The chairman and coaches will decide how far they want to go and what they need to take on the next league up if we get promoted.”