Memories of when South Shields FC called Simonside Hall home

Forking the Simonside Hall pitch to get it ready for a game against Halifax Town in January 1966  are Kenneth Smith, Kenneth Sanders and Kenneth Irvin.
Forking the Simonside Hall pitch to get it ready for a game against Halifax Town in January 1966 are Kenneth Smith, Kenneth Sanders and Kenneth Irvin.

Newer fans of South Shields FC may be surprised to learn they haven’t always played home games at their current Mariners Park ground.

Older followers will have fond memories of their former ground at Simonside Hall, where they played from 1950 until 1974.

Workmen busy on the foundations of the new stand at Simonside Hall in July 1957.

Workmen busy on the foundations of the new stand at Simonside Hall in July 1957.

Its development was backed by the endeavours of a supporters’ club which at one point had a recorded membership of more than 13,000.

It had two grandstands, floodlights and a social club, as well as dressing rooms, showers, offices and living accommodation.

In the ground’s heyday, the average home gate was 7,000, but a record attendance of 20,500 gave an indication of the potential for growth of a club which one day hoped to return to the Football League, where it played in the 1920s.

Numerous friendlies were played against Scottish League opposition, along with a number of prestigious representative games, including schoolboy internationals.

Supporters turned up at Simonside Hall in December 1973 to find that the game v Alfreton had been postponed because the visitors couldn't raise a team.

Supporters turned up at Simonside Hall in December 1973 to find that the game v Alfreton had been postponed because the visitors couldn't raise a team.

FA Cup exploits, such as a 5-0 demolition of Crewe Alexandra, added to the quite enviable reputation of the old ground.

It was with some sadness, therefore, that the early 1970s saw fortunes plummet, to the extent that the club actually folded, and Simonside Hall was sold to the borough council for housing development.

We’ve dug some great old pictures of Simonside Hall out of our archive, and would to hear your memories of the ground. Email them to peter.french@jpress.co.uk.

Part-time groundsman Jimmy Crawford is pictured in January 1968, after inspecting the pitch and finding 6in-8in of frost in it - enough to cause the South Shields v Stockton North Regional League Cup tie to be postponed.

Part-time groundsman Jimmy Crawford is pictured in January 1968, after inspecting the pitch and finding 6in-8in of frost in it - enough to cause the South Shields v Stockton North Regional League Cup tie to be postponed.

Jeanette Ali, 14, from Trinity House Youth Club, is among those painting the rail around the Simonside Hall pitch in July 1969.

Jeanette Ali, 14, from Trinity House Youth Club, is among those painting the rail around the Simonside Hall pitch in July 1969.

A new barrier installed at Simonside Hall to ensure easy access to the stand for an international match in May 1968.

A new barrier installed at Simonside Hall to ensure easy access to the stand for an international match in May 1968.

In May 1958, 
South Shields FC were preparing to extend their new stand, and supporters are pictured digging the foundations for the supports.

In May 1958, South Shields FC were preparing to extend their new stand, and supporters are pictured digging the foundations for the supports.

A winter scene at Simonside Hall in February 1969.  Little snow lay on the ground,  but ice to a depth of a few inches made football out of the question.

A winter scene at Simonside Hall in February 1969. Little snow lay on the ground, but ice to a depth of a few inches made football out of the question.

The main stand at Simonside Hall is reduced to a skeleton as workmen remove the roof in April 1974, as South Shields FC wind up their affairs.

The main stand at Simonside Hall is reduced to a skeleton as workmen remove the roof in April 1974, as South Shields FC wind up their affairs.