North Shields FC chairman takes aim at South Shields and league in programme rant

North Shields chairman Alan Matthews.
North Shields chairman Alan Matthews.

North Shields FC chairman Alan Matthews has aimed a parting shot at promoted South Shields - criticising the Mariners for "buying" the Northern League.

Matthews' Robins lost top spot in Northern League Division One to their cross-river rivals when they were defeated 1-0 in Saturday's crucial derby.

The Mariners are now favourites to win the league title ahead of Morpeth Town, with North Shields looking set to finish third.

Matthews used his programme column for Wednesday's game against Morpeth to aim a dig at the Mariners over their playing budget.

He wrote: "Having bought their way out of the Northern League, we wish them well in whatever venture they now undertake."

The two Shields sides will face each other in the League Cup final on Saturday, May 6.

The match will be held at Whitley Bay's Hillheads ground, and Matthews has hit out at the league for allocating North Shields 1,000 tickets, compared to the Mariners' 2,000.

The league cited attendance figures as the reason behind the disparity, with South Shields averaging home crowds of well over 1,000 this season, and North Shields' average home gate standing at about 340.

However, that did not cut any ice with Matthews.

He added: "If what I have read is correct and actually happens it is grossly unfair.

"South Shields have been allocated 2,000 tickets and North Shields 1,000, the split supposedly being made on respective gate averages.

"Don't our friends in high places realise this is a cup final and not an average run of the mill league game?

"North Shields took 6,000 to Wembley. Last season at St James's Park, North Shields took over 2,000 fans, far outweighing our opponents from higher leagues on both occasions.

"How will the Northumberland FA feel when they find out a club from the Durham FA have been given this ridiculous head start?"

Matthews was only just getting started.

He added: "On top of that, we have even been asked to sell tickets.

"South Shields have full-time employees, whereas we rely on the goodwill of volunteers.

"What is going to happen when supporters of West Allotment, Newcastle Benfield, Heaton Stannington, Ashington and many other clubs approach us and buy their tickets?

"That means the tickets for our supporters will be even further depleted.

"Some people have no idea whatsoever about the real world.

"The tickets should have been fairly and equally split between both clubs, and then if there were any spares they could have been passed to either of the clubs.

"No one club should be handed an unfair advantage over the other before a ball has even been kicked."