South Shields chairman hails his team's 'incredible' record-breaking promotion
The Mariners secured a second successive promotion on Saturday – in record-breaking style.
They won 1-0 at the home of title rivals North Shields, replacing their opponents at the top of the league.
In doing so, they ensured they will finish in the top-three position required to win promotion to the Evo-Stik First Division North.
It was also a 31st win in a row for the Mariners - thought to be an unofficial world record, beating the streak of 30 put together by Scottish side East Kilbride last year.
The club's previous record winning run was 20 games, set last season.
Promotion to what is effectively the Northern Premier League is another huge step forward for the club under chairman Geoff Thompson, who took over in 2015.
Today he hailed the achievements of the team, as well as joint managers Graham Fenton and Lee Picton.
Mr Thompson said: “It was good to get that first step sorted out, which is promotion.
“It was an incredible day and a brilliant occasion, and I’d like to place on record my thanks to North Shields for being such very good hosts.
“The run of form we’re on is incredible. It was interesting listening to Graham speak after the game, because he was saying that they hadn’t been thinking about the record, and wanting people not to talk about it.
“It can add a bit of pressure when you’re trying to sustain something like that.
“They have just been taking each game at a time and not getting too far ahead of themselves.”
The Mariners’ remarkable run of victories is unlikely to be recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, who only include top-flight football clubs in their records.
However, there is no taking away from the incredible achievement.
Mr Thompson added: “It’s absolutely fantastic that we now hold this record, and it’s a bit of history for the club as well. To win 31 games on the bounce is unheard of. The players and management have been applying themselves correctly, but they’ve got their feet on the ground.”
When Mr Thompson became chairman two years ago, he took over a club in the doldrums. The Mariners had spent the previous two seasons playing 20 miles away, in Peterlee, after finding themselves homeless.
Mr Thompson brought the club back by purchasing Mariners Park – then known as Filtrona Park – where Shields had played between 1992 and 2013.
The results since have been tremendous, with the Mariners winning promotion from Northern League Division Two as champions last season, and now sure of going up again.
Off the pitch, there has also been an incredible turnaround, with Shields now regularly watched by crowds of more than 1,000 at home games.
Mariners fans made up a large number of the 1,575 attendance at Saturday’s game as they watched their team create some more history.
And they could not hide their admiration for Mr Thompson, who was “mobbed” on his way back to his car with son Callum.
He said: “That was amazing. Callum and I were leaving the ground with some friends and everyone around us was delighted with the result.
“I got pleasantly mobbed by people who were celebrating and enjoying the moment. I’m not sure I deserved that.”
The Mariners are still in the hunt for four trophies this season.
They hold top spot in the league with four games remaining, while they have a Wembley trip to look forward to in the final of the FA Vase.
Shields are also in the final of the Durham Challenge Cup and League Cup.