South Shields FC to move to full-time model ahead of 2021-22 season - with FOUR players set to leave

South Shields have confirmed that they will move to a full-time model ahead of the 2021-22 Northern Premier League season – with FOUR players set to leave.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 7:00 pm
The South Shields players celebrate.
The South Shields players celebrate.

The Mariners have operated with a hybrid model consisting of part-time and full-time players over the last two seasons as they looked to continue their progress up the non-league pyramid.

The transition to a full-time status will be formally completed this summer in a move that will see four established players depart the club as defender Craig Baxter, midfield duo Phil Turnbull and Josh Gillies and forward Lee Mason will all leave the 1st Cloud Arena when their contracts expire in June.

The Mariners remain in talks with club captain Robert Briggs after he expressed a desire to agree new terms “subject to his working arrangements”.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

South Shields manager Graham Fenton believes that the move to a full-time model will help “maximise the potential of the squad”.

He said: “This is a hugely exciting moment for the club and for us as a management team, as it gives us so much more scope to improve standards on and off the pitch.

“Operating in a hybrid structure for the last two seasons has been a major learning curve for us and although it had its real benefits, we always knew it would also present some challenges which could only be overcome by eventually progressing to a full-time model.

“This gives us the chance to be more flexible with the training schedule, and we will be able to get the balance between training and rest better in the lead-up to games.

“For example, in the last two seasons the full-time players have trained on a Thursday night and Friday morning, meaning some of them may have been a little fatigued because of a lack of rest between those sessions and the games.

“We'll now be able to structure the week better so we can focus on the physical side early in the week and ensure all the players are fresh going into the weekend games and ready to give it everything they've got.

“All of the training sessions will now take place during the day, giving us the chance to spend more time with the whole squad to work on everything we need to get us in the best possible shape for each match.”

The departure of four club stalwarts means that an exciting step forward is tinged with sadness for the club.

Former Gateshead trio Gillies, Turnbull and Baxter have made a combined 366 appearances for the Mariners – with the latter leading the way with 201 during a five-year stay with the club.

Mason crossed the Tyne in January 2018 after joining South Shields from Ebac Northern League club North Shields and will leave with an impressive record of 32 goals in 88 appearances.

“It is a real sad moment to lose those four players, all of whom have made such valuable contributions to the club over recent years,” explained the Mariners boss.

“Supporters will have a real affinity with them all and it is upsetting that they are unable to continue on the journey with us because of work commitments, but they can all leave with their heads held high having represented the club so well.”