Why non-league clubs can learn from the 'professionalism' shown by South Shields
Ryton and Crawcrook Albion manager Tony Fawcett believes that non-league clubs around the region can learn from the “professionalism” shown by Durham Challenge Cup opponents South Shields.
The two sides meet for the first time in over three and a half years on Wednesday night when the Mariners travel to Kingsley Park looking to take the first steps towards reaching the final for the second consecutive season.
A whole host of academy products were handed a chance to shine in last year’s final as Graham Fenton and Lee Picton’s side were narrowly beaten by Northern League Division One side Shildon at the Stadium of Light.
This year’s run gets underway with a visit to in-form Division Two side Albion and the game sees the Mariners return to the scene of a 4-0 win that took them a step closer to the first of three consecutive promotions back in March 2016.
Albion boss Fawcett admitted that his club are looking forward to taking on the current BetVictor NPL Premier Division leaders and is expected a severe challenge, no matter what side Fenton and Picton choose to select.
He told The Gazette: “The South Shields game is a massive test – but it’s one that we are all really excited about.
“They have brought a professionalism to the lower levels of the game that we can all learn from.
“They have some outstanding players who have played, and currently still play at, an exceptional standard.
“I am expecting South Shields to name a strong squad, even their youngsters are of a ridiculously high standard.
“Their set up is as good as we’re likely to come across, so it’ll be as great a learning curve off the pitch as it will be a test on it.
“Since the draw was made, there’s been a real buzz at the club and hopefully we get a good-sized crowd to match the occasion.
“We had a brilliant experience playing Hartlepool United at Victoria Park last year, and this is another great experience for our players.
Kick-off at Kingsley Park is at 7.30pm and admission is £5 adults and £2 concessions.
Wednesday night fixtures (7.30pm unless stated)
Northumberland Senior Cup First Round
Bedlington Terriers v Ashington (7.45pm)
Heaton Stannington v Blyth Spartans
Durham Challenge Cup First Round
Bishop Auckland v Stockton Town (7.45pm)
Brandon United v Newton Aycliffe (7.45pm)
Darlington RA v Esh Winning
Hartlepool FC v Billingham Synthonia
Jarrow v West Auckland Town
Ryton & Crawcrook Albion v South Shields
Sunderland RCA v Dunston UTS
Whickham v Darlington
Willington v Hebburn Town (7.45pm)