South Shields FC is delighted to announce the signing of midfielder Phil Turnbull from Darlington.
Turnbull has long been linked with a move to his hometown club, and the transfer has now become a reality.
The 31-year-old, who spent three years with Darlington, has described his switch to Mariners Park as a dream come true.
Turnbull said: “To sign for my hometown club is a dream, and I’m absolutely delighted to be here.
“Special things are happening at this club and I want to be involved and be a part of that.
“Being from Shields, I’ve always followed the club and playing for them is something I’ve always wanted to do.
“I’m absolutely delighted that it has happened.”
Prior to his spell at Darlington – where he won the Evo-Stik Premier Division title and spent two seasons playing in the National League North – Turnbull had spent seven years at Gateshead.
He established himself as a firm favourite at the International Stadium, and was a key part of the side which progressed through the pyramid and fell just short of a place in the Football League, losing in the National League play-off final to Cambridge United in 2014.
The central midfielder had previously spent time with Hartlepool United, Blyth Spartans and York City.
He will now get the chance to represent his hometown club, realising a long-standing ambition.
Turnbull will be following in the footsteps of dad John, who also played for the Mariners.
He added: “I’m excited. I’ve got that passion again and a new goal.
“There will be lots of people in the crowd that I know, and I want them to walk away saying ‘he’s a good player and they’ve made the right decision to bring him in’.
“I’ll have lots of family and friends here every game.
“There will be that motivation there and personal pride, and I can’t wait.
“It’s a special place and my hometown club, which everyone dreams of playing for. It’s ideal for me.”
Turnbull still lives in the town, and has found it difficult to escape the buzz around the club over the last three years.
He said: “I’ve played for other clubs where if the football club is doing well, the town is thriving, and it seems like that here at the moment.
“Everything is positive about South Shields because the football team is doing so well. Long may that continue.
“Something special is happening here and I want to be on board. The opportunities are limitless.
“When I spoke to the managers, it was clear that the aspirations are massive.
“Everybody knows that the club wants to be in the Football League.
“The chairman has got that ambition, and hopefully I’ll be part of that journey.”
Turnbull was identified as a key target by joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton this summer, and they are pleased to have him on board.
Picton said: “We’re delighted to bring in a player of Phil’s calibre.
“I think what it shows is the ever-growing status of the club, that we’re able to attract a player of Phil’s quality and experience.
“We felt he would be a perfect fit for our style of play, because his main strengths are centred around his great quality and decision-making on the ball.
“He has been captain of Darlington, too, so we’re delighted to bring another leader and strong character into the group.
“This signing hopefully shows a little bit of our intent moving forwards.
“We’re attracting real high-quality players and the club wants to continue to move forwards and retain the ambition to constantly strive for the next level.”
Jon Shaw has been appointed as captain of South Shields for the 2018-19 season.
The position became vacant after Julio Arca opted to retire from football earlier this month.
Joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton have now handed the armband to Shaw, who was last season’s vice-captain and is preparing for his third campaign with the club.
Shaw said: “I’m very happy and mostly proud to be named captain of a great club with amazing support.
“I’ve got to thank Lee and Graham for the opportunity.
“I have had a fantastic first two years at the club with plenty of success, and hopefully that will continue this year and beyond.
“We’re heading into an exciting season with big tests, but we have got a fantastic bunch of players who have dealt with pressure well, and there is a belief we can have even more success.
“Being captain is something I’ve enjoyed doing every now and again since joining, and now I can’t wait to get back, get started and see what we can achieve next season.”
Shaw joined Shields in the summer of 2016 after leaving National League side Gateshead, who he had served with distinction across three spells.
The 34-year-old started his career with hometown club Sheffield Wednesday and went on to play for the likes of Burton Albion, Rochdale, Luton Town and Gateshead.
Since signing for the Mariners, Shaw has displayed superb leadership qualities, and has been a key part of a team which has won five trophies and two promotions across the last two seasons.
He has also made a successful transition from striker to centre-back, and is looking ahead to his next challenge next season in the Evo-Stik Premier Division.
The management team felt Shaw was the ideal candidate to fill Arca’s shoes as captain.
Fenton said: “We’ve offered the captaincy to Jon Shaw.
“We think he’s the natural replacement for Julio after being vice-captain last season.
“Jon’s a great character to have around and sets really high standards for everyone around him, which is what you’re looking for from your captain.
“Jon is more than happy to take the role on.”
Picton, meanwhile, paid tribute to Arca, who established himself as a club legend during his three seasons at Mariners Park.
He said: “You can’t over-estimate the impact Julio has had on this football club in the last three years.
“From our perspective, he has been an absolute privilege to work with, a top player and if it’s even possible, an even better human being.
“It was quite emotional when we took the news from Julio that he was retiring, and it took a little while to process.
“I want to go on record and say that Julio has been an absolutely unbelievable asset for this football club.
“We’re looking at ways a little bit down the line of how we can keep him involved at the club, because his qualities extend way beyond his playing attributes on the pitch.
“We just want to thank Julio for everything that he has done on and off the pitch here at South Shields Football Club, because he has become a true legend of this club and that title is worthy of someone like him.”
Joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton have committed their long-term futures to South Shields by signing new five-year contracts.
The deals will keep the management duo at Mariners Park until the summer of 2023 as they continue to oversee the club’s first-team and 16-19 Academy programme.
Picton and Fenton took over the running of the first-team in September 2016, and have since gone on to achieve remarkable success.
Two league titles, two promotions and three further cup wins have been secured, while numerous club records have been broken.
Supporters can now look forward to the successful partnership continuing in the years ahead.
Picton said: “We’re delighted that (Chairman) Geoff Thompson, (Managing Director) Keith Finnigan and the club as a whole are willing to show this level of commitment in us.
“To get the opportunity to build over quite a long period of time with the solid foundations the club has put together over the last three years or so, is an unbelievable opportunity for us and one that we’re absolutely relishing over the next few years.
“There is expectation and pressure at the club, like a lot of clubs, but it’s a good expectation and good pressure.
“We’d like to think we thrive under that pressure and it keeps us – and everyone – on our toes.
“Each and every day, you recognise how lucky you are to be doing something that you absolutely love doing, and be part of a club that really is going places.
“I don’t wake up every morning feeling like I’ve got a heavy burden on my shoulders.
“It’s more an excitement to get up and really go at it that day, and try to take small steps forward to help us achieve our longer-term goals.”
Fenton said: “These new contracts are a big commitment from both ourselves and the club.
“We’re delighted that Geoff and Keith have offered us that length of contract, because it shows huge faith in us.
“We want to be a part of the trajectory the club is going on, which is positive at both first-team and Academy level.
“We’ve put a lot of work into the first-team and the Academy, and we’re hoping that both sides of the club continue to progress and get better.
“The five-year contract is huge for us to be able to put in the time, effort and commitment to see it through.
“We don’t know how long it’s going to take us to get to where we need to get to, but we’ll certainly be giving it our best shot over the next five years to progress the club forward.”
Managing Director Keith Finnigan said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have managed to secure Lee and Graham’s services for the next five years, and it is due reward for them.
“Since I joined the club last year they have been a joy to work with as they show enormous passion and commitment to everything they do and encounter.
“They have brought the club unheralded success on the pitch with the first team, as well as creating an Academy to develop our talent for the future, and off the pitch their experience and insight is invaluable to us all.
“I think they, and all involved with the club, are proud of what they have achieved so far, and we want them to continue that journey with us to share the culmination of what they are building with us.
“I don’t believe there is a better management team in non-league football at the present time, and we are proud that they are with us for the longer term.”