2016-17 has been another record-breaking year at South Shields FC – on and off the pitch.
Right at the centre of it has been the club’s supporters, who have contributed hugely to a memorable season which has seen the Mariners win promotion and reach three cup finals, with four trophies still up for grabs.
Though arguably the campaign’s most important moments are yet to come, the club has completed its programme of home fixtures for the season.
A crowd of 2,054 at Saturday’s match against Morpeth Town saw the average attendance for the season at Mariners Park increase to 1,275 across 31 games in all competitions.
The total number of fans who passed through the turnstiles was 39,527 – almost doubling last season’s total of 20,971, when there was an average attendance of 723.1 a game.
Crowd favourite Barrie Smith has paid tribute to the supporters for their incredible backing throughout the season.
He said: “The connection we have with the fans is massively important for us.
“I’ve always had a good rapport with them, and we all appreciate the support they give.
“They play a massive part, and help us get through games sometimes when it might not be going well.
“This has been another memorable season for us and they have been a huge part of that.
“It would be nowhere near as enjoyable without them.”
The support has been particularly impressive in the Buildbase FA Vase run, with two crowds of over 3,000 at Mariners Park, as well as some terrific away followings.
Most notable, perhaps, was the brilliant turnout at the Team Solent away match, when well over 400 supporters made the journey to the south coast to back the Mariners.
Smith added: “Everyone saw the impact they had in Southampton. It was incredible how many people travelled down there.
“Everyone is getting behind us and it’s great that they’re enjoying it.
“We always just want to repay them by winning games and making them happy.
“They pay their hard-earned money to come and watch us and we have a duty to always try our hearts out for them and do everything in our power to get them the results they want.”
Season tickets for the 2017-18 campaign, which will see Shields compete in the Evo-Stik League, are not yet on sale.
However, supporters are advised to monitor the club’s social media accounts and website for details in the coming weeks and months.
Tickets for the Durham Challenge Cup final at Hartlepool United against Billingham Synthonia, which will take place on Wednesday, May 3, remain on sale from Mariners Park. They cost £5 for adults and £2 for concessions, and can be bought by visiting the ground or calling 0191 454 7800.
Over 9,000 tickets have been sold to Shields fans for the FA Vase final against Cleethorpes Town at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, May 21. They cost £25 for adults, £10 for concessions and £1 for under-16s, and can be bought from the FA’s ticketing website by clicking here.
The Mariners’ other eagerly-awaited final this season will see them go up against North Shields at Whitley Bay’s Hillheads ground in the League Cup on Saturday, May 6. Ticket details are awaited and will be announced as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, Shields have just two league fixtures left this season – both away from home – as they aim to win the title.
They travel to Ashington on Tuesday, April 18 for a 7.30pm kick-off, and Guisborough Town on Saturday, April 22 for a 3pm kick-off. Admission can be paid at the turnstiles for both matches.
The club would like to thank all supporters for their continued outstanding support.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.