South Shields Football Club can now confirm its retained list for the 2019-20 season.
Eleven players have left Mariners Park following the expiration of their contracts, including club legend Barrie Smith, who has decided to retire.
Smith departs after a terrific nine-year spell with Shields which saw him play 323 times, score 20 goals and win six trophies.
He will be remembered as a player who never gave anything less than 100% for the cause, had time for everyone and stuck by the club during one of the darkest periods in its history.
Barrie and his family will always be welcome at Mariners Park.
The departures of Connor Bell, Anthony Callaghan, Gavin Cogdon, Carl Finnigan and Ben Harmison were confirmed over recent weeks.
We can now confirm that former academy products Dan Lowther and Karl Ross, as well as three of last season’s contracted Under-19s players – David Allasan, Tom Bexton and Max Cowburn – have also left for pastures now.
The club would like to thank all players who have left us during the summer for their service and wish them well for the future.
Players retained for 2019-20:
New signings so far during the summer of 2019:
Players who have left the club ahead of 2019-20:
Jon Shaw has been appointed as South Shields’ Head of Professional Development.
Shaw will begin his new role on July 1 and will work alongside Lee Picton and Graham Fenton in developing the club’s next generation of youngsters in the 16-19 academy.
He will combine that alongside his playing commitments as he prepares to lead the Mariners as captain in his fourth season with the club.
For the last two years, Shaw has been Head Coach of the football academy at Monkseaton High School, and he will now take on a similar role at Mariners Park.
He said: “I’ve been here for three years as a player and it has been an amazing journey so far with a lot of success.
“I’ve got to thank Lee and Graham for the faith they’ve shown in me.
“The fact they and the club have trusted me to come on board shows how much they think of the job I’ve done.
“From a personal point of view, it’s a massive progression for me.
“I’m moving into what I believe is an unbelievable opportunity to be a part of the way the club is going.”
Shaw will work with Picton, Fenton, Jamie Williams and Wess Brown in preparing academy players for the rigours of first-team football at Mariners Park.
He is excited about the opportunity he has been given.
He added: “When players come here at 16, it’s about how close and how fast we can get them to the first-team.
“A lot of what I do will be trying to help create players that Lee and Graham want for the first-team.
“From a personal point of view, I’m going to do as much as I can to help these lads.
“Their aim should be to make it into the first-team at South Shields but as we’ve seen this year with Will McCamley, there are also massive opportunities for people to move up through the standards.
“I’m still developing as a coach and I’ve only been coaching for five years or so, but I’m also working with two of what I believe are the best coaches at this standard.
“I’m here to learn and improve myself as a coach, but my role here will be to help the lads who come through the door to get as close to the first-team as they possibly can.”
Shaw is also positive about the club’s move to a hybrid model at first-team level, which will include an additional two training sessions per week.
He said: “It’s exciting, because when I came here at the age of 32, I effectively retired from full-time professional football.
“The fact I’ll now be training full-time again means that I’m going to have to look after myself even better than I have over the last few years.
“It’s such an exciting opportunity, with a team at our level giving players chances to come in and train full-time.
“That’s going to hopefully make the difference on the pitch, because the players that are going to come in are going to be young, hungry lads that want to train full-time and develop as quickly as possible.
“For the older lads like myself, it’s an opportunity to get fitter and perhaps extend my career even longer.
“I’ve always said I wanted to play until I’m 40, and could this take me to that point and maybe even beyond that?
“The biggest thing is seeing what Lee and Graham can do with the squad with that amount of time.
“I’ve seen what they can do with two nights, four hours a week, so for them to have those extra sessions with the lads, it will be really exciting to see what the team could do when they’ve got that amount and that level of training behind them.”
A full video interview with Jon will be posted on the club’s YouTube channel later on Friday.
Since the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, a series of meetings have taken place at management level to continue the evolution of the club’s long-term future.
Coming out of those meetings were a number of strategic decisions which have been made with the club’s sustainable growth and ambitions in mind.
We are now in a position to confirm our exciting restructure.
Following lengthy discussions over a number of months between the board and first-team management, the club will adopt a new hybrid model during the 2019-20 campaign.
This hybrid model will entail the first-team managers, Lee Picton and Graham Fenton, being able to take advantage of increased contact time with much of the first-team squad, with two additional training sessions to take place each week.
It is a significant commitment by the club and further underlines the faith of the board in the abilities of Picton and Fenton, who are preparing for their fourth season in charge of the first-team.
The long-term view is that the hybrid system will ultimately progress into a completely full-time model, although we anticipate this could take a number of years to come to fruition.
There will be an emphasis on promoting exciting young prospects and giving them a platform to showcase their talents, with a continued focus on developing players through the club’s own academy.
Two of last season’s academy squad will be regular members of the first-team squad next season, with details to be announced soon.
The club feels that this initiative will further enhance the opportunities of success for the first-team as it strives to progress higher up the league pyramid.
Picton and Fenton will also continue to be heavily involved in the coaching of the academy and will aim to add to the success of its first two seasons, which culminated in the academy’s first national title in May.
The academy’s leadership is to be strengthened by the addition of Jon Shaw, who will join as Head of Professional Development on July 1, alongside his continued role as first-team captain.
Over recent months, the club has developed a strong relationship with the Harton and Westoe Miners’ Welfare, which includes representation on their Board of Trustees, and an agreement has been reached to allow the first-team to use the facilities at the Harton and Westoe Miners’ Welfare Ground for training purposes.
A programme of additional activities will also be developed there by our SSFC Foundation, whilst maintaining all existing user groups at the facility.
The Foundation, headed by Steve Camm, will grow programmes which will allow the club to further diversify and broaden its role as a community club across a wider range of sports and health and well-being activities.
The club can also confirm the promotion of Wess Brown to Academy and Recruitment Manager.
Brown will head up the recruitment for the club from Futures Academy to first-team, and oversee the alignment of the club’s player development from age six upwards, which will include working alongside Shaw in developing players through the 16-19 academy programme.
Brian Smith will aid Brown with first-team recruitment alongside his role as assistant manager, and Catalyst Professional Sports Management will continue to assist the club with recruitment for the first-team and academy.
Brown will also continue with his coaching and leadership of the club’s Futures Academy alongside Jamie Williams, in conjunction with Mortimer Community College.
The Futures Academy is preparing to welcome its second intake of students in September following a hugely positive first school year.
A benefit of this continued growth will be a further commitment to the next generation of footballers in the area.
SSFC Foundation’s Thinkers and Movers sessions, led by its Programme Delivery Lead Nathan Kew, will continue and help feed youngsters into a new programme for under-6s.
Christopher Reay, who has been appointed as the club’s Foundation Phase Lead, will lead the new under-6s programme and manage a smooth transition for players into under-7s teams, whilst also providing a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme for Foundation Phase coaches at the club.
After confirming the club restructure, Chairman Geoff Thompson said: “This is a very exciting time for South Shields Football Club and we are confident that these changes will greatly assist with our long-term ambitions.
“Reaching the Football League as a community-based club is our goal, but a lot of effort and commitment will be required to turn that ambition into reality.
“The appointments and changes we have decided to make underline that we see this as a long-term project which will require a huge collaborative effort.
“Allowing Lee and Graham the opportunity to spend more time with the first-team players is key for us, and we are excited about the impact that could have as they bid to maximise the potential of our squad.
“The appointment of Jon was also a no-brainer for us.
“He has been a hugely positive influence, both on and off the pitch, since joining us three years ago, and after a terrific two years with Monkseaton High School’s football academy, we are delighted to add him to our 16-19 academy leadership team.
“We are all eagerly anticipating the 2019-20 season and are hopeful there are lots of exciting times to come.
“Our supporters have been with us every step of the way during the thrilling journey we have had so far, and we are going to need that to continue to make all of this a success.
“It’s critical people continue to get behind us, and we will reward that commitment with an enormous determination to maximise the potential of this club and get it as far as it can possibly go, however long that may take.
“Let’s do this together.”