Conor Newton has signed for South Shields to become the club’s ninth summer arrival.
The midfielder adds more competition for places as the Mariners prepare for Saturday’s Pitching In Northern Premier League opener against Stalybridge Celtic at 1st Cloud Arena.
Former Newcastle United Academy prospect Newton has impressed in training with Shields over recent weeks, and came on as a substitute in the 3-0 pre-season victory over Dunston last Saturday.
The 30-year-old, who has penned an initial deal until January, said: “I’m over the moon to have joined South Shields.
“I’ve been out of full-time football for a long time but was given the opportunity to come in and train with the lads and it’s hard not to enjoy the facilities here and the standards throughout the club.
“Everything is done properly and you can’t not get yourself up for training every day at a club like this.
“I know exactly what the gaffer wants from me and my time at the club so far has definitely reignited a spark in me.
“I feel fit and ready to go, and if called upon on Saturday I’d be delighted to be involved.”
Although he did not make a senior appearance for Newcastle, Newton starred in a loan spell at St Mirren, with whom he won the Scottish League Cup in 2013. He scored what proved to be the winning goal in the final against Hearts.
He returned to St Mirren for a second loan spell the following season, appearing another 37 times in the Scottish top flight, before stints in the Football League with Rotherham United and Cambridge United.
Newton played for Hartlepool United between 2017 and 2019 and then spent a three-year period with Whickham, but has now moved back up the football pyramid to join Shields.
Mariners manager Kevin Phillips said: “We’re delighted to welcome Conor to the club.
“We weren’t intending to make another signing at this stage, but I always said that if something popped up which strengthened us, we would be silly not to look at it.
“Conor trained with us for a week to 10 days and played in a behind-closed-doors friendly against Sunderland, and he really impressed us.
“He brings a different dimension to our midfield options and his experience is also of great significance.
“Conor brings real leadership qualities and a strong character, just like all our other signings, coupled with those we already had, and he has already settled well into the group.
“Conor will be a massive asset for us in what is likely to be a long and gruelling season, and we’re looking forward to working with him.”
Newton and his new Shields team-mates begin their league campaign against Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday. You can secure a ticket for this match by clicking here.
Season tickets remain available online via this link.
The Mariners’ squad has been bolstered by the arrival of Conor Newton, who has signed a short-term deal after impressing in training.
But who is the club’s latest signing? Here’s a bit more information on the 30-year-old…
- Conor Newton was born on October 17th, 1991 in Whickham, Gateshead
- His football talent was quickly spotted and he joined Newcastle United as a nine-year-old
- The midfielder, who is best-known for playing centrally but can also play wider on the right, was a regular for the Magpies’ youth teams and second string
- Newton starred in Newcastle’s run to the semi-final of the FA Youth Cup in the 2009-10 season, but did not make a senior appearance for the club
- His first break in senior football came via a loan spell north of the border with St Mirren, which began in January 2013
- Alongside Newcastle team-mate Paul Dummett, he won the Scottish League Cup with St Mirren in the 2012-13 season, scoring what was effectively the winning goal in the final against Hearts
- Newton returned for a full campaign on loan with top flight St Mirren in 2013-14, with current Aston Villa captain and Scotland international John McGinn among those he played alongside
- After 41 appearances in his second season with the Buddies, Newton permanently left Newcastle in the summer of 2014, signing for Rotherham United
- He played 13 times in the Championship for the Millers in the 2014-15 campaign before moving on to Cambridge United
- Newton spent two years with Cambridge, and another two years with Hartlepool United
- In 2019, he spurned interest from professional clubs to move into part-time football, with family circumstances playing a part in his decision
- The midfielder signed for Whickham alongside players including ex-South Shields duo Carl Finnigan and Matty Pattison
- After three years with the Northern League side, Newton trained with the Mariners over recent weeks as he looked for a move back up the football pyramid
- He caught the eye in training and in a substitute appearance in last Saturday’s friendly against Dunston, and has now been given a further opportunity to impress after signing a short-term deal
South Shields begin their Pitching In Northern Premier League campaign with a home match against Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday (3pm kick-off).
The Mariners go into the season in confident mood after ending a productive pre-season with five successive victories, culminating in a 3-0 win over Dunston last Saturday.
With points now on the line, the stakes are set to be stepped up as Shields come up against a team under new management, with Chris Willcock having succeeded Simon Haworth in the Stalybridge hotseat this summer.
Shields did the double over Celtic last season – winning the home fixture 4-0 and the reverse 3-1 – but are expecting to face an improved side with strong motivation to impress their new manager.
Kevin Phillips is beginning his first full season as the Mariners’ manager, and is hoping a bumper crowd will be behind his team.
Shields were denied promotion in agonising fashion last term, losing out on penalties in the semi-final of the play-offs.
After a promising pre-season which saw Phillips given the opportunity to work extensively with a revamped squad featuring eight new signings, there is confidence in the Shields camp heading into the campaign.
Phillips said: “We got lots of good work in during pre-season and now we’re hugely excited about the start of the league campaign.
“The build-up to the first game is always a bit of an anxious time, regardless of whether you’ve had positive or negative results in friendlies, but fortunately we put a good run of results together and made good progression in terms of fitness, performances and the integration of new players into the squad.
“It was a very good pre-season, but the league campaign is totally different.
“It’s important to get off to a good start and with that in mind, we’re delighted to be at home for the first game.
“Our home record was positive last season and we continued that in pre-season. Our goal is to make 1st Cloud Arena a fortress again.”
In seeking a positive home record, Phillips has stressed the importance of the club’s supporters.
He added: “The support we received last season was magnificent and blew me away.
“I would urge our fans to turn up in their droves again this season, get right behind the team and make our ground an uncomfortable place to come for away sides.
“Teams will try to spoil the party and take points from us, starting with Stalybridge, who will provide a tough test.
“We’ll give them the respect they deserve, but with a bumper crowd behind us, we’ll be desperate to send them home happy.
“There’s no guarantee every game this season is going to be pretty with free-flowing football, but I can guarantee the players will work their socks off every week and give 100% for the cause.”
Shields go into the opening fixture without Lewis Alessandra, Dillon Morse, JJ Hooper, Cedric Main and Callum Ross.
Alessandra is nursing a calf injury which he sustained in his first training session after joining the club last Friday. A swift recovery is expected for the frontman.
Morse has returned to training after a groin injury, but is building his way back to match sharpness and is not considered ready for a place in the squad on Saturday.
There are hopes Hooper will return from a hamstring injury within the next two weeks, with Main also not expected to be out long-term with the knee injury which kept him out of the club’s pre-season fixtures.
Ross is being carefully managed in his return from knee surgery earlier this year and after experiencing a slight setback in training. A definitive date for his playing comeback has not yet been set.
Information for supporters
Kick-off at 1st Cloud Arena is at 3pm and tickets for the match cost from £12 for adults, £9 for concessions, £5 for those aged 12 to 16 and £3 for under-12s. A £2 upgrade is available for those wishing to seat. Supporters can purchase a ticket in advance by clicking here or pay at the turnstiles, which are set to open at 12.30pm, by cash or card.
The Barbour Lounge and balcony will be open to all supporters on a first-come, first-served basis. The use of these areas will be subject to availability on a match-by-match basis, and hospitality continues to be available there for future games when booked in advance.
Happy Hour pricing will be in operation in all bars between 12.30pm and 1.30pm, and from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
Free live entertainment is available in the new bar between 5.30pm and 7.30pm, with the brilliant Annabel Pattinson set to perform.
A match programme, packed with content, is available to purchase for £3 and also acts as a raffle ticket, with one lucky programme holder to win a signed SSFC shirt. Check the back of your programme for your lucky number, with the winner to be drawn at half-time.
Supporters who have yet to collect their season ticket can do so from turnstiles 3 and 4.