Interview: Lee Picton expresses excitement after rejoining club
Newly-appointed assistant manager Lee Picton feels South Shields is the “place to be” as he readies himself for his second spell at Mariners Park.
Picton was appointed as Jon King’s No.2 on Thursday as he joined the existing backroom team at the club.
The two-time FA Vase winner as a player with Whitley Bay, who has joined Shields after serving as Tom Wade’s assistant manager at Blyth Spartans, held the same role with the Mariners in the 2011-12 season.
This time, though, he accepts there will be a higher expectation to deliver success, and that is a pressure he is welcoming.
Picton agreed to join the club after discussions with manager King and chairman Geoff Thompson, and has expressed his excitement at the challenge ahead.
He said: “Geoff Thompson has made a huge statement of intent over the past 12 months, and this seems to be the place to be.
“It’s a hugely exciting time for everyone involved at the club, and I’m massively motivated to help move the club forward.
“It’s a challenge, and there will be a bit of pressure there. Everybody will be looking at South Shields with a lot of expectation ahead of next season.
“I don’t mind that expectation, having had something similar at Blyth, and I’m fully prepared for it.”
With Picton’s help, Blyth had an impressive 2015-16 campaign, finishing second in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division on 99 points, behind only Darlington. They then suffered an agonising 4-3 defeat in the play-offs to Workington, and also reached the final of the Northumberland Senior Cup.
He joined Spartans in February 2015 as Wade’s assistant, and has now opted to drop two leagues to rejoin Shields.
From Picton’s point of view, though, the “hugely exciting” future of the Mariners made the move an attractive one.
He added: “It’s a bit of a cliche, but sometimes you have to take one step backwards to take two steps forwards.
“A lot of people may look at it as a step down from the Evo-Stik Premier Division to a team in the Northern League.
“The vision and picture Geoff has painted to me about the football club looking ahead, though, is very exciting, and convinced me this is the right place to be.
“It’s a hugely exciting time for everybody concerned with South Shields.”
Since his departure from Mariners Park in 2012, Picton has kept a close eye on the fortunes of the club, and was delighted to see its success last season in achieving promotion to Ebac Northern League Division One.
He said: “It has been hard not to keep tabs on South Shields over the last season, because they have been making waves.
“Whether it’s the number of people turning up to games, everything that has happened off the pitch or the massive number of points won, the club has made a lot of headlines.
“During my first spell at the club, a lot of people used to reminisce about how big the club used to be in the 1960s and 70s.
“It’s one of the biggest towns in England without a Football League club. It has got huge, huge potential.
“What Geoff is doing remarkably well and is the key to the success is connecting the football club with the community.”
Picton’s first spell at Shields began in October 2011, after the club had endured a difficult opening to the campaign in Division One.
However, King and Picton led the club to the safety of mid-table in the remainder of the season, with Shields finishing 13th.
Picton added: “I really enjoyed my first time at the club. It was my first taste of senior management, working with Jon King, in the 2011-12 season.
“We came in under quite difficult circumstances, with the team struggling in the league, but the performances started to improve and the players reacted well. We finished in mid-table.
“After that season, I got the opportunity to go and work at Newcastle United, which was the reason I left. A lot of things have changed at the club since then.
“Now I’m delighted to be back, and very excited about the challenge ahead.”
A video interview with Lee, as well as pictures, are expected to follow over the weekend.