South Shields players at first-team and Academy level have followed in the footsteps of supporters and club officials by donating to the Tickets To The Future initiative.
More than 500 season tickets for the 2020-21 campaign have now been snapped up after a surge in sales over recent days.
Over 80 of those are junior tickets which have been donated back to the club to distribute to deserving children ahead of the season, with the assistance of SSFC Foundation.
Club captain and Head of Professional Development Jon Shaw, centre-back Dillon Morse, goalkeeper Ross Coombe and teenage talents Will Jenkins and Sam Hodgson are among those to have donated tickets to the initiative.
Midfielder Nathan Lowe, meanwhile, donated a child AND adult season ticket, while Academy players Joe Lockey, Joe Ames, Aaron Steavens and Ben Errington all added tickets to the fund, as did Academy graduate Will McCamley, who is now with Huddersfield Town.
Jordan Hunter – who excelled on loan with the Mariners from Sunderland in the 2019-20 campaign – also provided two child season tickets.
He said: “I think everyone knows how much I loved the last season at the club.
“I donated because you can see how much the club means to the town and this initiative will help to get children through the gates who wouldn’t normally get the chance to, and gives them an opportunity to have that enjoyment on a Saturday afternoon.
“It has been great to see so many people get on board with it and hopefully it continues to go from strength to strength, and then next season those young fans can watch the team achieve the promotion we deserved to get this year.”
The Tickets To The Future initiative was kicked off by Shields supporter Jeff Bell, who lives in London. He purchased eight child season tickets for the 2020-21 campaign before donating them back to the club.
Jeff’s wish was for the tickets to be given to deserving children who would not usually have the opportunity to attend games at Mariners Park. The club has committed to working with SSFC Foundation to identify those children.
After Jeff’s generosity was publicised on social media, a host of other figures came forward to donate tickets.
Among them were club officials Bob and Viv Scott, Daniel Prince, Colin Docherty, Kev Wilson and Janet Davies.
One supporter, who wished to remain anonymous, donated 10 junior tickets on Friday and the total amount of donations is expected to exceed 100 in the coming days.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
Those who would like to make a donation of either junior, concession or adult season tickets for the 2020-21 campaign – or indeed buy a season ticket for themselves – can do so in one of two ways.
Please call 0191 454 7800 between 9am and 5pm on weekdays to buy and donate over the phone, or click here to buy online. If you buy online and would like to donate your ticket(s), please follow up your purchase by sending an email signalling your intention to do so to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for the continued outstanding support and we hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy.
With three games won, 12 goals scored and none conceded, it has been a successful week for SSFC Academy.
The young Mariners strengthened their position in two competitions during a three-day burst of fixtures as several players caught the eye.
Shields started the week with a 4-0 win over Gateshead in the National League Under-19 Alliance.
Aaron Steavens saved a first half penalty and Shields seized control when they took the lead on 35 minutes, Jack Wilkinson finishing well after a superb pass forward from George Lindo. Olly McCully struck twice in the second half and Oscar Taylor was also on the scoresheet as the points were secured.
The squad was split in two on Wednesday at Washington Hub as two fixtures were negotiated.
The young Mariners thrashed Blyth Spartans 5-0 in the Under-19 Alliance after being sent on their way with a six-minute first half hat-trick from Sam Hodgson. Two Tom Green goals in the final 15 minutes completed the scoring.
A further victory was claimed in the ECFA Premier Cup against Sunderland College, with Jamie Whitehead, Taylor and McCully netting in a 3-0 success to set up a tie with Wick College.
Head of Professional Development Jon Shaw has been delighted with the progress shown by the youngsters over recent weeks.
He said: “Lots of progress has been made, especially by the first years.
“When they first came in they were quite far behind the Under-18s and Under-19s because they hadn’t had the intense coaching.
“Over the last month we’ve really tried to step it up with the players in getting them to execute the first-team standards and formation.
“We’ve seen quite a lot of big improvements and it’s positive going into the second half of the season.
“In the Gateshead game against a mainly Under-19s team, we had eight Under-17s playing and all four goals were scored by Under-17s.
“It has been great to see.”
Hodgson’s hat-trick against Blyth will catch the eye, with the striker having been involved heavily at first-team level over recent weeks.
Shaw added: “It was great to see him score a hat-trick after being involved with the first-team.
“He has been a little bit frustrated with game-time floating between the academy and first-team recently.
“Wednesday’s performance and goals showed that the time with the first-team is obviously benefitting him and it has been good to hear those frustrations from him.
“All he wanted to do is play and that’s the type of player you want.”
Goalkeepers took centre stage as SSFC Academy secured a dramatic double win on a packed day of action on Wednesday.
The young Mariners thrashed Frickley Athletic 7-1 in the National League Under-19 Alliance to move up to third in the table, with goalkeeper Jacob Bramley among the goalscorers. There was also a hat-trick for Max Cowburn while Callum Guy netted twice and Tom Green scored the other.
The club’s academy squad was split in two for the afternoon, with the rest of the players taking on Ralph Thoresby School in the ECFA National play-offs.
Will McCamley gave Shields a 1-0 lead late in the match but the young Mariners were pegged back late on.
Extra-time yielded no further goals but Shields went on to win a dramatic penalty shoot-out, with goalkeeper Aaron Steavens shining as he made three saves from the spot to seal a 5-4 victory as he helped his side into the national quarter-finals.
Head of youth performance and development Jamie Williams said: “The first half was very scrappy, with not a great deal of chances for either side, and the second half was similar until Will McCamley scored after a fine through ball from Michael Colquhoun 12 minutes from the end.
“We tried to see the game out but gave away a free-kick with three minutes to go and they scored directly from it.
“They had the more clear-cut chances in extra-time but it went to penalties and Aaron pulled off some great saves to help us over the line.”
The young Mariners qualified for the ECFA National play-offs by finishing as runners-up to Monkseaton High School in their group.
They thought they had won the group after beating Tyne Met College a fortnight ago, having finished on the same number of points as Monkseaton at the top and with a better goal difference.
Both sides were initially unaware, though, that when teams in the ECFA League finish level on points, it is decided initially on head-to-head record, meaning Monkseaton pipped Shields to first place. Both sides qualified for the play-offs and both are now into the quarter-finals.
SSFC Academy team against Ralph Thoresby School: Steavens, Yembe, Lockey, Carney, Patterson, Onarbay, S Black, Dunn, Colquhoun, Duncan, McCamley. Subs: Croft, Scott.
Williams and Lee Picton took charge of the academy’s game at Ralph Thoresby, with Graham Fenton and Wess Brown overseeing the win over Frickley.
Cowburn and Guy scored five goals between them as Shields established a 5-0 lead, with Green making it six.
Frickley pulled one goal back before Shields were forced to push Bramley up-front after an injury to Arron Thompson, with no more outfield substitutes available.
Bramley delighted all those of a claret and blue persuasion by scoring – with Fenton declaring it was the ‘kind of moment you’re in football for’.
Fenton said: “It was a really strong performance from the lads.
“We generally moved the ball very well and scored some decent goals, while also missing some good opportunities as well.
“We need to work on our game management a bit, but that’s understandable when they’re at this age.
“We were looking for more goals at 5-0 up which was fine, but we didn’t keep the back door shut well enough.
“It should be a really good learning curve for the lads into how to see a game out properly in terms of controlling it.
“There were lots of good performances from the likes of Arron Thompson, Callum Guy, Michael Colquhoun and Tom Green, who made a really positive impact from the bench.
“To top it all off, Jacob Bramley scored the seventh goal and the lads were buzzing for him.
“It was one of those moments that you’re involved in football for.
“He scored with his first chance and could have scored another.
“The video analysis work we did earlier in the week clearly rubbed off on Jacob because he looked like Romelu Lukaku with his movement!”
SSFC Academy team against Frickley Athletic: Bramley, Morris, Allen, Thompson, Errington, Bexton, Junior, Biwer, Cowburn, Guy, Allasan. Subs: Armstrong, L Black, Green.