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:
South Shields made it 14 goals in three games with a stunning demolition of Workington in the quarter-final of the Integro Cup on Thursday.
The Mariners stormed to a 5-1 victory away to their higher-ranked opponents, with five of the club’s academy starlets in the starting line-up.
They always looked a step ahead of Workington, and goals from Lee Mason, Barrie Smith, Luke Sullivan, Graeme Armstrong and Dan Lowther secured a comfortable passage into the semi-finals.
Shields started well in Cumbria, with Armstrong denied by an impressive save early on, while Aksel Juul also went close.
A deserved breakthrough arrived in the 16th minute when Smith slipped in Mason on the inside-right of the box and he superbly fired into the roof of the net to register his first goal for the club.
With their first shot of the game, the hosts equalised midway through the first half when Tommy Whitehead broke through on the inside-right of the box and squared for Max Brown, who made no mistake from close range.
Shields stayed on top, and were given a golden opportunity to reclaim the lead 12 minutes into the second half when Armstrong was fouled in the area.
Smith took the responsibility and stroked his penalty into the bottom corner via the post to begin another spell of dominance from the Mariners.
Sullivan was brought on immediately after the goal as he made his first appearance for Shields since returning from a two-month loan spell at Bishop Auckland.
He could not have asked for a quicker impact as, with his first touch, he controlled a cross from the left with his chest before brilliantly dinking the ball over the goalkeeper to make it 3-1.
Brown chipped over at the other end, while Workington goalkeeper Aaran Taylor made a fine stop to keep out an Armstrong header, and tipped another effort from the frontman onto the bar.
It seemed a matter of time until Shields sealed their win, and their fourth goal was registered with 13 minutes left.
A ball through the centre was ran onto by Armstrong, who slotted home to score his deserved goal.
There was still time for academy midfielder Lowther to get in on the act.
He played in Armstrong down the right and, although his effort was saved, the ball was kept alive and Lowther saw one shot blocked before rifling the rebound into the roof of the net.
It was as convincing a victory as Shields could have hoped for as they booked their place in the semi-finals.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Woolston, Biwer, O Scott (Kavanagh 67), Shaw (c) (Morse 46), Patterson, Ross, Smith, Lowther, Armstrong, Mason (Sullivan 58), Juul. Sub not used: Guy.
Goals: Mason (16), Smith (pen 57), Sullivan (58), Armstrong (77), Lowther (80).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
South Shields will continue their bid to defend the Durham Challenge Cup on Tuesday when they take on Sunderland RCA at Mariners Park.
The Mariners won the competition last season on their way to a historic quadruple.
They will be up against familiar opponents in Tuesday’s match, with RCA having proved to be extremely difficult to beat in both Northern League fixtures between the sides last season.
Shields had to come from two goals down with 10 men to claim a draw in the first meeting at Mariners Park, while the return fixture saw the Mariners again come from behind after having a player sent off to seal a dramatic 2-1 victory.
Joint manager Graham Fenton is expecting a similarly difficult encounter with Martin Swales’ side this time around.
He said: “Sunderland RCA will work their socks off, and Swaz expects nothing different from his teams.
“They will make it difficult for us, and we’ve already put that in the players’ minds ahead of the game. The lads know it will be a tough test.
“There’s no complacency coming from our side, thinking that just because we’ve stepped up a level it’s going to be easy.
“We know it’s going to be difficult against one of Swaz’s teams, so we’ll give them all due respect and hopefully come out on the right side of the line.”
Sunderland RCA currently sit ninth in Division One of the Northern League, although they are without a win in their last five games in all competitions.
Another player with plenty of experience of coming up against them is Barrie Smith, who also expects a difficult tie as Shields bid to win a place in the quarter-finals.
He said: “Swaz will have them working very hard and getting stuck in.
“They’ll try to make themselves tough to beat, so we’ve got to be ready for that challenge.
“We’re at home and on our pitch, so hopefully we’ll get everybody wanting to do the hard work first and battling for each other. We all know the quality will come through for us if we do that.
“We’re the holders, so we want to win it again. Like last season, we want to win everything that we play in, so our aim is to try to win this game and get through to the next round.”
Kick-off is at 7.30pm, with admission – to be paid at the turnstiles – costing £8 for adults, £6 for students and over-65s, and £2 for under-16s.
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.