The club was saddened to hear of the death of former goalkeeper John Burn at the weekend, at the age of 85.

John played for the club between 1956 and 1962, when South Shields was recognised as one of the finest non-league clubs in the country.

john burn 2

He also represented Marsden Cricket Club as a player before going on to a variety of roles at the club.

John – who even played for Shields on his wedding day – played for South Shields Ex Schoolboys FC between 1945 and 1948, before going on to play for Chelsea, Chesterfield, Carlisle United and South Shields.

During his time with the Mariners, where John ended his football career, Shields enjoyed some terrific days, particularly in the FA Cup.

One match at Simonside Hall attracted an attendance of 20,000, while among the most famous games were a 5-0 FA Cup victory over Crewe Alexandra in 1958 and a 2-1 FA Cup win against Chesterfield a year later.

In the picture below, John is fourth left on the back row.

SSFC team photo 1

Bob Wray, who supported the club in that period and remains with Shields as a committee member, paid tribute to one of the Mariners’ finest stoppers.

Bob said: “John was an outstanding goalkeeper, who I had the pleasure of watching on many occasions during the club’s time at Simonside Hall.

“He was a former Football League player as well, having played for the likes of Chelsea and Carlisle United.

“He is very well-remembered, and I was saddened to hear the news of his death.

“He is without a doubt one of the finest players to have played for South Shields, and in terms of goalkeepers, he is up there with two other greats – Archie Wilson and Bert Garrow.

“John played for Shields when they were one of the best non-league clubs in the country, and was a great favourite for the six years he was there.

“He was involved in some great games at Simonside Hall, especially some of the club’s exploits in the FA Cup.

“There were some marvellous games, including a 5-0 win over Crewe Alexandra and some terrific matches against York City.

“I’m sure people will remember him with great affection.”

The club’s thoughts are with John’s family and friends.

The president of Tow Law Town FC, Lady Elsie Robson, is pictured being presented with an inscribed plaque by South Shields FC committee representative Bob Wray.

The plaque was to commemorate the landmark occasion of the club’s 3,000th Northern League game at the Ironworks Road Ground on Saturday, March 22nd.

She was given a congratulatory message with also fraternal best wishes to the Lawyers on behalf of the Mariners on their special day in club history.

This auspicious achievement in the club’s history was also coincidentally made in the same month as the 125th anniversary of the Northern League.

The South Shields FC presentation was preceded by her receiving an inscribed plaque from the Ebac Northern League made by Bob Rogers, on its behalf.

He is the grandson of Charles Samuel Craven – the founder of the Northern League – and had travelled 9,000 miles from Hong Kong for the event and other celebrations of the league being held at this time.


Tow Law is a hilltop small town of 2,000 people, and is a true community club founded in 1890, whose friendship and hospitality is legion, and which is a great credit to the Northern League and football.

Its finest hour in a long and eventful history was as a Wembley finalist in the 1998 FA Vase Final.

Members of the press were also present to record the ceremony, and a most informative club historical memorabilia display board exhibition was mounted in the bar, which attracted great interest.