South Shields FC is saddened to announce that David Foley has been forced to leave the club because of work commitments.
Foley, who rejoined the Mariners last September from Spennymoor Town, scored 66 goals in 132 appearances for the club across two spells.
He leaves Mariners Park having contributed hugely to the club’s success since initially joining in the summer of 2015.
He was central to title-winning campaigns in both divisions of the Northern League and a key part of the incredible 2016-17 season, which saw four trophies lifted including the FA Vase on an unforgettable day at Wembley.
Foley scored the final two goals on that afternoon before departing for a year-long stay at Spennymoor, but the pull of his hometown club was too much and he returned last September.
He played an important role as Shields finished second in the Northern Premier League Premier Division last season, and no one will ever forget the remarkable overhead kick he scored against North Ferriby in the FA Trophy a year ago.
The 32-year-old departs Mariners Park for the final time with a heavy heart, and the feeling is mutual from all those inside the club.
He is and always will be a South Shields legend.
Foley has released a statement following his departure, which can be read below.
“First of all I would like to say what a fantastic club this is.
“Unfortunately my time here has come to an end due to work commitments
“My time with Shields has been very special and I’m glad I have had the opportunity twice to help the club grow while making some lifelong memories along the way.
“Who can forget that incredible season when we won everything there was to win, which I finished by scoring two goals at the famous Wembley Stadium with all my family there and half the town. That day made me very proud to be from South Shields.
“A lot of the faces from my day one are still at the club pushing it forwards and keeping the family feel at Mariners alive, including Gary Crutwell, Bob Scott, Dave Fall, George McLaughlin, Dan Prince and Philip Reay just to mention a few. The work you all do is unbelievable and often goes unnoticed in the hectic matchday routine.
“The club is in magnificent hands in Geoff Thompson and is only going one way, which isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Thank you Geoff for my time at the club – I’ve enjoyed every second.
“Graham and Lee came 10 years too late for me as a player as they are the best coaches I have had in my career and it has been a pleasure learning from and playing for them both.
“I wish them every success in the future, along with Bri Smith, Phil Naisbett and Andy Morris, who is such a valued member of the set-up inside the changing room.
“I know this club will get to where it wants to be which is the Football League, and I will be cheering from the sidelines for this to happen along with all the fantastic fans.
“I couldn’t leave without saying a huge thank you to each and every one of the Mariners faithful who have supported me from day one along with giving me memories I will cherish forever. The roar I heard at Wembley will always put a smile on my face and I thank you for your constant support.
“Finally to my team-mates, who are more than just team-mates…players come and go in the football world but this group is special.
“I don’t think the brotherhood and friendships you make in football happen in any other job. That will to work for your mate next to you to collectively share the same prize at 5pm on a Saturday is a very unique feeling and one that will be missed.
“I have friends for life in this group and I urge everyone to get behind these players and push them over the line this season.
“Some of the lads in the current squad have been a huge part of why the club is where it is today and I wish every one of them all the best on and off the pitch.
“It has been a pleasure.
South Shields joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton have paid tribute to Foley.
In a joint statement, they said: “David contacted us earlier this week to tell us of his decision to call time on his footballing journey with us.
“With a heavy heart, David felt that with other priorities going on in his life he was unable to fully commit to his role as a player at the club.
“With an equally heavy heart, we respected his decision.
“He leaves the club having contributed enormously to our success over the last three or four years.
“He leaves the staff, his fellow players and the fans with some incredible memories of individual brilliance, skill and goals that will cement his legacy at the club for many, many years to come.
“The personal statement he has released shows the measure of the man that he is, and also clearly demonstrates how much the club means to him.
“His feelings towards the club were further demonstrated by the honesty he showed in coming to this decision now.
“It would have been quite easy for him to have continued at the club and gone through the motions knowing that in his heart of hearts, he couldn’t fully commit in the way he would like.
“He deserves massive credit for putting the club first ahead of his own personal gains.
“We’re sure everyone will join us in wishing David all the very best for the future and we dearly hope that he comes to see us on a regular basis at Mariners Park.”
Robert Briggs struck an ice-cool stoppage time winner from the penalty spot as South Shields made it eight league victories in a row against Stalybridge Celtic at Mariners Park.
Briggs’ nerveless spot-kick settled a feisty encounter which had seen Celtic sternly test the credentials of their hosts.
Shields deservedly took the lead 10 minutes before half-time when David Foley’s deflected effort found the net, and they appeared well set to push on in the second half and press their advantage home.
Stalybridge fought back, though, and they were the team with the momentum when Chris Smalley fired them level 15 minutes from the end.
The Mariners showed tremendous resolve in the closing stages and when Nathan Lowe was fouled in the area, few were expecting Briggs to do anything but find the net.
He did just that to stretch Shields’ lead at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division to 10 points ahead of Saturday’s trip to Witton Albion.
The Mariners were unchanged from their 3-0 win over Atherton Collieries three days earlier, with Lee Mason and Josh Gillies continuing to miss out with illness and a stomach strain respectively.
They picked up where they left off in that match by keeping possession well in the early stages and threatening the visiting backline.
Blair Adams was the first to test Stalybridge’s on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper Alex Fojticek with a fizzing volley from the left of the area which the Slovakian did well to hold.
Although Shields were on top, they almost fell behind in the 18th minute as Jonathan Ustabasi nipped in behind on the left of the box and directed the ball across Myles Boney, who stretched out a leg to make an impressive save before Gary Brown and Phil Turnbull calmly cleared the danger.
The Mariners played some of their best football of the season to date in the first half and were rewarded 10 minutes before half-time.
Brown slid in to win the ball in the middle and it broke to Adams on the left. He swung in a superb cross which was met first time at the back post by Foley, whose shot took a big deflection before leaving Fojticek with no chance as the frontman notched his third goal in two matches.
The hosts’ lead was almost doubled three minutes before the interval when Jordan Hunter jinked past his man on the right of the box before thrashing an effort which cannoned against the far post.
The second half proved to be a more difficult affair for Shields as Stalybridge asserted themselves more on proceedings and provided a real threat.
A first warning came when Adams was forced to block brilliantly from Scott Bakkor, and frustration grew among the Mariners’ ranks as they were unable to rediscover their flowing football.
A two-minute burst of pressure from Shields just after the hour mark did threaten to put the game to bed, though.
Their first opportunity came as they patiently worked the ball from right to left and Foley was played in on goal, but Fojticek narrowed the angle quickly and made a good save.
The Mariners were then left scratching their heads as to how they were not two up as Sanmi Odelusi turned in the area and fired a low shot which hit the hand of Fojticek but was destined to find the net before a superb goal-line clearance saved the day for Stalybridge.
Almost immediately they went close to levelling as they broke down the other end and Darius Osei got in behind on the left before forcing Boney into a smart stop at his near post.
The match developed into a tetchy, tight battle and Stalybridge began to pressure their hosts before equalising from a corner.
With 15 minutes remaining, Declan Walker swung the ball in from the right and after Shields initially failed to clear it fell the way of Smalley, who struck it low and hard into the bottom corner.
The Mariners needed to respond and did so. They looked set to go back in front when substitute Jon Shaw was played through on the left of the box, but he dragged his effort wide.
At the other end, Ustabasi almost had a big opportunity to win it when a free-kick from the left dropped to his feet in front of goal, but he was unable to react quickly enough and the ball bounced off him and out for a goal kick.
The key moment came a minute into stoppage time when Shields got in down the right and Lowe was fouled in the area.
After a significant delay, Briggs stepped up to send Fojticek the wrong way from the spot and ensure the Mariners would celebrate another victory.
They now go in search of a ninth consecutive league win when they travel to Witton Albion on Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Turnbull, Morse, Brown, Thurston (Baxter 81), Lowe, Odelusi (Shaw 65), Briggs (c), Foley (Gilchrist 65). Subs not used: Charlton, Wokoma.
Goals: Foley (35), Briggs (pen 90+1).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.
David Foley netted a brace as South Shields secured a comfortable 3-0 win over Atherton Collieries with a convincing performance in front of the biggest Mariners Park crowd of the season to date.
Over 1,750 fans witnessed Foley’s double and a first goal for the club from Sanmi Odelusi, who was making his first home appearance for the Mariners.
The result rarely seemed in much doubt and moved Shields eight points clear at the top of the BetVictor Northern Premier Division table.
They went into the match without the injured Josh Gillies and ill Lee Mason, with Adam Thurston and Odelusi replacing them in the starting line-up.
Shields started brightly and after Robert Briggs fired over from 25 yards, an even better chance fell the way of Odelusi.
The Mariners worked a move down the right and Foley was played in before squaring the ball for the frontman, who put it wide from close range as he was made to wait for his first goal.
The hosts went even closer to taking the lead when a Briggs free-kick from the left was dropped by Atherton goalkeeper Oliver Byrne to the feet of Gary Brown, but his first-time effort squirmed wide.
Atherton struggled to put pressure on the Shields back line but did create a chance on the break in the 21st minute when Vincent Bailey scampered through the centre and played in Jordan Cover, who struck across the ball and saw his shot swerve past the post.
The deadlock was finally broken on 28 minutes as two of the Mariners’ most experienced players combined.
Briggs got away from his man in midfield and used the space to good effect by finding Foley, who brought the ball onto his left foot before firing a low effort past Byrne for his first goal of the season.
Shields barely gave Atherton time to breathe as they won the ball back almost immediately from kick-off and they soon went close to doubling their lead as Briggs fired not far over from distance.
The second goal arrived seven minutes before half-time as Odelusi marked his home debut in style.
Nathan Lowe took a great deal of credit for his role in it as he swung in an inch-perfect cross from the left which Odelusi stooped low to head in from close range.
The Mariners picked up where they left off at the start of the second half and after Foley had a shot blocked, he soon added his second of the afternoon.
A long passing move from the hosts reached its climax as Jordan Hunter brilliantly picked out Thurston down the right of the box and he put the ball on a plate for Foley to finish from six yards.
The remainder of the half saw Shields tire their opponents out with impressive possession and probing, with Atherton rarely threatening a consolation goal.
The closest they got was in the 55th minute as Cover raced through towards goal and looked destined to score, but Brown chased him superbly and eventually made an excellent tackle to deny him.
Lowe went close to notching a fourth for the Mariners when he blasted the ball narrowly over from the edge of the box after being teed up by substitute Jason Gilchrist, and Gilchrist went close himself as a Byrne clearance ricocheted against him before trickling just wide.
Shields generally appeared content to keep the ball and conserve their energy in the latter stages as they wrapped up another three points to continue their impressive run.
They are back in action on Tuesday when they take on Stalybridge Celtic in another league fixture at Mariners Park.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Boney, Hunter, Adams, Turnbull, Morse, Brown (Wokoma 82), Thurston, Lowe (Baxter 68), Odelusi (Gilchrist 61), Briggs (c), Foley. Subs not used: Charlton, Shaw.
Goals: Foley (28, 51), Odelusi (38).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.