South Shields are to take on National League North side FC United of Manchester as part of their pre-season preparations in July.

FC United will visit Mariners Park on Saturday, July 22 for a 3pm kick-off.

The club, which was set up in 2005, is one of the best-supported in non-league football, with an average attendance of 2,667 last season.

34348709065_bffd070a83_oThey finished 13th in the National League North, and South Shields joint manager Lee Picton says the friendly will be a “good gauge” for the Mariners ahead of next season’s campaign in the Evo-Stik League First Division North.

He said: “We’re really looking forward to welcoming FC United to Mariners Park this summer.

“Not only should it be a great match against a high-profile non-league club, but it should also be a good gauge for us.

“They are in a position which we aspire to be in two or three years’ time, and this game should give us an idea of how far away we are.

“We’ll be pitting our wits against a side of real quality and it will be an excellent test for us.”

It is often said that FC United was set up in protest to Malcolm Glazer’s takeover of Manchester United, but those involved at the club say that was merely the final straw, and not the sole reason.

A group of supporters who had grown tired of changing kick-off times, all-seater stadia, diminishing atmospheres and increasing ticket prices set the wheels in motion, and FC United was born.

Karl Marginson has been the club’s manager since its formation, and FC United’s home kit is red shirts with white shorts.

They are the largest fan-owned football club in the UK, based on the number of members, who all have equal voting rights and own one share in the club each.

The club’s badge is based on the Manchester coat of arms, and features a ship at sea, as well as three stripes for the three rivers which flow through the city.

FC United have proved to be very successful on the pitch as well as off it. Three consecutive promotions were achieved to start things off, and a fourth promotion was secured in 2015 to see them into the National League North.

After multiple groundshares, the club moved into its own ground, Broadhurst Park, in May 2015.

We very much look forward to welcoming the club and its supporters to Mariners Park in July.

More of the Mariners’ pre-season fixtures will be announced in due course.

Pictures by Mark Lee.