Football legend Alan Shearer kicked off the club’s launch weekend of Mariners Park on Thursday.
Alan officially opened the newly refurbished facilities at the ground as part of a night of entertainment, which also included music from Paige Temperley and Taylor Payne.
The club would like to thank all of those who attended for making it such a memorable night, in particular Alan for giving up his time to join us, and for also being so generous with his time with all of those who were there.
The former Newcastle United striker unveiled a plaque as part of the opening, while Magpies defender Paul Dummett was also in attendance.
The facilities at Mariners Park hugely impressed Mr Shearer, who scored 206 goals for Newcastle, making him the club’s record goalscorer.
He said: “The facilities are hugely impressive.
“Myself and my friends were trying to work out how many divisions the club was away from the Football League, and we worked it out at six or seven. There certainly won’t be many clubs which are that far away from the league with facilities as good as this.
“People often forget that there is football outside of the Premier League, and that football didn’t start in 1992.
“Without clubs like this and chairmen at clubs like this, I wouldn’t have had the career I had, and neither would thousands of others.”
South Shields chairman Geoff Thompson said: “This was an important milestone in getting the facilities complete.
“There is still a lot more work to be done around the ground, for example providing more shelter for supporters, but this has been a good start.
“We hope that the community can come down and use the facilities and get involved.
“A lot of hard work has gone in off the pitch from a lot of people to get the function rooms complete, including the contractor Samco, who have done a great job, as have the staff at the football club.
“It has been quite a big commitment financially, but I said at the beginning that we wanted to do this right and ensure we had facilities to be proud of, and that people would want to use.
“A lot of people fought to keep this club alive during some very dark days. The likes of Gary Crutwell, Bob Wray, Philip Reay and David Fall – along with many others – kept the club alive.
“I hope they can all enjoy being part of the renaissance of the club, because the effort they have put in over the years has been tremendous.
“Without those people, the club wouldn’t have been around, and I’m delighted that they are still here and still a key part of things moving forward.”
The opening night came just a matter of days after Shields broke the Northern League Division Two attendance record, attracting 1,412 fans to the game against Tow Law Town at Mariners Park.
The occasion was marked with a remarkable 9-1 win, which was the Mariners’ 17th victory in a row. It is a run of form which has hugely impressed Mr Shearer.
He added: “To attract 1,400 fans here was a staggering achievement. The team is also on an incredible run.
“It’s good to have something to shout about in the North East, because our other clubs aren’t doing so well, although Middlesbrough are.
“I get invited to do a million of these things, and I would be doing one every day of the year if time allowed.
“Geoff is a friend of mine. I was delighted to be here because football in the North East means an incredible lot to me. It was my pleasure to open this fantastic facility.”
The launch tonight was just the start of a weekend of entertainment at Mariners Park, with band King Size Voodoo Traveller to perform there on Friday from 9pm.
On Saturday, meanwhile, the Shields first team will travel to Consett for an FA Vase match, and on the night-time at Mariners Park, Britain’s Got Talent finalist Danny Posthill will perform.
The comedy impressionist is on from 7pm, with tickets costing £20, including a pie and peas supper. To book a ticket, call 0191 454 7800 or 07854 858423.
Meanwhile, the refurbished function rooms are available for free hire until the end of December for all occasions. Please call us on 0191 454 7800 to make a booking or enquire.
*You can watch a video of the opening night of Mariners Park at the top of this page, featuring speeches from Alan Shearer and Geoff Thompson, and music from Paige Temperley and Taylor Payne*
Michael Orr has been appointed as Managing Director of South Shields Football Club with immediate effect.
Michael will take full financial and operational responsibility for all SSFC activities moving forward.
The club has major ambitions both on and off the field of play and this appointment will further enhance the prospects of the club achieving its short and long term objectives.
Geoff Thompson remains as Chairman.
South Shields Football Club is delighted to announce that a deal has been reached which will see it return to its former home, Filtrona Park, in time for the 2015-16 season.
The ground, in Shaftesbury Avenue, will be known as Mariners Park after Geoff Thompson (pictured), the founder and chief executive of energy consultancy firm Utilitywise, agreed to buy it and then lease it back to the club.
Mr Thompson will become the Mariners’ chairman, with incumbent Gary Crutwell to become vice-chairman, assisting with the day-to-day running of the club.
The deal for Mariners Park will go through subject to Northern League ratification and final checks, and is expected to be completed by early-June.
The completion of the deal will bring an end to Shields’ two-year stay at Eden Lane, in Peterlee, where home games have been played since the club’s former lease on Filtrona Park ended.
Geoff Thompson said: “The committee has done a tremendous job to keep the club alive over what has been an extremely difficult period in its history.
“I’m delighted to be able to help out, and very excited to now be part of such a historic football club with vast potential.
“I’m confident that there are some very exciting times ahead for the club, and the first step towards that was to ensure it got back into the town as quickly as possible.
“To do that at a facility as excellent as Mariners Park is fantastic, as it has everything we need, and so much potential to be improved further in the future.”
On his ambitions for the club, Mr Thompson added: “Ultimately, from a first-team point of view we want to progress as high up the football pyramid as we can.
“We want the club to be vibrant from top to bottom, though, and we feel it has a huge role to play in the community.
“The club already has a superb junior section, which we hope will grow and flourish further, and a big aspect for me is the community side of things.
“I want us to be at the centre of the community, and we hope to build partnerships with the local authority and schools as part of this.
“Mariners Park will be at the forefront of everything we do, and we can hold community events there, while we would also like our football coaches to go out into South Tyneside schools to put on sessions and inspire the next generation to play football and realise their full potential.”
Gary Crutwell said: “It has been a tough few years for the club, but I am very proud of the committee’s efforts to get through that period, and am confident that there are some excellent times ahead.
“We are delighted to have Geoff on board, and can’t thank him enough for his efforts so far.
“The ambitions and potential of the club are massive, and I really hope we can provide the successful and community-based club that this town deserves.
“South Shields – and South Tyneside in general – is a football-oriented area, and we hope to well and truly tap into that potential.
“We would like to appeal to the football supporters of the town to get behind us to help us achieve our ambitions, and we want to provide them with a club to be proud of.
“The first step towards reaching those ambitions was to secure a ground in the town, and we are thrilled to be moving back to our former home.”
South Shields’ move to the Shaftesbury Avenue facility will see the club return to the ground it played at between 1992 and 2013.
The club would like to pay particular thanks to all of those at Peterlee who have been so helpful and welcoming over the last two years, and wishes them every success for the future.
Further updates regarding the ground will be made in due course.