Midfielder Blair Rossiter has committed his future to South Shields after signing his first senior contract.
The 18-year-old has been part of the club’s Academy for the last two seasons and has caught the eye during regular involvement in first-team training sessions during that time.
Rossiter has now been rewarded for those efforts and although he acknowledges he has much work to do to establish himself firmly in the first-team picture, he sees this as a key step.
The Scottish teenager said: “This is a brilliant moment for me and I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work over the two years I’ve been here and it has been challenging at times, but it has all been worth it.
“The efforts I’ve put in so far have paid off but I have to keep striving to improve now as the step into making regular appearances for the first-team is the most difficult one and I need to continually prove I deserve that.”
Rossiter was part of the famous Rangers youth set-up for eight years before making the difficult decision to leave the club and spend a year in junior football with East Kilbride prior to linking up with the Shields Academy.
He was initially unable to play competitive games for the Academy due to issues over his international clearance and Covid-19 brought an early end to each of his two seasons at that level.
The left footer impressed coaching staff at first-team and Academy level in the opportunities he was given to make a mark, though, and despite the obvious frustrations at not playing as much football as he would have liked, South Shields quickly became a “second home”.
Rossiter added: “I spent time with a host family when I came here and they were brilliant in terms of helping me settle in the area after such a big move.
“When I go home to Scotland I’m always raring to get back and train, which probably says it all about how much I enjoy it here. It’s like a second home for me.
“A lot of people say it but it’s true that this is like a family club and everyone is so nice to you, which makes it easy to settle in.”
Rossiter was part of the first-team group which spent two days in the Lake District this week taking part in a range of activities as part of a team building exercise.
Management staff were again impressed with the way he adapted to being part of that set-up but that came as no surprise given the strides he has made over the last two years.
Manager Graham Fenton said: “We’re extremely happy that Blair had put pen to paper on a contract with the club.
“He has really impressed us over the last couple of years within the Academy environment despite suffering some frustrations along the way through situations entirely out of his hands.
“Since he has come into the first-team environment he has excelled. We set Blair a challenge to improve on the physical side of his game and he has worked very hard to make inroads into that. He is looking fitter and stronger all the time and he deserves this opportunity.
“Blair is a very exciting young player who is technically very gifted, and supporters can hopefully look forward to seeing him make an impact in the first-team this season.”
South Shields Football Club is delighted to announce the signing of former Leicester City prospect Conor Tee.
The 20-year-old becomes the Mariners’ first arrival of the off-season after impressing during a period training with the squad over recent weeks.
Tee also shone in a behind-closed-doors friendly win at Billingham Town earlier this month and has been backed to make a big impact at 1st Cloud Arena by Shields manager Graham Fenton.
The forward – who has been capped at Under-18s level by the Republic of Ireland – had a spell at Brackley Town last season but has spent the majority of his young career to date with Leicester, who he departed in the summer of 2020.
He is now eager to make his mark at first-team level and is enthusiastic about his future with the Mariners.
Tee said: “I’m really pleased to become a South Shields player.
“To have my future settled with plenty of time to go until the season starts is a big boost for me, because the last year or so has been difficult.
“I’m so happy to have everything sorted now and really excited about the season ahead.
“I can’t wait to play in front of all the fans and show everyone what I can do.”
Tee spent a significant amount of time training with the first-team squad during his time at Leicester, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and James Maddison.
He was at Wembley to cheer his former side to victory in the Emirates FA Cup final against Chelsea last weekend, with his good friend and fellow Leicester academy product Luke Thomas playing 82 minutes in the Foxes’ 1-0 win.
Tee was Leicester’s Under-18s Player of the Year in 2018 and as a player who is adept at playing in the number 10 role or out wide, he will add a dynamic option to the Shields squad in forward areas heading into 2021-22.
Manager Graham Fenton said: “We’re really happy and excited to have made Conor our first new signing of the summer.
“He has impressed myself, Jon Shaw and Brian Smith tremendously with what he has shown so far, which is why we were so keen to get him to put pen to paper.
“What the supporters can expect from Conor is an exciting, intelligent attacking midfielder who can play in the number 10 role or out wide.
“He’s very creative and has an eye for goal, and we can’t wait to get him started with the group.
“You can tell he has had a great football upbringing at Leicester City because he shows good knowledge of the game at his young age.
“He also epitomises the values we look for in players; he’s hard-working, very humble and has excellent quality.
“We’re over the moon to have him signed up.”
An extended interview with Conor Tee will appear on the website on Thursday.
Captain Robert Briggs has signed a new long-term contract with South Shields after an agreement was reached for him to join the club’s full-time training regime.
Briggs, who is the longest-serving member of the Mariners’ squad, has signed a deal until the summer of 2023, with an option for a further year.
The midfielder has been a shining light for Shields since rejoining from Spennymoor Town in 2015, helping the club to three league titles and six trophy wins.
He was named captain in December 2020 and will begin the 2021-22 campaign with 280 appearances and 78 goals to his name in claret and blue across two spells.
The 29-year-old – who was named in the Pitching In Northern Premier League’s Team of the Year in the most-recently completed season, 2018-19 – thanked his other employer after putting pen to paper at 1st Cloud Arena.
He said: “I’m thrilled that the deal has been done.
“My work situation needed to be sorted and there were some other offers on the table, but I’m so glad that this has been finalised and I’m able to continue my time here.
“It’s great that my work have been flexible enough to give me the opportunity to do this and that South Shields have been so supportive of my situation as well.
“I can’t wait to come in and spend even more time with the lads to see how we can work together to continue pushing this club as far as it can go.
“No matter which other clubs I spoke to or which offers were made, it was always in my head that I didn’t want to leave South Shields.
“The toughest decision would have been to walk away and in the end that was something I wasn’t prepared to do.
“I couldn’t really see myself playing anywhere else and after the management team showed great loyalty and faith in me by giving me the captain’s armband, I couldn’t walk away from them or the lads.”
Manager Graham Fenton said: “We’re absolutely over the moon that Robert has committed his long-term future to the club.
“It took a while to get everything finalised due to uncertainty over his work commitments, but we’re delighted we’ve managed to work through that and get his situation sorted out.
“We’d like to thank Robbie’s work for allowing him to pursue a few hours of training per week through the day and letting him pick up his other commitments at other times of the day. That was a huge factor in being able to get the deal over the line.
“I’m sure the supporters will be delighted that Robbie will be captaining the team for the foreseeable future.
“He has shown over the years what a huge asset he is to the club in terms of his performances on the pitch and his personality off it.
“We always knew he had the talent, but he has improved his understanding of his role in the team, wherever he is asked to play, over the last five years and showed tremendous development as a player.
“He was having an excellent season last time out before it was cut short and we look forward to continuing to see the quality we’ve been used to from him over the years.”
An in-depth interview with Robert will be published on the website on Friday. You can sign up now to watch the skipper lead Shields out in all 21 home league games next term by snapping up a season ticket. Click here to purchase online.