South Shields and Cleethorpes Town are set to renew their friendly rivalry as they compete for the Jak Fada Memorial Trophy this summer.
A pre-season match is to take place between the sides at Mariners Park on Saturday, July 13. It will kick-off at 3pm.
It will be the fourth meeting between the clubs in just over two years, after they first locked horns in the final of the FA Vase at Wembley Stadium in May 2017.
On and since that momentous occasion, the two clubs have built a strong friendship, with Cleethorpes supporters offering real solidarity following the tragic death of 10-year-old Shields fan Jak Fada in November 2017.
Supporters of the Owls suggested earlier this year that a memorial match in honour of Jak should be held, and that has now been organised.
South Shields Managing Director Keith Finnigan said: “We very much look forward to welcoming Cleethorpes to Mariners Park this summer, particularly after they were such welcoming hosts for us during our pre-season programme last year.
“Matches between the two clubs are always strongly but fairly contested, and of course any meeting with Cleethorpes brings back great memories for us of our FA Vase victory at Wembley.
“The way Cleethorpes fans offered their sympathies and showed solidarity with our own supporters following the untimely passing of Jak was very touching to see, and it’s great to see just how strong the friendship between the clubs and two sets of supporters is.
“It should be a memorable occasion in memory of Jak, who we hold so closely to our hearts.
“It will be our pleasure to welcome Cleethorpes and we hope both sets of supporters enjoy the day.”
This is the second confirmed fixture of Shields’ pre-season schedule.
A Huddersfield Town development side will also visit Mariners Park on Wednesday, July 17.
The fixture was agreed as part of the deal which took Shields academy graduate Will McCamley to Huddersfield earlier this month.
Jak Fada – the boy whose story touched the hearts of so many – will be honoured at South Shields’ home game against Matlock Town on Saturday, December 1.
On what will be known as Jak Fada Day, all accompanied children under the age of 16 will be able to watch the Evo-Stik Premier Division match free of charge.
A collection will also be held on the day for a Christmas toy appeal in memory of Jak, who tragically passed away last November at the age of just 10.
Jak’s mum Ashley Tomlin also died from the same heart condition as Jak less than a month later, leaving the family devastated.
Since their deaths, Jak’s family have concentrated their efforts on helping those less fortunate, and the toys bought from the appeal will be donated to worthy causes in South Tyneside.
Jak was a big South Shields supporter and regularly attended games and holiday coaching courses at Mariners Park.
The club felt it would be fitting to honour the popular youngster at the Matlock game, just over a year on from his death.
South Shields FC chairman Geoff Thompson said: “The tragic death of Jak and his mum Ashley deeply affected everyone in the South Tyneside community and continues to leave us lost for words.
“Jak was extremely popular with everyone who knew him and the reaction from the public after the tragedy showed just how much he meant to so many people.
“He was a big Shields fan, too, and we have been looking at ways to honour him and his mum in the lead-up to Christmas.
“We feel that Jak Fada Day will be a fitting way to do that as we again show solidarity with the family and remind them that we will always be here for them.
“We are sure that our supporters and the community in general will get behind this and ensure that December 1 is a great day when we can celebrate Jak.”
South Shields striker Carl Finnigan, who got to know Jak well when coaching him at holiday courses at Mariners Park, said: “Jak was a very special young lad who I won’t ever forget.
“Everyone at the club will always remember his great enthusiasm and excitement.
“He constantly had a smile on his face whenever you saw him, and he will always be a huge miss for us all.
“Jak Fada Day will be an emotional day for us all and it’s important we always remember his great spirit, which continues to inspire us.”
All children under the age of 16 with a paying adult will gain free entry to Mariners Park on December 1, with a maximum of two free children per one paying adult.
Emotional tributes were paid to youngster Jak Fada before, during and after Saturday’s game between South Shields and Droylsden at Mariners Park.
The 10-year-old tragically died on November 6.
Jak was a huge supporter of the Mariners, and also a very keen footballer who regularly attended the club’s holiday coaching camps, as well as the weekly development centre at Mariners Park.
Ahead of Saturday’s game, a minute’s applause was held in memory of the Westoe Crown Primary School pupil, while there was a further tribute in the 10th minute of the match.
Carl Finnigan opened the scoring in that minute to set the Mariners on the road to a 6-1 win.
Afterwards, he paid tribute to a youngster he had coached on several occasions.
He said: “It was a very difficult week for everybody involved in the club.
“It was such a disaster losing a young lad that a lot of people at the club were familiar with.
“Barrie Smith and I had the pleasure of coaching Jak and he was a memorable lad.
“Every session I had with him, he was at the front of the queue and chirping up. He was the life and soul of what was going on.
“It was great to see his family at the game. We saw them before the game and at half-time.
“His dad came up to me after the game as happy as he could be, because I think he knew that we worked that bit harder on Saturday in memory of Jak.”
Finnigan added: “To get the first goal for me meant a lot.
“I wore number 10, which was Jak’s favourite number and his age, and when I heard the announcer say the goal had been scored in the 10th minute, it brought a little tear to my eye on the pitch because of how much it meant.”
IMAGE: Kev Wilson.