Season ticket sales for the 2021-22 campaign passed another brilliant milestone last week – thanks to a familiar face.

Jon Hardy, who is well-known to most South Shields supporters thanks to his fundraising endeavours and his key role within the Simonside Branch, was surprised to learn that he was season ticket holder number 600 when he signed up last Thursday.

It has been a record-breaking effort from Mariners supporters, with more than three months still to go until the new season gets underway.

More than 600 season tickets were snapped up for the ultimately curtailed 2020-21 campaign, but that figure included a significant number which were donated to the Tickets To The Future initiative. Without those additional purchases, this season’s sales have already passed the mark set for 2020-21.

It was perhaps fitting that the latest milestone was reached thanks to Jon, who has certainly made up for lost time since attending his first Shields game in 2017 – the FA Vase final, no less.

Since then, he has become an avid supporter who does not miss a game at home or away, arranges travel to away matches for Simonside Branch members and has played a key role in raising thousands of pounds for the club and numerous other good causes in the region over the last four years.

Although he lives in Hebburn, the born-and-bred Sanddancer is set to move back to the town of his birth in the near future. That, coupled with the return of football in the months ahead, fills him with excitement.

“When I was younger I’d always look out for the South Shields scores, especially if they were doing well in a cup competition, but I didn’t go to games,” Jon said. “After I retired the club reached the FA Vase final in 2017 and you could say I was part of the bandwagon because I went to that match, which was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“That prompted me to contact some old friends and ask them if they’d like to go for a beer on a Saturday afternoon and watch the Shields game.

“Initially it was just about catching up with old friends in a good environment watching some good football on a Saturday afternoon.

“Now I don’t miss a game and it has brought an old group of friends back together.

“I’ve gone from those starting blocks and being a new fan to running the buses to away games, which I couldn’t be more surprised about.

“I’ve enjoyed every single second of my involvement with the club and the fans.”

Jon suffered a personal tragedy last month when he lost his beloved wife Moira.

The messages of support he received from South Shields supporters left him staggered.

He added: “The amount of support I received when I lost my wife Moira blew me away. Wow. It brings tears to my eyes when I think about it.

“It was something special and just further underlined what an incredible set of people we have supporting our club. When you go to the games it’s like visiting family.

“I got lots of messages from close friends and people I interact with on a regular basis, but I was getting messages from people I didn’t know that well too. I had over 400 messages.

“It’s not just about the football. It extends far beyond that.

“I keep repeating the word ‘family’ because that’s what it is.”

Jon is hoping many others will sign up to become a season ticket holder in the weeks and months ahead.

“To have sold 600 season tickets already is testament to how faithful the fans are and how much everyone is looking forward to getting back,” he explained. “It is a clear continuation of the tremendous support the club has had, certainly during the difficult times of the last year.

“I’m hoping that once the improvements to the ground are completed, even more people will get the bug.

“I’ve bought a season ticket in the planned new stand with some friends, and I’m sure that stand is going to make coming to games even more of a mega attraction for people.

“The anticipation of the first game is massive because we’ve been robbed of that excitement for so long and because of all the changes we’re going to experience in the ground.

“I’m hoping it will be a really bumper crowd for that first game.”

The South Shields FC 2021-22 season ticket prices are as follows…

Adults: General entry £170, Balcony £210, Seated £230

Concessions (over-65s, students, disabled): General entry £135, Balcony £165, Seated £185

Under-16s: General entry £35, Balcony £65, Seated £100

For those who select the direct debit option, which is paid in nine installments, the monthly prices are…

Adults: General entry £20, Balcony £24, Seated £26

Concessions (over-65s, students, disabled): General entry £16, Balcony, £19, Seated £21

Under-16s: General entry £4, Balcony £8, Seated £12

Season tickets are are available from the following link: 2021-22 Season Ticket Sales