Jon Shaw is one of a select band of players to have left an indelible mark on South Shields FC.
It was announced on Tuesday that Shaw’s time as a Mariners player had come to an end after a distinguished six years, with the experienced campaigner to continue his playing career elsewhere and remain a key part of SSFC as head of professional development.
The numbers alone – 211 appearances, 27 goals, two promotions, five trophies – are impressive enough, but they barely begin to scratch the surface.
After signing as a 32-year-old following his departure from Gateshead in 2016, Shaw’s words proved to be prophetic.
He expressed his excitement at the “massive project” he was joining, said he wanted to be part of the next “three, four or five years” at the club, eyed a future in coaching, told of his dream to play at Wembley and spoke of the club’s desire to win the league that season. Tick, tick, tick, tick and tick.
Shaw also mentioned his ambition to continue his career until at least the age of 40, and it is that hunger which will drive him to his next club and ensure he enriches the next environment he enters every bit as much as he has done at South Shields.
It’s easy to forget that Shaw signed for the club as a striker, after a prolific career which had taken in spells with the likes of Luton Town, Burton Albion, Halifax Town, Gateshead and his boyhood club Sheffield Wednesday.
The steel city lad started his time with Shields in that fashion, too, forming a potent partnership with old mate Carl Finnigan and also combining menacingly with the likes of Gavin Cogdon, David Foley and Wayne Phillips.
But a tactical switch by Lee Picton and Graham Fenton in September 2016 – less than two months after Shaw made his competitive debut for the club – proved to be a masterstroke, and would come to define the player’s time in claret and blue.
Shaw was fielded as a centre-back in an FA Vase tie at Esh Winning and aside from the occasional eye-catching cameo and a run of games up-front in 2019-20, he did not look back.
The poacher became the gamekeeper and he did so in some style, establishing himself as one of the top centre-backs in each of the three divisions he represented the Mariners in and exuding class at every turn.
That extended to off the field, too, as Shaw’s leadership qualities rubbed off on his team-mates and staff throughout the club and he became part of the fabric of SSFC.
The club simply got under Shaw’s skin, with his remarkable debut season – which culminated in a 4-0 win at Wembley as Shields added the FA Vase to the three other trophies they lifted in 2016-17 – proving to be just the start.
A second successive promotion followed, as did a memorable run to the final qualifying round of the Emirates FA Cup, and the defender was then deservedly handed the captaincy following the retirement of Julio Arca in 2018. No one could have worn the armband with more purpose or pride.
The leadership skills Shaw demonstrated as he aided the growth of his on-field ‘son’, Dillon Morse, among many others, made his progression in coaching obvious, and in 2019 he joined Shields on a full-time basis as head of professional development, working closely with the club’s Academy prospects to help guide their pathway into the first-team structure.
As the club adopted a hybrid and later full-time training model, Shaw would make an unexpected return to life as a professional footballer and retained his authority on the pitch, with his consistent performance levels continuing to set the standard.
He ticked another box in November 2020 when he was appointed as joint assistant manager to Fenton, a role he continued in after Kevin Phillips took the reins in January 2022 but will now relinquish as his playing days continue elsewhere.
It is to the club’s great benefit that Shaw’s influence will continue to be felt as he returns to his role of head of professional development, coaching and mentoring Academy players on a daily basis as they bid to make their first steps in the senior game, as he did almost 20 years ago.
Those near two decades in first-team football have seen Shaw represent 11 clubs across seven leagues, but there are few where he can be as synonymous as he is with South Shields.
He and his wonderful family are part of the South Shields family, and would have remained so regardless of his continued involvement with the Academy.
All at the club will be enriched by his ongoing presence, though, and there is little doubt that his influence behind the scenes will remain as strong as ever.
This, though, is a tribute to Shaw’s impact on the pitch. And it is one which will never be forgotten.
Thanks, Shawsy. The Mariners man of steel.
After 211 appearances, 27 goals, two promotions and five trophy lifts, Jon Shaw’s time as a South Shields player has come to an end.
The defender’s playing contract has not been renewed ahead of the 2022-23 season, but he intends to extend his time on the pitch elsewhere.
Shaw will though remain a vital part of the club as he returns to his previous role as head of professional development, working with Academy players as they bid to progress into the first-team environment.
He will always be regarded as a Mariners legend for his exploits on the pitch, with his performances in his debut season helping the club to a historic quadruple and his considerable influence as vice-captain and later captain proving to be hugely significant in the years that followed.
Shaw: “I’ve had an unbelievable six years as a South Shields player.
“I came here to finish my career, with hopes of playing until I was 40, although realistically I thought I would probably retire at 34 or 35.
“I’m extremely grateful to Jon King for bringing me to the club alongside Lee Picton, to Lee and Graham Fenton for managing and coaching me for such a long period, and to my fellow players and everyone involved at the club, who are some of the best people I’ve known in my 22 years in the game.
“It has been a privilege to represent the club through all of my various roles and to have been part of some great successes, as well as a few little disappointments along the way.
“As it has been throughout my time here, the club is striving to move forward, and inevitably a few players have to move on.
“I understand the decision not to renew my playing contract. I can’t honestly say I agree with it, but that’s me backing myself which in this game you have to do, and I feel I have something to offer a team and want to play for as long as possible.
“I was offered the opportunity to remain as part of the first-team coaching staff, and I’m hugely grateful to Kevin Phillips for that offer and for the fact he wanted me as part of his staff, but my desire to continue playing has an affect on that and between myself and the club, we have decided I will return to my previous role with the Academy.
“I’m hugely excited to remain part of the club and to have such an important position with our Academy, where I’ll still be able to work with lots of the great people around the club who have become an extended part of my wife and boys’ family, and so many people who have played a massive part of my life and our good times at the club over the last six years.
“Day-to-day, I will be to represent this great club with pride alongside so many fantastic people, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings.
“I’m going to massively miss the buzz of 3pm on Saturdays and Tuesday nights under the lights at our ground for many reasons, but particularly because I’ll miss the supporters who have backed me every second since I’ve been here.
“It will be a strange experience to make that change at this stage of my career, but after 22 years of playing I think I owe it to myself to decide when to hang my boots up, and I don’t feel ready to do that yet.
“I wish everyone involved in South Shields’ first-team the very best of luck for next season and hope they right the wrongs of the last couple of years.
“I’ll be their biggest supporter.”
South Shields manager Kevin Phillips said: “Jon has been a fantastic servant to the club and is a credit to himself and the club.
“He has been exemplary, but unfortunately tough decisions have to be made in football and Jon understands that.
“Jon has made it very clear that he wants to continue playing and that’s something I completely support, because I played until I was 41 and you’re a long time retired when you stop.
“It was a tough one because I want to freshen up the squad and build my own team to challenge for promotion next season, and I couldn’t guarantee Jon the minutes he would be looking for.
“Jon continuing his playing career with another club unfortunately affects his role as assistant manager, but it goes without saying that he will always be welcome at the first-team training ground to help out, which is something we’ve spoken about.
“We wish him all the very best with whichever club he signs for but look forward to continuing to work with him at the club and to him being a big part of our future.”
More than £3,500 has been raised for the charity Cancer Connections after the South Shields community put its shirt on an exciting campaign.
South Shields FC’s limited edition community shirt, designed by Little Mix superstar Jade Thirlwall and North East illustrator and designer James Dixon, proved incredibly popular after its launch in October.
All of the Mariners’ profits from sales of the item are being donated to Cancer Connections, of which Jade – also the club’s honorary president – is a long-term supporter and patron.
A cheque for £3,637.37 was presented to the charity by Shields player-assistant manager Jon Shaw and captain Blair Adams on a special visit to the facility, based on Harton Lane in South Shields.
Cancer Connections provides advice and support to cancer patients, carers and families with the aim of making the turbulent journey a little easier for everyone involved.
Charity manager Deborah Roberts said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be involved with South Shields FC, especially considering our patron Jade designed the shirt and has a big connection with the club.
“It has been a difficult two years for fundraising because of the pandemic, so to have a donation of this size is going to be a huge help.
“It’s a beautiful and memorable shirt which is meaningful to anyone who is connected to the town, and the community bought into it massively, far exceeding our expectations.
“We can’t do what we do without people supporting us and making contributions.
“It’s a whole community effort to help those who really need it and Cancer Connections belongs to the community.
“Without the support of brilliant organisations like South Shields Football Club, what we do wouldn’t be possible.”
The money raised for Cancer Connections will help the charity continue its invaluable services, including providing complimentary and vital therapies for cancer patients to give them and their families respite from the stresses of treatment.
“It truly is a fantastic facility and I can see why many people who use it describe it as a home from home, because that’s what it feels like.
“Our community shirt was warmly received by supporters and players, and to know that our fanbase came together to buy so many of them and support such a worthwhile charity at the same time is uplifting.
“It’s clear that the funds raised will go such a long way and help so many people in our community.”
The limited edition community shirts remain on sale at https://store.southshieldsfc.co.uk/.