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.
Joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton have committed their long-term futures to South Shields by signing new five-year contracts.
The deals will keep the management duo at Mariners Park until the summer of 2023 as they continue to oversee the club’s first-team and 16-19 Academy programme.
Picton and Fenton took over the running of the first-team in September 2016, and have since gone on to achieve remarkable success.
Two league titles, two promotions and three further cup wins have been secured, while numerous club records have been broken.
Supporters can now look forward to the successful partnership continuing in the years ahead.
Picton said: “We’re delighted that (Chairman) Geoff Thompson, (Managing Director) Keith Finnigan and the club as a whole are willing to show this level of commitment in us.
“To get the opportunity to build over quite a long period of time with the solid foundations the club has put together over the last three years or so, is an unbelievable opportunity for us and one that we’re absolutely relishing over the next few years.
“There is expectation and pressure at the club, like a lot of clubs, but it’s a good expectation and good pressure.
“We’d like to think we thrive under that pressure and it keeps us – and everyone – on our toes.
“Each and every day, you recognise how lucky you are to be doing something that you absolutely love doing, and be part of a club that really is going places.
“I don’t wake up every morning feeling like I’ve got a heavy burden on my shoulders.
“It’s more an excitement to get up and really go at it that day, and try to take small steps forward to help us achieve our longer-term goals.”
Fenton said: “These new contracts are a big commitment from both ourselves and the club.
“We’re delighted that Geoff and Keith have offered us that length of contract, because it shows huge faith in us.
“We want to be a part of the trajectory the club is going on, which is positive at both first-team and Academy level.
“We’ve put a lot of work into the first-team and the Academy, and we’re hoping that both sides of the club continue to progress and get better.
“The five-year contract is huge for us to be able to put in the time, effort and commitment to see it through.
“We don’t know how long it’s going to take us to get to where we need to get to, but we’ll certainly be giving it our best shot over the next five years to progress the club forward.”
Managing Director Keith Finnigan said: “I am absolutely delighted that we have managed to secure Lee and Graham’s services for the next five years, and it is due reward for them.
“Since I joined the club last year they have been a joy to work with as they show enormous passion and commitment to everything they do and encounter.
“They have brought the club unheralded success on the pitch with the first team, as well as creating an Academy to develop our talent for the future, and off the pitch their experience and insight is invaluable to us all.
“I think they, and all involved with the club, are proud of what they have achieved so far, and we want them to continue that journey with us to share the culmination of what they are building with us.
“I don’t believe there is a better management team in non-league football at the present time, and we are proud that they are with us for the longer term.”
The club is pleased to confirm the appointment of Keith Finnigan as Managing Director.
Keith is well known to SSFC Chairman Geoff Thompson, with the pair having initially worked for rival companies, before linking up in a start-up venture 14 years ago.
Recently their paths crossed again, and Keith has spent the last two months working behind the scenes at Mariners Park, implementing new financial systems and controls at the club.
Keith is a qualified accountant, with over 25 years’ experience in senior commercial and financial roles with regional, national and international businesses.
He brings a wealth of experience within the service sector, which will be invaluable as the club continues to progress and grow.
He said: “I am delighted to have been offered the opportunity to join South Shields Football Club at such an exciting time in its history.
“I am really looking forward to contributing to the continued success the club has achieved in recent years, both on the pitch and with its commercial activities, which are vital to supporting that success.
“I will have the pleasure of working with many talented people within the club, who are united in their commitment to creating the experiences and success that our passionate supporters deserve.”