South Shields have been invited to use the training facilities of both Sunderland AFC and Newcastle United in the lead-up to the FA Vase final.

The club’s final four training sessions ahead of the final will be held at the two clubs’ academies.

That will start tonight, when the Mariners get the chance to train at Sunderland’s Academy of Light, where they will be at again on Saturday and next Tuesday.

Their final training session before travelling to London will be next Thursday, and held at Newcastle United’s academy.

South Shields FC would like to thank both clubs for their assistance, and joint manager Lee Picton is convinced that, as well as being a great gesture, it will also provide practical benefits for the Mariners.

He said: “We have really enjoyed using the brand-new 4G facility at South Shields this season.

“However, in preparation for this massive, one-off game, we want to try to replicate the conditions we will have at Wembley as best as we can ahead of the game.

“Using the fantastic surfaces at both Sunderland and Newcastle will give us a great opportunity to do that.

“We’d like to thank both clubs for supporting us so generously by allowing us to use their facilities.”

South Shields supporters will be greatly looking forward to the cross-river derby with North Shields on Tuesday.

However, later in the week, there is the small matter of another local derby taking place in the region, with Newcastle United taking on Sunderland in a vital Premier League fixture on Sunday, March 20.

The match will be shown on six screens throughout the bars at Mariners Park, and on the day of the game, pints of Foster’s and John Smith’s will be just £2.

Breakfast will also be served at the club from 10am, while you can also have your Sunday lunch, cooked by our chefs from The Italian Retro, while watching the game by calling 0191 456 5670.

The club would like to wish Kevin Bolam all the very best of luck in his new role with Newcastle United.

Kevin has accepted a job working as an assistant recruitment officer at the academy of the Premier League club.

Regrettably, this means he will not be able to continue his role as coach of South Shields’ Under-18s side – with whom he achieved incredible success over the years – or as chairman of the club’s youth section.

However, he will always treasure the memories of his hugely successful time with the Mariners, and the Under-18s players – some of whom he was worked with since they were just six.

The team was initially known as Whiteleas before becoming part of South Shields FC at Under-14s level.

Kevin said: “I’d like to extend thanks to everyone I have worked with, from players to parents and staff.

“I have had an incredible time with the club and the team, and I’ve loved every minute of it.

“The players deserve all the recognition for their achievements over the years.

“An opportunity came up with Newcastle which I couldn’t turn down in the end, but it wasn’t an easy decision.

“Huge thanks to the chairman, Gary Crutwell, for getting me involved with the club, and to the first-team manager, Jon King, for involving me on the coaching side with the senior squad several times this season.

“I will still help out in any way that I can, but my new role does not allow me to continue in the same capacity I have now.

“As for the Under-18s, I’ve left them in good hands, and I’m sure they’ll go on to have more great success in the future.”

The club’s chairman, Gary Crutwell, said: “Kevin has done a great job since forming the junior section of the club with Martin Urwin.

“The success he has had with his team has been fantastic over the years.

“We’d like to wish him good luck for the future, and we’ll certainly be staying in touch.

“I hope he is very successful in his new job.”

Following the departure of Kevin, Dave Simpson will now take over the coaching of the Under-18s team, with support from Gavin Bainbridge and Mark Simpson, and secretarial support from Scott Davidson.

Kevin added: “Dave has coached numerous age groups over the years, and is familiar with this age group.

“All the lads have agreed to stay on in principle, and targets have already been put in place for next season’s playing squad.”