Robert Briggs has become the latest player to commit his future to South Shields after signing a new contract.
The midfielder, who picked up a host of accolades after a stellar 2018-19 campaign, will extend his second spell at Mariners Park into a fifth campaign.
Across his two stints with the club, Briggs has made 221 appearances and scored 62 goals.
Last season saw him achieve his highest goals tally of 19, while he was also named the Players’ Player of the Year, Supporters’ Player of the Year, Top Goalscorer, Simonside Branch Player of the Year and Supporters Alliance Player of the Year. He was also named in the Evo-Stik League’s Team of the Season.
It was his first campaign as the club’s vice-captain, and after narrowly missing out on promotion through the play-offs last time out, Briggs is determined to go one better in 2019-20.
The 27-year-old said: “I’m over the moon to commit my future to the club.
“It’s never nice when you’re out of contract and you have to try to sort lots of things out, but I’m delighted to get it done.
“There were a lot of motivations to stay.
“We ended last season in a disappointing way and I think we’ve got to put that right, so I couldn’t walk away.
“I’ve also built a really good bond with everyone at the club over the last four years, including the fans, so it would have been really difficult to leave.
“I’m really glad to extend my stay here.”
Briggs began his second spell with Shields in August 2015 after joining the then Northern League Division Two club from Spennymoor Town.
He was part of the team which won the Division Two title before following that up a year later with the Division One championship, along with the FA Vase, Durham Challenge Cup and Northern League Cup.
More silverware followed in 2017-18 as Briggs helped Shields to the Evo-Stik North Division title, and he is hoping for more successful times ahead.
He added: “Because I’ve been here from the start of this journey, I feel that I should continue for as long as I possibly can.
“Luckily I’ve got the chance to do that.
“Winning the league is the target for us next season.
“We were very close last season so I think the only way to put that right is by going and winning it next season.
“If we fail to do that then promotion is the next target, but for me it’s all about winning the league.”
South Shields joint manager Lee Picton said: “Robert has been right at the heart of the on-field success that the club has enjoyed over the last four years, and to have him commit further to us is a huge boost ahead of next season.
“His talents were duly recognised wen he was named in the Evo-Stik League’s Team of the Season, an accolade that was richly deserved in my opinion.
“He knows the club inside out and he knows exactly how myself and Graham work, and the standards we demand.
“To have his experience, quality and leadership in our dressing room moving forwards will be invaluable.”
Robert Briggs won five awards at the sold-out SSFC end of season presentation evening at Mariners Park on Saturday.
A crowd of close to 200 packed into the marquee to recognise the efforts of the squad throughout the 2018-19 campaign and enjoy a night of entertainment, provided by compere Phil Hourigan and comedian Josh Daniels.
The first award handed out was the Top Goalscorer prize, which was won by Briggs, who netted 19 times in all competitions during the season. The award was kindly sponsored by Durastic.
Next up was the Young Player of the Year award, with SSFC Academy graduate Callum Guy claiming the prize after breaking into the first-team squad on several occasions during the season and helping the Academy win its first national trophy. The award was sponsored by KCH Engineering.
Briggs also won the Supporters’ Player of the Year award, voted for by fans in an online poll. Briggs took 39% of the votes, with Lee Mason second on 15% and Craig Baxter third on 9%. The award was sponsored by Rob S Gas Services.
The Goal of the Season – again voted for by supporters in an online vote – was David Foley’s stunning overhead kick from outside the penalty area against North Ferriby United in the FA Trophy. The award was sponsored by the Lakeside Inn.
Briggs’ third award was the prize for Players’ Player of the Year, as voted for by the players themselves. The award was sponsored by S Davison (Electrical) Ltd.
The Player of the Year award – as voted for by club committee members, board members and staff – went to Blair Adams. The award was sponsored by TGS Industrial Supplies.
The SSFC Supporters’ Alliance Player of the Year award went to Briggs, and was presented to him by Alliance chairman Geordie Pearce.
The Simonside Branch Player of the Year was also Briggs, who was presented with his award by Simonside Branch committee member Jon Hardy.
The club would like to thank all of those who sponsored an award or who supported the event through their attendance.
Pictures by Kev Wilson.
Robert Briggs equalised from the spot in stoppage time for the second game in a row as South Shields remained in the Evo-Stik Premier Division title hunt on Saturday.
Briggs converted a penalty in the 92nd minute at Stafford Rangers, cancelling out a goal scored by the hosts midway through the first half.
The result kept Shields three points behind leaders Farsley Celtic, although Warrington Town have now leapfrogged them into second after they won at Stalybridge Celtic.
The Mariners host Scarborough Athletic on Monday in a game they are likely to need to win to stay in title contention.
On arguably the most testing playing surface they have encountered all season, Shields were forced to adapt their tactics at Marston Road.
Their start was effective enough, with Nathan Lowe sending a free-kick over from distance and Luke Daly shooting wide after a ball in from the left by David Foley.
But it was Stafford who took the lead in the 25th minute.
A long throw from the left by Tom Thorley was nodded down to the feet of Theo Bailey-Jones, and he tucked the ball into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
A win for the hosts would have seen them all but ensure survival in the league for another season, but they were almost pegged back immediately when a strike from outside the box by Robert Briggs took a deflection which carried it just wide.
Stafford almost doubled their advantage 11 minutes before half-time when Bailey-Jones let fly from distance, but Liam Connell made a tremendous one-handed save to tip the ball over the bar.
Another opportunity came and went for the home side as Ben Mills forced his way through on the right of the area before drilling a low ball which Connell did well to kick away.
Shields’ best chance to draw level came eight minutes into the second half when a flick-on by Connor Bell was latched onto by Foley, but Stafford goalkeeper Adam Siviter narrowed the angle and kept out his effort.
The Mariners were mainly reduced to half-chances, and another of them went begging as a ball over the top from Jon Shaw found Daly, but he fired past the post.
Bell also saw a shot blocked from a good position as Shields continued to be frustrated.
Stafford almost sealed the points as the game ticked into stoppage time as Jake Charles hit an effort just wide, but there was to be one last twist.
A ball over the top found substitute Josh Gillies, who touched it around Siviter before being bundled to the ground by a defender just inside the box.
Briggs stepped up and picked out the bottom corner with a nerveless penalty to salvage another point for Shields.
They now know they must, surely, beat Scarborough to stay in contention for the title heading into their final game, away to Gainsborough Trinity next Saturday.
SOUTH SHIELDS: Connell, Baxter (Adams 68), Lough, Shaw (c), Morse, Lowe, Foley (Gillies 63), Briggs, Harmison, Daly, Bell (Mason 81). Subs not used: Mouanda, Turnbull.
Goal: Briggs (pen 90+2).
WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Peter Talbot.