South Shields players at first-team and Academy level have followed in the footsteps of supporters and club officials by donating to the Tickets To The Future initiative.

More than 500 season tickets for the 2020-21 campaign have now been snapped up after a surge in sales over recent days.

Over 80 of those are junior tickets which have been donated back to the club to distribute to deserving children ahead of the season, with the assistance of SSFC Foundation.

Club captain and Head of Professional Development Jon Shaw, centre-back Dillon Morse, goalkeeper Ross Coombe and teenage talents Will Jenkins and Sam Hodgson are among those to have donated tickets to the initiative.

Midfielder Nathan Lowe, meanwhile, donated a child AND adult season ticket, while Academy players Joe Lockey, Joe Ames, Aaron Steavens and Ben Errington all added tickets to the fund, as did Academy graduate Will McCamley, who is now with Huddersfield Town.

Jordan Hunter – who excelled on loan with the Mariners from Sunderland in the 2019-20 campaign – also provided two child season tickets.

He said: “I think everyone knows how much I loved the last season at the club.

“I donated because you can see how much the club means to the town and this initiative will help to get children through the gates who wouldn’t normally get the chance to, and gives them an opportunity to have that enjoyment on a Saturday afternoon.

“It has been great to see so many people get on board with it and hopefully it continues to go from strength to strength, and then next season those young fans can watch the team achieve the promotion we deserved to get this year.”

The Tickets To The Future initiative was kicked off by Shields supporter Jeff Bell, who lives in London. He purchased eight child season tickets for the 2020-21 campaign before donating them back to the club.

Jeff’s wish was for the tickets to be given to deserving children who would not usually have the opportunity to attend games at Mariners Park. The club has committed to working with SSFC Foundation to identify those children.

After Jeff’s generosity was publicised on social media, a host of other figures came forward to donate tickets.

Among them were club officials Bob and Viv Scott, Daniel Prince, Colin Docherty, Kev Wilson and Janet Davies.

One supporter, who wished to remain anonymous, donated 10 junior tickets on Friday and the total amount of donations is expected to exceed 100 in the coming days.

HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED

Those who would like to make a donation of either junior, concession or adult season tickets for the 2020-21 campaign – or indeed buy a season ticket for themselves – can do so in one of two ways.

Please call 0191 454 7800 between 9am and 5pm on weekdays to buy and donate over the phone, or click here to buy online. If you buy online and would like to donate your ticket(s), please follow up your purchase by sending an email signalling your intention to do so to info@southshieldsfc.co.uk.

Thank you for the continued outstanding support and we hope you and your family are staying safe and healthy.

Academy hot shot Sam Hodgson continued his outstanding run of form with another five goals in midweek in the young Mariners’ 6-0 win over Scarborough Athletic.

Hodgson has now scored 13 goals in his last three games at Academy level after running riot in the National League Under-19 Alliance encounter at Washington Hub.

Oscar Taylor was also on the scoresheet for Shields as they kept up their hopes of winning the title.

They are fourth in the table, 13 points behind leaders Carlisle United and with three matches in hand.

As Head of Professional Development Jon Shaw insists, though, it is the performances which are most valuable.

He said: “To concede no goals in the Youth Alliance game was really pleasing and shows that our structure is good.

“We’re doing really well defensively at the moment and having people like Kieran Charlton in the side obviously helps with his first-team experience.

“George Lindo had a really positive first game on loan at Whickham in their 0-0 draw against West Auckland so he came back full of confidence.

“At the other end of the pitch Sam Hodgson scored another five goals to take him up to 29 for the season in an Academy shirt, which is an outstanding number of goals.

“I would imagine people will understand it justifies why he has a contract at the club.

“There were a lot of good performances from young players, with Olly McCully and Stewart Cooper both continuing to perform well in an Under-19s league and on a daily basis in training and games.”

The Academy squad was again split in two on Wednesday, with another Shields side winning 6-2 against Gateshead College in the ECFA Premier League as they strengthened their position at the top of the table.

Oscar Taylor notched a hat-trick for the young Mariners, whose other goals were scored by Jamie Whitehead, Tom Green and Jake Dunn.

All in all, it was another hugely productive week.

Shaw added: “It was another two good results for the Academy in both the ECFA and Youth Alliance.

“We scored six goals in each game but as always, the performances were the most important things.

“We dominated quite a lot of the game against Gateshead and the 6-2 scoreline was probably fair.

“We asked the lads for a high intensity with and without the ball, and they delivered that for the full 90 minutes.

“Gateshead caused us a few problems with the way they set up but the players adapted really well and made lots of good decisions on the ball to create chances and get ourselves in front.

“We had a sloppy five-minute spell which led to a goal for Gateshead but that seemed to wake the lads up and they went again.

“There was another hat-trick from Oscar Taylor, who is another 17-year-old growing in confidence week by week.

“We played the last 10 minutes with 10 men and still managed to score two goals with one conceded.

“The lads weren’t willing to take their foot off the gas even though they were comfortably in front and down to 10 men. Their desire to score more goals was evident.”

There is another big week ahead for the Academy, who have three games to contend with.

On Monday they make the short trip to Monkseaton High School in the ECFA Premier League while on Wednesday there is a double header against Gateshead in the National League Under-19 Alliance and Coleg Cambria in the ECFA Premier Cup.

SSFC Academy overcame an injury crisis to register two more wins across two competitions in midweek.

A combination of injuries and a number of players being out on loan meant Jon Shaw and Wess Brown had just 22 players to select from for the games against Wyke College in the ECFA Premier Cup and Frickley Athletic in the National League Under-19 Alliance on Wednesday.

They overcame that challenge with flying colours, with a 3-1 win over Wyke booking the Academy’s place in the next round and a 9-1 success against Frickley earning another three points in the league.

The win over Hull-based Wyke was a deserved one for Shields, who dominated much of proceedings but at times struggled to find a breakthrough.

Jamie Whitehead continued his impressive scoring goal by breaking the deadlock but Wyke equalised before half-time.

Goals from Joe Ames and Whitehead in the second half secured the young Mariners’ progression.

Head of Professional Development Jon Shaw said: “Wyke have had a good season and hadn’t lost a game before that.

“We were quite restricted with the squad as we only had 11 players available, and they were also a bit of an unknown for us with not being from the region.

“To progress was the most important thing although the performance was a little bit inconsistent.

“On another day we could have won by quite a comfortable margin but we were a bit wasteful when we got the ball into their half.

“They posed us some questions by pushing us back and trying to mark quite high, which the first-team have encountered a few times.

“It was interesting to see the lads deal with that and have a different learning experience.

“There were some really good performances, especially defensively from Mathew Wade, Dom Agnew, Josh Croft and Will Morris in front of Aaron Steavens. They were excellent.”

Sam Hodgson notched five goals in the 9-1 win over Frickley in Sheffield, with Geoff Hearn (2), Tom Green and Matty Williamson the other players on the scoresheet.

Shaw was impressed with the way the Academy players as a whole dealt with the injury situation.

He added: “We’ve got quite an injury crisis in the academy and a couple of lads out on loan.

“We only had two bare elevens available this week but to still score 12, concede just two and win two games of football was brilliant.

“It was a different kind of test for the players and one they’ll learn from.”