South Shields FC owner reveals why he’s grateful to ex-Sunderland chief Sir Bob Murray

Former Sunderland supremo Sir Bob Murray.

Former Sunderland supremo Sir Bob Murray.

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New South Shields FC owner Geoff Thompson has revealed the help he is getting as he looks to fire the club up the leagues – including advice from a knight of the realm.

The Mariners’ owner has been inundated with advice as he aims to not only create a successful football team on the pitch, but also a community club off it.

One of the people he has leaned on for guidance is former Sunderland AFC chairman Sir Bob Murray, who was the vision behind moving the Black Cats from Roker Park to the Stadium of Light in the 1990s and the creation of the Foundation of Light.

Mr Thompson said: “The one thing I’ve loved about this is the passion of everybody – supporters, members of the public, the town.

“But also other people who have been involved in non-league football or football generally. There’s no shortage of offers of help.

“I’ve had people who have done it and maybe made a few mistakes and others who have been amazingly successful.

“I’ve had Bob Murray who has been an incredible help to me and amazingly supportive of what we’re trying to do here, at the football and community level.

“When you look at what Sir Bob did, and is still involved with the Foundation of Light, all the things they do not just in Sunderland, but the whole region, there’s a lot we can learn from.

“He’s been very kind, as has his chief executive Lesley Spuhler.

“What’s nice is that we’re not in it alone. There’s other people who have done some nice things from a community point of view and a football point of view, and a lot of them are trying to help.”

As a result of the link-up, South Shields are now hosting the Foundation of Light at Mariners Park on Saturday mornings.

It’s all part of Mr Thompson’s plan to create a thriving junior set-up at the club, which serves the community.

“We’ve started a few little initiatives,” he added.

“Gary (Crutwell), our vice-chairman, and manager Jon King have got involved with Little Dribblers on a Saturday, and we had 70 or 80 juniors here from five years old. Julio Arca was involved in the coaching.

“We’re trying to get that going and we’ve now got Saturday morning sessions here with the Foundation of Light.”