By Mark Carruthers
South Shields have been handed a major boost ahead of their first season as a full-time club after captain Robert Briggs signed a new two-year deal.
The Mariners will complete their transition to operating with a professional squad this summer and a number of players have put pen-to-paper on full-time deals.
Briggs has been in negotiations over the last two months as he looked to further extend his second spell at the 1st Cloud Arena.
After negotiations with his employer and the Northern Premier League club, the experienced midfielder will now remain with South Shields until the summer of 2023.
After signing his new deal, he said: “I’m thrilled that the deal has been done.
“My work situation needed to be sorted and there were some other offers on the table, but I’m so glad that this has been finalised and I’m able to continue my time here.
“It’s great that my work have been flexible enough to give me the opportunity to do this and that South Shields have been so supportive of my situation as well.
“I can’t wait to come in and spend even more time with the lads to see how we can work together to continue pushing this club as far as it can go.
“No matter which other clubs I spoke to or which offers were made, it was always in my head that I didn’t want to leave South Shields.
“The toughest decision would have been to walk away and in the end that was something I wasn’t prepared to do.”
Briggs will now look to add a fourth promotion to his second spell at South Shields as they look to reach the National League North for the first time in their history.
Mariners manager Graham Fenton described the midfielder as “a huge asset” and is relishing the prospect of having him at his disposal over the next two seasons.
“We’re absolutely over the moon that Robert has committed his long-term future to the club,” he explained.
“It took a while to get everything finalised due to uncertainty over his work commitments, but we’re delighted we’ve managed to work through that and get his situation sorted out.
“We’d like to thank Robbie’s work for allowing him to pursue a few hours of training per week through the day and letting him pick up his other commitments at other times of the day. That was a huge factor in being able to get the deal over the line.
“I’m sure the supporters will be delighted that Robbie will be captaining the team for the foreseeable future.
“He has shown over the years what a huge asset he is to the club in terms of his performances on the pitch and his personality off it.
“We always knew he had the talent, but he has improved his understanding of his role in the team, wherever he is asked to play, over the last five years and showed tremendous development as a player.
“He was having an excellent season last time out before it was cut short and we look forward to continuing to see the quality we’ve been used to from him over the years.”