Formed 1899. Wound up 1973.
Elected to Division Two 1919. Failed re-election 1960.
South Shields Adelaide Athletic
circa 1900 l
South Shields Adelaide
1905-1906 h k l
1908-1910 h j k l
1910-1912 h k l
1912-1913 h k l
1913-1920 a e j k
1920-1921 (1) l
1920-1922 e h l
1922-1923 h l
1924-1926 h l
1927-1929 b h j l
1929-1930 e l
1933-1935 d e
Although local press reports indicate that a South Shields FC existed in 1889, the club that concerns us here is thought to have been formed as a youth team by 13-year old Jack Inskip in 1899 as South Shields Adelaide Athletic. They may have played in the South Shields Junior Alliance in 1902-03 and were certainly in the South Shields Junior League A Division the following season.
In 1905 the club took over the Horsley Hill ground recently vacated by South Shields RFC after they were voted out of the Northern (Rugby) Union. The annual rent of £30 almost ruined the club but they were rescued by a £35 loan from local solicitor, Victor Grunhut. "Athletic" was dropped from the club's title and Adelaide quickly became the pre-eminent club in town. They now fielded two teams, the First Xl playing in the Tyneside League while the Second Xl competed in the South Shields & District league, winning both competitions.
It appears that the club adopted their green and red colours at this point, being the colours of the lights carried by shipping using South Shields' port.
In 1908 South Shields joined the North Eastern League, the top competition in the region, but fell foul of the Durham FA after Darlington St Augustine's FC lodged a protest that they had fielded an ineligible player in a cup tie between the sides. A general enquiry into the running of the club was commissioned, which published a damning report in February 1909. As a result a new committee was formed to run the club but the incumbent members refused to hand over the books until threatened with suspension and legal action.
For the 1910-11 season "Adelaide" was dropped to comply with the policy of the North Eastern League, which discouraged names that sounded like pub teams. The following year a limited company was formed to run the club, signalling their ambition to become a major force alongside their local rivals, Newcastle United, Sunderland and Middlesbrough.
in 1913 they applied to join the Football League but failed to attract a single vote.
South Shields continued to play during the Great War until 1916 when they suspended operations.
In 1919 South Shields contested the Victory Shield along with Newcastle United, Sunderland and others. The attention received served them well and when Division Two was expanded and the Third Division formed, South Shields successfully applied for one of the vacant places in the Second Division with 28 votes.
Around 1924 the team changed from their red and green colours and started to play in blue and white.
After seven seasons finishing in mid-table, the club's fortunes began to slip and in 1928 they were relegated to Division Three (North).
A change of colours to claret and blue did not change their fortunes and in 1930, faced with mounting financial problems, the club sold off its Horsley Hill Ground and moved lock, stock and barrel to Redheugh Park in Gateshead, changing their name in the process to Gateshead FC. The club continued to wear claret and blue until 1937, when they changed into plain white shirts with black shorts.
In their first season in their new home they almost won promotion but were denied by Lincoln City who had superior goal average. Thereafter, there was little to celebrate apart from a dramatic FA Cup run in 1953 that ended in a quarter-final defeat by Bolton, who themselves went on to reach Wembley. In 1959, Gateshead were placed in the new Fourth Division and then, to everyone's amazement, they were voted out of the League in favour of Peterborough United in 1960. The club had applied for re-election only once before and their sense of injustice was acute.
After an application to join the Scottish Football League was rebuffed, Gateshead competed in various regional leagues until 1968 when they became founder members of the Northern Premier League. Two years later they lost their place to another former League club, Bradford PA and in 1973, Gateshead was wound up.
The story does not end there, however. In 1936, a new South Shields FC had been formed. In 1968 they also helped form the Northern Premier League and played against Gateshead FC regularly. Then, in 1974, history repeated itself. With the old Gateshead club now defunct, South Shields sold their ground and moved into the International Athletics Stadium and adopted the name of Gateshead United. This club too met its demise in 1977. Folk in the North-East are fanatical about their football and despite the obvious problems of playing in the shadow of Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough, both South Shields and Gateshead once again boast their own teams with the modern incarnation of Gateshead FC threatening to return to League football.
- (a) South Shields history
- (b) Club Colours (Bob Bickerton)
- (c) Football Focus
- (d) The Football Encyclopaedia (Associated Sporting Press 1934) - information provided by Arthur Fergus
- (e) Yore Publications books by G Thompson - information provided by Ralph Pomeroy
- (f) ISee Gateshead
- (g) Simon Monks
- (h) Keith Ellis (HFK Research Associate)
- (i) Christopher Worrall
- (j) Paul Robinson
- (k) South Shields FC - the Early Years. A detailed history of the early South Shields clubs with some fine team photographs.
- (l) Bob Wray (Secretary SSFC Supporters' Association)
Photograph of South Shields Adelaide and the expanded early history of the club courtesy of South Shields FC - the Early Years.
*Although it is known that the team shirts were green and red during this period, it has not been possible to tell which was the dominant colour so these graphics are provisional.