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Record-breaker Briggs extends Shields stay

Robert Briggs is to get the opportunity to extend his all-time appearance record after signing a deal committing him to South Shields for the 2023-24 season.

Club secretary Philip Reay examined the record books during the off-season and discovered that Briggs surpassed previous record holder Terry Linney when he made his 364th appearance for the Mariners against Warrington Town in April.

The 31-year-old scored that afternoon, too, with his 89th goal for Shields moving him up to third in the club’s all-time list of goalscorers.

Briggs has achieved four promotions in his second spell with the Mariners but his hunger is still apparent ahead of the club’s debut campaign in National League North.

There was never a doubt in his mind that he wanted to extend his stay at 1st Cloud Arena.

He said: “It’s good to get things sorted and to be able to look forward with excitement to a historic season for the club.

“There was no real question of me going anywhere, because my loyalty to this club has been obvious for a long time, and long may that continue.

“It feels like home to me and I’ve seen the club grow so much over the years, so I feel part of the development of it.

“It’s an exciting season to go into with lots of new opponents to face and new grounds to visit, which is great for all the lads, and we’re really looking forward to getting started.”

After initially playing for the Mariners as a teenager, Briggs returned in August 2015 just weeks after Geoff Thompson became the club’s chairman.

He helped Shields win three consecutive promotions – with the historic, quadruple-winning 2016-17 campaign coming in the second of those years – and more recent achievements have included playing an integral role in two runs to the first round of the Emirates FA Cup.

During the club’s attempts to climb to the sixth tier, Briggs also experienced some challenging moments, including two play-off defeats and a COVID-19 enforced curtailment of a league campaign Shields were leading by 12 points.

Last season’s Pitching In Northern Premier League title success delivered the much sought-after fourth promotion of Briggs’ time at the club, and ensured the Mariners now have National League North football to look forward to.

Briggs will now work under Julio Arca, a midfielder he formed such a close bond with on and off the pitch during the newly-appointed manager’s three years as a player at 1st Cloud Arena.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to working under Julio.

“After what he did as a player here, his name holds a special place in the history of the club and the hearts of the fans, and it will be exciting to see what he does as a manager now.

“Hopefully we can do the business for him on the pitch.

“He’s a successful person and in Tommy Miller, he has brought in another successful person, so hopefully we’ll have a good partnership and really push forward.”

Arca said: “Robert has been a great servant to the club for a long time, and we’re delighted he has extended his stay with us.

“He is someone who has a lot to offer the team with his technique, passion and experience.

“He is also a person who knows what it means to play for South Shields, and we are very happy to have him this season.”

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