Supporters are being given a unique opportunity to help preserve and bring the club’s rich history to life.
A project to digitalise the club’s history is set to be launched, ensuring it can be enjoyed for generations to come by supporters and enthusiasts around the world.
The initiative is being led by SSFC historian Steve Cairns, who is appealing for volunteers to help him organise a vast collection of newspaper cuttings, memorabilia and match programmes dating back to 1888.
Steve said: “I strongly believe that it’s nothing short of a tragedy that the vast history, information and heritage of this great club and its predecessors are only available to a privileged few who, like myself, have unlimited access to the collection.
“As we now live in a digital world, it seems almost inexcusable that we allow this to continue.
“With this in mind, we now aim to digitise our entire collection, which will be no mean feat.
“The vision is to ensure that no matter where in the world our supporters live, they – like us – will be able to access the collection wherever and whenever they like.
“Over the coming weeks, we will be looking for your help in bringing this vision to reality.
“This club has a tremendous history and we have to make sure it doesn’t disappear.”
Once the collection is digitised, the club will work with its charitable foundation to launch a number of projects designed to bring people together.
This includes memory lunches for former players and their families, living history projects with our partner schools involving players and former players, and tours and virtual tours of 1st Cloud Arena for supporters old and new.
SSFC Foundation manager Steve Camm said: “The Foundation has exciting plans for intergenerational living history projects once the information is digitised.
“This will see players and supporters from days gone by connected with our supporters of the future, which are the children in our partner schools where the Foundation delivers activities.”
Steve Cairns has been delving into the club’s layered history over recent weeks in the match programme, with his articles generating much interest from fellow supporters.
He is seeking further artefacts from those who may have access to them, and the club is looking for a number of volunteers to help to scan and collate the collection which already exists. They will be trained and guided in this by Townsweb Archiving, who are specialists in digital access and discovery.
Should the project be successful, the club’s history will be available in a central place for all those who wish to access it at any time.
We would like our supporters to be central to the entire process.
It is an initiative which comes at a significant cost, and as such, we are seeking some financial support in order to raise enough money to purchase a suitable scanner and an annual licence to ensure the historical items can be hosted online and used by our supporters and foundation.
We are seeking an initial £12,000 to allow us to make this project a reality, and any size of donation would be greatly appreciated.
South Shields FC chairman Geoff Thompson said: “‘The huge volume of material was originally collated by Bob Wray, our vice-president and former club historian, and I’d like to put on record my personal thanks to him for the many years of effort and dedication he committed to ensure this material was preserved.
“Now, with Steve Cairns’ input, we have identified a clear pathway to digitise and preserve the material for all time and for the benefit of all Sanddancers and Mariners fans.
“The project does require help and financial support but the outcome, if successful, will be truly amazing. I’m very hopeful people will get behind this project and support it.”
If you are able to contribute, please visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/bringinghistorytolife.
Please help us to archive and preserve our unique history.