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South Shields bring in more experienced former EFL players to boost promotion hopes

South Shields bring in more experienced former EFL players to boost their promotion hopes as they prepare to go for the title again.

The North East outfit’s summer rebuild continues as they sign Michael Woods and Martin Smith, months after losing to Warrington Town in the Northern Premier League Premier Division‘s playoffs semi finals.

Manager Kevin Phillips is quickly bringing in new additions to try and transform a squad into one that can finally reach the National League North.


Martin Smith is to become the club’s second signing of the summer.

We are delighted to welcome the former Sunderland, Kilmarnock and Hartlepool United midfielder to 1st Cloud Arena as our summer recruitment drive is accelerated.

Smith came through the ranks at Sunderland and spent short loan spells with Gateshead and Carlisle United before joining Scottish Premiership side Kilmarnock in 2016.

As well as participating in Scotland’s top flight, the 26-year-old also played at the highest level in Northern Ireland with Coleraine and has since had stints with Swindon Town, Salford City, Chorley, Chesterfield and Hartlepool, who he represented in League Two last season.

He will join Shields on July 1st, after his contract with Hartlepool expires.

Smith said: “I’m really excited to join the club and can’t wait to get going and meet all the lads.

“Everyone knows what we’re trying to build here so I’m very focused and looking forward to the season.

“The way the gaffer wants the team to play, what the club is building on and off the pitch and where we want to get to is exciting.

“We’re all focused on next season and we’re going to attack the goals we have for the year ahead.”

Sunderland-born Smith won the Irish Cup during his time with Coleraine and made 15 appearances for Hartlepool last season as the newly-promoted side finished 17th in League Two.

As a North East-based player, he says he has kept a close eye on the Mariners’ progress over recent years, which has whetted his appetite for the challenge ahead.

Smith added: “I can’t wait to be a part of the club’s progress, because so much has been put in place and built for the future.

“The club clearly wants to reach a higher level in the pyramid but all we can focus on is the here and now and achieving our goal of promotion next season.

“I’ve played for some great clubs and I’m looking to bring the experience and quality I have to this team and show what I’m about to the fans.

“I’ve been here more than a few times to watch games and the support in the stands is first class.

“It’s vitally important that they come in their numbers every week and support us home and away, because we really do appreciate it.”

South Shields manager Kevin Phillips said: “We’re delighted to add Martin to the squad.

“He is a fantastic footballer and a brilliant professional who we feel will fit very well into our group.

“It’s clear how eager he is to get going here and how much hunger he has to help us achieve our goals.

“Martin has a great passion for the game, conducts himself in an excellent way and will be a really valued member of the squad next season.”

You can purchase a season ticket to watch Martin and his new team-mates in every home league game of the 2022-23 campaign by clicking here.


We are delighted to confirm the signing of midfielder Michael Woods, who is our third addition of the summer.

Woods helped York City to promotion from National League North last season and brings a wealth of experience to 1st Cloud Arena.

He spent time as an Academy player with Leeds United and Chelsea, and made two senior appearances for the London giants during his four-year spell at Stamford Bridge.

Stints with Notts County, Yeovil Town, Doncaster Rovers and Harrogate Town followed, before Woods established himself during a four-and-a-half year period with Hartlepool United, where he made more than 150 appearances.

Woods returned to Harrogate in 2018 and moved to Dover Athletic a year later, but the lure of hometown club York brought him back north in 2020 and a two-year stay yielded promotion when the Minstermen triumphed in last month’s play-off final.

A new challenge now awaits the 32-year-old, who said: “I’m buzzing to have signed for South Shields and can’t wait to get going.

“These things can happen quite quickly in football and once I’d had a conversation with the people in charge, the ambition of the club was pretty clear.

“I only live 15 or 20 minutes down the road and I’m well aware of the misfortune the club had during the pandemic, so there’s a score to settle and hopefully next season we can go one step further.

“I firmly believe this club has everything it takes to go all the way to the Football League in terms of facilities, and it is already backed by a brilliant fanbase.”

South Shields manager Kevin Phillips said: “Michael is another brilliant signing for the club and we’re very pleased to have secured his signature.

“He is an experienced, quality player who has played at a very good level for a long time, and this is a massive coup for us.

“I can’t wait to get working with him, particularly because of the leadership qualities he has already demonstrated in the conversations I’ve had with him.

“Michael has real passion for the game and his first words to me were, ‘let’s get going!’, which is exactly the attitude we are looking for as we continue to mould the squad.”

On his remaining plans for recruitment this summer, Phillips added: “I’m really happy with the business we’ve been able to do so far.

“The backing we’ve received from Geoff Thompson to bring these players in, and the support we’ve had behind the scenes in making it all happen, has been brilliant.

“We’ve already got three through the door and we’re looking to sign another three or four more to get us in the best possible shape for next season.”

You can purchase a season ticket to watch Michael and his new team-mates in every home league game of the 2022-23 campaign by clicking here.

Mackenzie Heaney was named as the club’s first signing of the summer, having just won promotion to the National League North with Buxton.

A player who represented both England and Scotland at junior levels, Heaney came through the Newcastle United Academy and has also had spells with Whitby Town, Newcastle Benfield, West Auckland Town and Icelandic side Grindavík.

The 23-year-old said: “I’m delighted it is done and very excited to be here.

“I’m pleased to have my future sorted very early in the summer and now it’s time to get ready for pre-season.

“This is a massive club at this level, especially when you look at the ground and the training ground, which are amazing.

“Myself and the club want to achieve the same thing, which is to win the league, and I can’t wait to get started.”

Mackenzie Heaney becomes first summer signing

South Shields manager Kevin Phillips said: “I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Mackenzie Heaney as our first signing.

“He is a player who I firmly believe will excite our fans and I’m thoroughly looking forward to working with him.

“Technically, he is a very impressive player and he is also a dead ball specialist who has a great ability to score goals.

“Mackenzie is incredibly talented and is a young player who I am sure will develop further in the years to come.

“He will be the first of many new players to join us in the coming weeks, which we hope will whet the appetite of our fans ahead of pre-season.”

Shields have already revealed that seven players will depart the club, including Alex Kempster, Jon Shaw, Blair Rossiter, Nathan Lowe, Mitch Rose and Dominic Agnew.

South Shields have also confirmed the players that will be staying at the club next season.

Sam Hodgson, Jack Bodenham, Robert Briggs, JJ Hooper, Jordan Hunter, Will Jenkins, Will McGowan, Cedric Main, Ntumba Massanka, Dillon Morse, Callum Ross and Conor Tee all remain contracted to the club whilst Shields have exercised contract extension options for Blair Adams, Myles Boney, Joao Gomes and Darius Osei.

Sam Wilding will return to parent club Sunderland after his loan spell.

Fans reacted as South Shields bring in more experienced former EFL players to boost their promotion hopes…


@JOHNMOORE28: Excellent job south Shields, now this is what we’re talking about. Can’t wait for the start of the season. Maybe one more?? Maybe even two??

@MickCordukes: Quality signing for Shields. Good luck @woodsyyy.

@Dazzla84_SSFC: Thats a cracking signing, one of the guys I was shocked that York didnt keep! Welcome to Shields Michael! 👍👍

@sean_haswell: Now we are talking! Experience is what we lacked last season. Keep them coming!

@DavidOr73154085: Welcome To South Shields Michael 👏

@dflflf76: Good player at Hartlepool and puts a shift in 👍

@MickMoody2: Welcome 👍 keep them coming 👊

@adam_brig: He’ll be a class signing for you!

@dringo1234: Welcome to Shields Michael…looking forward to seeing you in claret & blue!!

@kevinsmithycfc: great signing if he can stay injury free

@woza_warren: Couple of additions in defence and I think we’re looking pretty pretty good!

@dfcjames1_: Money can’t buy promotion


@Davidjrj123: Will be the best player in your league easily, was a little out of his depth at times at pools but is a lore than capable National league player

@kielwats0n: Massive signing for that level

@brianfoster4274: Sounds a very exciting signing. Welcome Martin.

@NealWI1984: He will do very well for you guys, stand out performer in some of he cup games we had, he just needs games.

@Trimmers_sssc: Class signing, cracking player.

@woza_warren: Great to see us getting transfer business done early! Welcome aboard Martin!

@hufc_paul: Good signing for that level, deffo could play at national league level

@daveypye79: Done very well in Cup games last season for us. A great signing at that level. Should be national league level at least

@MickyBurns14: Best of look at South Shields Martin ,I’m sure you’ll be a success …I feel you done well at pools when given a chance ..best of luck to Martin and south sheilds …from a monkey 🐒 hanger 🔵⚪🔵

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