South Shields fans made up the majority of Ryhope’s attendance on Saturday. Image: Twitter/@SouthShieldsFC

Ryhope CW chairman Darren Norton has praised South Shields and their supporters following a season-high crowd of 761 during the Northern League fixture at the Ryhope Recreation Park on Saturday.

Colliery Welfare had only played host to three-figure crowds on four occasions this season prior to Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to the FA Vase finalists.

The crowd was also the highest across the United Kingdom of all step-five matches, beating the second-highest crowd of 569 at Hertford Town of the South Midlands Premier League Division.

With Ryhope’s average home crowd being 88 this season, it’s over 30 times below the Mariners’ highest attendance this campaign, but Norton was pleased with the way the visiting fans conducted themselves.

He said: “The Shields fans were fantastic. They behaved brilliantly and were excellent banter without any arrogance their success could easily bring.

“I was massively impressed with their appreciation of their efforts to look after them.”

Carl Finnigan’s spot kick gave the visitors the lead, before Josh Home-Jackson levelled from distance for Ryhope. But Andrew Stephenson won the game in the second-half with a wonder goal of his own to extend Shields’ winning streak to 26 games.

However, the Ryhope chairman won’t get too drawn in to splashing the extra gate revenue.

Norton, said: “Financially it’s a great boost for the club but we are treating it as a one-off given South Shields will be getting promoted at the end of the season.

“It doesn’t alter our plans or budget for next season, but it was certainly welcome.”

The Mariners will face Cleethorpes Town in the FA Vase final in May at Wembley, and Norton believes they have provided great publicity for the Northern League.

He said: “They’ve certainly helped raise the profile of the Northern League which can only be good for us in the long term.”

Ryhope CW will look to bounce back from the defeat at the weekend as they host Dunston UTS in the Northern League this Saturday.