Barrie Smith was delighted to be given the captaincy role as South Shields beat Atherton Collieries 3-1 in a difficult Northern Premier League encounter.

The division one leaders took a first-half lead through Robert Briggs before conceding in the first minute of the second half.

However, a stunning free-kick from Robert Briggs and a late goal by Jamie Holmes wrapped up the points for the Mariners.

It has been a long road for Smith, who has been with the Mariners since 2013 when they were forced to move to Peterlee.

Despite the dark times, his loyalty has paid off as the remarkable turnaround at the club has reached unimaginable heights.

He said: “It was a great feeling for me to be picked by Lee and Graham who are the best managers I’ve ever had.

“To lead the players out that are at the club when a lot of them have played at a much higher level was an absolute pleasure and honour.”

Without a number of key players such as Julio Arca, Jon Shaw and Matty Pattison, Smith was pleased to secure three points as they maintained top spot in the Evo-Stik North division.

He said: “It was not our best performance but it was a hard physical game and if we had taken our early chances, the game would have been a lot easier.”

Smith praised the support of the Shields fans as the club registered their highest league attendance at Mariners Park this season, with 1,773 people pouring into the ground.

“South Shields is a fantastic club and ran the right way, with the fans playing a massive part in games like Saturday as they get behind us which gives you that extra energy.

“They act like the 12th man.”