Reports in the local Gazette suggest that the South Shields Association Football team's first recorded result was a 2–1 win in September 1889 against Gateshead Albion, though mention was made of three games the previous season. South Shields Athletic formed in 1897 to play in the Northern Alliance, but folded in 1902.
South Shields Adelaide, nicknamed the Laddies, were formed in 1899 by Jack Inskip, and after joining the Northern Alliance, moved to the North Eastern League in 1908–09, becoming a limited company. Adelaide was dropped from the name in 1905. In 1913 the club unsuccessfully applied to the Football League, polling no votes.
In 1919 they contested the post war Victory Shield alongside Newcastle, Sunderland and others, and joined the extended Football League Second Division in 1919–20 amassing 28 votes. The first game was a 1–0 defeat at Fulham watched by 20 000 and though big crowds were commonplace, at Shields' Horsley Hill ground, success proved elusive.
Relegation came in 1928, and after two Division Three (North) seasons the club folded in 1930 despite finishing seventh, and was taken over in its entirety by Gateshead.
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