128 Years of History Could End Today For Darlington FC

I was relieved when Plymouth Argyle was saved from the peril of liquidation but now it’s another Football Club with a long history in Football that faces the same threat, Darlington FC.

The Conference side were only members of the Football League a few years ago following relegation from League Two in the 2009-2010 Season.

To begin to describe the troubles ‘The Quakers’ have had over the last 10 years would be a bit like opening Pandora’s Box. From a personal point of view, as a QPR fan, I often mention to people that we originated with the name St.Jude (the patron of Lost Causes). However a look at Darlington’s history and I start to begin to feel quite fortunate about my own team.

Having entered Administration for a third time in 10 years recently under a third chairman (Raj Singh) meant that there is clearly something wrong at the club. News at the start of the week broke that they have terminated the contracts of the playing staff as well as Manager Craig Liddle.

The 10-point penalty for entering admin means the club are now close to the relegation zone in the Blue Square Premier but that’s the least of the worries with Saturday’s game against Fleetwood potentially being called off if the Club close.

It was expected that today (Tuesday) the Administrators would fold the club by midday however news reports have suggested that former chairman George Houghton in talks with a life line takeover. He was the chairman who preceded Singh, and had also placed the club in administration for the second period in the last 10 years.

Manager, Liddle, is a Darlo hero, having been a player at the club since the late 1990’s, he remembers the days of playing at the Feethams ground and before controversial owner George Reynolds took over.

Liddle has laid blame on the new stadium, infamously named the Reynolds Arena for the clubs problems and stated that if the club had stayed at Feethams, then they would be financially healthy.

The Darlington Arena is a white elephant with not enough fans to fill it at this level of football means the running costs run in the “tens of thousands” per week according to Raj Singh.

Although various miss-management off the pitch has cost the Club dearly, they were unlucky to lose out on promotion twice via the play-offs in the last 10 years and playing in League One, could’ve seen the club make the most out of their big stadium.

George Reynolds had the right ambition but who in their right mind builds the stadium before you’ve got the team? It always seemed like a flawed plan and a gamble from the start.

Darlington player Aaron Brown, Tweeted that he drove 227 miles to train and then to be told they’ve all been made redundant but still asked to play against Fleetwood on Saturday.

Let’s remember these are players who are not on Premier League wages and have families to support, mortgages to pay. Craig Liddle himself has been very loyal to the club over the last decade but is even worried about his and his family’s future.

To think only last season the club had just finished outside of the play-offs in their first season out of the football league since the late 1980’s and also won the FA Trophy at Wembley stadium.

Now the 128 years of Darlington FC could be over unless Houghton who’s currently in talks as I type this at 3 PM with the administrators to try and negotiate a deal that would save the club.

In the 1980’s the club were close to going out of business but with fans making great fundraising schemes saved the club. In the last 10 years there have been plenty of the same, fundraising upon fundraising to save the club, which makes you wonder if it’s always going to be the inevitable.

More worryingly overall is the fact that if Darlo DO go out of business, it would be a 25% FAILIURE rate for clubs Relegated from the Football League since Scarborough in the 1990’s.

Scarborough, Chester City, Halifax Town, Rushden & Diamonds and Boston United all went out of business in the last 10 years and the FA need to work out a better procedure to help teams in these situations.

Looking for positives is hard, but if Darlington did fold, then a phoenix club in their name would start at step 5, five levels below the Conference or a new club entirely would start in Step 7.

Recently, Chester and Halifax have had success with their phoenix clubs gaining promotions at the first time of asking. Plus, stories of FC United and of course AFC Wimbledon can do wonders to fill fans with a sense of hope.

Hope is something Darlington fans are surely running out of.


Friday Focus: FA Cup Weekend

Its FA Cup weekend once again as the 2nd Round proper kicks off tonight with Blue Square Bet Premier side Fleetwood Town hosting League One Yeovil. With plenty of Non-League sides still competing in the prestigious competition many will be hoping to be in the pot for the 3rd Round draw comes Sunday afternoon. A home tie to Liverpool or an away trip to Old Trafford could financially fund a Non-League team for a whole season which is why this is a big, big deal.

Some interested fixtures in tomorrow’s games sees Stourbridge who previously knocked out Plymouth Argyle in a replay host Stevenage which could see another upset. One of the lowest ranked teams left in the Cup, Redbridge have a tough task travelling to Crawley Town.

There are some guaranteed Non-Leaguers entering the 3rd Round in January with a few all-non-league fixtures like Salisbury versus Grimsby and Gateshead versus Tamworth. Both Sheffield clubs host League Two opposition with Torquay going to United and Aldershot playing at Wednesday.

On Sunday, the televised games see AFC Totton, another one of the lowest ranked teams in the Cup this year host League Two Bristol Rovers. Could the part timers cause an upset? Sutton United also host Martin Allen’s Notts County side.

Meanwhile there’s Premier League and Championship action to also enjoy that is set to be a weekend Football feast.

Can Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas change things around with a win at Newcastle United? And will Martin O’Neill be in the dugout for Sunderland’s trip to Wolves on Sunday?

Support your local Non-League team in the FA Cup this weekend!

With the International break interrupting the domestic fixture list this weekend how do you plan on spending your weekend? Christmas shopping with the other half? Visiting the in-laws? Watching England get trounced by Spain on the TV? Hmmm…..Wait, there’s an alternative solution to the aforementioned and it comes in the name of the F.A. Cup 1ST Round!

Teams from the Football League One and Football League Two entering the competition that a host of Non-League teams that have earned their spot by the previous qualifying rounds. The first game of the round kicks off tonight (Friday 11th November) where Cambridge United, who are 3rd in the Conference Premier Division host the league leaders Wrexham.

Saturday sees the FA Cup 1st Round full of fixtures up and down the country with some interesting ties that could possibly see some upsets caused. Londoners Brentford welcome Conference South side Basingstoke Town to Griffin Park, whilst fellow League One side and Londoners Leyton Orient are home to Bromley, also of Conference South.

AFC Wimbledon who would have spent the last several seasons playing countless of qualifying rounds to reach the 1st Round of the FA Cup host League One Scunthorpe United.

The FA Cup brings focus onto the Non-League sides and there is a host of them playing in this 1st Round. Newport County of the Conference Premier host League Two Shrewsbury Town, Alfreton Town host League One Carlisle and Barrow are home to Rotherham United.

Some of the lowest placed teams face Football League competition, East Thurrock welcome Macclesfield Town to Rookery Hill whilst Nantwich Town of the Northern Premier League have the tough task of travelling to League One side MK Dons.

There’s hope of some Non-League sides reaching the 2nd Round of the competition Arlesey Town travel to Salisbury and AFC Totton are home to Bradford Park Avenue which guarantees at least two clubs below the Conference will qualify.

Here’s the fixture list for this weekend’s FA Cup 1st Round. Take a look, go to a game and enjoy this historic competition by supporting your local team!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Cambridge Utd v Wrexham, R1, 19:45

Saturday, 12 November 2011
Newport County v Shrewsbury, R1, 12:30
Brentford v Basingstoke, R1, 13:00
East Thurrock v Macclesfield, R1, 14:00
AFC Totton v Bradford PA, R1, 15:00
AFC Wimbledon v Scunthorpe, R1, 15:00
Alfreton Town v Carlisle, R1, 15:00
Barrow v Rotherham, R1, 15:00
Blyth Spartans v Gateshead, R1, 15:00
Bournemouth v Gillingham, R1, 15:00
Bradford v Rochdale, R1, 15:00
Bristol Rovers v Corby, R1, 15:00
Bury v Crawley Town, R1, 15:00
Chelmsford v AFC Telford, R1, 15:00
Chesterfield v Torquay, R1, 15:00
Crewe v Colchester, R1, 15:00
Dag & Red v Bath City, R1, 15:00
Exeter v Walsall, R1, 15:00
Fleetwood Town v Wycombe, R1, 15:00
Hartlepool v Stevenage, R1, 15:00
Hereford v Yeovil, R1, 15:00
Hinckley Utd v Tamworth, R1, 15:00
Leyton Orient v Bromley, R1, 15:00
Luton v Northampton, R1, 15:00
MK Dons v Nantwich Town, R1, 15:00
Maidenhead Utd v Aldershot, R1, 15:00
Oldham v Burton Albion, R1, 15:00
Plymouth v Stourbridge, R1, 15:00
Port Vale v Grimsby, R1, 15:00
Preston v Southend, R1, 15:00
Redbridge v Oxford City, R1, 15:00
Salisbury v Arlesey, R1, 15:00
Sheffield Utd v Oxford Utd, R1, 15:00
Southport v Barnet, R1, 15:00
Sutton Utd v Kettering, R1, 15:00
Swindon v Huddersfield, R1, 15:00
Tranmere v Cheltenham, R1, 15:00

Sunday, 13 November 2011
FC Halifax v Charlton, R1, 12:30
Morecambe v Sheffield Wed, R1, 15:15

140th Year of the F.A. Cup starts tonight live on Facebook

The English F.A. Cup is in its 140th year and new sponsors Budweiser have decided to promote the prestigious tournament at the first attempt by showing an extra-preliminary qualifying round match tonight (Friday) LIVE on social media networking site Facebook.

The tie is between non-league sides Ascot United and Wembley FC who both play their football in the 9th tier of the English pyramid system.

Whilst the tie is due to attract under 100 odd spectators at the ground near the famous racecourse, there could potentially be millions of viewers around the world watching on Facebook.

It’s great publicity for the early stages of the competition and especially for both non-league sides. With the hype surrounding the English Premier League, the non-league often gets over looked as clubs struggle to survive financially.

Whilst the football may not be on a par with what we see on our TV’s every week, it may be worth tuning in tonight to see the first glimpse of the FA Cup for the 2011/2012 season!

What has happened to Grimsby Town?

For football fans more concerned with the Manchester United’s, Liverpool’s and Barcelona’s of this world this is probably not the article for you (unless you’ve decided to add depth to your English football knowledge). On Tuesday evening saw Grimsby Town Football Club at their lowest point in their 133 year history when they lost 5-0 at Braintree Town in the National Conference (Blue Square Bet Premier Division).

Whilst the club nicknamed The Mariners have not set English football alight in their long history, they have played a significant part having been in the Football League since 1911 and despite one season out of it before that they were competing as far as 1892. That is why relegation from Football League Two in 2010 came at complete shock and Continue reading

Friday Focus: The EPL kicks off with new boys QPR and Norwich plus interesting fixtures in the Football League

Another new feature on Verbal Football is Friday Focus, much like the regular feature ‘Monday Muse’ is a round-up of the weekends football action, Friday Focus is an opinionated preview on what the weekend could offer us with fixtures up and down the country.

This weekend sees the opening fixtures of the 2011/2012 season for the English Premier League with 6 games scheduled tomorrow (Saturday) after Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton was called off due to the UK Riots. We are lucky that it was the only cancellation, but only makes the decision more bizarre that only one fixture in jeopardy.

It’s also the opening weekend of Non-League football with England with the Conference, Conference North & South and further down the pyramid kicking off the season. The Football League take on their 2nd weekend of league games as well as competing mid-week in the League Cup.

Focus is obviously mainly on the EPL this weekend, with a bundle of players making their Continue reading

Club in Profile: Hendon Football Club

This is the first feature of ‘Club in Profile’ here on the Verbal Football blog. The idea is to take a look at a Football Club that is not in the public eye but one we feel that deserves some publicity and recognition. Clubs in contention for this feature will be Non-League teams or teams from obscure leagues abroad. Suggestions are very much welcome!

Full Name: Hendon Football Club

Nickname: The Dons, The Greens

Former names: Christchurch Hampstead, Hampstead Town, Hampstead

Home: Vale Farm, Wembley, Middlesex (ground share with Wembley F.C.)

Capacity: 3,000

Kit Colours: Green

League Status: Isthmian Premier League Division

Official Website: http://www.hendonfc.net/

History – Old to New

Personally, I have some attachment to Hendon Football Club. Growing up in the West Hampstead area Continue reading

Hamann the Man at Stockport County

 Former Liverpool, Manchester City and German international midfielder Dietmar Hamann recently became the new manager of Blue Square Conference side Stockport County. It is a surprise appointment, for both club and manager, who had recently missed out on the managerial vacancy at League Two side Swindon Town to Paulo Di Canio.

He joins a County team with just a squad of nine players following relegation from the Football League last season, which makes it even more bizarre why the 37-year old with a Champions League Winners medal would take the job in Non-League, rather than higher up or even in his native Germany.

Having recently been on the coaching staff Continue reading

Why do we support our Football Club?

   After a recent trip to North Yorkshire, I couldn’t help but notice the number of Chelsea shirts worn by kids and adults around the town. Growing up, it was very normal to see Manchester United and Liverpool shirts to be seen in every part of the United Kingdom, and especially since Arsene Wenger’s success at Arsenal, there have been more Gooners spreading from outside of the Capital. Continue reading

Favourite Five…..Highlights of the Season 2010/2011

 Well, despite being sick of end of season awards, alternative season reviews and anything else of the same, I thought I’d join in with this one-off piece on my Favourite Five feature on the best moments I can remember from the 2010/2011 season.

There have been so many incidents in footy over the recent campaign since the first ball was kicked back in August 2010 to the final whistle at Wembley for the Championship play-off final. Despite the English Premier League losing quality, it certainly made up for it in drama.

Whilst the Football League actually grew in quality making it a competitive 3 leagues across the 72. I’m doing this article on a whim, so I may have forgotten some key incidents from the season that really irked me or caused me to celebrate, laugh or spit my dummy out. Whatever, let’s get on with it. Here’s my best moments from 2010/2011… Continue reading