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.


The League Cup 1st Round: Shocks & Entertainment

The Football League Cup has dramatically lost reputation as a competition over the last decade but with the Football League kicking off last weekend it meant that the 1st Round of the League Cup started on Tuesday night, providing plenty of shock results and entertaining games.

Of course, all games in the London area and in Bristol were called off due to the UK Riots, but it still left plenty of fixtures still taking place. One of those was the local derby between Nottingham Forest and Notts County, the two professional clubs in the City do not often meet on a competitive basis so it provided a great atmosphere.

To add to the interest, you had iconic managers Steve McClaren and Martin Allen on the dugout. The game was a typical local derby cup game, with the game finishing 3-3 after extra time, with Forest scoring in a dying moments to deny County an important victory over their bigger rivals.

There were some cracking goals 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

Done Deals: Sunderland looking good,Leicester on the march…

  Another new feature for the Verbal Football blog is Done Deals, a general round-up and opinion on the latest transfers from the football world. Whilst we’ve been bombarded with transfer rumours over the summer break, this section will only focus on Done Deals in the transfer market.

The Premier League champions, Manchester United have been very assertive in the transfer market but it was to be expected. Despite manager, Sir Alex Ferguson commenting on how over priced the current market is last summer, this close season he’s had no choice but make some signings with the loss of Edwin Van der Saar, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes to retirement.

Whilst I covered United’s signings in a previous article on Fergie and his Continue reading

Former City striker now in charge of the Bees


 Last month it was pleasing to write about Paulo Di Canio taking over as manager of League Two, Swindon Town. Now, Verbal Football gets to cover another former Premier League foreigner to the Football League manager list with Brentford F.C. appointing Uwe Rosler as their new boss. 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

A great season for the Football Fan

  Football fans up and down the country were delighted to see AFC Wimbledon secure promotion into the Football League, 9 years after setting up the club at the bottom of the football pyramid, in the wake of Continue reading

Paolo Di Canio, a good or bad move?

  Former Lazio and West Ham United star, Paolo Di Canio was finally ‘officially’ revealed as the new manager of the recently relegated club Swindon Town. Whilst on first impressions, it comes as a shock, it’s full of Continue reading

Monday Muse: End of the Football League season & EPL drama

  Woah, what a weekend of Football once again! I LOVE this time of the season, promotions, relegations, tears of joy of pain. From surprising results or incidents (Spurs v Blackpool), (Stoke v Arsenal) and even (Man Utd vs Chelsea) to the final league games in the Football League. It’s Monday, it’s time for another Muse… Continue reading