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.


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

Football Romance – The FA Cup 1st Round

Money controls the game of football today and with that there has been a certain loss of romantic and fairy tale stories in football. That is why I like the FA Cup more than ever with its tradition and the opportunity it gives non-league clubs is your romantics last hope.

The FA Cup 1st Round draw always grabs my attention and even before it as many non-league clubs are desperate to achieve the heights of reaching the proper rounds of the historic football competition.

This season sees the likes of Redbridge F.C. reach the FA Cup 1st Round earning a home tie against fellow non-league side Oxford City. Redbridge, formerly Ford United are the lowest ranked team in the round playing their football in the Isthmian Division One North.

Not to be confused with League One side Dagenham & Redbridge, the non-league team comes from the same London Borough and will fancy their chances of getting to the 2nd round where a tie against one of the League One big boys could be the pay off.

Other fixtures from the 1st Round draw that caught my attention are Nantwich Town travelling to League One side MK Dons, Oxford United travelling to Sheffield United Continue reading

Mid-Week Muse: Football League & European Action

Due to life getting in the way I was unable to produce a ‘Monday Muse’ article on Monday focussing on the events from the weekend’s football action. To make up for it, I thought I’d do a special Mid-Week Muse with all the Football League and Europa League action that took place.

The Football League went through its third run of games which provided a series of interesting results. In the Championship, newly promoted Southampton and Brighton & Hove Albion continued their excellent start to the season with impressive victories over Ipswich Town and Cardiff City.

The Saints came away 5-2 winners at Portman Road causing the Tractor Boys a third straight victory including defeat in the League Cup. Their manager Paul Jewell must be wondering where it went wrong since their opening day 3-0 victory at Bristol City.

Joining the two promoted teams with a 100% record is Derby County, a team that have struggled in recent years under manager Nigel Clough but finally the rub of the green is on their side this season with a 3rd straight league win coming at Blackpool. County ran out 1-0 winners causing Ian Holloway an indifferent start back in the Football League.

Leicester City were one of the favourites with Sven Goran-Eriksson allowed to spend in the summer but they suffered a shock defeat at home to Bristol City. It may take some time for all the new players to gel but the Foxes will be expected to challenge for promotion come the end of the season.

In League One, Chris Powell looks to have the remedy for Charlton Athletic with third straight league win with a 2-0 result at Colchester. Newly relegated Sheffield United have also recorded 3 straight wins which is an excellent start if they want to achieve promotion at the first attempt.

The blue side of Sheffield has been indifferent; a win on the opening day looked good for manager Gary Megson but two straight defeats have been alarming, with the last being a 2-1 defeat at Bury.

Russell Slade looked to have turned Leyton Orient’s fortunes around last season but 3 straight defeats has seen them rock bottom of League One.

Rotherham are the only side in League Two with 100% record intact, a 2-1 victory at Crewe saw them top the table. Newly promoted Crawley Town remain undefeated in their Football League history and a 3-0 home victory over Southend United is mightily impressive.

AFC Wimbledon have also turned an opening day defeat around with two back to back wins, a surprising 2-0 victory down at Peter Reid’s Plymouth Argyle came about on Tuesday night with a brace from Jack Midson.

It was a contrasting set of results on Thursday evening in the Europa League for England and Scotland. Tottenham Hotspur who were denied starting their Premier League campaign last weekend took it out on Scottish Premier League side Hearts of Midlothian.

A 5-0 victory at Tynecastle was more than embarrassing for the SPL who have always faced scepticism about the competitiveness of their league. Despite Hearts being a month into their season, it was Spurs who looked sharp with excellent passing and moving from the team.

They didn’t miss Luka Modric as Krancar and Van Der Vaart teamed up well, plus a goal for Jake Livermore was well deserved.

The SPL’s run away clubs didn’t fair well either, Glasgow Rangers went down 2-1 to Slovenian champions NK Maribor. Rangers took the lead in the first half, but a 2nd half equaliser and a last minute goal saw them left red faced.

More shocking was Glasgow Celtic being held 0-0 at Parkhead to Swiss side FC Sion. However, the Swiss club could face a penalty by UEFA by fielding 4 players of the ‘Sion Six’ who were banned due to a transfer embargo placed on the club.

Stoke City survived any embarrassment on the Astroturf in Switzerland with a 1-0 victory over FC Thun. Whilst Championship side Birmingham City held Nacional to a 0-0 draw in Portugal.

Fulham manager Martin Jol made a number of changes to the starting line-up for the home tie with Dnipro but the south west London side came out 3-0 victors.

That’s the Mid-Week Muse complete, we learnt that Scottish football is as pants as we all expected, Sven-Goran Eriksson may think about retirement and Spurs fans think they’re going to win the World Cup after out passing Hearts.

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

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

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

Monday Muse: Handballs,Promotions&Relegations

  Time for a very late Monday Muse here on Verbal Football which has undergone a number of makeovers in the last week, but it’s all part of the process. Another bank holiday weekend of football action saw promotion and relegations settled across the Football League, whilst the Premier League table is looking as unpredictable as ever.

I was not surprised to see Arsenal victorious in the home game against Manchester United yesterday. The 1-0 victory was perhaps deserved on their overall performance where the young and exuberant midfielders Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey had a field day against a lack lustre United team.

Perhaps the extra Champions League games have caught up with United and they would’ve settled for a draw at the Emirates, knowing that a win over Chelsea next weekend will (more or less) win them the English Premier League title. But typically this Arsenal side play well when there isn’t so much pressure on top of their young heads after squandering three potential victories in their last three games that could’ve seen them top of the league right now.

Something that did shock me was to see Liverpool now 5th in the English Premier League. Where did that come from? Kenny Dalglish deserves all the plaudits for rejuvenating the Liverpool side into having some kind of successful season that was looking like mid table mediocrity around Christmas. It also questions whether Harry Redknapp and Tottenham Hotspur even want 5th spot and Europa League qualification? Continue reading