Thursday, 12 July 2012

Northallerton Town v Darlington 1883 FC match preview

AFTER  a delayed start to their pre-season campaign due to bad weather, Northallerton Town will kick off with a friendly against neighbours Darlington 1883 FC on Monday night.

It has been a dreadful summer for Darlington, of course - losing their appeal against relegation to the Ebac Northern League Division One and having to change their name - but thanks to the hard work of the fans consortium, led by Denis Pinnegar, the club have at least managed live on.

Ground-sharing with Bishop Auckland this season, Darlington have sold in excess of 400 season tickets so far, which shows just how important the club is to the local community. A shame, then, that the local council does not feel the same.

Instead of wasting money on new bus lanes and wheelie bins, perhaps they could have followed the example of Swansea City Council by building a new stadium in the town for the football and rugby clubs to share? But that is a debate for another time.

So while it has been an awful summer for the club and their long-suffering fans, there is no doubt Darlington's presence will be a massive boost for the Ebac Northern League. Interest will be higher than ever and attendances are set to rise again.

This is why Northallerton Town is pleased to welcome them to the RGPS Stadium on Monday evening. It will be our first match since lifting the Ernest Armstrong Cup with victory over Team Northumbria in May, so excitiment within the club is still high.

Manager Mark Fanning has done a great job over the last few years - completely rebuilding the squad that was relegated to Division Two in 2009 - and the next aim is promotion back to Division One so these matches with Darlington can become a regular occurrence. Assuming, of course, they do not get promoted themselves!

Fanning has brought in three new faces so far this summer to strengthen the squad. Marcus Laing has arrived from Thornaby, while Michael Colman, from Darlington RA, and Stephen Banks, from Tow Low Town, have also been recruited. It is unlikely they will be the only new arrivals by the time the real business begins with an FA Cup tie against Guisborough Town on 11 August.

The Darlington squad that will arrive in Town on Monday night will be very different to the one that completed their Blue Square Conference Premier fixtures in May. Phil Gray is now the only player remaining at the club as new manager Martin Gray has been forced to recruit from the Northern League.

Twin brothers Arjun and Amar Purwal have arrived from Durham City, while Shaun Harrison, from Bedlington Terriers, Darren Richardson, from Bishop Auckland, Adam Nichols, from West Auckland and Danny Mellanby, from Newton Aycliffe, are some of the new faces the Darlo faithful will see in the famous black and white hoops this season.

So while this marks a fresh start in the history of Darlington FC, it could see a new beginning for Northallerton. The club are moving in the right direction, both on and off the field, and with the ambitious backing of local businessman David Kerfoot, there certainly appears to be exciting times ahead at the RGPS Stadium.

And it all starts on Monday. With entrance on the night just £5 for adults and £2.50 for children, and a special 40-page commemorative programme for just £1.50, you really do not want to miss it.

1 comment:

  1. Add Sam Vernalls to the list of new signings for Town