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Opposition Profile - Darlington FC

FORMER Football League stalwarts Darlington are finally beginning to recover to a status that underlines their history and pedigree within English football, having been demoted and sent all the way down to the Northern League Division One, the ninth tier, in 2012.

Since then, the Quakers have been steadily making their way back up the divisions with a large chunk of their fanbase intact, with only off-field issues preventing them from competing in the National League North play-offs last season.

HISTORY

Founded in 1883, Darlington FC will be reverting back to their traditional name this season after spending the past five years after their drop down the leagues as Darlington 1883. They play in their traditional black and white colours, with their matches currently being played at the 3,300 capacity Blackwell Meadows. Despite a proud history in the Football League, off-field problems and the threat of administration dogged the Quakers throughout the noughties, with the club eventually only being spared liquidation after a supporters' consortium took the reins and aimed to take the Quakers into community ownership. Following a four-division drop in 2012 due to a creditor's voluntary agreement not being reached, Darlo were forcedly treated as a 'new' club and operated under the 'Darlington 1883' moniker.


THE GAFFER

Martin Gray has been in charge of the Quakers since the troubles in 2012, but has enjoyed considerable on-field success since. Three promotions and a collective sense of rising back up the ranks have made Darlington one of the most dangerous sides at National League North level. A former Darlington player himself, Gray is a firm favourite in the eyes of the fans as he continues the rebuilding process at Blackwell Meadows going forward.


LAST SEASON

Darlo looked to be one of the key promotion contenders all season long, but off-field issues prevented them from contesting the National League North play-offs, instead being replaced by Chorley. If these barriers to promtion are removed for the Quakers going into the current campaign, they will be one of the favourites to get themselves back into the fifth tier.

MARK CARRUTHERS, NON-LEAGUE DAILY

"It's been a somewhat disrupted summer for Darlington so far.

"After the disappointment of missing out on the National League North play-offs for off-field matters and the issues surrounding former chairman Raj Singh possibly getting involved with the club, on-field matters took a back-step as the club tried to get itself in order.

"However, Manager Martin Gray has gone quietly about his business this summer, ensuring that key players have stayed with the Quakers.

"His squad is littered with players that are capable of playing at a higher level.

"The likes of goalkeeper Adam Bartlett, defender David Ferguson, midfielders Phil Turnbull and Josh Gillies and striker Mark Beck have already proven that they can do the business higher up the leagues.

"There are players that have moved up the leagues with the club since the Football Association harshly decided to relegate the club to the Northern League in 2012.

"Players like Gary Brown, Kevin Burgess and Leon Scott have all been added to the Quakers squad since their time in the Northern League and have moved up through the levels with minimum fuss.

"At the time of writing this they have only added one player, AFC Fylde defender Dominic Collins, but Gray will be working hard to bring in more.

"The Quakers will be there or thereabouts this season and if they can add one or two more quality signings there is now reason why Gray can't add another promotion to the three he has already achieved in his five years with the club."


FIXTURES

National League North fixtures will be announced on Wednesday July 5th at 1.00pm.

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