Darlington joined the North Eastern League in 1908; going on to lift the league title in 1912-13 and 1920-21 before the club were admitted as founder members of the Football League Division Three North for the 1921-22 season.
In 1925 Darlington were crowned champions of Division Three North and were promoted to Division Two. Their spell lasted just two seasons before being relegated at the end of the 1926-27 campaign.
On several occasions Darlington were enforced to seek re-election to the Football League after finishing in the bottom four of the table as the club played in Division Four following the re-organising of the leagues in 1958-59.
In the same season 'Darlo' reached the last sixteen of the FA Cup for the second time, when they hammered the league champions of three years previously, Chelsea 4-1 in a Feethams replay.
|The Twin Towers of Feethams|
Promotion to Division Three was secured in 1965-66 but the team were relegated the following season. A fine run in the League Cup of 1967-68 saw Darlington reach the quarter final stage before going out to Brian Clough’s Derby County side at the Baseball Ground.
The fans were rewarded for their efforts in the 1984-85 season when the team were promoted once more, under the management of Cyril Knowles. Relegation back to the bottom tier followed in 1986-87.
The decline was set in and Darlington were demoted from the Football League to the Conference in 1988-89. Ambitious young manager Brian Little took his team to immediate promotion from the Conference.
Little’s side had a fine mixture of youth and experience and was led up front by the charismatic Davis Currie. The run continued in 1990-91 as Darlington were crowned as Division Four champions and were promoted to Division Three.
Little departed to take up the Leicester City manager’s job, while his old club were relegated at the end of the 1991-92 season. Darlo came close to regaining their place in the third tier in the 1995-96 season, but lost out to Plymouth Argyle in their first ever Wembley appearance in the Play Off Final.
|The Reynolds/Darlington Arena|
A new East Stand was built at Feethams with much needed hospitality facilities included before the reformed criminal, turned businessman George Reynolds bought the club with big plans for it.
In the summer of 2003 the club moved to a new out of town stadium, The Reynolds Arena, which was far too big for the club. Within six months the club entered administration as the bills attached to the new arena and low crowds crippled the finances.
Reynolds resigned as a director in January 2004 with the club on the brink of closure. A benefit game and general fundraising helped save Darlo, with manager David Hodgson in his third spell at the club working wonders on the pitch.
Both Colin Todd and then Steve Staunton failed in their managerial roles, as Darlo were relegated to the Conference at the end of the 2009-10 season. The new management team of Simon Davey and then Ryan Kidd left within eleven days of each other leaving Mark Cooper in charge at the start of the 2010-11 season.
In May 2011 a Chris Senior goal at Wembley saw The Quakers lift the FA Trophy after defeating Mansfield Town. The following season saw the team have a poor start so Cooper was given his marching orders.
Darlington FC will play in National League North in the 2017-18 season.
Darlington 2 Scarborough 1 (Saturday 12th September 1987) Division Four (att: 3,187)
I travelled to Scarborough's seventh ever Football League game with two senior Post Office colleagues, Dave Bowman and George Johnson in Dave's car. We were looking for a pub and my two pals were very impressed with my eyesight as I spotted the old red triangle sign of a Bass house across a field. Once refreshed we drove into Darlington and found a parking spot.
Non of us had been before but we followed directions down a very narrow lane, which led to the away end. We were just about to go in but were held up owing to a slight altercation. A Boro fan who had been heavily involved in the shenanigans at the Wolves game was been assisted by members of the local constabulary. It was the last he'd see of a football ground for many months!
I didn't really know what to make of Feethams once inside. It was certainly rustic and had a charm about it, but it was very old fashioned. On our side stood the seated West Stand with a small paddock in front, with a few steps of open terracing at either side.
To our right was the open Polum Lane End terrace. Opposite was the small cantilevered covered Tin Shed or Cricket Ground End, which as the name suggests adjoined the cricket ground. Finally on the far side stood the East Stand. This had a seating deck at the rear of a terrace. A small amount of open terracing flanked it.
I don't remember too much about the game apart from Darlo deserving their win, being more physical and quicker. Boro were very much still being put together to Mr Warnock's specifics. Steve Adams was on the mark for Boro.
Darlington 2 Scarborough 1 (Saturday 22nd April 1989) Division Four (att: 2,850)
This defeat was particularly annoying as Darlo eventually finished bottom of the league and were relegated. Boro badly needed three points in their promotion challenge but were out battled by a home side fighting to keep their League status. Brian Little certainly had them fired up. Craig Short netted our consolation.
I went on the mini bus from the Gas Club and Post Office and sat in the West Stand. It was a damp day and the view on the terracing wasn't the best, so with a large Seadog following expected, I treated myself.
Darlington 1 Scarborough 1 (Saturday 6th April 1991) Division Four (att: 3,962)
I travelled to this game away to top of the table Darlo on an early morning mini bus with Bunner and the usual suspects. We travelled up the A1 and stopped at Richmond on the way for beers in the market square. In a sereal moment we passed the ground where local side Eastfield were taking on Richmond in a Teeside League clash. We got out and gave them a shout, much to their astonishment.
We went in some dodgy pubs in Darlo before going in through the turnstiles at the cricket ground and walking around the perimeter of the ground before being led round to the away terrace. Boro did well from what I can remember, with George Oghani netting a penalty to grab a share of the spoils.
However, bad news was just around the corner. My good friend Steve Walker and I had decided to open a book on the Grand National at the Post Office. He reasoned that all the mug punters who couldn't be bothered to go to the bookies would hand over their money to us. I agreed. It did sound a good plan. I rang Steve from the services to hear the horrific news that Steve Johnson, work's betting 'guru' had tipped the winner, Seagram, and all those mug punters had followed him. We lost money and dissolved the business after just the one race!
Darlington 2 Scarborough 3 (Saturday 17th October 1993) Division Three (att: 2,474)
A new title for the league, but still very much the fourth level for this entertaining encounter, which Boro deserved to win with goals from Darren Foreman, John Ashdjian and Mark Jules. The stand out highlight though concerned a Spanish winger playing for the home side. He cheated to win a penalty in front of the away terrace and then looked up laughing at us when the ref pointed to the spot. My Dad went as spare as I'd seen him at a game. We were all pretty narked, but then our anger turned to joy when Stuart Ford saved the penalty. We certainly let our Spanish friend all about it.
I went back with Darren Trapps and waited at the station and getting something to eat before heading down to Hull Fair. top day out all round.
Darlington 1 Scarborough 0 (Monday 26th December 1994) Division Three (att: 2,958)
Instead of enjoying all the fun of Scarborough on Boxing Day I decided to take the lift on offer with Filey John, Bunner and big Karl. We had to go via Malton to pick Carl Ellis up, but the roads were very quiet, so that didn't pose too many worries. The different route actually made a nice change.
The rain was getting worse as we approached Darlo, but we managed to take refuge in a couple of decent pubs near to the ground. We had been left some tickets from the players and luckily they allowed us entry at the Cricket Ground End and then to walk round. I can't remember exactly how things panned out, but I know most of us definitely me!) got into the West Stand out of the foul conditions, but poor old John didn't.
Not only did Boro lose, he got soaked and let us know about it all the way home. I went out to drown my sorrows up South Cliff.
Darlington 1 Scarborough 2 (Saturday 23rd September 1995) Division Three (att: 2,046)
I met Mick Cammish for a couple of pints at the Home Guard Club before we boarded the Supporters Club coach heading north. I know we got there in time for a couple of pre match pints, where my geography from the previous season came in handy.
Boro put in a decent performance and looked a good side at that point with Don Page and Jason Rockett netting. I remember boarding the coach at full time to hear full time reports and scores on the fledgling Talk Radio, later to become Talksport.
Wednesday 9th January 2008
I was off work for a few days initially to go and watch Scarborough Athletic at Thornaby in the North Riding Senior Cup and to see my parents, but as things transpired I was to stay in Scarborough a little longer to attend the funeral of my old mate Nick Groombridge.
I got off the early morning train to feel the freezing northern air just after the passing the white elephant that was now called the Darlington Arena. I planned to go and visit the non league grounds between Darlo and the coast before heading back to the game, but I couldn't resist a look to see if anything remained of the old football ground.
The cricket ground, which once hosted the fixtures of Durham CCC was in fine nick. The Tin Shed was still there as it doubled up as a sightscreen for the cricketers. However, the terracing had gone. The rest of the site was overgrown with slight raised areas where the terracing once stood.
It was a sad sight indeed.
My early morning train dropped me at a fogbound Darlington. My itinerary had originally included a visit to the Darlington Arena. A combination of time constraints and doubts whether I’d gain access put the plan on the back burner.
Instead I caught the Max27 bus to the Blackwell Grange Hotel stop on Grange Road. The ground was on the southern most outskirts of the town and surrounded by fields. I wandered down the lane past an extended car park to the entrance.
A Tin Shed had been erected behind the near goal; a little bit like the old one at Feethams. The far side had a seated stand straddling the half way line, with the near side being taken up with club buildings and a clubhouse, with a few rows of seats at the front. The rest of the ground consisted of open flat standing.
Perhaps pushing my luck a little, I wandered to the far end. Again more workers were grafting away looking to add to the facilities. It was obvious that the ground could do with a bit more elevated standing areas, but Darlo were back home; and that had to be the most important thing.
The ground photos in this section have been taken from the internet, except the ones of the dilapidated Feethams. The photos featuring fans come from Dave 'Bunner' Hunter.