Tag: Darlington

Light At The End Of Darlington’s Tunnel

The phrase “emotional rollercoaster” is one that is overused in football these days, but the supporters of Darlington FC are rapidly becoming more than familiar with the term after another week in which their club sailed close to extinction before receiving confirmation from its joint administrator that it had permission to continue to trade – and therefore play – until the end of this season. Two weeks ago, there were frantic scenes at the club as it desperately sought to raise £50,000 in order to continue to trade for a further three matches. In the pitch, the team could muster just one point from those three matches, but the value of the time that this money bought the club has proved to be critical. This week started with BBC One in the north-east of England broadcasting an episode of its regional current affairs programme Inside Out which featured subject of the battle to save the club (UK residents can watch it on BBC iPlayer here). Amongst those interviewed therein was Paul Wildes, the Yorkshire-based property developer and venture capitalist whose bid had emerged as the front-runner to rescue the club. Yet while Wildes’ platitudes in front of the cameras regarding the future of the club hit the right keys, the supporters’ reaction to him had been lukewarm. Darlington supporters have seen white knights ride in to attempt to save...

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Darlington’s Second Final Day Of Reckoning Approaches

It is a sobering thought to consider that, for all the hard work and drama involved in keeping Darlington FC alive just nine days ago, the looming deadline over the clubs future comes up for renewal again on Monday. The last few days have seen a patchwork team lose narrowly to Fleetwood Town and Hayes & Yeading United in the league, but performances on the pitch have, by necessity, had to take a back seat to the continuing efforts to save the club. T-shirts are for sale and the collection buckets, that totem symbol of the overreached football club, have been dusted off. With the clock ticking again, however, a new potential bid may prove to be the one that the clubs administrators. Why is it, then, that some of the clubs supporters are treating it with extreme caution? The man behind this particular bid is Paul Wildes, a Yorkshire-based – you guessed it – property developer and venture capitalist. Wildes has no prior involvement of running a football club and, while he is understood to be a supporter of Sheffield Wednesday, no prior recorded interest in Darlington FC. His proposal is simple. He will put in £300,000 for a sixty per cent shareholding in the club. The remaining forty per cent of shares will then be available to the Darlington Football Club Rescue Group (DFCRG or the Rescue...

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Top Versus Bottom In The Blue Square Premier

Two matches in the Blue Square Premier brought together four clubs from directly opposite ends of the football spectrum yesterday and, while the results of those matches were hardly unexpected, it was difficult not to feel at the end of this week that these were not as important as the fact that the matches had taken place in the first place. The matches were, of course, between Darlington and Fleetwood Town, and between Wrexham and Kettering Town. Darlington’s plight has been thoroughly documented on these pages over the last seven days. That they were playing at all yesterday afternoon was a testament to the hard work put in last week by many, many people. That they should have been playing against the financially-plumpened Fleetwood Town, who continue to agitate at the top of the table, is an irony that will not have been lost on many. Meanwhile, in north Wales, Kettering Town travelled to play Wrexham. Kettering Town found themselves in the dock last week over the non-payment of football-related debts. The supporters of Wrexham will be more than aware of this feeling of financial difficulties starting to spiral out of control. Wrexham battled to stay alive throughout most of last year before the club’s supporters trust took ownership of it in October. Somehow or other, player-manager Andy Morrell has managed to keep his side winning and they went...

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Tales From The Deep End: Non-League Football’s Difficult Start To 2012

This year has been a difficult year so far for several of our non-league clubs. Mike Bayly has a round-up of what has been going on at the foot of football’s food chain.  By any measure of austerity, it’s been a fairly turbulent week in the world of non-league football. On Sunday evening, the main stand at Rossendale United’s vacant Dark Lane ground was completely destroyed in what police are treating as a suspected arson attack. The fire was just one in a long line of depressing incidents at the ground over the last couple of years. In June 2011, the programme sellers hut was burnt out following an “arson incident” with other acts of theft and vandalism causing significant damage to the troubled venue. Coupled with accusations that the club was being mismanaged and left to stagnate, the Lancashire side were expelled from the North West Counties League at the end of last season after failing to pay their membership fees. There had been talk of a Phoenix Club – Rossendale FC – reforming in the near future, though whether their intention was to play at the Dark Lane ground which is still owned by Rossendale United’s former chairman Andrew Connolly is unclear. As an epitaph, there was a macabre inevitability about it all. Set against the backdrop of a gloomy windswept housing estate, the club struggled for long periods...

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When The Clock Struck Thirteen: Darlington FC Goes To The Wire

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. There can be few other sets of football supporters that have had to bear up to the sort of agony and exhilaration that the supporters of Darlington FC have had to put up with yesterday but eventually, more than an hour after final confirmation one way or the other of the clubs fate was due to be announced, those concerned with saving the club emerged before the press to make the announcement that so many had hoped for: Darlington Football Club remains alive – for now, at least. There had been a mood of cautious optimism amongst supporters on Tuesday evening. Rumours were filtering through that agreement to buy the club some breathing space was close to being agreed. As with so many long distance races, however, it was the final furlong that proved to be the most difficult. As messages of support poured in from the length and breadth of the country this morning, dark clouds began to form. It began to be reported that previous owner Raj Singh was reconsidering his previous offer to write off the debts that the club owed him. If he could not be persuaded to let go of this all but lost money, any attempts to rescue the club would become forlorn, to say the least. Meanwhile, the administrators were...

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