Darlington Football Club

Darlington Football ClubIntroductionEarly daysPost

A Football Report
Darlington Football Club

Darlington Football Club


Darlington FC, otherwise known as the Quakers, was formed in 1883. The club is based in County Durham, their main rivals being Hartlepool United. Since 2003, the club has been playing its home games at the Darlington Arena.


Early days

Darlington Football Club was originally founded after a meeting at Darlington Grammar School in 1883. The team reached the final of the Durham Senior Cup in its first season, before losing to Sunderland in a replay. However, the Quakers went on to lift the trophy the following season, and continued to be one of the leading amateur clubs in the area.

Darlington were founder members of the Northern League in 1889, before being crowned Northern League Champions in 1896, and again in 1900. The club joined the North Eastern League in 1908, and Darlington gradually progressed up the league table.

The Quakers then won the North Eastern League Championship in the 1912/13 season, before the intervention of World War One prevented the 1915/16 campaign from starting.

When football resumed in 1919, Darlington continued their good form, again being crowned North Eastern League Champions in the 1920/21 campaign. The club then became founder members of the Football League Division Three North in 1921, and finished as runners-up in the league’s first season.

Jack English then oversaw Darlington’s Division Three North Championship winning season in 1924/25. However, the team struggled to cope with the higher standard of football, and were relegated in 1927.

The club then trod water in Division Three North for a number of years, before the outbreak of World War Two saw the 1939/40 season abandoned.

Post World War Two

Darlington continued to perform poorly in the league after football resumed in 1946. This would see the club narrowly avoid relegation to English football’s basement division on a number of occasions.

The club was placed in Division Four in 1958, following a re-organisation of the league structure. Darlington regularly finished the season in the bottom half of the league, and were always unlikely promotion contenders. However, in the 1965/66 season, the team outperformed all expectations and achieved promotion to Division Three.

This proved to be a brief highlight in the club’s history, as they were relegated back to Division Four the following season. The club then employed ten managers in ten seasons, as the Quakers attempted to climb the league ladder.

Darlington in the Conference

After a number of disappointing seasons in Division Four, Darlington finally won promotion in the 1984/85 season. The Quakers finished in a respectable 13th position in their first season back in Division Three. However, the team was unable to continue this good form into the following season, and Darlington were relegated back to Division Four in 1987.

From there, things went from bad to worse for the club. The unthinkable happened in 1989, as Darlington finished in 23rd place, and were relegated to the Football Conference.

Improvement under Brian Little

Brian Little then took over as manager, guiding the team to the Conference title in his first season in charge. Darlington’s success continued, as they achieved back-to-back promotions, and were now back in Division Three. Brian Little then left the club in 1991, and was replaced by Frank Gray. Gray left the club after Darlington were relegated to Division Four in the 1991/92 season.

Division Four was then re-designated as Division Three, after the formation of the FA Premier League in 1992. The club eventually reached the Division Three Play-off Final in 1996, after beating Hereford United 4-2 on aggregate in the Semi-final. However, Darlington went on to lose the final 1-0 to Plymouth Argyle at Wembley.

FA Cup drama

In 2000, Darlington became the first English club to lose an FA Cup match, but still qualify for the next round. Due to Manchester United taking part in the FIFA Club World Championship rather than the FA Cup, an extra place in the FA Cup 3rd round was awarded to a randomly drawn losing team from the 2nd round.

Darlington were drawn as the lucky loser, and progressed to the 3rd round despite losing 2-1 to Gillingham in the 2nd round. The Quakers’ FA Cup dream ended there, however, as they lost 2-1 to Aston Villa at Villa Park.

Recent times

In 2003, the club moved from Feethams Ground, to a new 25,000 all-seater stadium on the outskirts of Darlington. Division Three was renamed League Two in 2004, with David Hodgson now in charge at the club, his third managerial spell with the Quakers.

Hodgson was replaced by Dave Penney in 2006, after a poor run of results and an approach from Bournemouth for his services. Penney guided the Quakers to 11th place in 2006/07, a position that Darlington are looking to build upon this season.

Club Honours

  • Football League Division Two (best season): 15th, 1925/26
  • Football League Division Three North Champions: 1924/25
  • Football League Division Three North Runners-up: 1921/22
  • Football League Division Four Champions: 1990/91
  • Football League Division Four Runners-up: 1965/66
  • FA Cup (best season): 5th rd, 1958
  • Football League Cup (best season): 5th rd, 1968
  • GM Vauxhall Conference Champions: 1989/90

Club Records

  • Record League Victory: 9-2 v Lincoln City, Division Three North, 7 January 1928
  • Record Cup Victory: 7-2 v Evenwood Town, FA Cup 1st rd, 17 November 1956
  • Record Defeat: 0-10 v Doncaster Rovers, Division Four, 25 January 1964
  • Most League Goals: 108, Division Three North, 1929/30
  • Highest League Scorer in Season: David Brown, 39, Division Three North, 1924/25
  • Most League Goals in Total Aggregate: Alan Walsh, 90, 1978-1984
  • Most League Goals in One Match: 5, Tom Ruddy v South Shields, Division Two, 23 April 1927; 5, Maurice Wellock v Rotherham United, Division Three North, 15 February 1930
  • Most League Appearances: Ron Greener, 442, 1955-1968
  • Youngest League Player: Dale Anderson, 16 years 254 days v Chesterfield, 4 May 1987
  • Record Transfer Fee Received: £400,000 from Dundee United for Jason Devos, October 1998.
  • Record Transfer Fee Paid: £95,000 to Motherwell for Nick Cusack, January 1992

Contact and Ticket Information

For club enquiries and tickets contact:

Darlington Football Club
Balfour Webnet Darlington Arena
Neasham Road
Co Durham
Main Reception (tel): 01325 387 000 Ticket Office (tel): 0870 0272 949

For ticket information online see the Club website

Travel Information

By road

From the north

– Leave the A1 (M) at the Darlington/Newton Aycliffe Junction. Turn left at the roundabout at the end of the slip road, and then head straight through Coatham Mundeville. Keep following this road, and pass the White Horse Hotel on your right. At the next roundabout turn left, and follow signs for the A66 Teeside.

Go straight over the mini roundabout through the set of traffic lights until you come to a large roundabout. Go straight on until you come to a second large roundabout. From here, take the 3rd exit leading towards Teeside Airport, passing the Brick Train on your right. Go straight over the next roundabout until you come to Hurworth Town Centre. Turn right here, and enter the access road for the stadium.

From the south

– Leave the A1 (M) at Junction 57 for Darlington. Follow the road to the roundabout. From here, take the first exit off, and follow the road to the second roundabout (Reg Vardy on the right). Head straight over, and follow signs for Teeside until you reach the next roundabout. Turn left here, and the stadium is on the right hand side.

By bus

A non-stop bus service between Tubwell Row in the town centre and the ground on the edge of town operates on a match day (Saturday’s only). The services start at 1.15pm, and leave every 15 minutes with the last bus departing the town centre at 2.30pm. At the end of the match, the buses leave from outside the ground at 4.45pm, 5pm, 5.15pm and 5.30pm. The number 21 service (operated by Arriva), which is available from the town centre, also runs to the top of Neasham Road just before the railway bridge.

By rail

Darlington Station is 1.9km from the stadium site. Darlington station is on the East Coast Main Line between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh Waverley. To get to the ground from the station, leave via the North exit past the taxi rank. Turn right and you will come out under the railway bridge. Continue up the road, and turn right at the Yarm road roundabout. Walk along Neasham Road, and past Matalan on your right. Keep walking and you will pass the Cooper Beach pub on your right. Keep going and you will see a railway bridge ahead. Continue under this, and the ground is on the left after another couple of minutes.