View From The Outside

by Scott Thornberry - 8th December 2009

view from the outside

by MarskeQuaker

I'm one of those fans that stopped going during the Reynolds era so I appreciate my comments may not go down too well with the 1,700 that are continuing to turn up for home matches. I have my reasons why I stopped going; some of them were work related and others because I knew what was going on at the club at the time and could not see a future. This was before the move away from Feethams, I was a shareholder at the time so used to receive all the club's financial information once a year. This ceased during the Reynolds era when just about anyone who cared about the club was seriously ****** over. Many of these folk started to lose interest and many more like me, walked away.


Perhaps I got too close I don't know but it killed my interest and I had to have time away. I returned for Cup matches against Farnborough, Southport, Rochdale and a league match against Mansfield, because one of my mates supports them but it just wasn't the same anymore.

The financial problems with Darlington FC go back to the days when Reg Brealey and Steve Morgon were at the club and the money brought in from the transfers of Appleby, Blake and Gregan went into an offshore based account in Gibraltar. The club itself never benefited from transfers and herein lies the initial problems.

When David Hodgson and Jim Platt came in the deal was that any players that Hodgson brought in if they were succesful he would receive a percentage of any future sales, a good example was Jason De Vos whom I think was brought from Montreal Storm and later sold to Dundee United (if memory serves correct). The money made from this transfer again did not benefit Darlington FC one iota but several individuals. I'm surprised to be reading on here calls for Hodgson to return as in my opinion he was always looking to line his own pockets first than help the club, unfortunately over the years that has been the story of Darlington FC. A number of chancers and schemers (Brealey/Peden/Reynolds/Houghton) have totally ****** the club over financially and this has taken its toll on those who were involved with fanzines, the Supporters Club & the Darlo Trust. The fanzines (Steve Harland of MI was involved in a legal dispute with Steve Morgon & Reg Brealey that was never resolved but Steve still had to pay solicitors for legal fees which killed his enthusiasm), Dan King went to University and got a job as a journalist and another Darlo fan turned journalist Craig Stoddart was threatened when Reynolds paid a personal visit to his house in Darlington.

Several out of town businessmen have used the club to launder money (not just Reynolds) and the preferred choice after Reynolds would have been the consortium of local businessmen fronted by Mark Meynell. They had a business plan that was based on the reality of average attendances at the new stadium, it possibly wouldn't have been a promotion/play-off challenging team but it certainly wouldn't be one in its current position. Instead Reynolds insisted that if the club was being sold then the last people on earth to run the club would be the local consortium - in the end the club ended up being run by a Sheffield-based financial group who had loaned Reynolds a substantial amount of money which was never paid back. This group was headed by Stewart Davies and I think what you will find is that Sterling still have a vested interest in the stadium and the land that surrounds it that hasn't been developed. Under George Houghton the business plan was totally unrealistic for the crowds that were coming to the Arena and it was no surprise to me that the club went into administration in February. Since then the club has been knackered financially.

I know the vast majority of you hate Jeff Winter's opinions but he is correct in saying that for the club to be in existence is a miracle at all. Whoever came in as a manager and put a squad together at such short notice would have struggled in the circumstances. What shouldn't be happening is that you are all arguing amongst yourselves when you should be united in supporting the team.

Although I no longer go the club was a huge part of my life for 25 years and in my present situation I would only ever be able to attend sporadic games due to work & domestic commitments plus I live further away now so attending would be even more expensive and time consuming. I would hate to see the club go out of existence but at the moment that's what looks likely. You are talking about a future in the Blue Square but it would be unrealistic in such a large stadium and having lost the support of local business people in the town, the club is at its lowest ebb it could ever be. I always knew that the stadium would be totally unrealistic for a club of Darlo's size. I was at the meeting when Reynolds announced his plans and the vast majority of you applauded and shouted enthusiastically - even mocking our then local rivals Hartlepool but ironically it looks like they will have the last laugh. I don't doubt that if the club does survive - and its a bloody big if, the club will have to be rebuilt from the bottom up and this may take a number of years just like it took the likes of Aldershot, Barrow & Newport.

For the time being the players Staunton has at the club may not be ideal but with your support they may pick up enough points to try and catch the clubs directly above them. Mocking, taking the piss and criticising them is counter productive and will send the club spiralling out of control on the pitch, just like the club finances have been over the last 15 years. The players are at Darlington because nobody else wants them and they have limited abilities but the way I see it at the moment is that Darlington FC are dead in the water with a support that is divided. I really do fear for the future of the club even though I no longer go because to me it looks like a club that has no future - not even in non league football. The club has lost many stalwart supporters, I have met a few over the years like myself who no longer go for various reasons, that doesn't mean we don't care. PLEASE SUPPORT THE TEAM DURING MATCHES - I might even attend a match myself over the Christmas/New Year period - work and domestic commitments permitting!