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TheRonRaffertyFanClub
May 22, 2020, 2:18pm Report to Moderator
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Came across this piece in the Times by Martin Hardy  this morning. Good luck to these fans, hope they make it.





Have you actually listened to Mott the Hoople?” It was late by the time the question came, in a Tyneside bar back in 2012, trying to make sense of a truly dramatic day at the 25,000 all-seater Darlington Arena as the town’s football team disappeared after 128 years of existence, mired in debt, but was then given an 11th-hour reprieve by two blokes in a Peugeot 308.

“We’ve got the money!” they shouted, running across the car park. Later, the pair would admit they had been blasting the rock band Mott the Hoople on the stereo as they made a ten-minute journey in six. It was better than a last-minute winner.

Earlier a fan had placed a ceremonial Darlington FC scarf outside the stadium’s main entrance to signify its death. The receiver had said all avenues had been exhausted.

It transpired that was not quite the case. The heroes arrived, genuinely with money, the locks were taken off and the youth team coach Craig Liddle, who was in temporary charge and has a beer named after him for service to the club, spoke exhaustedly inside what always felt like a white elephant of a stadium. The drama masked the truth, everything was out of place. The stadium, built by the eccentric owner George Reynolds, was crazily big, the debt, at £1.8 million, unmanageable, the goodwill (and the cash), as it turned out, insufficient to pluck victory from the jaws of defeat.

The club went into administration, had to change its name, becoming Darlington 1883, and had to start life in the Northern League, the ninth tier of English football.

“It was touch and go for a period of time if that was it or we would start again,” says David Steel, a lifelong Darlington fan and now a member of the DFC Supporters’ Group (of which there are 12).

“It was heartbreaking but it wasn’t a huge surprise. We had been mismanaged by a number of self serving owners. You know when you see someone running and they stumble for half a minute and then fall over? The previous 15 years was the stumble and 2012 was the fall.

“Eight years ago we were clueless, homeless and we had no players, we appointed a manager, Martin Gray, who literally had a clean sheet of paper.

“I’m in the camp of what happened was the best thing that could have happened. We had a blast in the Northern league, it was fantastic. We had the weird feeling of being a big fish in a small pond.

“We realised pretty quickly we were onto something and the fan model was interesting and there was a collective spirit again. The crowd was there, the team, was good and were were winning.

“The club has two boards, the Supporters’ Group board and we represent the owners, which is the fans who have 80 per cent of the stake of the club. We work with the operating board (who have five members), which is the chief exec, who runs the club day to day and realises our vision.”

There are now around 800 owners of Darlington FC (who were allowed to change their name back). The drive is to be clever. In 2017, they started the “Boost The Budget” fund, where fans could pay any amount to help fund the signing and wages of players. In year one, it raised £40,000, that was doubled the following year, last season reached £103,000, and after worrying about the impact of Covid-19, of members being furloughed or losing their jobs, David and his fellow members went for an ambitious £100,000. As of Friday morning, the pot for manager Alun Armstrong next season in National League North (tier 6) had £87,470 in it. Five days ago someone put £14 in, yesterday came £400.

“You get everything from some chucking a tenner in to a few fans who have put in significant funds,” says David. “It all counts, of course it does. We have got individual investors who put in £14 or five grand and everything in between. It’s a wonderful model. If somebody who put in £500 last year has been fired from their job this year and they’re struggling, they don’t have to do it and the club won’t fold as a result.

“This is the optimum example of the fans owning the club. The fans love the current manager Alun Armstrong and he did a wonderful job with the £103,000 last year, plus the rest of the money that was his budget.

“Alun came in and said he would put a bit of North East spirit back into the squad and get local lads who will fight for the shirt. We’re a good team to watch too.”

The club has moved ground twice, first to share with Bishop Auckland and then, four years ago to Blackwell Meadows, the home of Darlington Rugby Club.

It is easy to forget how much fans care sometimes. The Tin Shed, the roof of the home end at Feethams — Darlington’s home before the decision to build the arena — was dismantled in 2004, stored and brought back in 2016. David first went with his dad, Colin, whose last game was at the Arena, before he passed away in 2013 with cancer.

“My old fella would have loved the last eight years,” adds David. “I used to text him from games and say what it was like being back on the terraces. We talked incessantly about Feethams. My mam says ‘he would be dead proud of you now’.

“The first time I went back on the Tin Shed was emotional. It is something else we have got, a part of Feethams.

“I wish we’d never left there. I first started going in 1989 and we won the Conference and the next season we won Division Four. It was the link back to being a kid. It was such a lovely feeling.”


"Ah but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” Bob Dylan, My Back Pages
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AndyDarloFC
May 25, 2020, 3:46pm Report to Moderator
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Just smashed our #BoostTheBudget target of 100k in 24 days.

Raised a total of 101k with 6 days left, can see us hitting 115k.

Thanks for the kind words on the original post. Hope to be back playing you lot soon.

UTM.


The club that simply wouldn't DIE!

We will be back. One day. Someday, somehow!

https://twitter.com/andrewparkk1991
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Iknowyoursecret
May 25, 2020, 3:53pm Report to Moderator
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Well done to you all
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Lincoln Mariner 56
May 25, 2020, 8:45pm Report to Moderator
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Great achievement well done Darlo fan’s
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TheRonRaffertyFanClub
May 25, 2020, 8:56pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from AndyDarloFC
Just smashed our #BoostTheBudget target of 100k in 24 days.

Raised a total of 101k with 6 days left, can see us hitting 115k.

Thanks for the kind words on the original post. Hope to be back playing you lot soon.

UTM.


Well played Andy. Keep it going lads.



"Ah but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” Bob Dylan, My Back Pages
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KingstonMariner
May 25, 2020, 11:49pm Report to Moderator
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Brilliant. Good news! Well done Darlo fans.

We don’t seem to have that spirit here, despite Op Promotion’s success. So many Grimsby people (including on this board, and including Trust members!) think that Grimsby people can’t make a success of owning their own football club. Now if that isn’t the definition of negative thinking....


Through the door there came familiar laughter,
I saw your face and heard you call my name.
Oh my friend we're older but no wiser,
For in our hearts the dreams are still the same.
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Madeleymariner
May 26, 2020, 10:22am Report to Moderator

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Quoted from KingstonMariner
Brilliant. Good news! Well done Darlo fans.

We don’t seem to have that spirit here, despite Op Promotion’s success. So many Grimsby people (including on this board, and including Trust members!) think that Grimsby people can’t make a success of owning their own football club. Now if that isn’t the definition of negative thinking....


I'm pretty sure if we went bust and restarted at semi pro level at a small ground (St Georges?) the fans could finance and run a new GTFC but that is very different to running a team with a £1.5million + payroll and an old stadium.
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AndyDarloFC
June 2, 2020, 1:20pm Report to Moderator
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Just a little bump on this to give you the final total.

We ended up having a mad last surge on the last day and we reached a grand total of 131k.

Stay safe. All the best guys.


The club that simply wouldn't DIE!

We will be back. One day. Someday, somehow!

https://twitter.com/andrewparkk1991
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TheRonRaffertyFanClub
June 2, 2020, 2:23pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from AndyDarloFC
Just a little bump on this to give you the final total.

We ended up having a mad last surge on the last day and we reached a grand total of 131k.

Stay safe. All the best guys.


Same to you Andy. Well done to you and the rest of the fans, great total.



"Ah but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” Bob Dylan, My Back Pages
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chipsandgravy
June 2, 2020, 3:13pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from KingstonMariner
Brilliant. Good news! Well done Darlo fans.

We don’t seem to have that spirit here, despite Op Promotion’s success. So many Grimsby people (including on this board, and including Trust members!) think that Grimsby people can’t make a success of owning their own football club. Now if that isn’t the definition of negative thinking....


FFS!
But well done Darlo!
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