Darlington 1883

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Darlington 1883
Club logo
Full name Darlington 1883
Nickname(s) Darlo, The Quakers
Founded 2012
Ground Heritage Park, Bishop Auckland
Ground Capacity 2,004
Manager Martin Gray
League Northern Premier League Division One North
2013–14 Northern Premier League Division One North, 2nd
Website Club home page

Darlington 1883 is an English football club that currently plays at Heritage Park, Bishop Auckland. The company Darlington 1883 Limited was incorporated on 18 January 2012[1] and went on to purchase the assets of Darlington Football Club on 3 May 2012 when a creditors voluntary agreement (CVA) could not be agreed with creditors.[2] In line with its policy of not allowing clubs that go bust to continue without paying debts, The Football Association decree that when a CVA is not agreed and a club has to be liquidated, any 'phoenix' club is considered a new club. This policy had previously been applied to other collapsing clubs, such as Chester City FC and Halifax Town FC.[3] Despite the FA's decision being consistent with previous club's treatment, the 'new club' ruling is hotly disputed by the fans, who reject the determination of the Football Association and refuse to recognise the enforced name change or the removal of the historic honours of Darlington Football Club.

Darlington 1883 play in the Northern Premier League Division One North for the 2013–14 season, having won the Northern League Division One championship the previous season.


Darlington 1883 applied to join the Northern League as a 'New Club', after the collapse of Darlington F.C.[4] Under FA regulations, New Clubs are required to join with a different name from the club that they are replacing, and so the wish of the club to register under the name 'Darlington F.C.' was not allowed. A deadline imposed by the FA meant the board was unable to wait for the results of a poll of supporters, so the name Darlington 1883 (with no "F.C." suffix) was chosen.[5]


See also: Darlington F.C.

The company Darlington 1883 Limited was incorporated on 18 Jan 2012[1] by owners of Darlington Football Club. This company then went on to purchase the assets of Darlington F.C. on 3 May 2012 when a CVA could not be agreed with creditors.[2] Being regarded as a new club by the FA meant that Darlington 1883 could not be placed higher than level nine of the football pyramid, four divisions below where Darlington F.C. had been at the end of the 2011–12 season.

Darlington Football Club itself was founded in 1883, and became a professional football club in 1908, joining the North Eastern League.[6] The club became a member of the Football League in 1920, in which it competed until 1989, and again from 1990 to 2010.[7] In the 1989–90 season and from 2010 to 2012, Darlington played in the Football Conference.[6]

Darlington went into administration in 2004, in 2009, and again in October 2011 when enough money was raised by fans' groups to compete for the whole of the 2011–12 season,[8] which ended with Darlington relegated into the Conference North.[9]

The club was eventually taken over by Darlington1883, a group of local fans, with the intention of moving into community ownership. Darlington1883 failed to arrange a CVA,[10] and as such on 21 June 2012 Darlington F.C. ceased to exist. The as yet unnamed 'phoenix' club were placed into the Northern League Division One, on the recommendation of the Football Association when the club applied to use a ground without the required grading for the Northern Premier League.[11] An appeal against the FA decision was inevitably rejected, confirming that the new club would not be able to play as Darlington F.C.[12] On 25 June 2012 the new board's registration of a new club, under the name of Darlington 1883, was accepted.[13]

People in everyday clothing on football pitch
Fans celebrate winning the 2013 Northern League title.

In March 2013 it was confirmed that the Darlington Football Club Community Interest Company (DFC CIC), which represents around 800 fan-members, had taken a 52% stake in the football club.[14] This made the club 100% fan and community owned, with 16% owned by the Darlington 1883 Supporters' Club and 32% by 28 individual fans.[14] Darlington 1883 announced that three members of the DFC CIC would be added to the board as directors,[15] along with current ones and new chief executive officer, Martin Jesper, head of football operations, Laura Drew and head of club development, Dave Mills.[14]

Following a successful first season in the Northern League Division One, Darlington 1883 were crowned champions with a record haul of 122 points, having scored 145 goals in the process. As a result, Darlington 1883 were promoted to the Northern Premier League Division One North.

Even though Darlington 1883 are a 'new club', they are committed to paying the former club's debt including a recent payment of £53,000 to HMRC.[16]


While the previous club had occupied the Darlington Arena, arrangements were made with local side Bishop Auckland F.C. for Darlington 1883 to share their Heritage Park ground from the start of the 2012–13 season.[17] Plans had originally been laid down to move to Shildon Football Club,[18] but Heritage Park was eventually chosen as Darlington 1883's first official home.

Heritage Park is based to the immediate south-west of the town of Bishop Auckland. Its opening ceremony took place on 24 October 2010 in front of an invitation-only audience including local entrepreneur Sir John Hall and the Bishop Auckland F.C. affiliated youth team.

On 13 December 2013, it was announced that Darlington 1883 and Darlington Rugby Football Club had reached a deal to allow the football team to share their Blackwell Meadows ground, and move back into the town of Darlington.[19]


In the 2012–13 season, Darlington 1883's first season as a newly formed club, its main rivals were Spennymoor Town owing to the hotly contested title for the Northern League. Spennymoor Town had won the league for the three previous years, but had not applied for promotion until the 2012–13 season[20] when Darlington entered the league. Spennymoor Town were the only club to contend with Darlington for the title towards the end of the season. Also in 2012–13 a rivalry developed between Darlington and West Auckland Town after West Auckland officials decided to double the admission fee from £5 to £10 using the excuse of needing more security for the Darlington match in November 2012.[21][22] To a lesser extent, Shildon and landlords Bishop Auckland were also rivals.

As of 2014-15 Darlington will once again lock horns with Spennymoor Town after they achieved promotion from the Northern League in 2014.

In the eyes of most Darlington fans, while they may be four divisions apart, Hartlepool United will always remain Darlington's biggest rivals.


Current squad[edit]

As of 28 November 2014.[23]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
England GK Mark Bell
England GK Peter Jameson
England DF Gary Brown (captain)
England DF Sean Gregan (player-coach)
England DF Stephen Harrison
England DF Chris Hunter
England DF Matthew Lovegreen
England DF Jordan Robinson
England DF Ian Watson
England DF Alan White (vice-captain)
England MF Jonathan Davis
England MF Terry Galbraith
No. Position Player
England MF Dale Hopson
England MF Adam Mitchell
England MF Nelson Mota
England MF Tom Portas
England MF Leon Scott
England FW Graeme Armstrong
England FW David Dowson
England FW Liam Hatch
England FW Nathan Cartman
England FW Amar Purewal
England FW Stephen Thompson


As of 1 July 2014.[24]


Position Name
Shareholders' Director Darlington Football Club Community Interest Company
Chief Executive Officer/Director Martin Jesper
Head of Football Operations/Director Laura Drew
Head of Club Development/Director Dave Mills


Position Name
Manager Martin Gray
Assistant Manager Brian Atkinson
Goalkeeping Coach Jim Provett
Defensive Player-Coach Sean Gregan
Chief Scout Harry Dunn



  • Highest league position: 1st Northern Premier League Division One North 2014–15
  • Biggest home win: 7–0 v Ossett Albion, Northern Premier Division One North, 2 October 2013 [25]
  • Biggest away win: 7–1 v Billingham Town, Northern League Division One, 6 October 2012 [26] and v Hebburn Town, Northern League Division One, 9 February 2013 [27]
  • Highest attendance: 2,001 v Guisborough Town, Northern League Division One, 1 May 2013


Season Division Tier Pld W D L GF GA GD Pts League position Average League
2012–13 Northern League
Division One
9 46 40 2 4 145 35 +110 122 1st of 24
1,319 [28]
2013–14 Northern Premier League
Division One North
8 42 28 6 8 101 37 +64 90 2nd of 22
Lost in Play-Off Semi-Final
1,409 [29]
2014–15 Northern Premier League
Division One North
8 23 16 5 2 52 13 +39 53


  1. ^ a b Darlington 1883 Limited www.duedil.com, accessed 31 May 2013
  2. ^ a b "Darlington fail in appeal to overturn FA demotion". BBC Sport. Retrieved 30 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Fa Explain Decision www.darlofc.co.uk, 18 June 2012
  4. ^ "FA Explain Decision". Darlington 1883. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  5. ^ "Darlington 1883". Darlington F.C. 25 June 2012. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "History in brief". Darlington F.C. 7 July 2009. Archived from the original on 2012-02-29. Retrieved 5 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Division 3 1920/21". footballsite.co.uk. Retrieved 20 January 2010. 
  8. ^ "Fans group given time to raise Darlington rescue funds". BBC Sport. 15 February 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  9. ^ Stoddart, Craig (14 April 2012). "Darlington relegated after 2-2 draw with Bath City". The Northern Echo (Darlington). Retrieved 15 April 2012. 
  10. ^ "DFC 1883 Limited group complete purchase of Darlington". BBC Sport. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  11. ^ "Darlington relegated four divisions after FA recommendation". BBC Sport. 25 May 2012. Retrieved 25 May 2012. 
  12. ^ Wilson, Scott (21 April 2012). "Darlington's appeal hopes dashed - and FA claims club will have to change its name". The Northern Echo (Darlington). Retrieved 21 April 2012. 
  13. ^ "Darlington 1883 replaces former club name after FA ruling". BBC Sport. Retrieved 27 June 2012. 
  14. ^ a b c "Club Fan and Community Owned". Darlington F.C. 3 March 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  15. ^ "Darlington Finalise Supporters' Trust Partnership". Darlington F.C. 11 March 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013. 
  16. ^ "Quakers set 2014 target for return to Darlington". The Northern Echo. 29 July 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  17. ^ Willis, Joe (2012-05-30). "QUAKERS LATEST: Darlington to play at Bishop Auckland, not Shildon". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  18. ^ Darlington FC to ground share with Shildon next season
  19. ^ "The Northern Echo". Retrieved 19 December 2013. 
  20. ^ Application for Promotion Statement
  21. ^ A Matter of Regret
  22. ^ Non-league clubs in row over ticket price
  23. ^ "Player Profiles". Darlington 1883. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  24. ^ Stoddart, Craig (28 May 2012). "Quakers appoint Gray as new boss". The Northern Echo (Darlington). Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  25. ^ http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/sport/football/darlington/reports/10713343.Match_Analysis__Darlington_7_Ossett_Albion_0/
  26. ^ http://www.darlingtonandstocktontimes.co.uk/sport/football/darlington/matchreports/9970762.Darlington_in_seventh_heaven/
  27. ^ http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/sport/football/darlington/reports/10218943.Match_Report__Hebburn_Town_1_Darlington_7/
  28. ^ "2012-13 Darlington 1883 Season". David Forster. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  29. ^ "2013-14 Darlington 1883 Season". David Forster. Retrieved 17 May 2014. 

External links[edit]