Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Darlington are looking to do the same again
THIS time last year, a new squad of players were about to embark on a recordbreaking season that would end in glory.
Darlington had started from scratch and went onto enjoy a season in the Northern League that was nothing short of a success as they secured promotion at the first attempt.
Yet, all of last season’s achievements need to be forgotten if Quakers are to think about making it a promotion double.
That’s the strong view of manager Martin Gray who is demanding that a line is drawn under 2012-13 as he prepares his squad for the Evo-Stik First Division North.
If any value at all is to be placed on pre-season friendlies scorelines, it could be noted that not all of the team’s pre-season results have been encouraging, though the performance during a defeat at Gateshead was promising.
Pre-season form could be a factor in Gray’s stance in believing it is dangerous to live on former glories.
“You’ve got to forget about last season,” he said.
“Sometimes, some people live off last year, but last year has gone for me. We’re starting again now.
“We’ve all had the pats on the back which was nice and we lifted the trophy, but that means nothing now.
“We’re looking at a fresh start and a fresh challenge and the players, myself and the fans have got to understand that.
“What was done last season is done, all that matters now is what’s ahead of us.”
Gray’s stance is understandable, but it would be wishful thinking to hope people will forget about the march to promotion.
Quite understandably, fans are proud of last season, a campaign that saw Darlington enjoy their first year of rehabilitation having been demoted from the Conference.
Certainly the manner in which they steamrollered the Northern League at the beginning of their route back to the top of the nonleague pyramid will live long in the memory.
A record-breaking 40 wins from 46 matches is unlikely to be seen again, at any level the club plays at. Which is why anyone hoping for a similarly commanding season should curb their expectation.
As a former Football League team, a certain status remains attached to Darlington, something that their Evo-Stik First Division North opposition will relish.
Just like in the Northern League, clubs will enjoy a bumper pay day off the pitch, while on it they will hope to cause a shock.
Gray said: “We came up against it all last year, the cup final mentality, in the Northern League.
Everywhere we went teams raised their game 20 or 30 per cent so we’re well aware that will happen it’s all about being prepared for it and being able to deal with it.
“It’s nothing new to us now, we’ve had a year of it.
“We’ve set ourselves up to be shot so it’s important that we keep our standards.
“There’s no question that nobody’s standards are higher than mine at the football club.”
Their first game is at home on August 17 against Warrington Town, then, having had a season of games in the North-East, a glimpse of what’s to come on the road comes with trips to Bamber Bridge and Farsley.
“It’s important to get off to a good start, which is what we did last year and the momentum took over,” said Gray. “We need to hit a bit of form over the back end of pre-season and get one or two players back from injury.
“We’ve not got a big squad; 17 players and two of them are goalkeepers.
“A few of them, the ones who were at Durham and Paul Robinson, are well aware of the standard and the types of grounds that we’re going to go to because they’ve played at the level before.
“But that means nothing compared to winning your games and winning your battles. No matter which division you’re in, you’ve got to win your individual battles all over the pitch. It was the same last year, and that’s what we need to do again.”
Comments are closed on this article.