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Gray delighted to bring in Robinson
Martin Gray spoke of his relief and delight at finally bringing in long-term target Paul Robinson from Whitley Bay.
Darlington's manager has been on the attacking midfielder's trail for six months, having been initially held back by a hefty asking price.
But Robinson has now penned a two-year contract with Quakers, becoming Gray's first signing since the end of the season.
The manager is speaking to other potential signings and hopes to confirm more arrivals this week, though there was also an exit at the weekend, with Chris Emms leaving.
Work commitments have ended Emms' stint, but Gray is delighted there has been a successful conclusion to his pursuit of Robinson, a player highly-regarded in the Northern League.
In the past two seasons he has won a glut of awards.
In 2011-12, he was runner-up as Northern League Player of the Year, while he played in all of Bay's three wins at Wembley in the FA Vase final.
Gray said: "I've wanted him for a long time. I tried to bring him in around October or November time because, for me, he's one of the best attacking midfield players in this league.
"I went for him and there was a big fee involved. I went to the chairman at the time, we put a phone call in and a lot of money was being asked for, so we've just kept a close eye on the situation. It is pleasing that, six months later, we've been able to get the player we wanted.
"He's a free transfer so we haven't had to pay a big fee. At the same time, he hasn't come for the money, he's come for the opportunity and the challenge. In all players that should be the priority.
"It was never about money for him, it was about trying to progress his playing career. He wanted to play higher because he's really ambitious, which is no different to the lads we've got, so he ticked all the boxes."
Robinson played twice against Darlington this season and was named man of the match during Quakers' 3-1 win at Heritage Park in November.
He scored ten goals in all competitions in what was his sixth season with Whitley Bay, a club he joined from Newcastle Blue Star.
"He was outstanding against us and he's a player that everybody at this level, and the one above, would like to take," added Gray. "He's had a glimpse of what it's like at Darlington, with the crowds behind us, when he's played against us. We've been promoted, he's had a look at it and wants to be part of it.
"If you look at his record, he gets 15 or 20 goals a season from midfield and I'll be expecting he gets the same for us as well. He's a central midfield player or attacking midfielder who gets forward and gets goals.
"He'll have the freedom to get forward. He's an intelligent footballer, he can pick a pass out in the final third, he's not a selfish player, which is good for the likes of Dowson, Amar, Galbraith and Thompson."
Meanwhile, Emms has become the third player to leave Darlington since the end of the season, following Darren Richardson and Stephen Harrison.
Gray explained: "His wife is expecting their first child and he's taken a lot more hours and responsibilities in his job.
"Similar to Stephen Harrison, he's been great for us. In the back end of the season Chris was a top player, he showed his qualities and that was his third Northern League title because he won it twice with Spennymoor.
"He was never a problem when he wasn't in the team. He always told me there was better to come and he was right, to be fair.
"He found some really good form from around January onwards.
"He's been there and done it and I'd like to thank him for everything he's done."
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