Send us your pictures, video, news and views by texting DST to 80360 or email us
Gray calls for support as Quakers start campaign
PICTURE: Back row, left to right, Brian Atkinson (assistant manager), Martin Gray (manager), Scott Selby (kitman), Sean Gregan (coach), Steve Wood (physio), Harry Dunn (chief scout) and Tony Norman (goalkeeping coach). Middle row, l-r, Paul Robinson, Andy Johnson, Amar Purewal, Jonny Davis, Leon Scott, Steven Johnson, Paul Weldon, David Dowson, Craig Gott and Terry Galbraith. Front row, l-r, Stephen Thompson, Jordan Robinson, Chris Hunter, Mark Bell, Gary Brown, Craig Turns, Kerry Hedley, Chris Moore and Tom Atkinson.
ON the eve of the season starting, Martin Gray has appealed for Darlington fans to show their support for the club as they begin their assault on the Evo-Stik First Division North.
They earned their place in the division by winning the Northern League title last season, winning 40 of their 46 games, as fans savoured the club's first promotion since 1991.
Marginally fewer season tickets have been sold this time around, however, around 650, perhaps partly due to an admission increase.
But the message from Gray is simple.
"Anybody that's a Darlington fan, my message to them would be to come and support your team," he said. "Come and support the team that last season enjoyed the most successful year in the club's history.
"It's a fresh start, it a fresh challenge and we need the fans to have the same feeling."
Gray added: "At this time last year on the first day there were 2,000 people crammed into that ground for the first game of the season and we need the same again.
"That great support won us the league. The support that the players had was invaluable and the players never stopped talking about it, they really appreciated the numbers that were behind them as well as the noise.
"So we need them there again making a noise, we need the drummer there again and we need that same buzz about the place like we had for the Bishop game."
New signing Paul Weldon is likely to start on Saturday, a former Middlesbrough left-back that has been training with Darlington.
The 21-year-old was released by Boro at the end of last season and spent pre-season on trial with a handful of clubs.
Having given Joe Tait a platform on which to shine and helped him return to the professional ranks with Gateshead, Gray hopes Weldon will go on a similar journey.
The manager said: "He's come to us from Middlesbrough where he had been for ten years and he'll be in the squad for Saturday.
"He understands the game, he's very athletic, he's a good footballer and exactly what you'd expect of someone that has come out of the Boro academy.
"I know he's tried to stay in the full-time game and has had trials at various pro clubs - Carlisle and Bradford were two of them - and has been quite close to getting a contact, but we've got him in here now so lets see how it goes.
"I talked to him about what Joe Tait did and that's how I sold it to him. We developed and worked with Joe over time and got him back into the pro game so hopefully we can do something similar with Paul."