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About the DFCSG — and meet the board members.

The Darlington FC Supporters Group (DFCSG) was established on April 10th 2015 with the merger of the CIC, Supporters Club and Supporters Trust. Darlington FC Supporters Group holds approximately 78.5% of the equity of Darlington Football Club and is therefore the major shareholder as well as being the Corporate Director of Darlington Football Club 1883 Ltd.

The purpose of the Supporters Group is to be the vehicle through which a healthy, balanced and constructive relationship between the Football Club and its supporters and the communities it serves is encouraged and developed. The business of the Supporters Group is to be conducted for the benefit of the community served by the Football Club and not for the profit of its members.

Darlington FC Supporters Group” is the trading name of Darlington 1883 Supporters’ Society Limited registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefits Societies Act 2014, registration no. 7077. Our registered office is Blackwell Meadows, Grange Road, Darlington DL1 5NR.

 

DFCSG Board

Chris Stockdale (Chair) – 
John Bell – 
Teresa Black – 
Glen Bowes – 
David Collinge – 
Malcolm Cundick – 
Rob Duncan – 
Lynn Jasper (Quaker Retail) – 
Lee Kilcran – 
Andrew Matthews – 
Neil Raper (Secretary) – 
Tony Waters – 

The board was elected at the Annual General Meeting, which was held on the 16th November 2017.

The Board is very ably supported by the Membership Secretary (), Lotter Organiser – Sue Connor () and Mary Bowes who, together with board member Glen Bowes, manages the official supporters’ coaches to away matches (tel. 07951 434731).

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Meet the DFCSG board members

Lee Kilcran

Lee Kilcran

How long have you supported Darlington?

19/20 years.

Can you remember your first game, who was it against?

It must have been around 1998 as I was very young and Marco Gabbiadini was playing. I can’t remember who it was against, but it was a night match and I can remember the excitement of walking around the side of the cricket pitch at Feethams with my dad, floodlights shining.

Who have been your favourite players over the years?

Marco Gabbiadini, Craig Liddle, Neil Wainwright, Gary Brown.

What have been your most memorable matches?

The one that seems to stick in my mind from Feethams is the last time we played Hartlepool there, coming from behind with 10 men to draw 2-2. I’ll have been 10 at the time so it’s probably the earliest match I can properly remember.

Winning the title at Whitby will live long in the memory as well. What a performance.

What are your favourite away grounds?

We’ve been to some nice ones in non-league, but Bootham Crescent is the best for overall matchday experience. It’s up there with the Sid James’ Park as one of the best located grounds in the country. I think they’ll regret moving.

From the Football League days, which trips do you miss the most?

I used to like Rotherham away but they’re in a new ground now. It’d be nice to get Carlisle back and I’ve always fancied a trip to Bradford and Port Vale.

Do you enjoy games more or less than say ten years ago? Why?

Much more. A bit of me died in the Arena. The connection between the club, players and supporters is much stronger these days and it feels like we’re all part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s a bit of a throwback watching lads with full-time jobs pull on the shirt and for me, there’s no contest between what we’ve got and the sterile experience you get at top-end professional football these days.

Why did you decide to join the DFCSG board?

I decided I was going to get involved at the fans’ forum near the end of last season. What happened that night really highlighted the importance of having strong leadership within the Supporters’ Group.

What are you doing voluntarily for the club at the moment?

Alongside Malcolm Cundick, I’m one of the directors charged with overseeing stadium and infrastructure development, so that takes up most of my time. I’ve also been doing a bit of work on the commercial side, was involved in getting the pitch covers moved from Bishop Auckland, and have even had a go on the turnstiles!

Where do you see the club being in ten years’ time?

Fan-owned and financially self-sufficient, playing at a ground which meets our needs and provides a good matchday experience, and hopefully in a position to think about going full-time if we haven’t already done so.

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Neil Raper

Neil Raper

How long have you supported Darlington?

I started supporting Darlington during the 1968/69 season.

 

Can you remember your first game, who was it against?

All my school friends were Darlo supporters and they persuaded me to go to the home match against Chesterfield in February 1968. At the time Darlington were top of the league and I was expecting a Darlo win for my first game. Unfortunately Darlo had a bit of an off day and found themselves 3-0 down, before Allan Gauden scored a late consolation. Undeterred, I returned three weeks later to see a 1-0 win against Port Vale.

 

Who have been your favourite players over the years?

Having supported the Club for nearly 40 years, I’ve seen a lot of players come and go. Therefore I have a lot of favourites from over the years. Here’s a few: Lance Robson (he was also my dentist until his untimely passing); Allan Gauden; Colin Sinclair; Peter Graham; David Speedie; Alan Walsh; Marco Gabbiadini; Neil Wainright; latterly Stephen Thompson, Gary Brown and Graeme Armstrong

 

What have been your most satisfying moments as a Darlo supporter?

Winning promotion to Division 3 in 1985 at the 17th time of asking by me!

Winning the FA Trophy at Wembley after two miserable play-off final defeats.

Seeing Darlington take to the field in the pre-season friendly at Whitby in 2012, signifying the start of our journey back.

Seeing Darlington take to the field at the very first match at Blackwell Meadows and Mark Beck’s early opening goal. Whatever your views about Blackwell Meadows, it was some achievement by everyone involved with Darlington FC (fans and volunteers) to get us back playing in the town in such a relatively short space of time.

 

What have been your most memorable matches?

THE most memorable has to be the home match against Hartlepool on 27th February 1996. As a 40th birthday surprise, my better half Angela had arranged for friends from near and far to meet at our house for a few birthday drinks before she disappeared off to stay at my mum’s with the kids, leaving my mate Gary in charge. Gary then informed me that there was a mini-bus booked to take us all to Feethams where we were booked into hospitality. THE surprise came as we entered the ground to be met by a BBC TV camera crew and then presented with a replica kit whilst being informed that I was going to be mascot for the night! I’ll never forget the look on Matty Appleby’s face when he was asked to take the mascot onto the pitch for a kick about, nor the puzzled expression of Hartlepool’s skipper Ian McGuckin’s as we gathered around the centre-spot to shake hands.  I had a fantastic time and even managed to plant a couple of shots past ‘keeper Paul Newell, when he was looking the other way.  The Tin Shed was sufficiently amused to start chanting my name but only after they were satisfied I wasn’t a freak signing! The climax was Steve Gaughan’s belting late winner. It was an experience I seemed to re-live time and time again. First I heard my interview with BBC Tees on the radio next morning. Then there was the lengthy article in The Northern Echo. Then on ‘Look North’ in the evening, the legendary Mike Neville wished me ‘happy birthday’ after showing the recorded interview with presenter Steve Sutton. It also made nationals………well ok, a column inch in the Guardian. It even made news in my world as a Chartered Civil Engineer when it was mentioned in the Institution of Civil Engineers’ weekly publication ‘New Civil Engineer’. But that wasn’t the end of it.

Several years later Angela bought me a book called ‘Football Shorts’ as a stocking filler at Christmas. It was a collection of humorous football stories and anecdotes. To my huge surprise, there on page 165 was an abridged version of my experience as a mascot. However, I also learned that I had been outgunned by two Swindon mascots aged 50 and 82; but they were mere youngsters compared to Harold Farnell, who turned out as mascot for Bradford against Bolton on his 96th birthday.

Other memorable matches include:

2-1 home win against Middlesbrough 2-1 in the FA Cup 3rd Round replay in 1985;

2-2 draw at Gresty Road, to secure promotion to Division 3 in 1985 (see above);

  • win at Welling to win promotion back to the Football League in 1989;

3-1 win at Spennymoor in 2013 after going a goal behind;

3-2 win against Spennymoor in the 2015 NPL Division One North Semi-Final – not one for the faint hearted!

7-1 win at Whitby to secure the Northern Premier League title in 2016.

 

What are your favourite away grounds?

My favourite away grounds are Bootham Crescent (York City) – nice traditional ground where we are always well supported. Also Edgeley Park (Stockport County) – I lived in Stockport for six years between 1978 and 1984, so I always enjoy the nostalgia when I return.

 

From the Football League days, which trips do you miss the most?

I miss the trips to Rochdale, in particular the Church Inn (sadly, now a pile of rubble according to Streetview!) and the Willbutts Lane chippy directly opposite Spotland.

 

Which Darlo occasions are the ones you would prefer to forget?

I don’t necessarily wish to forget any Darlo occasions because the bad times have helped me appreciate the better times so much more. There have been periods of watching Darlo that have brought very little in the way of joy and the 1970s was certainly ‘character building’ decade for Darlo fans, with only the 1970/71 and 1976/77 seasons not involving a fight against having to apply for re-election.

Do you enjoy games more or less than say ten years ago? Why?

I certainly enjoy games more now than I did ten years ago. Not just because of the overall success we’ve had but because of the involvement I’ve had with the Club and fans. I’ve been fortunate in the roles I’ve performed have brought me into contact with so many very nice people. Even clearing snow off the pitch, whilst being very hard work, was also very enjoyable having a good craic with fellow fans.

Why did you decide to join the DFCSG board?

I think it’s fair to say that I became a member of the DFCSG board by default. Back in 2012 the then board of the Darlington Supporters Trust announced that they were standing down to a man. My big fear was that unless another board was formed the funds within the Trust could be lost, which would have been harmful to Club’s chances to re-establish itself at a very critical time. I therefore made an appeal on Uncovered for anyone interested in forming a board to safeguard the Trust’s funds to meet the following night in the upstairs room of the Travellers Rest in Cockerton.

From that meeting, we managed pull together sufficient nominations for us to form a board at the forthcoming AGM. The rest, as the saying goes, was history. We achieved our aims of being able to channel the vital funding to the Football Club as well as re-establishing the Supporters Trust and in 2015 we combined with the Darlington FC Supporters Club and Darlington FC CIC to create a single entity that we know as ‘DFCSG’. I was part of the interim board that formed DFCSG and in accordance with the rules, a third of the interim board has had to stand down to face re-election and my turn doesn’t come around until next AGM.

What are you doing voluntarily for the club at the moment?

At the moment my voluntary role outside of being DFCSG Secretary is to be the ‘stand steward’ on match. My job is to ensure that everyone is able to find their seats and to resolve any issues that arise from time to time.

Where do you see the club being in five/ten years’ time?

It is difficult to say because circumstances can change so markedly in a relatively short period of time. I believe the club will still be fan owned 10 years from now. However, it is evident that without generating additional revenue streams it will be difficult for the club to sustain itself at the next level. Therefore it is important that we develop the club off the field with revenue generating infrastructure such as a 3G pitch as suggested by Dave Johnston and if we achieve this, there is every chance we could exist quite happily in the National League in 5 to 10 years from now.

 

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Malcolm Cundick

How long have you supported Darlington?

I adopted Darlington as my team when I moved here in 1979, but with a young family my first visit to Feethams was not until 4 April 1983. Sat in the West Stand I leapt to my feet when Quakers scored the opener only to reallise that I was surrounded by Hartlepool United supporters! We won 2-1- but I escaped unscathed!

Who have been your favourite players over the years?

I was a centre half in my playing days and we have had a number of characters playing that role over the years – some cultured and others not so. I also enjoyed the skills of the number of tricky ball players that graced our team sheets such as Neil Wainwright and Micky Cummins, but my real heroes are the number of excellent keepers we have had with Sam Russell and Andy Collett at the top of the list and many other young keepers who have moved on to Premiership status. Other memorable players for me have been Matty Appleby, Mark Barnard, Jason de Vos, Sean Gregan,Steve Gaughan, Liam Hatch, Mike Ingham, Adam Reid, Steve Mardenborough ,Curtis Main and of course Marco Gabbiadini!!

What have been your most memorable moments as a Darlo fan?

My most satisfying moments have been each of the promotion achieving matches over recent seasons particularly that special night at Whitby Town, closely followed by the FA Trophy success at Wembley.

What are your favourite away grounds?

My favourite away ground would be Ashton Gate where I was taken to see my first League football match as an eleventh birthday treat, Bristol City being my for ever heroes. When will Darlo ever meet them again I wonder? I live in hope.

Which moments would you most like to forget?

The game I would wish most to forget is the 1996 Division 3 Play Off Final when arguments between Darlo and Plymouth over kit choice resulted in outfits that were so similar as to be indistinquishable, particularly from the dizzy heights of the old Wembley Stadium.We also lost 0-1.

 

What do you miss most about the Football League days?

I still miss the intimate atmosphere of Feethams, and only hope that we can make appropriate investments in Blackwell Meadows or a future home that can replicate that relationship between supporters and team.

 

Why did you join the DFCSG?

I volunteered my services as a Chartered Architect to the Club Directors in December 2012 to aid their mission to bring the Quakers home to Darlington. It has been a significant challenge as the Blackwell Meadows Project Manager, overcoming a series of substantial hurdles and compromise solutions. I offered to join the DFCSG Board as a vehicle for a more close working relationship with the respective boards in future developments, and am currently co-ordinating construction of Phase 2 of the Seated Stand and plans for enhancement of facilities to match potential further promotion requirements and match day experience for spectators.

 

Where do you see the club in 5/10 years’ time?

I believe that it is vital that we establish a firm foundation, initially based on our current fan-owned status, to enable us to invest and grow back into our full League status which is feasible within the next 5-10 years under strong team leadership.

 

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Dave Collinge

12th January David Collinge

 

Tell the fans more about yourself! I’m very passionate about supporting my local team wherever I am, and following Darlington was a natural extension of this footballing ethos.  Since working in Darlington in 1992, I’ve managed local teams, played pub football and was a member of the executive committee of the Sunday morning football league after moving to the North East in 1988.  However, I was born in Blackburn, so a natural part of my heritage was supporting my home club Blackburn which I still do as a family legacy although it is mainly at a distance now.

How long have you supported Darlington? Since 1992 on a regular basis.  I did attend some earlier games as I recollect Darlington losing 3-1 to Orient and Dave Booth getting sacked on the same day.  The curtains were well and truly drawn in the boardroom that day.

Can you remember your first game, who was it against? No.  It was definitely at Feethams and Gary Worthington was playing and that is all I basically remember.  I was very much a floating supporter at that time

Who have been your favourite players over the years? I like players who offer something unique.  In this category, Robbie Blake, Clark Keltie, Peter Duffield, Joey Hutchinson, Dan Burn, Nathan Cartman

What have been your most satisfying moments as a Darlo supporter? In my view the 1996 play-off team was the best Darlington side on an individual by individual basis.  My favourite season was the Northern League championship season in 2013 for many reasons.

What have been your most memorable matches? Most recently, the Northern League game away against Spennymoor and the play off semi-final against them in the Evostik First Division North.  The play- off games against Plymouth (1996) and Peterborough (2000) also stand out.

What are your favourite away grounds? In the non-league scene, I really like what Harrogate have done.  I also like the old-fashioned grounds like Spennymoor and Chorley.  My favourite ever stadium visited was the old Rushden and Diamonds ground.  Give me a small ground with character any day than some of the enormous modern arenas.  The Sports Direct Arena a case in point.

From the Football League days, which trips do you miss the most?  I liked visiting all grounds.  They all have their individual character.  I like grounds that try hard to put on a match-day experience something we radically need to improve on.

Which Darlo occasions are the ones you would prefer to forget? Pretty much any game played at the Arena during the Steve Staunton reign.  Soulless football team playing in a soulless stadium.  I think the season ended with a 2-0 home defeat to Torquay which just about summed things up.  You couldn’t help but feel detached from everything at the Arena.

Do you enjoy games more or less than say ten years ago? Why? More.  The club is in a much better place than it was at the Arena although there are still difficulties to overcome.  I’m a big believer in sustainability and having a club that reflects the local community.  That is only largely possible through keeping budgets in line with revenue.

Why did you decide to join the DFCSG board? It is a great honour to be on the fan board of such a great club and at the same time a daunting challenge.  I know how much this club means to many people.

I’ve volunteered at the club since the move to Bishop Auckland and this was a chance to try and implement some of the lessons I had learnt from these activities and also observations gained from being involved in football since a young age.  I’m very passionate about football administration.  I also want to influence the future strategy of the club and feel I have a lot to offer in this respect.   If there is a job that needs to be done, I’ll be first to offer support as long as it is within my skills set.  I want the club to be a proper organisation and grow in an organic and sustainable way.  No amount of community tags will obviate against the need to run this club in a business- like manner.  Fan ownership for me provides the best platform for doing this.

What are you doing voluntarily for the club at the moment? Ground maintenance and preparation (externals), ticket sales, match-day experience and my new Supporter Liaison role (to be developed). At HP I worked the turnstiles, sold tickets and was a steward.

Where do you see the club being in five/ten years’ time? In 10 years, I would hope that the club would be a regular fixture in the National League on a full or part-time platform.   However, this can’t be achieved until the club has developed a sound infrastructure particularly commercially.  I see the future strategy as typical of most turnarounds, essentially repair, prepare and grow.  Repair the current impact of loose budgeting (immediate priority), prepare the infrastructure for new revenue streams and grow the playing potential of the club.  These phases have to be balanced properly.  We need to think more about a 10-year plan than continual firefighting.