Stuart Elliott spent less than a season with Darlington, but one magnificent moment will forever stay in the memory of the supporters that witnessed a remarkable win at Nottingham Forest 17 years ago.
Quakers were paired with Forest in the first round of the League Cup at the beginning of the 2000-01 season, the sides drawing 2-2 in front of almost 5,000 at Feethams with Glenn Naylor netting and Elliott scoring from the spot – but more was to come.
That was considered to be a good result given that the opposition were in the second tier while Quakers, who lost a play-off final at Wembley the previous May, were still adjusting following a summer overhaul that included Gary Bennett replacing David Hodgson as manager.
Bennett made it clear that the league was Quakers’ priority, pitching a number of reserves and teenagers into action for League Cup duty and the second leg at the City Ground was expected to be a stroll for the hosts.
They duly took the lead in the ninth minute through Stern John and more goals appeared inevitable for Forest who included former Darlington striker Robbie Blake and ex-England international David Platt.
Gradually, however, Darlington gained a foothold and equalised in the 65th minute, Richard Hodgson crossing for substitute Paul Campbell to head home.
Elliott was also substitute and he entered the fray to become a folk hero with a special goal five minutes from time.
He pounced on a poor kick from keeper Dave Beasant and from inside the centre-circle launched the ball, hitting it first time, into the net directly in front of thousands of ecstatic Darlington fans.
Having joined after being released by Newcastle, it was an incredible way to introduce himself at Feethams.
He was a regular at Darlington, but six months after ‘that’ goal Elliott was back on his travels, joining Plymouth before going on to endure a nomadic career.