We asked the board members of the DFCSG to tell us more about themselves, and here’s Dave Collinge, the Supporters’ Liaison Officer.
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 Supporter Liaison role. 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.