It’s a happy home­com­ing for Darlo’s heroes!

The Non-League Football Paper - - NEWS - By Matt Bad­cock

THIN LIZZY’S ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ played them onto the pitch – and then Dar­ling­ton made sure it was the per­fect home­com­ing by get­ting a Box­ing Day win.

The Na­tional League North Quak­ers have re­turned to their home town af­ter nearly five years away.

Since they last played at the in­fa­mous Dar­ling­ton Arena, sup­port­ers have seen their club, re­born as Dar­ling­ton 1883, start again at Step 5 be­fore win­ning three pro­mo­tions to climb the lad­der while ground­shar­ing at Bishop Auck­land.

The miss­ing piece was play­ing on home turf but the doors to Black­well Mead­ows have fi­nally been flung open.

Striker Mark Beck wrote his name into the his­tory books by bag­ging the first goal for Martin Gray’s side af­ter just seven min­utes, and he got his sec­ond af­ter the break in a 3-2 win over FC Hal­i­fax Town – just like his Un­cle Tom pre­dicted.

“A few hours be­fore kick-off my un­cle said, ‘If you get the first goal you’ll go down in his­tory’,” Beck, who also scored their fi­nal two goals at Her­itage Park, told The NLP.

“We were just jok­ing about it so al­though I was just think­ing about win­ning the game, it was in my head a bit and it was nice to get it.


“It was strange to fi­nally be play­ing there af­ter all the build-up. We were meant to train there to get used to it be­fore we played there, but that got can­celled.

“So it was our first time as well. It al­most felt like an away ground be­cause we’d never been there be­fore. We set­tled into it fairly early and ob­vi­ously got the win, so that’s good that we did it jus­tice – it wouldn’t have been much of a home­com­ing if we’d got beat!

“We’d been on quite a bad run and hadn’t won for seven games so it was good tim­ing to get the win.

“Our next game there is on Jan­uary 7 so hope­fully we can get back-to-back wins there and that will get us rolling.”

Fans helped fundraise the work needed to bring the ground – that they will share with Dar­ling­ton Rugby Club – up to scratch, and 3,000 crammed in for the big open­ing.

Beck, 22, says the back­ing from the ter­races – and the new Tin Shed – can help their pro­mo­tion push.

“We’re pleased for the fans,” Beck said. “It was 20 miles for them to get to Bishop Auck­land’s ground where we were play­ing so it was nice to get a bumper crowd there. It was a good day for them and a good day for ev­ery­one.

“There was 3,000 there. It will be great if we can get around that ev­ery week. It’s mas­sive help for us on the pitch – es­pe­cially in the sec­ond-half when we were at­tack­ing the Tin Shed. It’s on a bit of a slope as well so that helped us. We got two early goals in the sec­ond-half. They were more or less suck­ing the ball in the net!”


To­day they make the re­turn to the Shay­men hop­ing to put an­other win on the board and get firmly back on track.

“It was a shame we had the lit­tle blip,” Beck said. “We were sec­ond be­fore that so hope­fully that’s our lit­tle slip up for the sea­son and now we can kick on.

“But we’re still in the mix, still in the play-offs. It’s very tight at the minute and we just need to stick a few wins to­gether to see where it takes us.

“We did very well against Hal­i­fax. They’re a good side and we did well to nul­lify their threats. That’s a nice ground to play at too, so hope­fully we can take Box­ing Day into the New Year.”

PIC­TURE: Stu­art Boul­ton

QUAK­ING HIS­TORY: Dar­ling­ton walk out at their new Black­well Mead­ows ground – and the fans were given some­thing to cheer, in­set

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