AISLE BE OTH­ER­WISE EN­GAGED

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

MARTIN GRAY had to miss Dar­ling­ton’s first game of 2017 – for his very own Match of the Day!

The Darlo boss got mar­ried to part­ner Jill on New Year’s Day, so couldn’t be at their Na­tional League North 2-2 draw with FC Hal­i­fax Town.

When they booked the spe­cial oc­ca­sion, Dar­ling­ton were in the Evo-Stik League and wouldn’t play on Jan­uary 1.

But, af­ter the Shay­men re­fused to move the game, Gray had to tell his squad on the morn­ing of the game he had a prior en­gage­ment.

“I met them on the team coach – where they get picked up from is just around the cor­ner from where I got mar­ried – and let them know,” Gray, whose as­sis­tant Brian Atkin­son was best man, told The NLP.

“It’s one of those things. When we booked it two years ago we were two leagues be­low. Out of all the leagues, the Na­tional League were the only ones play­ing on New Year’s Day.

“At the wed­ding my phone was go­ing mad with up­dates – I was keep­ing one eye on that and one eye on ev­ery­thing else! It was a great day.

Dream

“Brian did a good job as best man, we told the play­ers to make sure they brought back some­thing for me, which they did, so it was a good day all round.”

The point kept Darlo fourth place in the ta­ble as they con­tinue to thrive fol­low­ing back-to-back pro­mo­tions.

The Quak­ers – formed in 2012 fol­low­ing the old club’s demise – played their first game at their new Black­well Mead­ows home on Box­ing Day. And Gray says be­ing back in town can be a big turn­ing point for the club.

“Every­one can see the club is on the right track and now it’s back in town it’s good to see lots of young fans com­ing out,” he said.

“They can walk to their home­town club’s ground. It’s like ev­ery fa­ther’s dream. The board of di­rec­tors, past and present, have done a mag­nif­i­cent job to get us back to Dar­ling­ton.”

PIC­TURE: D.John­stonePho­tog­ra­phy @Gmail.com

WHILE THE BOSS’ AWAY: Dar­ling­ton drew 2-2 with FC Hal­i­fax WED­DED BLISS: Dar­ling­ton boss Martin Gray mar­ried sweet­heart Jill on New Year’s Day

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