So it been announced which teams Darlo will face next season in the Evo Stick North Division 1 and it brings up a few old faces. Below is just a quick early run down of some of the sides we will face next season.
The team which sticks out for a lot of long time Darlington fans is Scarborough Athletic, after they were switched to the northern division for next season. Scarborough Athletic were formed after the original club, Scarborough FC, were dissolved in 2007. Darlington have a long history of games with Scarborough up until the late 90’s when the club were relegated to the Conference. My first ever Darlo game was a 1-1 draw with Scarborough at Feethams and coincidentally my first away game, was a midweek trip at Scarborough two seasons later. Like us they know the struggles of having to work their way back up and hopefully the two games should be a good reminder of previous good times, as well as attracting two big crowds. Last season they finished in 7th place in the southern league, just short of a playoff place.
Spennymoor have finally taken promotion out of the northern league and will surely be up their in the promotion mix. We brought the best out of each other during our season in the northern league and hopefully we will be able to again this season. This last year they won the league title for the fourth time in five years as they finished on a 100 points, five ahead of second place Celtic Nation. Spenny will surely be our main rival in attracting new players from the northern league over the coming months. Like Scarborough the games will appeal to fans and hopefully will produce near sell out crowds for both fixtures.
For Darlo fans Droylsden are remembered as the minnows who knocked us out of the FA Cup in the 2008/09 season, but now we will face them for the first time in a league fixture. At the time in 2008 we were top of league two while Droylsden were in the conference north, they won the tie 1-0 in a reply which was overshadowed by a Liam Hatch injury, which stopped the game for more than half an hour. They went onto beat Chesterfield in the next round, before being kicked out of the competition for fielding an ineligible player. They were relegated last season from the northern premier division having been relegated from the conference north the year before. They finished bottom of the table with just nine points amid money troubles in a season which saw them use a mostly youthful side.
The final new team in the division will be unknown to the majority of Quakers fans, Brighouse Town were promoted into our division after winning the northern counties east football league last season. They claimed the league title as they surpassed a 100 points. This season will be the highest in the football pyramid they have competed in their history.
Of the sides who remained in our division last season I expect Warrington Town to again be the biggest threat. Having missed out on promotion last time out in the playoffs they are likely to spend money to give themselves a chance. It has been well documented that they are wanting to climb the leagues quickly and it will be interesting to see who they capture in the close season.
Bamber Bridge, Lancaster City and Farsley FC, all missed out on promotion last time but were not to far away, in particular Bamber who were unlucky to lose the playoff final. All will hope to be their or their abouts again despite none having huge budgets.
The class of 92 taking over Salford City will surely see change at a club that finished mid table last time around. It is still unclear though if the intention is to use the club to help younger players get their chance in the game or to plough money into the club to try and push them up through the leagues.
Ossett Town and Northwich Victoria both finished the season strongly having struggled early on in the last season and both will be hoping for better starts that could push them towards the playoff places.
As for us, Darlington, the hope has to be to improve the squad over the summer with the intention of hitting the ground running from the word go to give ourselves as good a chance as any of winning the league title and gaining promotion.
Full Division team list. Bamber Bridge, Brighouse Town, Burscough, Clitheroe, Darlington, Droylsden, Farsley, Harrogate RA, Kendal Town, Lancaster City, Mossley, New Mills, Northwich Victoria, Ossett Albion, Ossett Town, Padiham, Prescott Cables, Radcliffe Borough, Salford City, Scarborough Athletic, Spennymoor Town, Warrington Town