Non League Daily

Ray Simpson: Darlo hail "best in the country"

Darlington director Dave Mills says that the £225,000 investment in the club by the fans is “phenomenal” writes NLD's Ray Simpson.

After months of planning, Quakers started a fund raising initiative two weeks ago based on the purchase of 5 year season tickets and Vice President packages, and already over 200 fans have done so, meaning that Quakers hit the original target – and now the club is aiming for another £75,000.

It now means that Quakers can press ahead with the construction of a ground up to Category C standard at Blackwell Meadows in the town, and if the extra £75,000 is raised, then they can improve that to Category B.

“We knew from surveys carried out, that there was great interest amongst the fans,” said Mills, who along with Martin Jesper and Laura Drew have put a huge amount of work into the club since the drama of spring 2012.

“The fans have shown so much passion in wanting to return back to Darlington. Many people have said that they will come back and watch the club when it returns to its home town. Fans have put their hands in their pockets and said that they want to make it happen.

“Over the last three years, we have stated that we’re a true family and community-orientated club, and people have responded to what we’ve been doing.

“We’re now in a position in which we can go to the Football Foundation, secure matched funding of £150,000, and start the construction of infrastructure, such as terracing and turnstiles.”

The next target is £300,000, and there is every chance the revised figure will be surpassed as there was plenty of demand last weekend at the home game against Prescot Cables. The club has also now extended the deadline for purchases to Easter weekend, to accommodate those waiting for payday.

The fans are the “best in the country” according to manager Martin Gray.

“The fundraising has been outstanding,” he said. “Since 1999 when I first became involved with the club, the fans have been battered from pillar to post.

“To raise nearly a quarter of a million pounds in a tough part of the country where there’s not a lot of money floating around, is amazing.

“There’s no big benefactor here, it’s the fans’ club and they deserve all the credit for where their club is today – we couldn’t do this without them. The support they give us and the feel-good factor they create is like a twelfth man.
“I know they get frustrated at times, as we all do, but they’ve been nothing but outstanding.”

It’s not the first time of course that Darlington fans have dug deep to raise funds for their club. They raised £50,000 in six weeks back in the early eighties when the club was facing extinction, and over £200,000 in 2012 when the fans bought the club from administrator Harvey Madden.

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