Darlington Supporters' Trust presents:
Farewell to

Supported by Darlington Borough Council

We're grateful for the financial assistance of Northern Arts' lottery funding.

Looking back at the past

As part of the Farewell to Feethams exhibition, with the assistance of The Northern Echo and supporters, we assembled a collection of old archive photos. There's a virtual tour shot of this part of the exhibition on the Arts Centre website. Here is a summary:

The photographs were kindly lent by the Northern Echo from its library and photos from fans' own collections. The Echo photographs are mostly of Feethams from 1960 onwards, although there are a few rare images from earlier times that aren't just simple team line-ups.

Also, the D@rlo Uncovered website held an online poll of supporters to select the Greatest Match at Feethams.

To make the task a little easier, club historian FRANK TWEDDLE selected his Top 10, between 1958 and 1996. The vote was broken down between earlier and later periods, with the two winners from different eras - both FA Cup ties - going "head to head" for the final poll. What's notable perhaps is at a time when the competitions are criticised for losing their allure, Cup ties dominate in these recollections.

The Feethams All-time Top 10 - as voted by supporters...

1: MIDDLESBROUGH 2-1 FA Cup Third Round Replay - 8th January 1985
We had held Middlesbrough to a goalless draw at Ayresome Park at the first attempt before a crowd of nineteen thousand and had brought them back to Feethams for a replay with over fourteen thousand packed into our ground. We had never beaten our more illustrious near neighbours before in the half dozen league matches we had played. The atmosphere inside Feethams was fantastic as we set about trying to get that first success and the ground erupted when former Boro man Gary Macdonald put us in front. That was nothing to the roar that went up when Phil Lloyd calmly slotted home a second to put the Quakers in the driving seat. After a pitch invasion by the massed Boro fans from the South Terrace was quelled they did manage to get one back through David Currie but it was too late in the game and we hung on to record a famous first victory over them and go into round four to play non-league Telford United.

2: CHELSEA 4-1 FA Cup Fourth Round Replay - 29th January 1958
After sensationally drawing 3-3 with Chelsea (who were Football League Champions just two years earlier) at Stamford Bridge in the fourth round on Saturday we returned to Feethams for the replay the following Wednesday afternoon. The biggest crowd since March 1949 of 15,150 packed the ground to see if the Quakers could finish off the Londoners and go into round five. By half time the scores were again level with Tommy Moran scoring for Darlington and McNichol for Chelsea and as there were no more goals in the second half extra-time was required. It was then the fireworks really started as Darlington slammed in three more goals from Dave Carr, Ron Harbertson and another from Tommy Moran to send the First Division side crashing out of the competition. The crowd went wild with delight at one of the Quakers greatest ever victories and couldn't wait for round five when our opponents were the current First Division leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers unfortunately away at Molineux.

3: ARSENAL 0-2 FA Cup Third Round - 9th January 1965
Today it is hard to imagine the likes of Arsenal coming to Feethams for a Cup tie but that is exactly what happened in 1965 when we faced the Gunners in the Rhird round of the F.A.Cup after beating Scunthorpe and Hartlepool in the first two rounds. The London side as usual was packed with internationals, including Englishmen George Eastham and Don Howe and Scots Ian Ure and Frank McLintock and they looked a rather formidable force. This they proved to be as we were unable to break through their resolute defence and they scored twice in the first half through George Armstrong and John Radford to comfortably ease through to round four. Despite the disappointing defeat it was great for the 19,717 crowd just to entertain such a famous side and see some of the best footballers of the day performing at Feethams.

4: ROCHDALE 2-0 Division Four - 11th May 1991
It was party time at Feethams on the last day of the season in 1991 as we needed to win to clinch the Fourth Division Championship just a year after we had won the G.M. Vauxhall Conference, also on the last day of the season. Things were so tight at the top that although we led the table by a point we were not even certain of going up automatically unless we won. Over nine thousand crammed into Feethams hoping to see us clinch our second successive title and be playing Third Division football the following season. Much of the tension eased when David Cork put us in front and then the crowd went into ecstasy when Frank Gray converted a penalty to put us in command. We were not going to let anything slip now and we controlled the remainder of the game until the celebrations really started after the final whistle had blown. It was hard to comprehend that we had finished top of the league two seasons running after finishing bottom two years before and dropping into the apparent oblivion of the Conference.

5: WEST HAM UNITED 3-2 Football League Cup Second Round - 24th October 1960
In the first season of the Football League Cup we had beaten Crystal Palace in the first round and now faced another London side in the second round when First Division West Ham United came to Feethams. The 17,057 crowd erupted when Ray Spencer gave Darlington the lead in the very first minute but the 'Hammers' were level by the interval. Centre forward and dentist Lance Robson put the Quakers back in front again after fifty three minutes and then winger Joe Rayment added a third nine minutes later to send the massive crowd into ecstacy. Although West Ham pulled another one back we hung on to record one of the biggest shocks of the new competition to go through to the third round and receive another top flight team in Bolton Wanderers.

6: BOLTON WANDERERS 1-2 Football League Cup Third Round - 14th November 1960
This must go down as one of the most memorable of all the great occasions seen at Feethams when the ground attendance record of 21,023 was established for the visit of Bolton Wanderers. It is hard to imagine today that this number could be crammed into the ground but I well remember being squashed to bits packed into 'Spratt's Corner' (where the Quaker Centre now stands). The record crowd were in raptures after just sixteen minutes when winger Joe Rayment put us into the lead which we held until half time and beyond. However after sixty nine minutes Hartle equalised for Bolton and we held on until the very last minute when Holden snatched an undeserved winner for the visitors and sent the massive crowd away bitterly disappointed. Yet they had witnessed a thrilling game and been part of the greatest gathering ever known at Feethams.

7: SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY 1-0 FA Cup Second Round - 15th December 1976
This game will always be remembered for the fantastic goal that won it for the Quakers just when it looked as though we were heading back to Hillsborough for a replay. Only the season before we had dumped Wednesday out of the Football League Cup on penalties on their own ground and so they were out for revenge. The game was a typical full blooded cup tie but we had not managed to breach the visitors rearguard as the game approached the final few minutes. Ron Ferguson, who had been released by Wednesday before signing for the Quakers, shaped up to shoot some 40 yards out on the right wing in front of the East Stand. The chap next to me started moaning, "What's he think he's doing...oh, he's scored!" Indeed, he had hit one of the most spectacular goals I've seen scored at Feethams which flew into the far top corner of the goal past an utterly helpless keeper. We had dumped Wednesday out again.

8: HEREFORD UNITED 2-1 Division Three (Play-off semi-final) - 15th May 1996
Although everybody was bitterly disappointed that we hadn't won our last game of the season at Scunthorpe to go up automatically, at least we had another chance in the play-offs. Also we were now in the driving seat having won 2-1 down at Edgar Street in the first leg of the semi-final the previous Sunday, so all we had to do to reach the Wembley final was avoid defeat. A buoyant crowd of 6622 were inside Feethams to hopefully cheer the Quakers on their way. Robbie Painter put us in front and then Mattie Appleby slammed home a penalty to ensure our first ever visit to the 'Twin Towers'. Although Hereford managed to get one back it was to no avail as we ran out 4-2 aggregate winners over the two legs. All I remember of the latter part of the game is the joyous cry of "Wemberlee…Wemberlee" ringing round Feethams and indeed ringing round the town for the remainder of the night!

9: HARTLEPOOL UNITED 5-2 Division Four - 12th April 1982
It was Easter Monday 1982 and yet another Bank Holiday derby with our old rivals Hartlepool United . Our biggest crowd of the season so far of just over four and a half thousand were there to see the Pool take the initiative and be two goals to one up at half time with the first coming from former Quaker Alan Harding . Things were not looking too good as such matches are usually fairly tight hard fought affairs, but then we had Alan Walsh! He soon equalised, then put us ahead, completed his hat trick and rounded things of with his fourth goal from the penalty spot - all in the second half. Former Feethams favourite, Martin Burleigh in the Hartlepool goal could only watch as Walshy turned the game single handed in one of the greatest second half performances from an individual that I have ever witnessed.

10: COLCHESTER UNITED 7-3 Division Three - 2nd November 1993
It seemed just another run of the mill Tuesday night league game in November when Colchester United came to Feethams in 1993. But at the end of the evening we had scored seven goals at home in the league for the first time since January 1957; then we put seven past Gateshead in the Third Division North. Lee Ellison got things started by scoring in the first minute but Colchester were level after nine minutes before Robbie Painter and Gary Chapman put us 3-1 up at half time. Robbie Painter made it four before United got another and then Gary Himsworth got a fifth to stifle any further recovery by the visitors. Lee Ellison grabbed a sixth with 10 minutes left and then Gary Chapman hit home the elusive seventh to send the meagre crowd of 1,644 home very happy indeed. Perhaps the most surprising thing of all was that it was our first home win of the season at the 10th attempt!

As part of the Farewell to Feethams celebrations in Spring 2003, a "Dream Team" competition was run in the club programme. The judges' choice of an all-time 11 best players from a list of 40 was: Mark Prudhoe
Ron Greener, Craig Liddle, Kevan Smith, John Peverell
Andy Toman, Alan Sproates, David McLean
Alan Walsh, Marco Gabbiadini ,Colin Sinclair

Gabbiadini was voted Darlington's Greatest Ever Player - his 50 goals in two seasons 1998-2000 leaving a mark on those fans who saw him. Feethams time line....

1866: Darlington Cricket Club, already nearly 40 years old, rent land at Feethams from John Beaumont Pease, part of the railway and Quaker family. It's believed football is played on the neighbouring field.

1883: Darlington FC formed in July, with their season starting in September at Feethams.

1890s: Local maps show a main West Stand was built by 1898 and it's dated as the turn of the century.

1905: The Polam Lane end is built.

1906: The cricket pavilion is built.

1908: Darlington FC turns professional.

1913: The "twin towers" gateway to the cricket and football grounds is opened.

1914-1919: The old East Stand is built, although the club gets into debt and is bailed out by Darlington Forge Albion.

1921: Darlington get league status as founders of the Third Division North and win their first match 2-0 against Halifax. The East Stand roof is put on and dressing rooms and the club offices built underneath.

1923: Darlington play Chesterfield on the cricket pitch, as the football pitch is frozen (pictured left).

1928: Biggest home win in the league - a 9-2 victory over Lincoln City in January. Harry Lees and Tom Ruddy both scored hat-tricks.

1960: A few landmarks - the first floodlit match v Millwall in September; the West Stand burns down that night (below right) due to an electrical fault. A record gate of 21,000 v Bolton Wanderers in the Cup in November.

The Town End terrace has a roof put on and starts to become known as The Tin Shed.

1961: The West Stand is rebuilt - but it's an exact replica, stick by stick!

1967: Club record-holder Ron Greener makes his last appearence.

1970s: Don Burluraux talks about his memories of playing for Darlington in the early 1970s - including the week David Frost came to Feethams to make a documentary for The Frost Programme.

1989: Darlington relegated from the Football League to the Conference, but they return with two successive promotions under manager Brian Little.

1997: The new East Stand is built, including executive boxes, hospitality areas, club shop and a supporters' bar. But there are worries over financial problems.

1999: New Darlington FC owner George Reynolds announces the intention of moving to a new stadium.

2001: Work is underway at Neasham Road on the new 25,000-seater stadium.

2003: Darlington FC expected to leave Feethams in May 2003, with the new stadium opening in August.

Thanks to:
The Northern Echo
Frank Tweddle
Scott Thornberry and D@rlo Uncovered
Craig Stoddart, Peter Barron and Chris Lloyd

©All photographs copyright Northern Echo
Echo photosales