Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Here We Go Again....Again

It doesn't seem that long ago since Darlo last went into administration - and what do you know, it wasn't - less than two years ago.  That's three times in nine years.

It is hard to believe that we've come to this so soon after the highs of the Wembley victory just seven months ago. In fact if is wasn't for the fact that this is Darlington, it would be unthinkable.

There was a feeling in pre-season that the club weren't doing enough to push the club and build on the momentum of the FA Trophy win.

However on the playing side it looked as if Mark Cooper was bringing in some decent players for the new campaign and most bookmakers felt the same, making us one of the main contenders for a play-off spot at the least.

So it was with a fairly unusual sense of optimism that we started the season but after a narrow opening victory over newly-promoted Braintree, in which we were never totally convincing, we started to drop too many points against teams that we felt we should be beating.

Raj Singh - happer times after FA Trophy win at Gateshead
Defeats at the hands of supposedly weaker sides such as Tamworth, Bath City and Braintree led to manager Mark Cooper publicly criticising his players.  This tactic may work in the short term but it became a constant barrage with few players avoiding the wrath of his tongue.

At first most fans probably agreed with him as the players were severely underachieving but in the end it was self-defeating and he seemed to have lost the confidence of the squad.

The spineless performance and subsequent defeat at Braintree at the end of October was the final straw for the chairman and despite earlier support for his manager, Cooper was sacked.

Things came further to a head after we failed to beat Hinckley United at home in the FA Cup before things hit rock bottom after losing 3-0 in the replay.  Was Cooper really the the problem or was it the players?

On the team coach home after that defeat an unnamed player shouted out "Mr Chairman, please pay me off".  That was it - the blue touch paper was lit and Raj went on the rampage, insisting that players renegotiate their contracts or the club dies.

In the chaos that ensured, some players refused and left the club whilst others, to their credit, did accept cuts.

The saddest thing is that our form under the reins of caretaker Craig Liddle began to look very encouraging - the players looked fitter, we started to play decent football, some players made the step up from the youth and morale amongst players seemed to be on the up despite not being paid in recent weeks.

Singh now claimed that he was losing £80,000 a month which is hard for most of us to understand.  What exactly has changed in Raj's budget since the start of the season?

We know Raj is not with us for the love of the club - he's a Boro fan - but more the development potential of the land around the stadium.

Perhaps this was simply a way of him getting out for good, especially after the local council refused to lift planning covenants (quite rightly) on the land which he doesn't even own (and given the stance of the ground owners in respect to selling the the land to Singh, he wasn't likely to).

As suspected for some weeks, the administrator finally stepped in yesterday and announced that "Without any financial support from outside the club or anyone willing to acquire the club, I will, unfortunately, have little alternative but to cease to trade in a very short time".

Too little time I fear for the Darlington FC Rescue Group led by Mark Meynell to get realistically involved - they needed Singh to keep the club going until the summer - but that option would appear to have gone.

What happens next is anyone's guess...

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