Soapbox: a canter for the Cats


We're off, and off to a flying start if off can mean a pre-season friendly and flying start can mean beating Darlo 4-0. Pete Sixsmith was there …

Darlington is my nearest Football League club and I have always had a soft spot for them. They were the first pro club I watched before Messrs Randall and Hurley diverted me to Roker Park. I have two good pals who are devoted Quakers fans (although neither bother with pre season games) and I go there three or four times a year.

f Newcastle fans are scrabbling around looking for a more idiotic owner than Mike Ashley, Darlington could give them a run for their money. In the 70s they were run by a man called George Tait (principal of The National School of Salesmanship, if my memory serves me correctly) who ran them into the ground, while in the 90s a Scotsman whose name escapes me,was described by a prominent local journalist as “quite the most obnoxious man I have ever met”. Then there was GEORGE Reynolds….

One of the things we should thank Bob Murray for is that he turned down GR’s offers of financial assistance in the 90s.

George then went and bought Darlington, promising them Premier League football, big signings and a new stadium. He got one out of three right and it was to the Whatever It’s Called This Season Arena, that 4,000 of us trudged along to last night. Pity only 1,500 home fans turned out to see The North East’s Only Premier League Team.

It was a training canter for the first team players in the first half, with all of them clearly under instruction to take it easy and sharpen up their fitness levels. Errors by the Quakers defenders and keeper allowed Reid and Richardson to score and at half time there were wholesale changes.

This is when it got interesting. We have a decent crop of young players and they had been told by whoever (probably Bally) to go out and show the manager and his staff what they could do. As a result, Waghorn, Colbeck and particularly David Meyler treated it as a full scale trial. Waghorn’s pace and Colbeck’s ability to spot a simple pass must have had Steve Bruce and Eric Black thinking about how to use them. But the star of the show was Meyler, who cruised around in midfield, fed Anthony Stokes and Roy O’Donovan an endless supply of quality balls and who tackled as if he were challenging Patrick Viera a la Gavin McCann many moons ago.

His father was a top Gaelic games player and young David has all the attributes of those practitioners – speed, wiriness and above all an absence of fearless. One for the future and perhaps even for this season. A loan spell in the Coca Cola League would be beneficial – somewhere not too far away from the Stadium perhaps.

As for our hosts – well, they looked scrappy and it could be a long season for them. Colin Todd is one of the best players I have ever seen in a red and white striped shirt and I hope he can make something out of the collection of trialists, free transfers and youngsters who turned out for him last night. Unfortunately, the words silk purse and sows ear spring to mind.

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