Darlington

Northern Echo Darlington Arena

Capacity: 25,000 (all seated)
Address: 
Neasham Road, Darlington, DL2 1DL
Main Telephone No: 01325 387 000
Fax No: 01325 387 050
Ticket Office: 0871 855 1883
Pitch Size: 110 yards x 74 yards
Team Nickname: The Quakers
Year Ground Opened: 2003
Home Kit Colours: Black & White
Official Web Site: 
www.darlington-fc.net 
Unofficial Web Sites: 
Darlo Uncovered
The Tin Shed (Message Board)
DAFTS
Vital Darlington (Vital Football Network)

What are the grounds like?

The stadium which was opened in 2003, is impressive looking and is of a good size. It is completely enclosed with all the corners filled with seating. All the stands are single tiered and of an equal height. There is a perspex strip that runs around the stadium, beneath the roof, to allow more light to reach the pitch. The stands look virtually identical apart from the South Stand, which has a row of executive boxes running across the back of it. In the South East corner of the stadium is a Police Control Box, whilst in the North East corner, there is a large video screen.

What is it like for visiting supporters?

Away fans are housed in East Stand at one end of the stadium, where around 3,000 supporters can be accommodated. Martin Redfern a visiting Scunthorpe fan informs me; ‘It’s a nice stadium and there seems to be plenty of parking (although I heard several grumbles about the £5 charge!). The usual food and drink are on offer inside from well run & well staffed outlets and the view from the away end is very good. I hardly noticed the stewards (which is good), but the atmosphere was a little subdued on my visit. No surprise really with just over 3,600 fans sitting in a stadium that can seat over 20,000’. 

Although the stadium is conservative in its design and shows little character, the acoustics inside are very good as well as the facilities on offer. It also has the best display of pies that I have ever come across at a football ground. Like going into your local bakers, glass cabinets display the rows of different hot pies that are available. These included pork pies (served hot), minced beef & onion and steak and kidney all at £1.30 each, plus as Tim Porter informs me they also now offer ‘a steak and gravy pie with mushy peas and mint sauce for £2’. This ‘Aladdin’s Cave’ of pies certainly had the desired effect on myself and my colleagues as we promptly ate a pie before the game started and another (or two) at half time (it did help our appetite though, that it was bitterly cold day!). However the downside was that teas and coffees were only available from a vending machine (which also had soup, crisps & chocolate), which meant queuing for a second time. The atmosphere was boosted somewhat by the presence of a drummer in the home end.

Where to drink?

At the stadium itself there are two bars; one called ‘Bar 66’ and the other called the ‘Corner Bar’. Both admit away fans, however as you would expect they get very crowded. Greg Howard a visiting Grimsby Town supporter informs me; ‘Just 10 minutes walk along Neasham Road, going towards the town centre is a fantastic little pub called the Copper Beech, which also serves decently priced food. The bar that we went into at the ground itself, was very spacious and modern. It also had a number of televisions and also did food such as bangers & mash and trays of curry’. Steve Duffy adds; ‘There is also the Tawny Owl Pub, a Vintage Inn which is about a quarter of a mile the other side of the A66 roundabout. This though is more of a restaurant than pub, but decent enough for lunch’.

As the stadium is located on the outskirts of Darlington and there are not that many pubs in the vicinity. 
It may therefore be an idea to drink in the town centre, where there are plenty of pubs to be found. For the real ale buffs there is the Number Twenty 2, in Coniscliffe Road. A large spacious pub, that offers food as well as a good range of beers. Mick Hubbard a visiting Aston Villa fans adds; ‘We ducked down a little side street called Mechanic’s Yard (which is opposite the indoor market, near the big train sculpture) and discovered a gem of a pub called the  ‘Quaker House’. The small bar was an Aladdin’s Cave of real ales, having ten on tap. It was a fantastic place and also has a separate cafe upstairs’. There is also a Wetherspoons outlet situatedon Skinnersgate. Simon Lorch tells me; ‘We found a great little pub on the Market Square in the town centre called the Boot and Shoe. This pub was extremely friendly and served a cheap pint. Also Hogans right outside the station was cheap and friendly and good for real ale drinkers’. 

Otherwise alcohol is available on the concourses inside the stadium in the form of Fosters Lager & John Smiths Bitter.

How to get there and where to park?

From The South:
Leave the A1 (M) at Junction 57 and take the A66 towards Darlington/Teeside. Continue straight along the A66 going across two roundabouts. At the third roundabout you can clearly see the stadium just over on your left. Turn left at this roundabout into Neasham Road for the stadium.

From The North:
Leave the A1(M) at Junction 59 and take the A167 towards Darlington. Then take the A1150 towards Teeside. Turn onto the A66 towards Darlington and you will come to the stadium on your right.  Although this route is not the shortest it does avoid driving through Darlington Town Centre.

Car Parking
There is a fair sized car park at the stadium which costs £5 per car. Although the stewards do their best to let the cars get away quickly at the end of the game, it is almost and impossible task, with supporters also walking through car parks to leave the area, so expect some delay. If you continue on past the stadium towards Darlington, then there is some street parking to be found, although this can be quite a walk from the stadium as there is a residents only parking scheme in operation on matchdays in the streets nearest to the ground.

By train

Darlington train station is around one and a half miles away from the stadium. Either get a taxi, a bus (see below) or walk it; leave the station and turn right past the taxi rank and towards the car park. Cross the covered footbridge back over the railway into Albert Street. Go right down this road and then take a right into Neasham Road. The stadium is about a mile further on down this road on your left. It should take about 25 minutes in total to walk it.

Simon Brodie informs me; ‘The Club now pay for a subsidised bus which runs every 15 minutes from TubwellRow in the town centre to the ground. It costs just £1.50 for a return ticket. On Saturday afternoons the first bus departs at 1.15pm and the last at 2.30pmThe first bus back is at 4.45pm from outside the ground, with last leaving at 5.30pm. Away fans will be welcomed on this service as long as they are well behaved’.

Local Rivals

Hartlepool United.

Fixtures

Darlington FC fixture list (takes you to the BBC Sports Website)

Record and Average attendance

At The New Stadium:
11,600 v Kidderminster Harriers
Division 3, August 16th 2003.

At Feethams:
21,023 v Bolton Wanderers,
League Cup 3rd Round, November 14th, 1960.

Average Attendance:
2010-2011: 1,886 (Blue Square Premier)
2009-2010: 1,943 (League Two)
2008-2009: 2,932 (League Two)