Darlington United – it has to be

First published in From The Editor's Chair The Northern Echo: Blog: Editor Peter Barron by

THROUGHOUT the arduous administration process, I hope it has been clear that The Northern Echo has thrown its weight behind the campaign to save Darlington Football Club.

But I think it is worth explaining why, for the time-being, I have decided to stop publishing details of how people can make donations to the fighting fund.

It is not because I no longer support the campaign. I remain committed to doing all I can to help save the Quakers. But when editors ask readers to part with hard-earned money, they need to have confidence in the strategy behind the appeal.

Last Tuesday night, the newsdesk rang me at home at 11.15pm to say a press release had arrived from a new organisation called “Darlington Supporters United”, launching a £250,000 appeal.

There hadn’t been any previous contact from the organisation and an existing appeal had been under way for weeks under the banner of the Darlington FC Rescue Group. I, therefore, told the newsdesk not to publish details of the new appeal.

In subsequent editorials, I have stressed that the club’s survival, as a community-run club, depends on all groups coming together under one appeal. Confusion, duplication and a lack of communication left me worried.

It is my sincere hope that we get confirmation of a single, co-ordinated proposal this week – hopefully today – and that The Northern Echo can resume publishing fundraising appeal details with confidence.

BIG stories have a habit of breaking at the most inconvenient times.

When Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, The Northern Echo’s legendary editor, Harold Evans, heard the news on the car radio on his way to the Teesside Press Ball.

Dressed in bow tie and tails, he ordered his driver to turn around and return to Darlington where he presided over the production of an outstanding four-page supplement.

Half a decade later, I was driving to Middlesbrough to speak to Linthorpe Women’s Institute when my assistant editor rang to say Fabio Capello had resigned.

I stopped in a lay-by (times have changed, I don’t have a driver so I applied the brakes myself). I sat there for a few minutes, wondering whether to turn back, but decided to plough on. No one had been shot and I could be back to oversee the front page by 9pm.

Anyway, I couldn’t possibly risk the wrath of the WI – women scorned and all that.

It’s fair to say that the ladies were shocked when I broke the news to them about Mr Capello, although they were even more concerned about whether the Boro were beating Sunderland in the FA Cup.

It got me thinking – perhaps the WI should take over from the FA, which never quite seems to get things right.

We’d have a no-nonsense approach to tactics, Jerusalem instead of You’ll Never Walk Alone, tea and scones at half-time, and a resounding slow hand-clap if the team didn’t come up to scratch.

AS well all know, local authorities are cash-strapped and short of resources.

It was a bit of a surprise, therefore, when my managing director, David Coates, showed me the FIVE identical invitations he’d been sent by Middlesbrough Council to attend “free supply chain workshops” aimed at enabling him to win new business.

All sent first-class, of course.


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