5:08pm Thursday 7th February 2013
By Andy Walker
BOSSES at a North-East rugby club which has breathed new life into a former football stadium have urged the public to show their support again this weekend.
Having opened their account at The Northern Echo Arena with a thumping 62-7 win over Bromsgrove, Darlington Mowden Park take on Hull Ionians on Saturday (February 9), hoping to narrow the gap on their Yorkshire promotion rivals.
Club officials now estimate that up to 2,000 supporters attended last weekend’s showpiece inaugural game.
Although the attendance is not expected to remain at that level for the forthcoming game, the club is still hopeful of a healthy turnout.
Mowden bought the stadium earlier this year, following the departure of Darlington FC last year in the wake of a fans’ takeover.
The club has plans to develop a 17-acre plot of land adjoining the stadium into training pitches, while space within the stadium itself if being let to businesses.
Mowden coach Danny Brown said: “We have had meetings to discuss what we would like to tweak going forward, but it is difficult because the turnaround between the two games is very short.
“It is not as if we have been in the stadium for three years.
“It looks as if the numbers from last Saturday were in the region of 1,800 to 2,000 as opposed to the 1,300 that was first thought.
“We do not expect the same turnout this week, but we would be happy with a crowd of 600 to 700.
“Hopefully people will buy into what we are trying to do here.”
Crowds at Mowden’s former Yiewsley Drive ground averaged in the region of 300, with the club hoping to maintain gates of about 500 once the initial interest in the move subsides.
A pale ale – Mowden Mauler – produced by Mithril Ales, proved popular at last weekend’s opening match.
Pete Fenwick, who runs the microbrewery at Aldborough St John, near Darlington, said a 72-pint cask sold out quickly.
He was at the stadium on Thursday (February 7) to deliver a consignment of signature Route A66 brew for Saturday’s game.
Mowden Mauler met with approval from supporters and club officials alike, including Mr Brown.
He said: “I am not normally a real ale man, but it was very good.”
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