THERE’S nothing like a bit of good news to develop some renewed positivity.

Considering the last couple of months, things had gone very quiet with the only news of any real note being the departure of Josh Falkingham to Harrogate Town. Given the doomsday scenario laid out by Martin Gray at the fans’ forum, Falkingham’s departure felt like it could be the beginning of an exodus. As it is, the news of Mark Beck, Phil Turnbull and Nathan Cartman putting pen to paper on new contracts has turned my frown upside down and I’m now feeling a whole lot better about next season.

I don’t know about my fellow Darlo fans, but I was starting to get quite concerned about the lack of any meaningful information coming out of the club. While Martin Gray has spoken of his delight at the three players signing new contracts, we’ve had nothing about his intentions following the collapse of Raj Singh’s return to the club. Are we to assume that if new contracts are being handed out that the manager is going to stay? Hopefully so!

Loading article content

For me, the biggest concern about the events of the last month or so of the season was the potential for us to lose our better players to other clubs, quite potentially to rivals in this division. That would have been a bitter pill to swallow. Every fan has his or her own personal favourites and for me, mine is Mark Beck. I get that some fans aren’t too keen when we play a bit more direct to him for the obvious reasons, but I think he stands head and shoulders above the vast majority of players in this league as one of the best. A quick look around the various social media platforms shows how much fans of other teams rate him and would like him lining up for them. In a division where big players flourish, he is more effective than most. It would have been galling to see him line up for one of our rivals. While I can imagine he will have had a lot of offers and I’m sure we pulled out all of the stops despite uncertainty about our budget for next season, I’d like to think that the commitment shown by Martin Gray to him last season will have played a part in him deciding to stay.

Meanwhile, Phil Turnbull’s new contract is a massive boon. Like Beck, Turnbull has a huge influence in how we play and set up. Turnbull’s quality always stands out and the thought of him doing his thing for any of our rivals would be frustrating. Losing a player like Turnbull would have a material effect on what we are all about.

Finally, Nathan Cartman’s new contract is the icing on the cake. I was a little worried that Cartman might have been heading out of the door in the summer given the hit and miss nature of his first season in the National North, but the way he played in the closing fixtures went some way to highlight just how important he remains to this team. More importantly, Cartman probably more than anyone else epitomises what Darlington Football Club is about. He works hard when he doesn’t have the ball. He has quality when he does have it. He’s approachable, interactive with the fans and always seems to end up being talismanic. We love him and I get the feeling he loves us. It’s win-win.

Despite the uncertain start to the closed season, this news is just the pick me up. Let’s hope for further good news in the coming weeks.