Quakers told to be on their guard

Darlington are without a game today, but they will not be enjoying a rest - and manager Martin Gray has warned his players to be on their guard.

Gray has arranged a team bonding day, which will include boxing and quad bike riding.

The manager says the players have been looking forward to the day, which he believes is crucial for maintaining strong team spirit.

"There's a few of them think they can fight me and Brian Atkinson, so they'd better get their gloves on," said Gray.

"I think Joe Tait fancies himself and one or two others reckon they're handy. They'll have to get their gum shields in."

Darlington's lead at the top of the Ebac Northern League will be cut unless Billingham Synthonia can defeat Spennymoor Town today.

By full-time at Central Avenue, Gray's squad will have also been swimming, target shooting and clay pigeon shooting.

"I feel it's an opportunity to have a team bonding exercise and it's something that I believe in strongly," explained Gray.

"On and off the pitch, doing things as a team is a big part of what we do.

"Every manager I worked with, especially Denis Smith and Peter Reid, were big on togetherness.

"We've got a small squad and we've got everyone pulling in the same direction and for me that's worth lots of points over the course of a season.

"We've tried to keep the numbers down in the squad and that makes sure everyone stays involved and that's important from a manager's point of view.

"Once the season starts it's not easy to get everyone together other than to play matches and prepare for games, so this is a great opportunity to put the balls away and have a real good day.

"It will also help with their fitness programme, the boxing will keep them fit."

Darlington's next game is at Heritage Park on Wednesday against relegation-threatened Norton & Stockton Ancients.

The original fixture scheduled for this weekend was a match with Consett, but that game was brought forward to September when they would otherwise have been out of action due to it being an FA Cup first qualifying round day.

Quakers were not involved in the Cup this season, while Consett were knocked out at the preliminary round stage.

* Tickets for the game at Sunderland RCA next Saturday are available from today at Quakers' club shop in Darlington town centre.

They will also be on sale at Heritage Park before the game on Wednesday.

They are priced £5 and £3 concessions, but adult tickets will be £6 on the gate at Sunderland RCA.

Opening hours at Quakers' club shop this week are: Today 9-12, Monday 10-1pm, Tuesday 10-2pm, Wednesday 1.30-4pm, Thursday 10-2pm, Friday 10-1pm.

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