MARTIN GRAY has resigned as Darlington manager.

Yesterday’s 1-0 defeat at Curzon Ashton was the last match of his 258-reign as Quakers boss, and he is going to National League North rivals York City as manager.

York have previously been interested in Gray, 46, when there has been a vacancy at Bootham Crescent, and they have finally got their man.

Loading article content

They last night announced they wanted to install a new management structure in the wake of sacking Gary Mills as boss, and Gray has accepted their offer to become manager of the full-time club, with former Quakers boss Dave Penney named sporting director.

Penney, most recently Guiseley's director of football until being sacked in August, was Darlington manager 2006-09 with Gray as his No. 2, the pair then leaving to join Oldham Athletic.

Brian Atkinson and Sean Gregan will be joint Darlington managers until the end of the season.

A statement from Quakers’ board reads: “Darlington Football Club today regretfully confirm the resignation of Martin Gray as our manager.

“After discussions with club directors John Tempest and David Johnston this morning, Martin has made it clear that he believes he has taken the club as far as it can go, given the current club structure and funding.

“We would like to put on record our thanks to Martin for five fantastic years, during which he has guided the club from the Northern League to National League North, winning three promotions along the way. We wish him well in his future career.

“Brian Atkinson and Sean Gregan will take care of first team affairs until the end of the season. They have both met the directors, and have expressed a hunger and desire to take the club forward. They have impressed the board with their vision on how they would bring fresh ideas and impetus to the club.

“We wish Brian and Sean the best of luck in their new roles.”

Atkinson and Gregan, both former Darlington players, have worked under Gray since 2012, since when Quakers have won three promotions.

Gray often said he wanted to take Darlington back into the Football League, and he will forever be remembered as the man who steered Darlington to the Northern League title in 2012-13, and then won two further promotions.

After winning the Northern League in 2013, the Quakers finished second in Evo-Stik First Division North in 2014, losing to Ramsbottom in the play-off semi-finals.

A year later they again finished second, but this time Gray's team beat Spennymoor Town in the play-off semis and then Bamaber Bridge in the final.

At the first time of asking Gray led Darlington to the title in the Evo-Stik Premier Division in 2016 - making it back-to-back promotions - with the season climaxing with a wonderful 7-1 win at Whitby Town.

That promotion took the club into the National League North last season where they finished fifth and on the brink of the Conference.

However, participation in the play-offs was not permitted as the club did not have enough covered seating, an issue Gray felt particularly sore about.

Gray announced at a fans’ forum that he had been seeking external investment in the supporters-owned club, former club owner Raj Singh later revealed to be the man he had hoped to become involved.

However, some fans were outraged at the prospect of Singh taking a business interest in the club having also been at the helm during Quakers’ administration of 2011-12, so the Teesside businessman decided against investing in Quakers.

Despite a good start to the season – winning the first three games and then drawing 0-0 at York – Darlington are now in freefall having taken three points in just one of their last ten league matches.

They were knocked out of the FA Cup a fortnight ago by South Shields, while York were yesterday beaten by the Evo-Stik First Division club, a result that led to Mills’ sacking.