WHEN Colin Todd paraded nine of his ten new recruits for the first time yesterday, the satisfaction he felt was clear as Darlington’s new-look squad gathered for the first day of pre-season training.
While none of the new additions can put pen to paper on contracts until the club finally emerges clear of administration, progress is finally being made.
Chris Lumsdon, arguably the most high profile of the nine players on show before player-coach Dean Windass makes his appearance next week, has been won over.
Lumsdon, who had other offers from other Football League clubs this summer after being freed by Carlisle, was already heartened and encouraged by Todd’s vision before he met his new teammates.
Now he has, the forward- thinking midfielder is even more optimistic.
“There were actually more players than I thought there was going to be at this stage,”
said Lumsdon. “I went into the dressing room and I knew a few of the lads already, so I know they are good players and that boosted me.
“It’s a relief to be here now, looking ahead, because we can start to plan for the season.
When I met Colin Todd, everything he said would happen has happened, so it is good to be here now, finally.”
With the eccentric Windass lined up to be Todd’s assistant – while also holding his playing registration – the dressing room is sure to be a boisterous place when the former Hull and Middlesbrough striker returns from holiday next week.
And with the 40-year-old’s nature guaranteed to keep spirits high among, Todd has also deliberately targeted a number of players with North-East backgrounds.
Lumsdon, from Killingworth in Newcastle, knows what football in this area is all about, having spent the first four years of his career at Sunderland.
Now, after two promotions with Carlisle, the 29-year-old forms part of an initial 17- man squad which now also includes Middlesbrough-born trio Jeff Smith, Gary Smith and Craig James, along with David Knight from Houghtonle- Spring.
“Colin Todd wanted to get a squad together of local lads with points to prove and to make sure we stick together and have a go,” said Lumsdon, a boyhood Newcastle supporter looking ahead to playing the Magpies, Sunderland and Boro during pre-season.
“I don’t think I have a point to prove, but last year was frustrating because it was the first real set of injuries I have had in my career. It will be nice to get playing again. It was nice to go to Carlisle, travelling across the top, but it’s nice to be back in the North- East.”
Lumsdon admitted he had spoken to former Carlisle teammate Michael Bridges about the possibility of the striker following him to The Northern Echo Darlington Arena, but is unaware of any pending deal.
For now, though, Todd is simply satisfied that he is in a position to take pre-season training seriously having attracted ten new players to a squad that was left with just Steve Foster and Ian Miller from last season.
And while Sheffield United full-back Ben Starosta, the Smiths, Lumsdon, Windass and full-back Craig James had all been expected to arrive, Todd was also able to spring a few surprises.
The Hull connections of Windass helped persuade 20- year-old midfielders Matty Plummer and James Bennett to drop down a few divisions, while Todd has also convinced former Rochdale striker Lee Thorpe to make Darlington his 12th club.
“It’s been hectic but the most important thing is we’re beginning to look like a football club again,” said Todd.
“The most important people at a football club are the players, then the supporters.
“I’ve got a group of players and I’m hoping to get some more. Out of the budget I think I’ve got some experience and some youth in but I know a squad of 17 is not going to give us any depth so I’ll look to get some loan signings in as well.”
With 20-year-old Nick Liversedge promoted to second choice goalkeeper behind Knight, the remainder of Todd’s squad is completed with Josh Gray, Danny Groves, Dan Riley and Curtis Main.