FROM little acorns mighty oaks do grow, suitably describes the start, development and expansion of the Spraire Lads and Lasses Football Club in Darlington.

Dave Scott, now 72, co-founder of the club with his son Mark, is proud that Spraire now have 16 teams.

"We have Lads teams where girls play at U7, U8, U9, U10 (2 Teams), U11, U12 (2 Teams), U14, U15 and U17 level. Lasses/Girls teams at U12, U14, U18, a Ladies team and a team of Wildcats who are 5-11 year old girls who have never played football before and are preparing to play in the league next season."

Dave recalled how the club started in 1982 when he was just 36 years of age. "Three lads, my son Mark, Daniel Green and David Walker met at our house on a Sunday to play pool one week and football the next. We decided to go to Eastbourne Park for the football. Gradually other lads joined us and soon we had 30 kids, enough for two games. Phil Green, David Green's dad came along and he was my first assistant, my second was Ken Walker who was David Walker's dad.'

"We formed a team and played a friendly against a team attached to St Theresa's Church who had Stewart Dixon as their manager. It was a team of all ages and we won the first game 8-2, but for the second game Stewart had some stronger lads in his side and we lost 6-1. We then applied to join the Richmondshire League, but they turned us down before the Teesside Junior Football Alliance welcomed us with open arms and we started with an Under 11's team. in 1985.'

"We needed transport to matches so Alan Noble at Noble Self Drive was contacted. He provided a van free of charge and even paid the £6 insurance that was needed. We rewarded him by putting Noble Self Drive on the front of our shirts. However we lost the first eleven matches. The twelfth game was away to South Park Rangers at Eston who played on a full sized pitch with full size goals We got a 0-0 draw and the lads ran around the pitch after the game as if they had won. Their manager even gave a medal to our keeper, also called Mark Scott, for his brilliant display."

"We finished bottom of the league that first season but eventually grew stronger and won the title in 1993/4/5. In 1994 our Under 12's won the North Riding County Cup and in 1998 the Under 16's won the Durham County Cup. My son Mark also won six England caps at Under 18 level and was at Norwich City for five years before working for 16 years as Head of Sport at the Queen Elizabeth College in Darlington, but now is with a company called UK Coaching. Phil Brumwell (Spraire 1990-1993) was at Sunderland and Darlington, Alan White (Spraire 1984-91) is now an Assistant Coach at Darlington, while Chris Hope (Spraire 1986-90), whose father was John Hope the Darlington keeper, went to Nottingham Forest before making 524 League appearances for Scunthorpe United and Gillingham Town. Neil Tarrent (Spraire 1987-96) went to Ross County and Aston Villa."

Dave himself has won his fair share of honours. He was the first winner in 2000 of the Unsung Hero Award at the Northern Echo Local Heroes Awards Night, was Darlington Citizen of the Year in 2013 and just last year he won the Alistair Brownlee Loyalty Award from the Teesside Junior Football Alliance. You can contact the club through Dave on 07906071481 or email website Darlington Spraire Lads & Lasses.

  • PICTURE: Spraire Lads in 1986. Back row, standing from left, Gavin Bell, Andrew Hawkins, Stephen White, Stefan Tunstall, Alan White (now Darlington FC's assistant coach), Stewart Armstrong, Lee Bennett, Stewart Moses, James Chapman, Mark Sinclair, Frank Smith, Darren Johnstone, Mark Scott (goalkeeper). Kneeling at the front, Mark ?, David Waters, Simon Gough, Daniel Green, Mark Scott (co-founder of Spraire who won 6 England caps at U 18 level and was at Norwich City for five years), David Walker