AN iconic part of the North-East’s footballing history has been dismantled by engineers ahead of a controversial redevelopment of a former football ground.

The Tin Shed at Feethams, the former home of Darlington Football Club, once rang with the chants, cheers and groans of home fans but, since the club’s ill-fated move to a new stadium in 2003, it has stood empty.

Work to dismantle the Tin Shed began this week with the removal of its roof, with the rest of the work due to be completed next week, after the final match of the season at the adjoining cricket ground.

The future of the Tin Shed stand has long been a topic of speculation among Darlington fans, with many keen to see it incorporated should Darlington FC return to the town from its exile in Bishop Auckland.

The Feethams site, on the edge of Darlington town centre, has been earmarked for housing despite a campaign by some fans, called Save Feethams, who want to see it kept for sports use.

Shaun Campball, one of the founders of the campaign, said he was not too worried at the clearance of the site, which he argued would need to be done regardless of the future use of the land.

He added that the campaign to save the land from housing would continue.

One fan, who attended his first match at Feethams as a six-year-old in 1974, said: “The Tin Shed is an iconic part of Darlington’s football history. Everyone who is a Darlington fan will remember standing in the Tin Shed.

“It’s not about what it looked like, it’s what it represented for fans.”

Martin Jesper, CEO of Darlington FC, acknowledged the speculation about the future of the stand and added: “The club knows the emotional attachment of the fans to the Tin Shed and we will continue to monitor whether any opportunities arise for the fan’s benefit.”

The land at Feethams is owned by Esh Group, which has employed contractor Lumsden & Carroll Construction to carry out initial redevelopment of the land, including a new access road into the site and constructing a fence around the cricket ground.

Esh Group had planned to build 146 homes, but the company is in negotiations with Persimmon Homes Teesside, who are looking to buy the land and build luxury homes on the site.