FOOTBALL fans have given a cautious response to the announcement of a start date for long-awaited redevelopment work to bring a North-East club home.

Darlington FC confirmed that construction to complete an agreed groundshare between Martin Gray’s squad and Darlington Rugby Club would finally go ahead at the Blackwell Meadows site.

Darlington-based J & RM Richardson Construction Ltd will being the existing facility’s overhaul on Monday, August 8 to include a welcome expansion.

The rebuild of the beloved Tin Shed from Darlington FC’s former Feethams home will include 250 new seats, terraces, turnstiles and a security fence to secure the ground.

Darlington RFC will undertake the redevelopment of the changing room facilities.

However, despite the step forward to returning the Quakers to Darlington after four long seasons at Heritage Park in Bishop Auckland, some fans are still not getting their hopes up.

Sisters Louise Airey, 34, and Clare Clayton, 32, both season ticket holders from Hurworth, near Darlington, have been fans of the club for over two decades.

Frustrated at the slow progress, Mrs Airey said: “There have been so many stories over the last few months, it’s actually disheartening.

“I’ll wait until the August 8 and then I will get excited.”

Mrs Clayton added: “Once the players are running around the pitch, then I will be happy.”

Darlington FC director, John Tempest, previously stated that the target date for the club’s first National Northern League game at Blackwell Meadows would be the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Many fans looking forward to being back on their home turf had expressed their happiness via social media and with posts to Darlington FC’s website.

Through the Community Share Scheme, dedicated fans have raised over £100,000 within a three-year period.

Chair of Darlington Football Club Supporters Group, Wayne Raper, said: “Many supporters thought this might not ever come off but this is a real start.

“Fans will be watching for that stake in the ground on August 8 and then will believe it is happening.”

However, club bosses have hailed the progress so far as a milestone for the squad that now hopes to play its first game in its new home at some point in October this year.

Darlington FC director, Richard Cook, said: “I am delighted that we have reached this major milestone in returning the football club back to Darlington.”

John Richardson, managing director of J & RM Richardson Construction, added: “We are looking forward to starting the project and delivering this prestigious development.”