Darlington supporters who have been saddened at Craig Liddle's retirement last week are to present the former captain with an award to recognise his loyalty to the club, writes Craig Stoddart.

Led by website Darlo Uncovered, fans have moved quickly to thank the 33-year-old for his service to the Quakers, which began in 1998 and has taken in 322 appearances.

After mounting injury problems, Liddle last week announced his playing days were over and has already lined-up a number of events as part of his testimonial year.

Darlington's home friendly with Middlesbrough on July 23 will be his testimonial game and Liddle said the occasion will give him the opportunity to thank fans for their support.

Supporters are keen to make their own tribute and the website is collecting contributions for an award which will be presented prior to the Boro game.

Webmaster Scott Thornberry said: "I am sure most Darlington fans do not want Lids just to slip away thinking we haven't appreciated his efforts over the years.

"So we are organising a whip round to purchase a special award from the fans.

"Lids has been a magnificent servant to our club over the years and shown a professionalism rarely seen in the game these days.

"He has played in over 300 games and during that time has played in horrific pain to help our team out in difficult times.

"Even while he was going through hell with the death of his father he carried on playing and stayed focused on the game.

"This award will be from the fans so I am looking for contributions towards this idea."

Contributions can be made by Paypal or cheque. Further details on line at www.darlofc.co.uk or contact The Northern Echo sports desk on (01325) 505090. Deadline for contributions is Friday, June 3.

* Former Middlesbrough transfer target Bobo Balde has revealed he is looking to leave Celtic this summer, writes Scott Wilson.

The Guinea international was on the verge of a move to the Riverside in January after holding a series of talks with Boro officials and even passing a medical at Rockliffe Park.

But, when those discussions collapsed, he signed a new contract at Parkhead that looked to have tied him to Glasgow for the next four years.

Balde has disclosed the details of the deal though and, rather than ruling out any future transfer talk, the contract includes a get-out clause that effectively makes him a free agent again this summer.

The 29-year-old defender has until August to find himself a new club unless he will be forced to return to Celtic and, while German giants Bayern Munich have already confirmed their interest, Boro boss Steve McClaren is also aware of Balde's availability.

"I've had a good time with Celtic and I honoured my contract," said Balde. "I had four years and then I signed another contract for four years. But I put in a clause because I wanted to be free at this time.

"Now I can go to any club for no money because when Middlesbrough and Birmingham asked me to sign for them in January I was free, so why not have the same situation this summer? I am free just for this transfer window although I am only interested in people who want me.''

Read more about the Quakers here.