Darlington FC: AFTER the humiliating debacle against Kidderminster, Darlington's assistant manager Mark Proctor was quick to distance any responsibility for the performance from the management team, ultimately blaming the players for the lacklustre performance.

However, after several below par displays at home this season, this excuse is wearing a bit thin. If the players were solely to blame you would expect that if there were wholesale changes of personnel in the side, then the performances should change.

Following on from the Boxing Day game against Rochdale, when Darlo produced a similar dreadful performance in front of a big crowd, the post match comments were much the same.

Odd then that the team that started the game against Kiddy contained only four of the players who had started on Boxing Day. This tends to suggest that the problems lie a lot deeper than with just the players. Even with an almost a completely different eleven, the side produced the same negative, spiritless stuff that we have seen at home for much of the season.

Teams often match the personality of their manager and in Darlo's case that is particularly true: sometimes brilliant but more often nervy and edgy.

We need to go into these games with a far more positive outlook and certainly, at home, a more attacking formation.

At least if we have a go, the supporters will be more forgiving even if we don't make it into the playoffs. - Alan Anderson, Darlington season ticket holder.


PETER Mullen made a variety of claims including that "religious education in schools now is the teaching of atheism"(Echo, Mar 29).

He was using "atheism" in a pejorative sense with his implication that nothing of value could follow from such an approach - "Nothing can happen in a vacuum".

Rational and clear-thinking readers would appreciate that it's only from an atheist or agnostic standpoint that a clear system of human values can be developed.

We need to rid ourselves of the "god" concept if we are to take on responsibility for ourselves, our species and our world. It's up to us to act responsibly: there's no other resource that will act for us.

Only a confused thinker can fail to grasp that religion gets in the way of our humanity. - Roger McAdam, Durham.


I AM most intrigued by M Wilson's "free country" (HAS Mar 25). I believe if I were to live there my lifestyle choice would involve not paying council, income and road tax or NI contributions.

I would, of course, still expect first class services, schools, NHS and a full state pension. I think my religious beliefs would also absolve me from paying fuel tax and from the need to insure my road vehicles.

Democracy is about freedom, but it is also about responsibilities; every citizen has to allow those freedoms.

It is the mark of a civilised society to provide first class support for the vulnerable within it.

Countries such as Ireland have brought in strong legislation to curb the illegal and anti-social activities of their travelling community. Is Ireland a fascist state?

Were I to flagrantly ignore planning laws, I would be dealt with most harshly. If someone else is dealt with less harshly simply because of their choice of lifestyle, then that is institutional discrimination.

Equality means everyone is equal, not that some are more (or less) equal than others, nor to choose the bits they like and discard the bits they do not. - A Gorman, Darlington.


PARACHUTING Durham County Council leader Ken Manton into Bishop Auckland is a disgrace. It shows that "Old Labour" has not changed its ways.

Party rules have been manipulated to push aside a good local councillor (June Lee) to make way for Manton. Yet again Labour acts as if council seats belong to them, and not to the people.

We have only recently got rid of the "Caribbean Councillor" who has been replaced by local LibDem councillor Sam Zair when he won last month's by-election in the Town Ward. The people of Bishop Auckland are in no mood now to have a deselected Labour man from Sedgefield foisted on them.

A councillor's first duty is to represent the people of his or her ward, not to make a career.

I predict that Labour's Manton will be soundly rejected by the people of Bishop before seeking another so-called safe seat elsewhere. - Coun Chris Foote-Wood, Bishop Auckland Liberal Democrats.

IT WOULD appear that New Labour believes that the voters in the Bishop Auckland constituency must be a very servile lot.

First they are told that they can only vote for a woman MP at the next general election and now the women-only rule is reversed when a New Labour favourite is deselected by his own local branch at Sedgefield for failing to carry out the wishes of the people whom he represents.

It would seem that Tony Blair's party only wants people elected into local and national politics who will do as they say and not as the people who vote for them want doing.

It just goes to show how much the supporters of New Labour believe in democracy. - Peter Dolan, Newton Aycliffe.


I CANNOT believe that paedophile Jonathan King is to release a new single (Echo, Mar 29).

I was furious to read this and to see his smug grin on the photograph that accompanied the story. I just wish that I was there to wipe it clean off his face.

Perverts like him should be detained in prison for life or face the death penalty, instead of being allowed back on to our streets to possibly commit crimes against innocent children again.

The record company which is releasing his record should hang its head in shame. - Christopher Wardell, Darlington.


I HAVE a serious personal crisis. Sylvia has bought a new double oven with ceramic top etc. But now she has refused to make any Yorkshire puddings in case they make her new baby too dirty!

I am in danger of forgetting what they taste like. She is even suggesting that I should cook them myself and clean the oven afterwards.

We will be going into town tomorrow to buy the best ready made, with beef dripping, we can find, just to keep me going. - George Appleby, York.