On several occasions in recent years, Darlington have been linked with a big-name signing, someone to put bums on seats who will excite supporters and score a few goals.

Paul Gascoigne was perennially linked with the club but most notably Faustino Asprilla and Marco Gabbiadini were on their way to the club - and then they weren't.

For supporters who'd been told they'd be doing cartwheels at the signings, both occasions were kicks in the teeth.

So the arrival of Craig Hignett was not just a welcome surprise but also a relief after so many let-downs.

It was also a fitting way to celebrate the end of almost nine months in administration during which time the likes of long-time Premiership performer Hignett ever playing for the club was merely a dream.

Armed with arguably the most well-known and successful player in the Football League's bottom two divisions, and with administration now nothing more than a bad and distant memory, Darlington should at least be able to look forward to better and brighter times.

Although it's a too early to make judgement on how Hignett will fare, he does have more pedigree than most at this level and at Rochdale he was one of the few to emerge with credit from a disjointed and disappointing display.

He played as a forward but got involved in the build-up throughout and once manager David Hodgson brings in a striker then supporters can expect to see Hignett playing off the front two, just like Gary Bannister did to great effect during the play-off season of 1995/96.

Hodgson has already drawn comparisons with Bannister and said, just like Bannister, Hignett may need a handful of games to get used to the division.

But if Saturday's 90 minutes are any indication then supporters can look forward to some entertaining and influential performances.

Hignett wasn't involved as much he'd have liked but when on the ball Quakers' new No. 21 rarely wasted possession, while the deft touches and skill level that's almost taken for granted at Premiership level were as eye-catching as his bleach blonde haircut.

His first touch came on 2 minutes 35 seconds, precisely the time Dale defender Darryl Burgess tried, and failed, to welcome Hignett to League Two with a clattering challenge on the halfway line.

But the ex-Middlesbrough man is too nippy and clever to be caught by most of the clodhoppers at this level and he avoided the late lunge, while still managing to lay off a successful pass.

When others would've stopped the ball dead and wondered what to do with it next, Hignett's quick thinking almost put Craig Russell through on goal with a precise header that rolled into the ex-Sunderland striker's path but a defender's tackle rescued Dale.

Hignett was probably most potent on set-piece duty, his stunningly accurate free-kicks and corners could prove a real asset.

He fired in some excellent crosses at Spotland, Brian Close volleyed into the net from one but the goal was ruled out for a foul, while Craig Liddle came close to scoring with a glancing header via Hignett's pass.

That Liddle effort was one of only five on target from Darlington, with three of the others coming from Hignett - an early Mark Convery shot the other - and it was the last of those three that ensured Hignett's kudos rocketed.

Good build-up involving several short passes ended in a trademark Liddle cross, hooked high into the air towards the far post, where Hignett was on hand to head into to net to both earn a point and live up to the hype that goes hand-in-hand with being a high profile signing.

But high profile signings bring with them high expectations.

After scoring on his debut, the third time Hignett has managed the feat having also found the net during his first games for Aberdeen and Barnsley, those expectations can have only increased.

Hignett was a huge crowd favourite at Boro and already some Darlington supporters have had his name and squad number printed on to replica shirts.

His name was chanted among the excited travelling fans before he'd even kicked a ball in a black and white shirt.

At 34 and towards the end of a career spent mostly at the top level, any undue pressure to succeed won't bother Hignett, but perhaps Darlington supporters should be cautious and remember that previous old pros who've found themselves finishing their careers at a lower level don't always cover themselves in glory.

For every Bannister there is a Bernie Slaven and for every Gabbiadini there is a Carl Shutt while Newcastle United legend Peter Beardlsey was a relative disappointment at Hartlepool United.

In becoming a Quaker, Hignett joins a band of former Boro players currently at the club and fans are hoping he can avoid 'doing a Slaven' and become as big a crowd favourite as ex-Boro men Craig Liddle and Andy Collett.

If he does, supporters will at last be doing cartwheels.