Joe Tait has left Darlington to sign a one-year contract at Conference club Gateshead.

The centre-back was a mainstay of the team as Quakers marched to the Northern League Division One title and he attracted interest from a number of clubs.

Manager Martin Gray persuaded Tait to ignore the interested parties, but Gateshead have proved to be a strong pull for the Teessider.

Gray said: "He goes with our best wishes because Joe was brilliant for us and we're pleased to have helped him get back into the the full-time game.

"We brought him just after the start of the season and said 'come to us and we'll make you a better player'. He did that, he showed us loyalty when he had the chance to leave during the season, but I can't stand in his way any longer and I wouldn't want to.

"We can't compete with the deal he'll be on at Gateshead, not at the level that we're at, but I'm really pleased for the lad." 

After making his Darlington debut in the sixth game of the season, Tait formed a formidable defensive partnership with captain Gary Brown in the centre of defence.

He missed only one match and scored five goals.

As a teenager, Tait was in the youth team at Hartlepool United and has since had a spell in America playing for Philadelphia Union.

Tait leaving Darlington follows the exits of Stephen Harrison, Darren Richardson, Adam Nicholls and Chris Emms.

Gray, however, has recently signed defender Chris Hunter from Shildon while Jordan Robinson arrived from just before the end of the season. Winger Chris Moore (Spennymoor) and attacking midfielder Paul Robinson (Whitley Bay) have also joined recently.