STEPHEN THOMPSON has been with Darlington from almost the beginning of their surge through non-league, playing a full part of the team’s three promotions, and although results of late have been disappointing he believes this season should be kept in perspective.

Quakers won the Northern Premier League title at the first attempt last season and after a fine start to the current campaign were second in the table early in November, but a disappointing run of results has seen Darlington drop to seventh.

However, that Quakers are competing for a play-off place at all is commendable, believes Thompson, who recently made his 200th appearance for Darlington having joined in September 2012 from Durham City.

“We’ve done well the last few years and we weren’t expected to be anywhere near where we are in the table,” said Thompson, whose team is three points outside the play-off places and on Saturday take on bottom-of-the-table Altrincham at Blackwell Meadows.

“We maybe overachieved at the beginning of the season, when we were second, but we’ve proven that we can do it.

“If someone had said at the start of the season that in the New Year we’d be seventh we’d have taken that. We’re in with a shout of the play-offs and that’s a big plus I think.

“Last year it was about trying to get near the play-offs, maybe sneak in there, but we won the league in the end. This year we wanted to fight for the play-offs again, but in all seriousness not everyone will have expected us to be so high up.

“Yes we were second earlier in the season and we’ve dropped down, but we’re still there or thereabouts and we can still do it.

“It’s small margins. We had bad November and December, but look where we are – it’s a tough league, big teams and big clubs in there, but we’ll give it a good go between now and the rest of the season.”

Thompson started last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Chorley when he was one of the team’s outstanding players and was central to the action.

He took the corner from which Kevin Burgess put Quakers ahead, and was also clearly upended by opposition goalkeeper Ritchie Branagan inside the penalty area, though the referee, Stephen Copeland, played on.

It was Thompson’s 204th game for the club, and of reaching a double century he said: “It was a proud achievement. I’ve had four and a half years here, I’ve loved every minute of it and hopefully I’ve still got a lot more to give.

“I want to keep playing here. I’m 28 in April, so I’ve still got something to give and I want to stay here as long as I can.

“Some people drop down to get more money, but you want to play as high as you can for as long as you can, that’s what I think. Anybody who doesn’t think like that is probably playing for the wrong reasons.

“Yeah, you get more money for a bit, but what happens if things don’t go right? Where do you drop down to then? Do you keep on dropping down?

“I want to play as high as I can and when the time is right to drop down, then that’s when I’ll do it, but I want to be here for the long-term.”

* On Saturday the Martin Gray Football Academy holds open taster training sessions for the Ladies Level 2 Sport and Level 3 Sport Science college course. The session takes place at Blackwell Meadows 11.30-12.30, with the target age being year 11 school age.

Also, on Thursday, February 16 (6.45-9pm) at Eastbourne Sports Complex there will be a taster training session for Level 2 Sport and Level 3 Sports Science for year 11 boys.