TODAY is Darlington’s 299th game since the start of their 2012-13 Northern League season, and in that time they have won only one FA Cup tie.

It is a pitiful record that the club have in the competition, their sole success coming in a replay at Heritage Park against West Auckland in September 2014.

Quakers then lost a replay 3-0 in the next round away to Blyth Spartans with Terry Galbraith having a penalty saved in the goalless first game.

In the past three seasons Quakers have fallen at the first hurdle on each occasion, against Hyde United, Lancaster City and South Shields, so today they face Bradford (Park Avenue) at Blackwell Meadows aiming for FA Cup win number two.

As ever, the aim is to ensure it is not simply Darlington’s annual appearance in a competition that has become source of frustration.

Supporters would love to see their team put together a couple of wins, partly for the glory and the chance to dream of a big tie further down the line, but also for the prize money on offer.

Winners of second qualifying round ties receive £9,000, the Football Association having this season doubled the money on offer in the early rounds, with £15,000 up for grabs in the next stage.

Such a windfall, particularly for a fan-owned club without a benefactor pumping money in, would be well worth winning, and Quakers manager Tommy Wright is well aware that the club is overdue a some success in the FA Cup.

He said: “We want a successful season, we said it at the start of the season, this town needs a cup run, the fans are desperate for it.

“It’s been too long. There’s been disappointments down the years, but I don’t want to dwell on it and talk about us not winning an FA Cup game – it all goes out of the window.

“I won’t be talking about what has happened previously, this is about Saturday and our chance to make ourselves heroes. I want to be in the draw on Monday and finding out who we’ve got in the next round.”

He added: “As a player it comes around once a year and when you’re knocked out it does hit you – that’s it, out for another year.

“You hear about other clubs doing well and having giant-killings, and it is where heroes are made. Many a player has been picked up due to what they’ve done in the FA Cup.

“Any players who’ve got aspirations of being a pro again, for me this is an opportunity to showcase what they’ve got.”

Whereas Darlington’s FA Cup statistics are poor, they have at least done well in their games against Bradford since the beginning of the 2016-17 season, winning all four fixtures.

Wright added: “Current form and previous history all goes out of the window. It’s a one-off game. I believe the cup is about who wants it most, I really do.”

Bradford are fourth but have lost their last two games, and have conceded goals in each of their five away matches.

Quakers, by contrast, have kept two clean sheets in a row having beaten AFC Telford 3-0 at home and drawn 0-0 at Southport seven days ago.

Wright said: “It probably wasn’t a bad result, it was a point away from home and back-to-back clean sheets, but the difference between the two performances was night and day.

“It was a different type of clean sheet because it was more down to their finishing and our goalkeeping. We need to be a lot better than that this weekend.”

Wright can call on Terry Galbraith (calf) and Simon Ainge (thigh) as both took a full part in training this week, but there are doubts over Joe Wheatley and Dave Syers, who will both have fitness tests.

Wheatley has an abdominal problem that caused him to miss last week’s game, while Syers sustained a thigh strain in training last week and felt it again in the warm-up at Southport causing him to drop out of the starting XI.