SATURDAY was designated ‘retro day’ by Darlington, a nostalgic celebration of the club’s rich and varied past, so shirts going back 30 years or so were worn by fans at Blackwell Meadows.

As well as promotions there’s been plenty of doom and gloom in that time: relegation scraps, midtable mediocrity and financial concerns of varying degrees.

Plus ca change.

Season 2018-19 has seen a mixture of it all, without promotion, sadly, spent almost exclusively in the bottom half of the table and will not be remembered with great fondness.

It has been a throwback to the 1990s, a decade mainly of struggle, the days of luminaries such as Billy McEwan, Paul Futcher and Tim Parkin, of losing more than winning, of flirting with the relegation zone in front of diminishing attendances.

All that’s been missing from this 90s tribute, something to truly give a Feethams feel to proceedings, has been a few more postponements and an optimistic groundsman liberally spreading 50,000 worms across the pitch in an attempt to provide natural irrigation.

Four games to go now, two home, two away, then it will be finished and all concerned will draw a line under it and hope for better times ahead come August, such is the nature of football fans.

Manager Tommy Wright will want a fresh start too. This season has seen his budget has been cut three times, his better players sold and he’s been in the supporters’ line of fire with poor results the primary factor for the aforementioned issues.

At least Quakers won on Saturday, an uncomplicated 2-0 victory that saw Darlington do what was required: overcome relegation-bound FC United of Manchester.

Going down had been a lingering prospect that seemed unlikely but while it remained possible Darlington supporters were naturally concerned.

Ten points from safety with four games to go will be enough, and Wright said: “I haven’t been the one that’s been scared of going down, it’s everybody else that seemed to think that we were going to, and made a bad situation even worse. I think we are safe, like I thought we were weeks ago.

“We’ve had a very disappointing season, it’s frustrated everybody, I think everybody wants it to end and see the day where we’re mathematically safe.

“Hopefully we can finish the season strong now.”

Goals either side of half-time by Omar Holness and Stephen Thompson won Saturday’s game, and Wright added: “The lads did what they needed to do. I’m made up for them because they’ve been playing under a lot of pressure and I’m delighted for everyone at the football club.

“That settles a lot of nerves down now and the lads can play with a bit of freedom in last four games of the season, and show that they are the team that I think they have been for a while.”

Win their four remaining fixtures and Darlington would finish on the same points they ended last season with, when optimism abounded ahead of a summer of change.

Never mind wallowing in nostalgia, Wright would probably settle for being able to relive last summer and the chance to do things differently.

Not all of his summer signings have been a success, but nine-goal Jordan Nicholson has been a definite plus, the nimble forward able to work his magic in in congested areas.

He is on a dry run, one goal in 13 games, but created Saturday’s opener, crossing from the left for Holness to head in his first goal for the club, timing his run from midfield perfectly.

It came at the end of a low-quality first half in which chances for each team had been rare, though Quakers’ Tom Elliott, at right-back for the suspended Luke Trotman, and the excellent Terry Galbraith both made crucial tackles to stop United scoring.

Third-bottom United rang the changes in light of last week’s 4-0 humbling by Nuneaton Borough, giving four players from their under-21s side a game, but they rarely troubled Darlington, who grew stronger as the match progressed and could have won by a larger margin.

United were backed by a noisy bunch of fans that boosted the attendance and they will be missed should they suffer the drop. Plus, Quakers have an excellent record against them – six wins from six games.

Their fans very nearly had a goal to cheer when Kurt Willougby turned and fired against the inside of the post, but by that stage it was 2-0.

The second goal came from centre-back Galbraith’s corner on the hour, won by Wilson Kneeshaw, Stephen Thompson rifling home his ninth goal of the season to seal victory.

Thompson, approaching 300 appearances and now just seven short of the 100-goal club record held since the early 1980s by Alan Walsh, is assured of his place in Darlington folklore, he is someone fans will reminisce and be nostalgic about in time to come.

Should Thompson get to 100, most probably next season, it would spark a debate over the merits of comparing records set in the Football League with non-league achievements, but at least it would be something positive to discuss, a moment of celebration, and there have precious few of them in 2018-19.