DARLINGTON have enlisted the assistance of what they describe as a “prominent North-East manager” to assist in their search for a successor to Tommy Wright.

The deadline for applications is midnight on Monday, with the first of two rounds of interviews to be conducted by Darlington directors to take place next week.

By last night 60 interested parties had lodged their interest in the role, plus, of course, the usual handful of wisecracks who boast on their CV nothing more than achievements in computer game Football Manager.

Quakers will whittle down their selection to a shortlist, with the process to replace Wright led by John Vickerman, a lifelong Darlington supporter whose official title is Advisor to the Board.

His background as a human resources director with Fujitsu means he is well used to being involved in the hiring of specialist employees.

He and fellow members of Darlington’s hierarchy, including chief executive David Johnston, will seek guidance from the unidentified North-East football manager, who is not currently employed, to assist with this process.

“We’re highly impressed with the quality of the applicants. We’ve been inundated, over 60 applicants,” said Vickerman.

“I think there are 15 or 20 really good candidates and we will have a problem narrowing it down not seven or eight to interview.

“There are 14 who have the UEFA Pro licence, around 75 per cent have the UEFA A, others are currently studying for it and already have the UEFA B.

“All directors involved in the interviews and there will be two rounds. There will be an initial round of, say, eight to ten applicants, and we will ask if they are prepared to be regionally based, can we afford them, can they bring the right players to Darlington either permanently or on loan, do they have the network to pull those strings.

“We’re bringing in a prominent football person with the interviews. David Johnson has met someone about that, because quite a few people in football have reached out to say they will help us with the process for no fee.

“I usually do executive and CEOs so it is a pleasure to be involved with Darlington. I know how to run a process and select candidates, but we also need someone with a football background to make sure we’re covered.”

Vickerman revealed that opinion will be taken from a handful of fans, saying: “We will ask three or four supporters to look at the shortlist. They don’t know who each other are and it will be interesting to see if they want who we want.”

As well as stipulating that potential managers should be in possession of the UEFA A coaching licence, in Quakers’ advertisement for the role of manager they also welcomed applications from black and ethnic minority (BAME) candidates as well as women, a stance which received national publicity.

It is not a stunt, Vickerman is keen not point out and Darlington are in receipt of one application from a female and he understands there could be another before the deadline.

“It is not just a headline, we are actually doing something,” he said. “We have had a number of BAME candidates apply and we have had one female contact us. There is another who I know is interested and may also apply.

“We included the line about diversity and inclusion and inclusion. I am a group HR director for a national business, it would be normal for us to do that in this day and age.

“I have spoken to David and others at the club at the club and there was no question about it, of course you do it. We’re applying corporate standards to football and it is done with intent.”