DARLINGTON have appointed Alun Armstrong as their new manager.

He replaces Tommy Wright at the Quakers helm, formalities of his departure from fellow National League North club Blyth Spartans having been completed on Monday.

Twelve months ago he signed a new two-year deal at Blyth, and the Northumberland club have indicated they wanted compensation to release the 44-year-old from his contract.

They will this morning announce Armstrong’s length of contract and who his assistant at Blackwell Meadows will be. At Blyth he was assisted by Darren Holloway, the former Sunderland and Darlington defender.

Armstrong, 44, was in the running to become Darlington’s manager 18 months ago before deciding to stay with Blyth, but this time has accepted the position at a club he represented in his playing days.

A striker with Stockport County, Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town, Armstrong had two seasons with Darlington, in 2004-05 and ’06-07.

After struggling with injury he was deemed surplus to requirements by then manager Dave Penney, who had brought in a handful of new signings among them being Wright, who was then a young striker.

Twelve years later the roles are reversed as Armstrong returns, this time to replace Wright in the dugout.

The search for Wright’s replacement concludes after what was a three-week selection process at the beginning of which Darlington stated their preferred candidate would be someone with the UEFA A coaching Licence.

Interviews took place last week, with Bradford PA boss Mark Bower and former Darlington defender David McGurk, who is currently Hyde assistant manager, understood to have been among those interviewed for the post.

Quakers whittled down the candidates to a choice of three before a second round of interviews later in the week, leading to Armstrong being offered the post.

Wolsingham based and originally from Blaydon, for several years Armstrong has been in possession of the UEFA Pro Licence, the highest coaching accreditation available, and at Blackwell Meadows will hope to replicate the success he had with Blyth where he was in position for almost three full seasons.

He replaced Tom Wade as boss at Croft Park early in 2016-17 and made an immediate impact by leading Blyth to the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League title, 12 months after Darlington had achieved the same feat by pipping Spartans to the post.

During ’17-18, Blyth’s first season after promotion, Armstrong turned down the opportunity to replace Martin Gray as Quakers manager in October 2017, and went on to guide Blyth to a tenth-placed position, four points outside the play-offs.

He bettered that this time around by achieving a place in the play-offs where, without talismanic Robbie Dale, Blyth lost to Altrincham on penalties.

Nonetheless, their sixth place represented the club’s highest ever finish, but Armstrong hit out at the Blyth board last month after being told the finances available would be reduced.

“The budget is being cut – I’ve been told to get cheaper players from the Northern League, something I’m not willing to do,” Armstrong told The Non-League Paper.

“In reality, those Northern League players can probably earn a similar amount at a lower level – we can barely compete with local teams in lower divisions.

“I will keep battling away, I feel as though I am dragging this club along as high as I possibly can.”

The last week has seen Blyth lose two key players, Sean Reid joining Morpeth Town on Sunday, and last week Kieran Green moved to York City, with more of their squad set to leave Croft Park, with some heading to Blackwell Meadows. 

Armstrong will move quickly to bolster what is now a small Darlington squad after a number of players left at the end of the season, although Jordan Nicholson and Luke Trotman have signed new one-year contracts.

Armstrong’s appointment, revealed online yesterday by The Northern Echo, was met positively by Quakers supporters and the club hope their reaction will be reflected in the Darlington FC Supporters Group Boost the Budget scheme.

It currently stands at £59,000, with the target being £80,000. To make a pledge, go: here