DARLINGTON do not have to look far for inspiration when it comes to non-league sides pulling off a shock in the FA Cup as they have been the victim of such defeats over the years, but now the boot is on the other foot.

Quakers go to Walsall today as underdogs, one of 31 non-league teams in the first round and looking to cause an upset against League Two opposition, two divisions above Darlington.

Though the Saddlers are third-bottom having lost six league matches in a row, they are still expected to overcome their non-league opponents…just as Darlington were in years gone by against the likes of Telford United, Farnborough and Hornchurch.

Infamously they lost to Telford after a replay in 1984-85 when in the next round awaited a visit to FA Cup holders Everton.

Quakers were in Division Four at the time – known as League Two in today’s money - and would be promoted at the end of the season, they had a good team and had beaten Middlesbrough at the previous stage on a raucous night at Feethams.

So, a home tie with non-league Telford appeared to offer a safe passage to round five. Then Cyril Knowles’ men were stuffed 3-0.

At Goodison Park Telford were beaten 3-0 by a full-strength Everton – no such thing as squad rotation back then - with Peter Reid, Trevor Steven and Kevin Sheedy scoring.

It was a similar story in 2002-03 when being embarrassed by a non-league outfit meant Quakers missed out on facing Arsenal.

Darlington eased past Stevenage 4-1, a second-round tie which featured on Match of the Day, the cameras no doubt sent to Feethams in anticipation of a humbling.

A repeat was hoped for with another Feethams fixture against a Conference club in Farnborough at the next stage, but this time Quakers came unstuck.

Rocky Baptiste gave them an early lead and Danny Carroll scored twice as Graham Westley’s side won 3-2, Darlington’s misery was compounded by the Hampshire club being paired with the Gunners in the next round. They switched the tie to Highbury on safety grounds, Arsenal winning 5-1 with Baptiste scoring again.

A year later Darlington sank even lower. They went to Hornchurch, an Essex club with big ambitions at the time and they would finish the campaign fifth in Isthmian League Premier Division. Despite being two divisions below Darlington (this being before the creation of National Leagues North and South), they still won 2-0 in what was David Hodgson’s first game in charge after being appointed for a third time.

Five years later and it was Droylsden’s turn to embarrass Darlington, this time after a replay in Tameside.

It is a night remembered for a lengthy stoppage when Liam Hatch sustained what was believed to be a serious injury, though such fears proved unfounded, but any forecast of Quakers avoiding an upset were wide of the mark.

The teams had drawn 0-0 at the Arena, Dave Pace’s Droylsden’s defeating Darlington 1-0 in the replay at the Butcher's Arms Ground. Butchered, indeed.

Even dropping into the Conference did not make Darlington immune from a cup shock, Hinckley United the beneficiaries in 2011-12.

Quakers were a full-time outfit and mid-table in the Conference so should have made light work of a Hinckley side which at the season’s end finished in the National League North drop zone, though earned a relegation reprieve due to Darlington’s financial plight.

But after a 1-1 draw at the Arena Hinckley inflicted a 3-0 replay shellacking. Andre Gray, now with Watford having also played for Burnley in the Premier League, was then a non-league prospect and scored one of the goals.

Having too often in the past been a Goliath felled by David, Quakers are now a non-league team facing a Football League club when Walsall will be the ones under the pressure of aiming to avoid being humbled by an underdog.