Darlington’s FA Cup replay at Blackwell Meadows this evening with Walsall will be televised live on BT Sport, pocketing each club £33,750. It is the first time Quakers have had a match live on television since becoming a fan-owned club, but prior to 2012 they had 12 games on the box. Craig Stoddart looks back at their previous games in the spotlight

Manchester City. Dec 1998, drew 1-1 (Sky)

THESE clubs have been on very different paths since they met on a Friday evening in the late 1990s at Feethams in the early rounds of the FA Cup, the potential shock being why it was chosen by television chiefs and attracted a crowd of 7,250.

With Darlington in the Football League’s basement division, City were one level above having suffered two relegations in three seasons, but they still had plenty of well-known names in their side, such as Nicky Weaver, Jamie Pollock, Shaun Goater, Paul Dickov and Ian Bishop, while Joe Royle was the manager.

Sky almost got the shock that they came for with Gary Bennett giving Darlington an early lead after a well-worked corner, Marco Gabbiadini flicking on Brian Atkinson’s delivery, but late on Dickov equalised with a fine strike at the Polam End.

City won the replay 1-0 after extra time at Maine Road.

Peterborough United. Feb 2000, won 2-0 (Sky)

THE Sky cameras were in town again for a match with promotion rivals Peterborough United, one which saw Neil Wainwright score on his Darlington debut and David Hodgson’s side win 2-0 on a poor playing surface.

Sky Sports’ pundit Alan Brazil described it as the worst he had ever seen, Darlington having endured months of problems.

Weeks beforehand Hodgson said: “There are four areas of the pitch which are in good condition – the four corners. We’ll have to hit the ball into the corners and try to get more goals from our width. The rest of it is a real quagmire.”

Over £70,000 on a new cover was spent, so Quakers were grateful this game went ahead, Gabbiadini also scoring on what was a Super Sunday in front of of 4,688.

Peterborough United. May 2000, lost 1-0 (Sky)

THREE months later and the same teams met again on a saturated playing surface, this time at Wembley in the play-off final, but sadly there was no repeat of the previous scoreline.

Unusually for a play-off final, it was played on a Friday evening having been brought forward a day to accommodate an England international against Brazil.

Hodgson’s side dominated, particularly in the first half, but chance after chance went begging and ultimately the Posh’s Andy Clarke got the only goal of the game.

Macclesfield Town. Sept 2000, drew 1-1 (Sky)

PRESUMABLY because Darlington remained in the national consciousness partly due to publicity-hungry George Reynolds, Sky chose Macclesfield Town v Darlington early in 2000-01 for another spot of Friday night football, but this was an unremarkable stalemate.

Former Quaker Gary Twynham came off the bench for the Silkmen and Ben Sedgemore scored, while Lee Nogan netted for Darlington, who had undergone upheaval since losing to Peterborough in the play-off final with many of their stars leaving, and so too had Hodgson.

Leeds United. Oct 2007, lost 1-0 (Sky)

ELEVEN years after a memorable League Cup tie with Leeds United, Darlington hosted the Yorkshire giants in what was their first ever game in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, as it was then known.

The competition was not highly regarded, but it held more weight than it does today – now known as the Leasing.com Trophy – and Sky saw fit to cover this fixture, which drew a crowd of almost 8,000, one of the largest in the Arena’s nine seasons.

The only goal was a second-half header by defender Paul Huntington.

Rochdale. May 2008, won 2-1 (Sky)

AT the end of the 2007-08 season, and by now with Sky televising play-off semis as well as the final, both legs against Rochdale were live with viewers treated to two enthralling games.

On a balmy day at the Arena with over 8,000 in attendance, Jason Kennedy put Darlington ahead with a beauty – not his last such goal against Dale – curled home from around 20 yards and later described as ‘Bergkamp-esque’ in some quarters.

While Keith Hill’s team equalised through Chris Dagnall and the match looked to be heading for stalemate, in the final minute Ian Miller headed in a dramatic winner to take into the second leg a week later.

Rochdale. May 2008, lost 2-1, lost on penalties (Sky)

IF only Julian Joachim had passed. That is the takeaway from this televised and tearful trip to Spotland.

He tried to shoot when team-mate Craig Nelthorpe would have had an open goal and would surely have sealed the win in extra-time, instead penalties were required to settle this play-off semi-final, which finished 3-3 on aggregate.

Injuries had hit so hard that Quakers started with midfielder Micky Cummins on his own up front, the squad’s injured players making their own way down in a minibus.

Darlington took the lead with a Clark Keltie penalty only to see Rochdale fightback, so penalties were required and Darlington heartbreakingly came off second best with Kennedy cruelly missing the crucial kick.

In the final at Wembley Rochdale lost 3-2 to Stockport County.

Bradford City. Oct 2008, won 2-1 (Sky)

BY now Sky knew they could rely on Darlington for drama, and this game at the Arena saw viewers treated to three late goals and an injury-time winner by a Liechtenstein international.

In a match moved to a Monday evening, Neil Austin put Darlington ahead with a stunning free kick six minutes from time, but the visitors immediately equalised through Omar Daley.

Two days earlier there was frustration when a penalty by Wycombe Wanderers’ Scott McGleish with literally the final kick of the game denied Darlington victory, but the boot was on the other foot against Bradford with Franz Burgmeier heading home in the dying seconds.

Manager Dave Penney said: “I’d rather we played that well when people weren’t watching. People are certainly aware of us now. I’d have preferred the performance not to be on TV but it was a great advert for ourselves and for League Two.”

Rochdale. April 2009, won 2-0 (Sky)

WE meet again, or at least Darlington and Dale did. One year after their captivating play-off games Sky fancied more of the same and Kennedy was again at the centre of the action.

In the fourth minute the midfielder chested down a Pawel Abbott flick and lashed home a half-volley into the goal where he had seen his penalty saved 11 months earlier.

Played a fortnight before the end of the season, Darlington went on to win 2-0, Rory McArdle scoring an own goal, though Rochdale still reached the play-offs where they lost in the semis.

Quakers were in midtable after being deducted ten points for going into administration. Kennedy joined Dale in the summer.

Leeds United. Aug 2009, lost 1-0 (Sky)

AN abysmal season started on Sky as they returned to the Arena for the fourth and final time, again Leeds United were the opposition.

The two sides had been due to meet in a pre-season friendly, but that was cancelled in the wake of the clubs being paired up for this Carling Cup tie and it was settled with an Enoch Showunmi goal.

“We didn’t shut up shop, we wanted to be positive,” said Darlington manager Colin Todd, but he was soon replaced by Steve Staunton as new chairman Raj Singh oversaw a truly dreadful campaign ending in relegation from League Two.

York City. Sept 2010, drew 0-0 (Premier Sports)

YOU'D be forgiven if you had forgotten Darlington’s last two matches on TV. They were both on Premier Sports TV, a subscription channel then in its infancy though it is still going, and they twice broadcast Darlington matches.

There was a 0-0 draw at York City, the 12th match of what was Darlington’s first season back in the Conference after being relegated from League Two the previous season.

Mark Cooper had been appointed manager and the draw at York meant Quakers lost only one of their first dozen games, but they lost three on the bounce after this...

Wrexham. Nov 2011, lost 2-1 (Premier Sports)

FOURTEEN months later and Darlington were away to Wrexham and back in front of the Premier Sports cameras and so was Cooper, but he was in the studio offering some rather frank opinions on the players having recently been sacked by Singh.

He had lost his job a month earlier, so by now Craig Liddle was at the helm but this was when Singh was starting to make swingeing cuts. Marc Bridge-Wilkinson scored a penalty, Darlington lost 2-1, and soon the situation would unravel to the point where the club entered administration and, seven years later, Quakers will be back on television tonight in much happier circumstances.