A FOOTBALL club has launched a buddy club to keep in touch with fans and make sure they get their sporting fix.

With many of its fans unable to leave the house, or take part in social activities, Darlington Football Club has started the scheme so it can keep in touch despite matches being cancelled for the foreseeable future.

It is now more than three weeks since the last match at Blackwell Meadows and it is unknown how long football will be put on hold.

Dave Mills, from the club, said: "We feel it's really important at this moment to reach out to our community and our fan base.

"We have a large population of elderly supporters and we do know a number of them are self-shielding at the moment.

"We'll be getting in touch with those who are living alone, or those who are isolated and make sure they get their football fix.

"We have a whole range of people who will make contact with them to give them the opportunity to talk about football so they know that we are here and operating, albeit remotely and over the phone and not a football game."

The buddy scheme involves someone from the club – a director, official, manager or player – ringing fans and having a chat with them over the phone.

Mr Mills added: "For a lot of our supporters football is their life. It's family, work and football and sometimes I'm not sure what order it comes in.

"We have a vital part to play in the community and we want to be at the forefront to keep our fans in touch and informed with what is going on.

"Our supporters are our life blood. They keep us afloat. That's why we want to work with them and engage them."

As part of its efforts to stay in touch with people during the current lockdown, it will be running net cafe sessions, where people can ask questions of people at the club.

This week, fans also have the chance to ask player Will Hatfield questions.

He is running the net cafe on Thursday, which people can log into to hear his answers.

It takes place at 7pm and anyone who wants to ask a question is asked to get in touch in advance by emailing media@darlingtonFC.org.

The net cafe will be streamed on the club's website on Thursday evening.

Mr Mills said: "We've done them down the years before so we thought we would give that a go.

"Will Hatfield has had a great season so far. Everyone knows his name and he's a larger than life character and a real bubbly guy so he will give good answers."

The club will be getting in touch with people if it has the details for them but also has an email address and phone number for fans to call if they want to be involved, or for anyone who knows of someone who would appreciate the contact.

For more information email media@darlingtonFC.org or ring 07488 564642.