Today marks the tenth anniversary of one of Darlington's greatest moments - the FA Trophy final win over Mansfield Town at Wembley. Craig Stoddart talks to Chris Senior about the goal that changed Quakers history

As he looks back on a cherished moment, happy memories begin flooding back for Chris Senior.

He may have had only one season at Darlington, but being in the right place at the right time means he has a place in Quakers folklore for life.

A close-range header in the 119th minute at Wembley on May 7, 2011 gave Darlington a 1-0 win and the FA Trophy against Mansfield Town, the club’s only goal in three visits to the grand stadium.

“Chris Senior, you are a hero,” said Ray Simpson’s in commentary on BBC Tees, summing up the moment, and the achievement has led to an unofficial annual #ChrisSeniorDay on social media, though the Yorkshireman is not entirely comfortable with it.

He said: “I can feel myself smiling now just thinking about the goal. It’s a nice memory and something nobody can take away.

“On May 7th there’s always a few things said on social media but Chris Senior Day needs putting to bed. It is nice of them, but we won as a team and I think it’s important everyone is recognised for the part they played.

“Without a few last-ditch tackles or cross-field passes, long throw-ins or headers in the box then that header would not have dropped to me.

“In the semi-final against Gateshead, Hatchy rescued us in the first leg with his two goals, and I was an unused sub in the second leg. I remember celebrating on the pitch the fans, an amazing memory, but it was bittersweet. I felt like a fraud because I’d not played that day.”

Eager to give credit to team-mates, it’s typically magnanimous of the likeable 39-year-old and probably fair too – his appearance from the bench was only the striker’s third game in the FA Trophy run after an injury-affected season with Quakers.

Having previously spent four years at Altrincham, moving to Darlington represented a step up for the Huddersfield-born forward, agreeing to join during Simon Davey’s ten weeks in charge at the back end of 2009-10.

He said: “Simon signed me and I spoke to him a few times. I then got married and went away on honeymoon, and when I came back he wasn’t manager anymore!

“I got a call off Lisa Charlton the secretary saying not to worry, ‘the assistant Ryan Kidd is going to take over’, and he rang me and said things were fine. A few days later he resigned as well!

“It was a shock to the system because in the four years prior to that I’d been at Altrincham, a stable club albeit part-time, I’d then signed for a big club like Darlo but straight away it was carnage.”

The Northern Echo:

Nonetheless, new boss Mark Cooper arrived and used Senior in each of the first 20 matches during which he scored six times. But a promising start suddenly went awry.

“I picked up a freak knee injury. It happened when it had been snowing, so we were training indoors and Coops and Richard Dryden put on a head tennis competition, it got quite competitive and I got my studs caught in the artificial grass.

“It was excruciating pain and it took me two or three months to get back, so I had to work hard to try and get back in the team for what was a play-off push initially, but we fell by the wayside.”

Senior returned in February having missed Trophy wins over Tamworth, Bath and Telford, before making his bow in the competition as a sub in the quarter-final at home to Salisbury. Quakers won 2-1, but there were mixed emotions among the club’s Yorkshire-based contingent.

“Bridgey was my car partner, we’d drive up from Yorkshire - there was also Danny Hone and God bless him big Kevin Austin – but me and Bridgey lived in Huddersfield, we were tight and still speak now.

“We were 2-1 up late on and Bridgey was on a free-kick, he could have played me in for a shot, but decided to have a shot himself and missed, so I went mad. I was desperate to get back on the goal trail, so I didn’t speak to him all the way home.”

Senior was not back on the goal trail for quite some time. In fact, with his Wembley winner being his seventh goal for the club, his sixth had been back in October.

And more bad luck came three weeks before the final when he sustained an injury ruling him out of the remaining four league matches, so starting against Mansfield suddenly became highly unlikely. Senior later discovered there was a 50/50 chance whether he would even be a substitute.

“We went down the day before and trained at Chelsea, which Paul Terry had organised through his brother.

“I trained all week and hadn’t considered being left out until the morning of the game, and that’s when I thought ‘oh shit I might not actually be involved here’. I know now that it was between me and Nathan Modest for the bench, he was on loan from Sheffield Wednesday.

“I knew I wasn’t going to be in the starting XI, that was fine because I had not been playing, and at a few other clubs I had been used as an impact sub.

“Coops knew he could at least get half an hour out of me, and I’m honest person so if I wasn’t fit I wouldn’t have pretend I was because that would not have been fair on the team.”

With the game deadlocked, Cooper made his impact sub with 16 minutes of normal time to play.

“I’d said to Phil Gray, who was a young left-back and didn’t play much, when we were sat on the bench that I fancied scoring the winner. He laughed at me!

“I came on for John Campbell. Him and Chrissy Moore had been the wide-men, they’d been doing the doggy work and tracking back, and Tommy Wright was on his own up front – by the time I came on I think he was out on his feet, the poor lad!”

The Northern Echo:

Six years later Wright would become Darlington manager, but during his playing days was a strong target man who made his presence felt. He hit the post with a header, and also went close with a diving header before having a hand in Senior’s never-to-be-forgotten moment in extra time.

From Wright’s header following Aaron Brown’s throw, the ball dropped to Senior after it bounced off the top of the bar.

“It was intuition and opportunism. Alan Marriott, their keeper, thought the it was going over the line so went to towards the ball, but it bounced off the bar and fell perfectly to me. It was instinct.”

The goal was greeted with an explosion of noise, the Darlington fans behind the goal going delirious and among them Senior’s family.

“I nearly ran the other way after scoring, but then I quickly remembered where my family were and it was pure elation and relief. They were in the corner, and that’s where I headed before Tommy dragged me to the ground.

“It was my mam, sisters, my step-dad, my dad and his girlfriend at the time, my granddad and we got a few posh seat tickets which are near the steps.

"I gave two to my mates and one to my wife, and Emma was seven months pregnant at the time – after the match walking up the steps she gave me a big cuddle. I say to my son ‘you were at Wembley when your daddy scored – you might not have seen it bit you were there’.

“My lad is starting to grow up and understand football, and now and again he mentions ‘Daddy, you’ve scored at Wembley’.”