HE will leave with the heaviest of hearts, but when Sam Russell severs his associations with Darlington for what looks certain to be the final time at the end of this week, he is promising the club's supporters he will never forget the good times he has enjoyed as a Quaker.

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Russell, who was born in Middlesbrough and has spent five years at Darlington either side of spells at Rochdale and Wrexham, was between the sticks on Saturday as Craig Liddle's side lost 3-0 at Barrow.

The game could well be the club's last before liquidation, but even if the administrators are able to raise the funds to stage a scheduled home match with Fleetwood Town in 12 days' time, Russell is unlikely to be involved.

The goalkeeper reluctantly submitted his two-week notice towards the end of last month, and is expected to move to pastures new before the weekend.

The decision does not sit easily with him, but having finally put his personal needs ahead of the affection he obviously feels for his team, the 29-year-old insists he will always be proud to be associated with Darlington.

"I hope no-one judges me badly for this," said Russell. "There's a massive place in my heart for this football club and I love everyone involved. It's so, so difficult. But it plays with your life.

"We've all got bills, and for the last couple of months, they just haven't been getting paid. I'm 29 years of age and I've lived to my means so far. But there are bills to pay and when you're dipping into your savings and spending every penny you've got, it's really, really difficult.

"I hardly had a penny off the football club for two months, and that makes it all but impossible to carry on. Eventually, it comes to a stage where you have to look after yourself. I put my notice in, and it's either Wednesday or Thursday when that runs out.

"I've had a few approaches so I suppose it'll be a case of seeing where they lead. It's really disappointing because I didn't want this to happen. I didn't want to leave the club in the first place, and it took me three years to get back.

"When I came back, I was hoping that was that for me. It's been great to settle in back home, and Wembley last season was amazing. But then all of this has happened, and it's been especially difficult to take."

Like skipper Jamie Chandler, who is also poised to leave the Quakers this week, Russell used Saturday's post-match scenes to thank the supporters who have stuck with the club through two difficult months.

Like everyone associated with Darlington, he hopes there will be a remarkable rescue mission in the next few days.

Like everyone who was at Holker Street on Saturday, though, he will never forget a day that could soon be remembered as the end.

"I still don't know what to say about it all, to be honest," he said. "The whole of the last week has been really emotional and the lads are really devastated. We're just hoping someone comes in to save this football club.

"To be honest, it's not just been the last week, it's been a long, long while. It started off in November with the pay cuts and all that, and it's really just escalated from there. It's really been pretty much a nightmare since then.

"The good thing is that the lads have stuck together and the supporters have stuck with their team. If this is to be a send off, then at least you couldn't have wished for a better one."