CONGRATULATIONS to Darlington 1883 on winning promotion from the Northern League at the first attempt.

It has not been all plain sailing off the pitch, but the team hasn’t put a foot wrong on it and we salute the achievement of manager Martin Gray and his players.

The manager did a fantastic job galvanising morale after the shock of administration and a four-division demotion.

His reward has been 39 wins out of 45 games.

The fans, too, deserve a tip of the hat for sticking with the Quakers through the dark days of administration. Darlington supporters often outnumbered their rivals, even at away games, and their enthusiasm made every match seem like a home fixture.

Darlington’s success has been a true team effort – from the volunteers who gave their time as matchday stewards, turnstyle operators and car park attendents, to the fans who turned out in all weathers, and the players who delivered a record-breaking number of wins and goals.

But the biggest thanks of all should go to the interim board members who kept the club afloat when others said it could not be done.

Although former chairman Denis Pinnegar stepped down in March as part of a restructuring of the board, he and his team can be proud of the part they played in Darlington’s renaissance.

There is still much to be done, not least the return of the team to a permanent home in Darlington, but the foundations appear to have been laid for a successful future.