DANNY ELLIS is “gutted” to be leaving Darlington, but the veteran centre-half insists the opportunity to kick off his managerial career with Guiseley was too good to turn down.

Ellis’ departure from Darlington was confirmed today as the club released their retained list, with the 36-year-old having subsequently been confirmed as the new boss of Guiseley, who were relegated to the NPL Premier Division from National League North this season.

The defender joined Quakers last autumn, making 24 appearances by the end of the campaign, and admits it is a wrench to be leaving Blackwell Meadows after less than a season in Darlington colours.

“The opportunity to become Guiseley manager at this stage of my career is too good to turn down,” said Ellis. “I’ve been there for 18 years – the last ten as academy manager.

“Alun (Armstrong) has been very supportive about me taking the job, and given me loads of confidence and a few ideas.

“But I’m absolutely gutted to be leaving Darlington. I’ve loved my time here. Everyone has been fantastic, on and off the field. The second I came, I wished that I’d been here for a few years already.”

Ellis was one of eight players release today, with the departure of Joe Wheatley coming as something of a surprise given that he was Darlington’s longest-serving player, having initially been signed under Martin Gray in 2017.

Brandon Taylor, George Smith, Lexus Beeden, Alex Storey, Jake Cassidy and James Beauchamp were also released, along with Andrew Nelson and Omar Sanyang, who will be invited back for pre-season to help with their rehab.

Adriano Moke, Ben Hedley, David Wheater, Tommy Taylor, Jake Lawlor, Junior Mondal and Jarrett Rivers are all contracted for next season, and Quakers have taken up contractual options with Kevin Dos Santos, Jack Lambert, Alex Purver and Lucas Martin, meaning they also remain on the books for next term.

Negotiations continue with Kallum Griffiths and Joey Hope, with Armstrong hoping deals can be agreed that will see both players remain at Darlington.

Five players have left at the end of loan deals, with Danny Rose, Nathan Lowe, Tyrone O’Neill, Cameron Thompson and Dominic McHale all having now returned to their parent clubs after being part of the Quakers squad that finished in 13th position in National League North this season.