DARLINGTON old-boy Brian Atkinson is hoping for a favour from the fans of his former club early next month – to help Newton Aycliffe prepare for a promotion charge.

As Aycliffe boss, a role he took on in November last year, he is looking forward to the Quakers heading to the Beaumont Landscapes Stadium at Moore Lane on Tuesday, July 5 as part of both clubs’ preparations for the new season.

And Atkinson, who featured more than 200 times for Darlington after signing in 1996, would love to see a big away following turn up to watch Alun Armstrong’s side take on their Ebac Northern League neighbours.

As well as ending his playing days at Darlington, the 50-year-old also returned to the club as assistant manager in 2012 and spent several years there before a stint with York City was followed by his time at West Auckland.

Now his focus is purely on trying to lead a Aycliffe push for promotion and that means making the most out of friendlies such as the one against Darlington.

“It will be great to welcome Darlington FC to Newton Aycliffe FC,” said Atkinson.

“I personally have quite a bit of history with the club – I have nothing but fond memories of my playing time and that of my time as assistant manager.

“I got to know many of the supporters personally over the years and I’d love to see some of them come and have a look at Aycliffe.

“We’re grateful to Alun (Armstrong) and Darren (Holloway) for bringing their first team to Aycliffe. It will certainly help us with our pre-season plans and with funds going into the new season, but we’ll also hopefully give them a good test.

“With it being their first friendly of the pre-season, and hopefully with a couple of new singings on display, it will bring a healthy support from Darlington fans who will be eagerly-awaiting their football fix!

“I got to know many of the fans personally over the years – I’ll always remember the fundraising they did for their club to increase the football budget – and I’d love to see some of them come and have a look at Aycliffe.”

Atkinson is also wanting the town of Newton Aycliffe to get behind the team as he looks to build on the club’s highest ever Northern League finish of fourth last season.

The former Sunderland midfielder is currently working his way through his first summer in front-line management after being a number two at Darlington, Spennymoor, Aycliffe and West Auckland.

Recruitment has been key and he has brought prolific striker Jamie Owens back to the club. He has also added defenders Dan Myers and Oscar Eckley-Aldsworth as well as ex-Boldon forward Oscar Taylor to his ranks.

Even though Atkinson is looking to add more new faces in the coming weeks, he also wants to make sure the feel-good factor created last season doesn’t disappear.

Atkinson said: “This club has done well over the last couple of years. The work Colin Stromsoy did was really good and I was able to build on that. Hopefully, I have further improved the squad this summer. That’s our plan. We want to finish as high as we can and try to get promotion.

“As it is my first job as a manager, that is what I have had to concentrate on and it’s pretty new to me. I haven’t had any time off, it has been about getting those new recruits in for pre-season and the new season and then we go from there.”

Atkinson, who took over following Stromsoy’s departure last November, worked with Newton Aycliffe chairman Allan Oliver 12 years ago and they have a good understanding.

Promotion will be a tough task, with Pickering Town dropping down to Division One from the higher league. Carlisle City and Heaton Stannington have come up from Division Two, while Consett and North Shields moved into NPL East.

Aycliffe have lined up friendlies with Easington Colliery (Jul 1), Darlington (Jul 5), Abbey Hey (Jul 9), Tow Law (Jul 12), Darlington Town (Jul 16) and Spennymoor (Jul 19). Only the Two Law game is away from Moore Lane.