Sadly, Lance passed away in December
2011 at the age of 73. He is missed greatly but remembered very
fondly by his many friends. This page is a reminder of some of the
good times we enjoyed in his company.
great sadness we pay tribute to our great friend, Lance Ireland, who
died on New Year's Eve 2011 at the age of 73.
Anyone who knew him will not be able to remember him without a smile
on their face. The words "a great character" don't really do him justice;
you had to have been with him to appreciate fully what this means,
and you soon became quite blase about those quirks and eccentricities.
He was never short of a story and enjoyed the banter. Travelling with
him was never dull, though prone to mishaps on occasions! He left
us all with lovely memories of his tremendous and generous company.
He became a Darlington fan after tiring of Premier football in his
home city Birmingham and revisited the club of his Army days near
Catterick. He founded "Harbo Darlo," an off-shoot supporters' club,
with two shrines to Darlington at his local pubs in Harborne. Darlington
fans, if rarely passing, were particularly welcome. DAFTS' early visits
for weekends saw you in a crowd of Brummies, who would chant "Darlo"
at Lance's entrance - or sing his signature The Pussy Cat Song
- and who were as up to date with the club's progress, as if it was
Villa or Albion. Ahead of the now ubiquitous Fantasy Football competitions,
he ran his own British Superleague in the pub, very much to his own
rules of course, which always saw Darlington top for some reason.
Lance would also badger regulars at The Sportsman in his fundraising
for the club, and the Supporters' Trust, as invariably fundraising
was needed. He was recognised by the Supporters Club with an award,
which he received on the pitch in 2003.
The new wave: Lance within the DAFTS crowd at Notts County
Lance was a man of firm views and principle too. When the smoking
ban came in, he refused to go to football stadiums which didn't have
a smoking area. But it didn't stop him going on football trips, as
he'd travel to games, meet up in the pub but be on his train in time
for kick-off! What some thought bizzare, we all became quite used
to. This was Lance of course.
His final football trip was to Wembley. Or rather Watford. He came
down for the FA Trophy weekend, enjoyed the pre-match warm-up but
naturally went home as the new Wembley could not accommodate someone
of his ideals. He still had a good time. He had been diagnosed with
cancer and faced up to the illness with remarkable fortitude. To the
end he was as sharp as a tack, and only this last week was asking
about Darlo's latest plight.
There was more to him than football. To everyone's delight, this
fan of films from the golden (his) era fulfilled a lifelong ambition
by flying to Los Angeles in early summer. Lance had been corresponding
with his screen idol Rhonda Fleming for a number of years. Trivia
quizzes with Lance in the chair at The Sportsman always included statutory
Rhonda Fleming and Darlington questions. This lovely lady, now into
her 80s, invited him to dinner at her Hollywood home and arranged
a tour for him. Lance was bowled over by this; a star he could call
a friend. She also called him at the hospice where he spent his final
weeks, as did David Hodgson for a chat about football. This meant
a lot to him, as did the many cards and letters from friends.
This, his Harbo
Darlo page on the DAFTS website has received fairly irregular
updates over the last year or so, but hopefully it gives a flavour
of Lance and his humour. And of course, it's a reminder of that
splendid array of hats, not to mention the odd glove puppet. Lance
epitomised what DAFTS is about: Following football but most importantly
making friends from all walks of life. Our condolences to his daughters
and the rest of his family. We'll miss him.
His funeral was attended by his many friends, including Darlington fans travelling long distances.
Day remembers Lance
fans joined in with a Flat Cap Day at the away match at Kidderminster
Harriers in memory of our friend Lance Ireland.
He died aged 73 on New Year's Eve in his
home city of Birmingham after a long illness but was a regular
at away matches, as a member of DAFTS, and for a number of seasons
made regular trips to home games.
The idea for the day was to do something appropriate for someone
who was a great character and enjoyed eccentricities and a good joke,
as well as being recognisable from his trademark cap.
DAFTS met up in Birmingham for the weekend, and were joined by friends
from his local pub in Harborne.
"We were really pleased so many decided to join in with the idea,
and was a bit of fun to do too," said Steve Duffy, of DAFTS. "It was
a hot afternoon, so it was more sun hat weather really. We especially
looked the part before the match at the pub at the Severn Valley Railway
- right back to the age of steam."
©Photos: Ted Blair
HARBO DARLO BULLETIN
Yes, here I am with the lovely Rhonda! A lifetime's ambition!
MAY 2011: LA Confidential - Lance
goes surfing USA
LOS ANGELES, CA: Lance has gone
on a trip of a lifetime to meet his favourite movie idol and pen-pal,
'50s Hollywood star Rhonda Fleming.
The luck of Lance even works here - sometimes! I
got to my hotel in London OK. Had a meal at the hotel which cost £11
and when the waitress asked me if it was ok I replied, "It was nice
but why did I only get a kids portion - instead of an adult one?"
Honestly, two bites and it was gone! Nice to know I haven't lost the
knack of how to win friends and influence people! Bored out of my
mind, I had a couple or more beers and went to bed about nine!Next
morning, I was up about 0430 hours and at the airport for 0700 hours.
That meant a 3 hours 30 minutes wait for my plane. Who was I kidding!
The only flight to be delayed was mine! I got through security in
about 60 seconds and then wandered aimlessly around the departure
lounge for another 6 hours before boarding the plane. I couldn't even
go for a smoke! We took off at 1430 hours and my seat was right in
the middle of a row of five. The people either side of me seemed to sleep
all the way and I was afraid to disturb them - so I just sat there
for 11 hours!
There was no decent black and white film to watch and
also no Rhonda Fleming film on. I managed to get through customs ok
but they did look at me strangely when I joked with them! So I finally
got to my hotel at about 1900 hours. [That would be 0300 hours in
England and you had all had a great time out and most likely in dreamland,
as I struggled on in life.]
I decided to phone Carla and leave a message
on the answering machine to tell her that I had arrived. Dial 9 and
then the number or that is what the card in my room said! I got the
operator. She told me that I had to dial 91 and then the number. Ok!
Easy! I did that and got the operator again! The operator then put
me through to the number and I was surprised when a woman answered
it. Carla must be on overtime, I thought! When I said Carla, the woman
replied that she wasn't there. She asked who wanted her and I replied
Lance! "Prince Lance, we are so looking forward to meeting you!" I
was actually speaking to Queen Rhonda! I immediately went down on
one knee and touched my forelock! Anyway, we had a good chat and laugh.
I then went for a couple of beers and found out I needed an adaptor
for my laptop - in order to bore you with this! Next morning, I caught
the shuttle bus to the mall (he seems to be picking up the lingo - Ed) and got chatting to a New Zealander and
his wife. It was 1100 hours and we were at the mall in about 15 minutes.
I got my adaptor and waited for the shuttle bus. It was now 1200 hours.
After one hour of staring in to space my New Zealand pal walked by
and asked what I was doing. Waiting for the bus of course! It turned
out that the next bus was at 1415 hours! Time for a beer! Having my
beer, I opened my adaptor pack and found some of the items missing.
So it was back to the store. It took me nearly one hour before I managed
to get a refund and purchase another adaptor. Just in time to miss
the ruddy bus! The next one was at 1715 hours. Back to the bar and
meet my New Zealand chum! We staggered out at 1700 hours and caught
the shuttle back to the hotel and straight in to the bar for Happy
I might not be eating much, I might not be seeing much but I
certainly am drinking a hell of a lot! It is now six in the morning
and I am now going to get ready for my big day. [Rhonda's husband
is named Darol and that is an anagram of Darlo! Isn't life strange!
I'll have to tell him he won a cup a couple of weeks ago!] Have fun
folks and just leave the drinking to me and my New Zealand chum!
Lance went on to meet Rhonda.
ANOTHER LETTER FROM AMERICA: Another Great Day Betty picked
me up at 1000 and took me on a tour of Los Angeles. [This had
been arranged by Rhonda and Carla and Rhonda must have paid for
it.] We never got back to the hotel, until after 1700 hours.
We went all over the place! The highlight, though, was when Betty
took a photo of me next to Rhonda's hands and footprints, outside
the Chinese Theatre. We also had meal there. Before she picked me
up, she had to go and pick up the photos, taken on Wednesday, from
With the photos,
there was a hand written card, from my Queen! It reads, "My dear
Lance, It was such a joy meeting you. You are very special and I'm
grateful to know you came such a long way to meet me. What a lovely
honor. Enclosed a few happy memories of our time together. I will
always remember you and you will always be my Prince. Love, Rhonda
Me with Queen Rhonda and the lovely Carla
Now isn't that lovely of Rhonda? It just shows what a wonderful,
warm and caring woman that she is. I am so glad that I made the
trip. It has to be the highlight of my life! No doubt, I will bore
everyone to death, when I get back but I must be the happiest person
on the planet - at the moment. [I really should have married her
- all those years ago!] You'll be pleased to know, this is my final
"Letter From America". Cheers, Lance. PS. Prince Lance loves Queen
MAY 2011: Wembley, well Watford,
but what a day!
As I arrived home, from Watford,
I switched on the television and was just in time to hear Jeff Stelling
say, “And Darlington have scored in the last minute of extra-time
and have won the FA Trophy!”
I knew then that I had played my part,
in this famous victory. I had been in the pub, for pre-match drinks
and then caught the train back to Birmingham. It never fails, to
bring the Darlo victory!
Other people say that my being at a game
is complete jinx! Even Howard was there and saw us win. As for BT
- I will try to avoid him and not suffer his gloating!
I was so
pleased for all those fans who watch Darlo home and away, especially
those in the DAFTS who have to make long trips - even for a home
game. My only regret was that I didn’t meet up with the lads, in
London, for the usual pre-match drink. But, on the plus side, we
[that’s Ray and myself] did have a great time in Watford.
me at Watford Junction station, at 1315 and headed for “The One
Crown”, where we were to meet Tony. Now we could have caught a bus
- seeing as we both have free bus passes. But, seeing as we haven’t
got one brain cell between us, we decided to walk. It took us 35
minutes to get there! I must admit that I did cause a slight detour.
I decided to turn right out of the station, instead of left!
We spent most of the day in there, except for a brief spell when
we booked into the hotel. It was a nice friendly pub and we had
good banter with the landlady and the locals. In fact, we each had
a free beer off the landlady! There were brief visits from Tony,
Lesley and their son Kai. [Hope I have spelt it right!] Also Neil
and Brian nipped in for a short while. The pub had a pool table
and Ray beat me 2-1. I am still 4-3 up though! When we left, the
landlady even gave us a kiss each. Things are certainly getting
better in my life!
Saturday morning saw us back in the pub and we
had a couple of beers before Ray departed for Wembley. I carried
on heckling the landlady, much to the amusement of the locals. I
did get another kiss and the parting words of, “I’ll never forget
you - you old bleeder!”
Tonight, Sunday, I’m off to The Sportsman,
to celebrate our triumph and also give all the Warwickshire supports
stick - after their hammering by Lancashire. So, I guess, I will
have a really great night. [Ok! I know Worcestershire lost but I
will just gloss over that!]
I finished work on the 29th April and
word has come out that my leaving do is next Friday, 13th May. The
main problem is that nobody has told me where it is being held!
Do you think they don’t want me there! Then it’s California and
I bet she will be ever so excited when I tell her
that Darlington won the FA Trophy and that Humphrey Bogart might
win the Come On Darlo League and that she is in the top
30. Maybe not!
APRIL 2011: Kiddie and California
here I come!
My second visit of the season, to Kidderminster, saw the mighty Darlo triumph 2-1. As I know Danny Lewis, the Kidderminster keeper, it brought extra joy to me!
Unfortunately, I left when we were trailing by a goal to nil. This was due to the fact that I felt tired and not very well.
However, when Steve sent a text, telling me we were 2-1 up, I felt a lot better!
I thought we were pretty poor, in the first half, although we did nearly equalise, just before half-time.
I met Ted and Steve, at The Wellington, in Birmingham. They then moved on and I headed for Kidderminster. I somehow got on a train that stopped two stops before Kidderminster and, before I realised it, I was heading back to Brum. However, on my second attempt, I finally made it to Kidderminster.
I had a couple of pints in the King and Castle, before going for a meal.
When I returned, Ted and Steve were there but, to my sorrow, they had brought along BT [Brummie Tony].
Once again, he told me that he saw all the Darlo away wins last season. [I haven’t seen Darlo lose for over three years!]
Before the game, Steve, BT and myself put a £1 each in the kitty and had a guess to what the away attendance would be. I went for 38, Steve for 56 and BT for 58. Much to my regret, BT won!
Ted took a photo of us in the ground, just to prove that I did at least make it past the turnstile! No doubt BT will be wearing a broad grin and I’ll be looking miserable.
Of all the Darlington players, I thought Jamie Chandler was outstanding.
I did state that this was my second visit, to Kidderminster, this season!
The first was a few weeks back, when the game was postponed, due to our lads still being in the FA Trophy.
However, Ray and Tony had already paid for their travel and hotel, in advance and so we finished up, for the afternoon, in the King and Castle.
Tony wanted us to go to the ground, ask them to open up the away end and have our picture taken! We never made it!
Instead we finished up at The Sportsman, in Harborne.
Life is full of ups and downs but my life is, at the moment, definitely on the up.
1] For most of the season, I have struggled at the foot of the Come on Darlo prediction league.
In fact, at one time, I thought I was gong to get the “Wooden Spoon” for the second successive year!
But two successive correct scores have seen me rise from 203rd to 178th and safety.
2] I’m off to Los Angeles in the middle of May and I have been invited to dine with [Hollywood legend] Rhonda Fleming, her husband and her P.A. Carla at her home. To finally meet Rhonda will be a dream come true.
There could even be a third, yet!
Darlington lift the Trophy, at Wembley!
Keep the faith!
JANUARY 2011: Oh for a slope and
My day got off to a great start,
as Brummie Tony (BT) never showed up at New Street Station. This
meant that the train would arrive, at Tamworth on time. Even better,
a young blonde engaged in conversation with me. [Just proves that
she had never met me before!]
At Tamworth, I met up with Tony and Ray and we headed for the
Weatherspoons’ pub. The weather was bitterly cold and I decided
I would give the game a miss and stay in the warmth of a pub. Brian
and Trevor soon showed up and so we got on with the drinking. As
there seemed to be only two people serving, this was pretty hard
to do, especially as the pub was getting crowded. As one local said
to Ray, “It’s all these bloody people from the North-East causing
We then moved on to The Robert Peel. Already there,
among other Quakers, were Ted, Steve, Colin and, of course, BT.
The lads were trying to get me to go to the game but I was determined
that I was going to say in the pub.
Gary Shaw was covering the game
and rang me to tell me that he was in the Social Club and wouldn’t
be coming to The Robert Peel. As it had been his 50th, the day before,
I was amazed he had made it at all! I don’t know how it happened
but it did! The lads talked me into going to the game! I left the
warmth of the pub to face the prospect of freezing to death. However,
Tamworth FC are a civilised club and allow smoking. [I had also
met up with Pete again, who had tried to run me over on Friday!]
Gary and Lance
I rang Gary and he came down to renew acquaintances with the DAFTS.
His first words were, “Is Pie-man Tony here?” Obviously, he must
have been starving! He then wanted to know who he should look out
for in the Darlo team.
The pitch, at Tamworth, not only has a slope but also looked very
uneven. Also, the surface turned out to be very slippery. I thought
Tamworth were the better football side, in the first half, but our
lads defended well and Sam Russell wasn’t seriously troubled - apart
from a spot-kick. This he managed to save and we nearly took the
lead, when we hit their crossbar, just before half-time. After half-time,
we started to get on top and Hatch nodded us in front, from a free
kick. About a minute later, Wright was lucky to stay on the park,
after flattening a Tamworth player. The reprieve was short-lived,
as he then fouled another player and received his marching orders.
With about 20 minutes to
go, Ray and myself were freezing and, along with Brian, headed for
the warmth of a pub. As we watched the ever changing scores coming
through, we just hoped Darlo could hold out. Not to be! 90th minute,
Tamworth 1 Darlington 1. I suppose that we should have been happy
with a draw but it now felt like a defeat. [Yet another stoppage
time goal denying us victory.]
However, I reflected on the fact
that it is now over three years since I last saw Darlington concede
a goal - let alone lose a game. [Beat that, Brummie Tony!] A proud
record, indeed! The game hadn’t been very good but the conditions
had been bad and the team gave their all. It had been a good day
out and in great company. On my train back to Brum, I chatted to
a young couple and they never moved to other seats - let alone another
carriage! I must be losing my touch!
DECEMBER 2010: What a great Christmas!
This has been my best Christmas ever, as a Darlington supporter. Undefeated!
I had great pleasure, when going in to work on Wednesday, and boasting about the fact that we hadn’t lost a game, over the festive season!
It was even more enjoyable, in telling the Albion supporters.
Since following the Darlo, Christmas has usually seen me in a state of depression but not this year.
Ok! So we didn’t play any games but what has that got to do with it! The fact is that we were undefeated and that is a fact that no-one can deny!
OLD SCHOOL FOOTBALL PRESENTS
Lorraine visited me on Christmas Eve, and brought me food for my Christmas dinner.
She also left a present for me and said that she hoped I would enjoy it!
She must have been on eBay, or the like, for when I opened it, on Christmas Day, it was “The Boys Book Of Soccer For 1949” and “The Boys Book Of Soccer For 1950”.
I was engrossed for nearly all the rest of the day.
Pictures of proper football pitches covered in mud or snow. Players with good old fashioned English names!
Ridiculous but great stories of the hero turning up just time to lead his side to victory or else show up a cheat.
There was also a picture of Keith Jones, the Welsh international, who played in goal for Villa. It showed him, as I always fondly remember him, looking up, despairingly, as the ball flashes in to the net.
There was also a football game, in it, that you played with a dice.
Out came the dice and you will be pleased to know that Darlington beat Man. Utd. 6-0 and Arsenal 5-0.
By the way, it was nice to see players wearing the proper colours and design of their clubs. Also no numbers over 11 and, best of all, no letters plastered across the front of their shirts.
It was a journey back in time, when you didn’t have silly yellow and red cards, you could charge a keeper and referees used common sense. [Well most of them did!]
I remember it well!
BACK TO 2011
It hasn’t been a good year for us. Relegated and, at present,
mid-table in the Conference. Until we get a settled side, I can’t
see us getting promoted. [Me of little faith!] As I don’t
go to games anymore, I can only go on what I read. From what I gather,
it has been mainly kick and rush football and also too many changes.
The testing time now is the congestion of fixtures. If we can put
a good run together, then the confidence grows. On the other hand,
if we don’t, then it is all doom and gloom. I once played 11 games
in 10 days and the only one we lost was the last game. We started
with nine men and finished with eight men and lost 2-0. It is a
fact! You only feel tired or injured when you are losing. When you
are winning - you could play forever! Lets hope our lads don’t feel
tired or injured!
Happy New Year to you all!
OCTOBER 2010: Getting better - just
The last few weeks, I haven’t been feeling well but I think that I am now feeling better.
No booze and on some days I wasn’t even smoking!
However, I did go to Mansfield, for the pre-match drinking session.
I met Tony, Brian and Trevor, as they arrived at the station and we headed for the Railway.
It was quite busy in there and we went in the side room. Ray eventually arrived as did Brummie Tony. [BT kept his record intact, as he still hasn’t seen Darlo lose this season. I don’t think he has seen them win but he still hasn’t seen them lose!]
We had a good time in there and Ted even nipped in for a quick pint, before he set of for the ground and his photographic duties.
The lads then left for the match and I stayed for another couple of pints. I think it was only the second time that I had been in a pub, since my disastrous day at Kettering.
Tony did text me to say that we were 1-0 down and that we were awful. So I headed home feeling well depressed and fearing the worst.
However, it seems we sent out a different side in the second half and that we earned a well deserved draw.
Having now beaten Mossley, in the FA Cup, we have now got Bristol Rovers at home. I feel confident that if we beat Rovers that we will go on and win the FA Cup.
The real Bobby dazzler!
On Friday evening, Gary Shaw rang me to
see if I was going for a drink. This was to celebrate the life of
Norman Wisdom. As I was still feeling a bit low, I had to decline.
Ten minutes later, he rang me again and asked if I was going to
go to Bobby Thomsons’ book launch, next day. Bobby had played for
Wolves, Villa and Birmingham City, in the 50’s ad 60’s. I had been
out drinking with him, on a few occasions, and was with him the
night he collapsed in The Sportsman, celebrating his 65th birthday.
I hadn’t seen him for about six years but as soon as I entered the
shop he recognised me and came over. A few of the old stars of Villa
and Blues were there, including Charlie Aitken, Chris Nicholl and
Gary eventually turned up, after they had all gone!
Bobby introduced me to people as the chap who supports Darlington
and drinks in The Sportsman! I bought a copy of his book, “The Real
Bobby Dazzler - The Bobby Thomson Story”
and Gary is going to borrow it! Bobby is a lovely
fellow, even though he had a fiery temper, and he was full of jokes
and quips as usual. [It’s hard to be modest, when one is so gifted,
he quipped!] He also now does charity work. He is now tee-total
and, as he went off to watch the Blues, Gary and I headed for The
Wellington. It was packed out with Blackpool supporters and we had
a quick pint before Gary dropped me back home.
Whatever happened to cheap day returns?
Over the last 10 years, the cost of rail travel has escalated. I remember getting to Darlington for an £8 cheap day return! Now it is hard to find a cheap day return.
I think my travelling by train days are over and I’ll use my bus pass to tour Worcester, Warwick and Stafford!
A disastrous day out - there's no Kettering for me!
I set out, on Saturday morning,
with a happy heart and looking forward to seeing Darlo play Kettering.
My first Darlo game, after three years of absence, due to the smoking
I got off to a good start, as well! The 0922 train turned up
on time and left on time. Then the train came to a halt, just before
Nuneaton. Twenty minutes passed by, before we were told that the delay
was due to vandalism.
At Nuneaton, a young chap got on and he sat
opposite me. It wasn’t long before I realised that he was trying
to take “The Biggest Idiot in Britain” title away from me! (That will still take some doing - Ed)
time did you leave Birmingham?, he asked - I replied, “0922!” -
“No you didn’t! You left on the one before that!” This went on for
several minutes and then other people on the train told him that
we had left Brum at 0922. But he wouldn’t have it! We arrived in
Leicester at 1033, instead of 1010. The train for Kettering left
at 1033. Of course, that bloody train left on time! Still only 58
minutes to wait for the next one. Time for a smoke and hope that
the day gets better. [And it does but only just for a couple of
Lance in the pub - a brief respite from disaster
I now make my way to the pub and, even before I get through
the door, I am greeted with shouts of abuse, from the DAFTS crew.
They even tell the barmaid not to serve me! [She soon discovered
why!] Ted, Colin, John and Trevor were in fine form and a pleasant
couple of hours were passed in there. [That is until Brummie Tony
turned up and proceeded to give me a hard time!]
Then it was off to the game and a return to a nightmare day. The
lads left me well behind, as we made our way to the ground but,
hey, I would see them inside the ground. Ha-ha! Who did I think
I was kidding?
I asked for a ticket at the away end and they sold me a ticket,
for £10 and told me that I was in the stands. I told them that I
wanted to stand behind the goal, as I was a smoker. - “You can’t,
because we’re not opening that part of the ground!” - “Ok! I’ll
change it for a ticket at the home end.” - “You can’t! You are an
away supporter!” - “Ok! I’ll just have my money back.” - “We don’t
give refunds!” This carried on for a couple of minutes and I was
even told that I could come out at half-time and have a smoke. I
told them that I smoked when I wanted too and not when they wanted
me too. Then a steward, who had been patiently watching all this,
told me to see the ticket manager. After a few minutes of exchanges
with him, he finally gave in and refunded me the £10.
I am not a
happy bunny, as I head back to the station but, when I get there,
I find the train is 15 minutes late and I only have fourminutes
to wait. [Lady Luck back with me!] So I dash to platform 4. Half
an hour later comes an announcement. “Sorry! The 1530 to Leicester
pulled in at Platform 1 but no-one informed us of the change!” Great!
I eventually get back to Harborne at19.45. I call in for a take-away
Chinese meal. As I leave the shop, the heavens open and I am soaked
to the skin, by the time I get home. Never, I repeat never, am I
going to any pre-match drinking meets again -let alone going to
a game. Trouble is that football supporters have short-term memory
problems. Darlo drew 0-0.
BT is going to be insufferable, next time
We're in the Premier at last!
Just a few days and then the new season kicks off.
Well, actually, most of the clubs have already kicked-off but we are Premier stuff now and have earned the right to kick-off with the “big boys”.
So it’s Blue Square Premier and not actually the one that George meant but I bet he’s still feeling proud, that his forecast of us reaching the Premier came true!
Now is that marvellous time of the season, where you know your hopes and dreams are going to come true.
We will sweep all before us and we will also become the first non-league side, since Tottenham in 1901, to win the FA Cup!
Of course, by the end of October, we might be in our usual state of depression and hoping that we avoid relegation.
However, I am keeping the faith and believe that not only will we gain promotion but we will also win the League and have at least one trip to Wembley.
After all, we drew with the mighty Gretna on Saturday!
What is non-league football and who plays it?
People, who come up to me and tell me that Darlo are now playing non-league football, all get the same answer!
That is, that we are in a league and therefore we can’t be playing non-league football! Even an idiot, like myself, understands that!
Another thing that I would like to explain, to the so called pundits of football, if a player scores three goals it doesn’t mean he has got a hat-trick. He has to score them, for his side, without anyone else scoring in between.
Back on the (open) terraces
My savings will go down a bit this year, as I venture once more
into some of the football grounds. I shall e-mail a club and if
they say it is OK to smoke, as you watch the game, then I will go
to the game. If not, then I shall just enjoy the lunch time session.
And I wonder if I will win the “Come on Darlo” Prediction League?
Smoke gets in your eyes
I actually attended a game, on Saturday.
A friend I know, Danny Lewis, plays in goal for Redditch.
He and his mates at work talked me into going to watch Redditch against Stalybridge Celtic. The bait! You can smoke, whilst watching the game. Civilisation returns to England!
Redditch were absolutely awful and if it hadn’t have been for Danny they would have lost by a far bigger margin than 1-4. He even made a great penalty save.
I said to him after the game, "I should ask for a transfer!"
Let us hope, for his sake, that it was just a temporary blip in the teams’ performance.
The Stalybridge supporters were in fine voice for most of the game and their side did play some good football.
I thought that the referee also had a good game and I really enjoyed the smoking bit!
In the meantime, let us hope that times get better for The Quakers.
From Rhonda, with love
|Harbo Darlo up in smoke
Since the introduction of the
smoking ban, there have been a few changes at Harbo Darlo -
particularly to Lance's drinking and footballing habits.
First he's not going to the recently-refurbished The Sportsman
and "beer at home" means Ireland's as well as Davenport's.
So there's no British SuperLeague this season and not even
Darlo will win it this year.
Lance is still going to games. Well, more eccentrically,
he's going to games but not actually going to the game.
He'll be at the pre-match pub and then get the train home
at 3pm. For the Rotherham match, because it kicked off early,
he didn't leave until after the match had finished.
Then again, I went to the game, but my train was cancelled
but I caught the earlier train which was running late but
still earlier than mine but it eventually arrived on time
for the train that didn't run. And you wonder why Lance stopped
coming to matches?
Lance has been keeping up a correspondence
with his favourite classic Hollywood actress, Rhonda Fleming, in California.
As well as emails, poems and photos, Lance has been keeping her up
to date with Harbo Darlo.
Our Valentine to Lance
We don’t know how
it came to be
That we should be so blessed
To make a friend across
Who says his name is Lance.
We’re certain that he’s quite
No matter what his claims
His prose states he’s just a bloat
But we’re smarter than most dames.
It’s likely that we’ll never
But all the same we know
This Lancelot is surely gold And we
want to tell him so!!
Happy Valentine’s Day to our dear friend!
and Carla (PA)
7-0 to Ireland
LANCE HITS A MILESTONE AND TACKLES
THE MODERN GAME (FROM BEHIND)
1938 saw Hitler annexe Poland and Darlington finish 19th in
Division 3 North. (I suppose the only bonus, for Darlington supporters,
was that Hartlepool finished 20th.)
It was also a bad year for my mother,
as I was born! Like most boys, I grew up with a love for football
and yearned for the day when I would be leading the Villa attack.
However, it wasn’t to be and spent my adult years either playing amateur
football or being paid under the counter.
When I started playing you could charge the keeper, tackle from
behind and you didn’t have substitutes. The referees also used common
sense, for the most part, in their decisions.
You also played in all kinds of conditions. In fact a game was
only abandoned if the fog was too thick! You ploughed through the
snow, skated on the ice and if their was water on the pitch - so
what! You just had to get on with it.
The only chance of getting sent off was by real physical violence
or telling the referee what you thought of him. Look at the game
now! Players booked, even though they won the ball with their tackle.
Sent off, for a tap on the cheek. [In fact, it would not surprise
me, if they eventually make it a non-contact game!]
Game off, because of snow, ice or a bit of water on the pitch.
It used to be a game for all seasons and now they just seem to want
perfect playing conditions.
Recently I had a drink with Ray, in Selby, and we both agreed
that the modern game isn’t really our cup of tea (Were you really
drinking tea? Ed).
Let’s face it, football is supposed to be a physical game and
the sooner that the FA and FIFA realise this, then perhaps we can
see some proper football matches.
The various stages in the decline of the game that I once loved
1] Abolition of the maximum wage.
2] Not allowing a goalkeeper to be charged.
3] Introduction of substitutes.
4] Changing the rules to try and make it a game for forwards only.
5] The amount of foreign players imported and also how cheating
has spread into the game.
6] Taking common sense away from the referees.
I doubt if modern followers of football will agree with me but
that is how a lot of my generation view it. Bring back the bad old
days when footballers were footballers and could hand it out as
well as take it and referees had a sense of humour, as well as using
some common sense, when coming to a decision!
By the way, things got better for The Quakers in 1939. We finished
The (very) final
HarboDarlo British League Table
|West Brom Albion
Two points for a win and one point for
a draw. (William McGregor rules)
Matches must kick off at 3pm on a Saturday. (Apart from
genuine mid-week games}
Sides not playing on a Saturday get awarded one goal. Darlo
pre-season goals are in the bank, in case I need to use them. (That's
how we beat Man. Utd 1-0)
All Premier sides do not get a goal for the opening game
of the season, because they kick off a week after proper footer
In order that Premier teams can get 45 of the 46 results,
the first 9 results of any of their cup games will count.
And the main rule is that I can cheat if I feel like it!!
Steve Duffy took me by surprise,
during the half-time interval at the Northampton game, when he presented
me an award on behalf of the DAFTS. I was left speechless, for once,
which must have pleased everybody present! I felt honoured to receive
it, on behalf of all those at The Sportsman, who have donated to
various DAFTS and Trust ventures in aid of our club. Thanks. once
more, to all of you.
Football through the ages
Football historians have only ever really
covered the latter days of the game. So that children and supporters can
have full knowledge about the development of the game, I have gone back
to the early years.
Football has been played, ever since man
could walk. It all started in the prehistoric age, when caves were
used as goals and small boulders used as footballs.
At that stage of the games development, there were no pitch measurements.
Matches lasted as long as daylight allowed and as long as at least there
was one opponent on the field of play. However, most matches didn’t last
very long, as heading the ball caused a lot of fatalities. All games were
played on a Saturday, as that was when their wives went shopping and the
time that dinosaurs tended to sleep.
The Ice Age did not stop the desire for men wanting to play the
game. Unlike today’s wimps, a bit of snow and ice didn’t stop them from
getting stuck in on a Saturday. But there was a notable increase in broken
limbs. As the ice melted, the players found themselves having to play
on quagmires. This prevented the smooth flow of the boulders and most
games tended to be played in the centre-circle. Crowds started to dwindle,
as people got tired of watching boring goal less draws.
Then one day, a man who had been trying to make a balloon from a bladder,
threw it away, as it would not float in the sky. It bounced on to the
pitch and all the players looked in awe at it. This simple act of chance
was going to revolutionise the game. Games now became faster and cave-keepers,
that hadn’t had a save to make for years, found themselves having to bring
of spectacular saves, to protect their caves.
But civilisation was moving on and soon little hamlets were appearing.
People started to have fields in which to grow their crops. One footballer
noticed that one field always lay fallow for a year. He suggested that
they use that as the football pitch. What are we going to use as caves
he was asked? He couldn’t answer that question. He sat out in his back
garden, drinking his mead, when he noticed his wife hanging out the washing.
Much to his wife’s dismay, he threw the washing off the line, uprooted
the poles and took them to the field. He then erected the first ever set
of goal posts. He then got a friend to erect another set at the far end
of the field. The field was 130 yards by 100 yards and even today the
field of play cannot be more than that.
The word soon got round to other hamlets and football pitches were now
appearing everywhere. Someone then suggested that the hamlets should play
each other in friendly matches. However, as some hamlets had 50 or more
men and some only 12, the games tended to be a bit one-sided. There was
also a lot of arguing and bad feeling coming into the game, as players
disputed goals being allowed or disallowed. This in turn led to bitter
rivalry between local hamlets that still even exists today.
A meeting was held and it was agreed that there should be a referee
from a neutral hamlet and that any side could have no more than eleven
players. It was at this time that a man had come up with the idea of leather
casing for the bladder. There had been many games abandoned due to the
teams running out of bladders, because they had all burst. Another problem
that now arose from having a neutral referee was that he couldn’t tell
one side from the other, as all the players wore the same clothes. This,
once again, caused players to give referees an ear bashing, as they complained
about decisions that he had given in error.
A woman spectator enquired why didn’t each side wear different coloured
tops? The men looked at each other and wondered why they hadn’t thought
of that idea.
So now the game was now becoming more like the game we see today. Sometimes,
up to 50 spectators would see their teams in action. If there was only
one spectator watching, he was allowed to bring his dog. But players still
hadn’t yet learnt the arts of diving or posing.
The foreign influence on our game was still yet to come!
Old cutting from The Birmingham Evening Mail
A corner to Darlington!
A TINY piece of Birmingham will always belong
to the North-East - at shrines devoted to Darlington Football Club in
two city pubs, writes Poppy Brady.
Soccer-mad Lance Ireland has his own corner full of Darlington
FC treasures at The Sportsman pub in Harborne and another over the road
at The Plough.
DARLO HQ: Lance in his element in The Sportsman. From the
Birmingham Evening Mail
Lance, who was born in the Black Country, hardly ever
misses a match with his beloved team from Co Durham and travels all over
Britain to watch them. Currently the Quakers are struggling at 17th in
He now has more than 100 fans in both pubs who belong
to the unique HarboDarlo Fan Club, which he founded four years ago.
Lance, who spent 19 years in the Army, said: "I was a
Villa supporter for 60 years, but I got sick of all the Premiership wrangles,
so I decided to go back to grassroots football.
"I first watched Darlington play when I was stationed
at Catterick Garrison in the North-East more than 40 years ago. They beat
Chelsea 4-1 in the FA Cup. Now loads of people in both pubs have started
to follow Darlo. I try to see the team about 18 times a season and I spend
a fortune on train fares."
David Crawford, landlord of The Sportsman, in
Metchley Lane, added: "It's amazing, but Darlington have now got a real
following here. "On a Saturday night, once everyone has asked about Villa
and Blues, the next question is how did Darlo do? "There's as much celebration
in here when they do well as if they were a Birmingham-based club!".
Birmingham Mail Tues Jan 1 2002
The end is nigh for Harbo Darlo....well for a while
When I formed Harbo-Darlo, our main pubs were The Plough and
Then The Plough went up-market and our home was just The Sportsman.
Now The Sportsman has closed for two weeks, to also go up-market.
When it re-opens, it will be turned mainly into an eatery with
little choice of beer. [Not that there was much choice anyway!]
It will also be non-smoking! That means that I will not be using
it again and that it looks like the end of Harbo-Darlo.
It was fun, while it lasted, and the regulars have often contributed
to Darlington causes. It is surprising how many people, in the pub
and at work, know the Darlington result.
Some have even seen Darlo play but very few have seen us win!
NB: Not for the last time, Lance was wrong - the pub re-opened,
redecorated, even with real ale. And they even started the quiz
nights back up again! He still goes in, occasionaly. Oh, and what
goes around, comes around - even The Plough has started to serve
IRELAND on how a part of Birmingham will always be "forever Darlo"
About the most used word in Harborne
Even people who have never followed
soccer can tell me the latest Darlington result..(last season
it was usually followed by "They're not doing very well, are they?")
I formed Harbo-Darlo in 1998 and Marco Gabbiadini was so impressed
that he immediately signed for Darlington!
At first there was only "Cat Aston" and myself but membership steadily
grew. I think that people really warmed to the club, when they heard
that I had nearly been ejected from the ground, on my first visit
to Feethams for 40 years.
my ignorance, I had lit up a cigarette in the East Stand...)
Other advantages are that there is no membership fee and that I
hand out Darlo lighters, pens and other goodies from the club shop.
Most of our trips are to local grounds. Harbo-Darlo have had days
out at Shrewsbury, Cheltenham and
Kidderminster. As the last results were 0-1, 0-0 and 0-0,
some of our members have yet to see Darlo score.
However, those who made the trip to Feethams, for the Exeter game,
saw us draw 1-1. In fact I am the only member who has seen Darlington
win, so far!
But there are some successes. Darlington won the British Super
League and British Super Cup for the third year running The
Sportsman's Inn's own in-pub Fantasy League.
But I must admit that I run it!!
A privilege and honour
I would like to thank the Supporters'
Club for the privilege and honour that they bestowed upon me before
the game, when they gave me an award and a bottle of champagne, for
my efforts in promoting the name of Darlington Football Club. I can
think of quite a few people who were more deserving of the award than
It is true that I have raised funds for the DAFTS and the Supporters'
Trust. But this has been thanks mainly to the lovely Lorraine, who
uses all her charms on the lads in the pub and manages to get money
I have also spent quite a bit in the souvenir shop, in the eight
seasons that I have followed the club. The regulars in The Sportsman
follow the fortunes of Darlington, with interest and some even
attend the odd match.
I think it was one of my better decisions, in life, when I swapped
the Villa for the Darlo.
Harbo Darlo Awards 2005-2006
The ceremony was held, in the Banqueting
Hall, at Kendal Hotel, Harborne, but I was the only one to turn up.
Player of the Season Anthony Peacock. Which is a
coincidence, as I also sponsored him. He received an imaginary solid
gold cup and an imaginary bottle of champagne. Ryan Valentine was
runner-up and received an imaginary bottle of brown ale.
Away Player of the Season David McGurk. Well he
was at York City nearly all the season! He received an imaginary
solid silver cup and an imaginary bottle of champagne.
Class Player Shelton Martis. Let us hope that he
stays with us. Absolutely wonderful, when he moved to the centre
of defence. Awarded an imaginary silver tankard.
Best Loan Player Kyle Lafferty. If we could have kept
him, for the rest of the season, we might have got automatic promotion,
let alone make a play-off place. After he left, we hit a very bad
patch. Awarded an imaginary silver tankard.
Best Manager David Hodgson, for leading Darlington
to their eighth successive British Super League Title. Awarded an
imaginary solid gold cup and an imaginary bottle of Champagne.
Best Home Performance Against Mansfield Town.
Best Away Performance Against Barnsley, in the F.A.
Cup. Also in the reckoning was the gritty performance against Wycombe.
Worst Home Performance Oxford United and they got
Worst Away Performance Shrewsbury. Just a bit worse
than our performance against Kidderminster.
Best Goal Neil Wainwright, with that last minute
strike, against Torquay. It just shaded that great own goal by the
Bury defender. Awarded an imaginary golden boot.
Worst Journey And did I have a few! Has to be Shrewsbury.
It took me over eight hours to get home, including a four-hour stay
on a freezing Wolverhampton station and a bus breaking down in Brum.
I could have walked it, as nearly as quick. Awarded a blanket, a
hot water bottle and a hot whisky.
Mr Jinx of the Season Has to be Brummie Tony. He
rarely sees us win! Travel with him and you know that your train
will arrive late!. Tells you of shortcuts that don’t exist! Stay
clear of him! You have been warned! Awarded a canal, of his own
choice, to jump in to.
Organiser of the Season Tony Waters. Has fixed
up some great weekends, for the gathering of the DAFTS. So, clever-clogs,
you can organise your own award and pay for it out of the housekeeping!
[But don’t let Lesley catch you!]
Best Bearded Photographer Ted Blair but only with
the help of his camera. Awarded an imaginary bottle of Liddle’s
Best Song "Me And My Pussy Cat!" Words by
Cat Darlo. Music pinched from, "Me and my Teddy Bear!"
Luckiest Team Chelsea. They not only just avoided
relegation, from The Premiership, they also managed to avoid playing
Darlington. This not only saved them from receiving a lesson, in
how to play football, but also saved them from a very heavy defeat!
Most Chased After Men Ray Waters and myself. Two
young and handsome men, also known liars! Women chase after us because
we pinch their handbags! Awarded a mirror each, so they can see
what they look like!
Under The Thumb Neil Johnson - ‘nuff said! Awarded
Happiest Supporter Harry Johnson. Can see no wrong,
with the lads in black and white hoops! Awarded Life Membership
to the Glenn Naylor Fan Club.
Live in Hope Award Steve Duffy. He awaits, in vain,
for me to write something sensible and for Darlington and Villa
to do the double! Maybe next time, Steve! Awarded an extended stay
So, with The Harbo-Darlo Awards having been presented, the
season comes to a close. Have a good summer and I hope to see you
all again next season. Don’t miss it! This is when Darlington set
a new record, as they get 138 points from their 46 League games,
scoring 230 goals and conceding 5 goals. They also win the LDV Cup,
League Cup and the FA Cup.
Sheikh a leg
A DAFTS WEEKENDER took place around
the Hereford home match (Sat March 17th 2007), including visits to the
Darlington Beer Festival and a curry banquet on the Friday evening.
In an odd cultural mix, Lance - dressed
in Arab headgear - joined in Morris dancing at the Spring Thing Beer
and Folk Festival at Darlington Arts Centre on St Patrick's Day! "The
Fake Sheikh" had something of the look of Obi Wan Kenobi about him.
Thanks to Tony Waters and Karim for organising the special curry banquet
at the Spice Garden in town.
(To the tune "Goodbye Dolly Gray")
Goodbye Feethams, I must leave you.
Though it breaks my heart to have to go.
For the Darlo they are leaving,
And at the new ground I must show.
Feethams hear the crowd a’cheering?
And though we now have to part,
I’ll tell you this, mighty Feethams,
You will always be in my heart.
And so it’s farewell to you Feethams’
And as we say our sad goodbye,
I’ll tell you this Mighty Feethams,
I shall love you until I die.
BRUMMIE TONY GETS PEACE & QUIET
Long-suffering Brummie Tony (and the other
passengers) finally got some peace and quiet the other week when Lance nodded
off on the train.
Lance - or The Jinx as he's known to Brummie Tony, and most of
us - rarely gets any shut eye and rarely sees Darlo win.
If he happens to be asleep on your train on the way to a game - don't
forget, please don't wake him up....
Identity theft - fresh concern
We suppose every club has one. A Lance
that is. We were a bit surprised to see the one at Notts County featured
in the programme though. His name was Ralph and he looked the spitting
image of ours, except he's obviously not such a jinx on their team. There
are quite a few more Lance look-alikes around, including one who became
quite famous as Mick Jones of The Clash. Then, let's not forget, Stockton's
own king of the comedy stooge, Eli Woods, who like Lance has been associated
with the odd stuttering performance..
and flying the flag
Lance can usually be found at the Harbo
Darlo HQ - The Sportsman pub in Harborne (below), where there is a Darlo
You may also see him flying the flag. He
took delivery of an unwanted gift - a Colombian flag bought with great haste
before the premature departure of Faustino Asprilla - and turned it into
the Harbo-Darlo flag. Harborne had never flown its own ensign - now it's
all a flutter!
The flag usually follows Lance around, and it spent one winter in Australia!
The Harbo-Darlo flag went Down Under to the Test with a couple of regulars
from The Sportsman's...!
The "Harborne Run" in Birmingham is a
well-known local pub crawl, attractive to rugger buggers, stag and hen
parties, but it's a brave one that stops at The Sportsman!
Other pubs worth trying in the "village"
include the White Horse, just off the High Street, with
some good real ales on - usually at least three guests on. And also The
Bell, Old Church Rd, Harborne.
You can also get decent curries at the excellent Malabar, upstairs at
103a Harborne High Street, and also the Harborne Tandoori, 10 South Street
off High Street. While the Bristol Road in nearby Selly Oak is a Balti
There are also some good city centre pub
suggestions on the Birmingham
CAMRA site, with The
Anchor Inn 308 Bradford St, corner of Rea St, Digbeth
near the coach station, The Old Joint Stock, a Fullers' pub at
4 Temple Row, opposite St Philip's cathedral, and The Wellington,
with its excellent selection of Black Country real ales and Bennett's,
both found on Bennett's Hill off New Street. There is
also The Toad in Hurst Street, for its footie screens.
is a little out of the city centre, closer to Villa Park, The
Bartons Arms (144 High Street, Aston) on the A34.
A fabulous looking "heritage" pub, restored to its Victorian splendour
inside and out, with eight real ales, mostly the house brew Oakhams, with
an excellentl Thai menu.
On-line guides to Brum include Itchy