Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Darlington Town - The Reynolds Arena

11th October 2003

Darlington Town 0-4 Bristol Rovers

Having attended the final match at Darlington Town’s Feethams ground, I had intended to try to be present at the first at their new ground: the grandiose white elephant that was the Reynolds Arena.  However, circumstances intervened, and it was October of the club's first season in the new home before I was able to make the trip down.

The stadium was named after George Reynolds, the then club chairman, who had apparently funded the £20M, 25,000 capacity ground himself and, in true Fitzcarraldo tradition, had intended to use it as a springboard to bouncing Darlington into the Premier League.  The inevitable financial difficulties ensued, the club entered administration and Reynolds quit the scene in January 2004, just five months after the ground had opened.

External view of The Reynolds Areana.

The game itself, acted out to a smattering of souls (just over 4,000) scattered around the arena was a travesty of a sporting occasion.  The four goals apart there was an almost awed hush throughout the entire 90 minutes, with each shout and squawk from the players echoing around the arena.  I almost asked a couple behind me chattering away about nothing in particular if they could “keep it down a little”.  

One could plainly hear kiddies unwrapping their sweetie wrappers rows away.  Quite what the locals thought of it all as their former home, the trim character-filled Feethams ground sat decomposing a few miles away, I cannot imagine.  It was all so unbearably sad.

Darlington, perhaps fittingly, were dreadful, although they could point to the loss through injury of top scorer Barry Conlon early in the second-half.  But, even by that point, they were 1-0 down and clearly on their way to a bashing.  Rovers' goalscorers were Lewis HALDANE (38) and David SAVAGE (64), with substitute Andy RAMMELL heading in a brace in the 77th and 90th minutes.

Can you folks maybe keep it down a little please?

One of the few Rovers' attacks the home defence managed to foil.

The Reynolds Arena, Darlington.

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