Darlington assistant manager Brian Atkinson is enjoying a dual role at the club – because he’s also...Darlington assistant manager Brian Atkinson is enjoying a dual role at the club – because he’s also running one of youth sides.
When he’s not plotting the downfall of the first team’s opponents in the EvoStik Premier Division, he’s managing Darlington Youth Under 11s on a Sunday in the Teesside Junior Football Alliance.
“In some ways, running the Under 11s is like running a senior team. Sometimes I think that I’ve cracked it, then sometimes I realise that I haven’t! It’s the same as any level of football, it can make or break your day.
“I just wanted to help the kids. My stepson was in the team when I started going along, and then an opportunity came up for a team manager, and so I got roped in.
“It’s great seeing the youngsters coming along and enjoying themselves. I pass on a bit of knowledge and guidance, which hopefully they listen to!”
The Under 11s have been together for nearly three years, and Brian is closely helping their progression through the age groups.
“They started playing nine-a-side on small pitches – it’s better than playing on a big pitch because the keeper can be chipped too easily -- but now they’re progressing to playing 11-a-side on a full size pitch. There are some very promising youngsters in the team, and we’ve had some good results in the last two seasons.”
First team manager Martin Gray is also involved with the youth set up, he helps to run the Under 17 side.