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Darlington Football Club

Ray Simpson / 25th June 2020

Adam Campbell talks about his career so far and his ambitions with Darlington

Adam Campbell talks about his career so far and his ambitions with Darlington

Top scorer Cams is the guest of our latest netcafe

Good evening and welcome to tonight's netcafe with top scorer Adam Campbell.

We asked you to send some questions in, and Adam has very kindly answered them -- we're happy to receive more, just mail them to media@darlingtonfc.org.

Don't forget about our 80s week, which starts on Sunday! We kick it off with an interview with Alan Walsh, and his side of the tribunal story which saw him go to Bristol City for a bargain £18,000.


Here's the first set of questions and answers for Adam, more to follow later.

Adam joined Newcastle United as a youngster and worked his way through their youth system before making his first team debut in a Europa League game against Atromitos in 2012 -- the youngest ever player to appear in a European game for Newcastle.

He made four more first team appearances for the Magpies, before having a loan spell with Scottish Premiership side St Mirren.

He was released by Newcastle in 2015, and he went on to play for two years at Notts County, another two at Morecambe, before he joined us last summer.



Did you always want to join Newcastle? Were you a Newcastle fan?


Yes, I always wanted to play for Newcastle United growing up. Coming from Wallsend, all of my friends were Newcastle United supporters and we all wanted to be the next Shearer. All of my family are NUFC fans, so there was only going to be one club I would support!



Were there any other clubs wanting you to join them?

As I started to do well at the younger age groups I think some clubs came sniffing around, but to my knowledge, no actual offers were made. Not that it would have made much difference at that age as all I wanted to do was to play for NUFC.



You went to Wallsend Boys Club where there must have been plenty of other good footballers?

I loved it at Wallsend Boys Club and I had some great friends there. We had a good team and it was always between Wallsend or Cramlington when it came to the league/local tournaments so it was a really good and competitive club to be at.




How did you feel when you actually signed for Newcastle? How old were you then?


I first signed for Newcastle when I was 8-9 years old think so I was there from the very start. Although it was a great feeling to sign and play for the club I loved, I don’t think I truly understood what was happening until I was older.



Did you rub shoulders with the first team, or did you train separately from them?


The academy (U18 and below) were based at the academy training ground and it is about a 5 minute walk to the first team base. So it was always a special feeling whenever you were told you were training with the reserves/first team at the ‘top end’ and had to set off 15 minutes early to make sure you were there.



Who were your closest friends in the dressing room?



I had a great relationship with all of my youth team and we used to go out to the cinema and Nandos after training quite regularly. Once I got towards the first team it was a slightly different dynamic as they would get recognised in town more than us, so they wouldn’t be able to grab a Nandos in peace! Brandon Miele, Stevie Logan and Greg Olley used to live round the corner from me, so I became really good friends with them. In the first team set up I would say the younger lads at the time like Paul Dummett and Jak Alnwick helped me settle in fairly quickly. I’d like to think I got on with everyone so I’m going to sit on the fence on that one.



You won a couple of awards when you were a youngster (if your Wikipedia is right!)—the MVP at the Nike Cup, and Premier Player of the year at the Milk Cup tournament. How did you feel then?


Obviously it was a great feeling. I think in the tournament programme it said who else had won the award before me so to be receiving the same award was huge. The milk cup was a great tournament and being away from home for a few days with your mates to play football was a great experience, made even better by scoring a few! That was the first time I’d really seen Adam Armstrong play too and it was fairly easy to see that he was going to be a cracking player.




Did you get any indication that you were edging closer to the first team?

It came out of the blue to be honest. I’d been doing well for the younger age groups and I’d been holding my own when training, but then Steve Stone called me out of the reserve changing room one day to tell me I was travelling to Cardiff for a pre season game and then next thing I knew I was at the airport! After I had the taste of it, I was desperate for more.





How did you feel when you were told you were in the squad for the Europa League against Atromitos? What did your parents say? Were you aware that you were the youngest player ever to represent Newcastle in Europe?


It was a whirlwind to be honest. I had been involved in the squads a little bit beforehand without getting on the pitch or even on the bench, but the manager had told me when we were travelling that I was going to get on no matter what. The nerves were bad as I was warming up and seeing the clock go down, but once I got the shout and entered the pitch I felt back to normal. It was what I had wanted to do and been building up to do my whole life, so I knew I had to try and enjoy it as much as possible. I think I only touched the ball twice like, but it was a great night for me and my family. They were just buzzing for me really and kept telling me to enjoy it. It was a massive night for them too. They travel everywhere to watch me play and they wanted it just as much as I did. It was great to be able to say to them that their sacrifices over the last 10 years had been worth it and if it wasn’t for them I would never have gotten to do that. I didn’t realise I was the youngest player until after the game and my phone was going crazy! I had expected a few texts or something, but I think my twitter went up by about 15k in an hour haha.




You played in four more home games after that, in front of a packed St James’ Park? Must have been a fantastic atmosphere.


Again, that’s what 99% of people dream about at school is walking out at St. James Park and hearing your name read out to the fans. It was special and Cisse kept doing me favours and scoring a last minute winner every time I got on, so I managed to get a few good photos out of it!




What was Alan Pardew like as a manager?


He gave me the chance to play for my boyhood club and have a place in the history books. I don’t think  I would be able to thank him enough!




Here's a clip of arguably Adam's best goal of the season -- the winner at York City


Don't forget that you can still pre-order your home or away shirt here -- nearly 400 already sold!



DFC facemasks are available as well.



You were loaned out to St Mirren, what was it like playing against clubs like Celtic in the Scottish Premiership?


Celtic was another world. St. Mirren used to give Celtic fans three sides of the stadium and they would sing all game long. Van Dijk played for Celtic then too so you can imagine me up against him!!! Think I put him on the weights one time though……



You went back to Newcastle after the loan, but you were loaned out again in 2014 to Fleetwood and Hartlepool?


Yes, I had a good loan at Fleetwood and had just broken into the team when an injury I’d been carrying over pre season flared up and the physio advised me I needed to get a hernia operation. I ended up having a double hernia op and being out for 6 weeks. At Hartlepool it wasn’t a great time for the club and the manager got sacked two weeks or so after I arrived. All the loan players were told they wouldn’t play and were sent back to their parent clubs. The joys of football politics.




What happened when you returned to Newcastle after the last loan? Was there a lot of competition for places?


There were a lot of faces that weren’t there before I left on my numerous loans. Lads that had worked their way through the age groups while I had been playing first team football elsewhere and it was a changed system. I think by that time I was ready to move away from the loan option and get myself settled at another club full time.




How did you feel when Newcastle released you – did you feel that going to Notts County gave you a fresh start?



It was a sad moment as I had been a part of the club for the majority of my life, but I was ready for a change and to try get myself settled and established in a first team. I had enough of loans and playing Under 23s football and wanted a fresh start. I had a few options at that time, but Notts had just been relegated from league 1 so I knew the club would want to bounce back and do everything they could to get promoted. The manager at the time was from Holland and his style of play was all about quick counter attacking and playing the ball on the floor which I thought would suit me down to the ground.




How do you think your two years at Notts County went?

I played a lot of football when I was at Notts and really enjoyed my time there. I made some great friends and played with some really good players. It helped me develop massively as a person as the expectation from the fans was to bounce back to League 1, so when we didn’t perform, they made sure we knew about it. But overall I really enjoyed my time at the club.




How do you think your two years at Morecambe went?

Probably not as well as Notts or as well as I had hoped. I wanted to move closer to home and the manager had told me I was going to play as a number 10 and I would suit his style of play perfectly. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case and I found myself out of the side an awful lot more than I expected or liked. Hence the loan to Carlisle to try and get more game time.




Who have been the biggest influences on your career so far?

My parents are my influence. They supported me from day one and done everything they possibly can to help me have a career in football. There’s no way I would be where I am today or had the experience I have without their help and support. We don’t often talk about that kind of soppy stuff, but I thought this would be a nice platform for them to see how much I appreciate what they have done for me.




From Adam Cattell

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Adam, delighted to hear you've re-signed for the following season.


  1. You broke into the Newcastle first team at a very early age, making your competitive debut at 17. How difficult was it at such a young age to deal with the pressure being put on you in a Premier League environment? What advice would you give to a youngster in that situation now? 


  1. What have been your impressions of the National League North? Were you surprised by the standard? How does it differ from League football?


  1. You have been deployed both centrally and wide this season, do you have a preferred position? 




Hi Adam, thanks for your questions.

    1. To be honest, the footballing demands weren’t too bad for me. I never really had a set back in football until I was about 19, so I managed to take it all in my stride. The main advice I would give, is seek advice from older professionals or coaches in the game about the mental side of things. There is a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes at first team level that you just aren’t used to as a kid. 
    2. The standard has surprised me in different ways. I enjoy the passing and moving side of the game that we play and I feel that it works really well when everyone wants the ball and we have options to pass to. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m not the biggest fan of the long ball game, although there are plenty of teams that use it very effectively in this league. Really there isn’t too much difference in the 2, from football league to national north, as most players have played at that level and are all decent players. You get teams in the league that are just as direct as teams in our league. 
  • Yes, I think most people know that I prefer to play centrally, either as a ‘9’ or a ’10’. I feel that helps me to have the most influence on the game and get on the ball more. As you probably saw from the games this season, I like to drop deeper and get on the ball and ‘try’ to make things happen. I am comfortable on both wings, but if I was to choose one I would say the left as, again, I can drift inside easier onto my right foot and look to link up play.


From Richard Matthews



One lasting memory of the season was a great team passing move finished with a cracking goal by you at York. Was this your best goal for Darlo.?


You are going to miss Thommo. for some of his great assists but are you confident the other lads can provide you with similar opportunities ?



Hiya Richard, thanks for taking the time out to ask a couple of questions!


  1. I would have to say that is my favourite goal from last season. Like you say it was a good build up and we had plenty of fans there to enjoy it. We knew it was a big game, but when we play like that we can beat anyone. It was probably one of the most enjoyable games of the season. I do have to mention the goal against Spenny, purely because me and Thommo were getting abuse about two minutes before at a corner, so we had to celebrate in front of them, haha.
  2. Thommo is going to be a massive miss both on and off the pitch. I think it can sometimes go under the radar just how important good people are to a dressing room and he is one of the best. So it will certainly be big boots to fill in some senses, as it is hard to find players with his quality on the pitch. I think everyone was impressed with how Justin developed over the season and it is great that we have managed to keep him at the club. His confidence was rising every game and he’s an absolute handful when he’s running at defences. Jaz has that ability to run rings around anyone and everyone and we got to see some moments of pure magic from him. And a special mention to Holmesy who suffered that horrendous injury at the start of the season. As clichéd as it is, he will be like a new signing when people get to see him play properly as he has worked extremely hard to get himself back to fitness and I can’t wait for him to show everyone his quality. When you can sit and talk about those kinds of players, it can only be a good sign for us going forward. All three of those players can score and create and it will be up to us to get them on the ball as much as we can when they play.


From Andy Futers

Cheers for taking time out Adam ..

▪︎ how have you been keeping busy during this Covid situation?


▪︎ A new contract signed, was it as easy decision to make to stay with Darlo and what made you want to stay was it the haribos at halftime my photography skills or Alun just sweet talked you round?


▪︎and whats the "Goals" for next season what do you want to achieve ?





Hello Andy,


  1. Little bit of this and a little bit of that to be honest with you mate! I think I’ve probably played more xbox over these last few weeks than I have since I left school! But my other job with LAPS (Life After Professional Sport) have been running online webinars to try and help athletes stay busy during lockdown and help them to plan for their future once they retire. It is a job that I’m thoroughly enjoying and we’re looking to help as many athletes as possible so I’ve been using the time to try and touch base with as many people as I can. I’ve done a couple of short online education courses too to try and get something beneficial out of these uncertain times. And let’s not mention running and staying fit as I’m getting sick of not being able to kick a ball about!!
  2. Haha! It was never my intention to leave the club, regardless of covid or anything else. It really felt like unfinished business last season and it just wasn’t the right time for me to leave. I absolutely loved last season and I’m really enjoying my time at the club. I think the manager knows how to get the best out of me and I love the way he and Daz have us playing. The haribos are always a bonus! And I still have to buy you a pint for the pic you managed to get against Alfreton!! Couldn’t leave without paying my debt.
  3. I never really set myself personal goals at the start of the season. I more have points that I aim towards if that makes any sense. To start with it is to score my first goal, then when that’s under my belt I’m aiming at 5. Then 10, then 15 and so on. Same with assists. I find that helps me to really hone in on the next task. In terms of the team, I want to get promoted. Last season was a great example to everyone that we have something special ticking along here and if we become more ruthless in both boxes we have a real chance. We have some really good players here and we should be at the top end of the table. No pressure.



From Michael Barrass

Hi Adam

Firstly I want to thank you for a brilliant season and some memorable goals(especially the one at York). I believe with the right partner next season it will be your best.


My first questions regards an organization you work for LAPS(life after professional sport I believe) can you explain your role and what this organization does?


Second question, maybe a little strange, you have scored goals where ever you have played, England, Newcastle etc. but have you ever scored a goal you knew very little about? (went in off your backside, or ricochet when you were lying down?



  1. Yeah sure. The company was set up by Rob Steed and Robbie Simpson with the aim of helping sports people get themselves a job after they finish competing. A lot of sportspeople tend to sacrifice education/grades in order to train more and become successful, so once they finish competing it can be a struggle for them to find a job. At LAPS we try to help athletes to think longer term and work on enhancing their education or their work experience/networking, so that when the time comes to move away from sport (competing anyway, we have a lot of jobs that help them to stay in sport in other roles), they are a lot more prepared than they otherwise would be. My main role within LAPS is to go into academies (U18/U23) and present a workshop in which I talk about my experiences in football and why I believe that everyone should have more than just their sport to focus on. You’re a long time retired and whether you have all the money in the world or you need to pay the bills, everyone will want something to sink their teeth into. It’s quite a light hearted introduction into the importance of thinking for the future and not suddenly retiring (through injury/old age/can’t get a contract etc) and then trying to put all the pieces together. It’s a hard time for anyone who retires from the sport they love, so we try to make it a little easier.


  1. Haha! I have seen someone score from a goalkeeper trying to kick the ball out of his hands and it hitting the striker and looping back into the net!! The closest I’ve had to that is from a corner and the ball was bouncing around in the 6 yard box and someone decided to volley off my chest and it went in off the post. I was winded for about a week like, but I’d take that every game to score 20 a season.




From Cameron Ritchie

You were in the Football League, what persuaded you to drop down two divisions to the National League North?


To be honest, I wanted to move home. I hadn’t particularly enjoyed my time in Morecambe and I’d missed out on some family times that I wish I hadn’t and I was just ‘ready’ to be home. I knew a few of the lads who had already signed (Laingy and Jamie) and Darlo is a huge club that I know share my ambition of being successful and working our way up the football pyramid, so when you add those things together, it wasn’t a hard decision.




What did you think of the backing of Darlington fans last season, especially at Walsall?



It didn’t really surprise me at all. Everyone knows how good the Darlo fans are and we all saw that first game of the season away to Farsley Celtic when there was about 1000 there!! I’m just glad that Wheats managed to make it an even more memorable day, even if he did shank it.



What do you think about the fans raising £131k for Boost the Budget?



Absolutely amazing. Even more so when you consider the current financial climate. When someone talks about proper football fans and fans that really love the club, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone better. It’s what makes this club keep going and the lads thrive off it. It really is a special club and I’m really happy to be a part of it.




What was your personal highlight of last season?


There were a few highlights from a personal point of view. It is the most goals I’ve scored in a senior season and more than likely my most assists too which is something I am proud of. There are always ways to improve and I’d have loved to have scored more and got more assists, but it’s certainly given me a lot of confidence going forward into next season. For a team highlight, again there’s probably a few I could highlight. The win away to York was a great day and of course the draw away to Walsall with the way in which Wheats saved us right at the death.



Do you think that we still had a chance of reaching the play offs when the season ended prematurely?



Yeah, I genuinely think we were in with a real chance. It’s amazing what can happen in football and there’s no way anyone can tell me we were out of it. We could quite easily have strung a few wins together and sneaked into the play off places. I guess we’ll never know now, but I know it has made us hungrier for next season.


What are your hopes for yourself and for the team for next season (whenever that starts)?


This one is fairly simple when it comes to the plan, the challenge will be making it happen!! The plan personally is to score more than last season and get more assists. The hope for the team is to be right up there challenging for promotion, whether that be automatic or play offs. I think with the players we have at the club already, that should be where we set our sights. Of course it’s going to be difficult as there are some decent sides in the division and some full time squads on top of that, but I believe in the set up/players/staff that we have and in my opinion, that’s where we should be. But in the mean time it would be nice to just get back in to training and see everyone again and start kicking a ball about a bit! Although on a positive note, maybe when the season starts it won’t be as hot as it normally is and it won’t cost me a fortune in suncream!


We'd like to thank Adam for taking the time to answer all of our questions, and that everyone has a safe and enjoyable summer.

Don't forget that our 80s week begins on Sunday -- there are loads of Zoom interviews with prominent 80s players.