Steve recalls the 80s
As part of our 80s celebrations, we asked fans to send us their 80s memories, so Steve Hume kindly obliged.
If you have any 80s memories, then drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my favourite Darlo seasons was 1980/81, probably because it was the first time that I became aware that we were ALLOWED to finish in the top half of the table! We finished 8th, only 6 points off the top four.
I only went to home games in those days, not being old enough or brave enough to stand in the Tin Shed. I watched from the barrier, in line with the penalty box East Stand side at whichever end Darlo were attacking. It was a really good view, to be honest.
After a 2-0 defeat by eventual league champions Southend in October, we went unbeaten at home until the end of the season, winning 10 and drawing 5. An amazing run! However, away from home we only won 4 all season and none after the end of December. That was definitely an Achilles heel in our promotion efforts.
That season we only used 18 players in total but really it was a core of 13 and those 13 names trip off the tongue as easily today as they did 40 years ago.
Cuff, Kamara, Wilson, Smith, Skipper, Speedie, Hawker, McLean, Stalker, Hamilton and Walsh with Charlton and Ball (Harry and Donald, not Bobby and Alan!) completing the core.
What a team! Alan Kamara, brother of Chris, was the fastest fullback I’ve seen play for Darlo. Peter Skipper was a complete Rolls Royce of a centre half. Kev Smith would become the most successful Darlo player and captain. Dave McLean was probably the best midfielder I’ve seen for Darlo with swashbuckling runs and an eye for a great goal. Stalker and Walsh scored 40 goals (yes 40!, 17 and 23 respectively).
This team played some magical attacking football, highlighted by a 5-0 thrashing of Doncaster and 4-1 against Wimbledon (Dave Bassett still got Manager of the Month!). Both of these games were played midweek and under floodlights and a brilliant atmosphere, as was the highlight of the season, a 3-0 tanking of Hartlepool on Boxing Day in front of more than 7,000 at Feethams, including Alan Walsh scoring direct from a corner in front of the Tin Shed.
I really thought if we could get our away form going the next season, promotion could be a possibility but although the same players remained, both Stalker and Hamilton badly lost form and we finished a disappointing 13th. One bright spot being Speedie, replacing Stalker up front with devastating effect with 18 goals. He had a spring into the air for headers which had to be seen to be believed and which is still talked about to this day.