‘Darlo won the final and I was glad because it’s a proper football club with proper fans’

The South Shields midfielder writes for North East Sport News

Phil Turnbull during his Darlington days. Picture: Chris Booth

We are in FA Trophy action on Saturday against FC Colne who knocked us out of the FA Cup last year so we will be looking to making amends for that.

I have mixed feelings with the Trophy, I’ve had a few decent runs but never quite got to the final. Notably, the closest I ever got was for Gateshead against Darlington in 2011. We knew it would be close because derby games always are and at the time that was our biggest derby.

We would never expect to get off to the start we did; we were 2-0 up and cruising and I remember we had another chance but Gatey missed which on any other day I think he would have slotted it away. Had we scored that third I think the tie was over, we’d have made the game ugly, sat in and absorbed pressure and I think we’d have went on to win the tie.

Unfortunately, big Hatchy had other ideas. He absolutely murdered us and we crumbled, from 2-0 up we were 3-2 down and chucked away the advantage going back to the International Stadium. In fairness to Darlo, they came and did a job on us at our place and fully deserved to go through to the final.

Darlo won the final and I was glad because it’s a proper football club with proper fans that travel in scary numbers so you can only wish success on them types of clubs.

I was glad Darlington won at Wembley, especially the way they did with a last-minute goal. I see on social media every year Chris Senior Day – what a great memory to have and what a feeling that must be for him.

At the time I was wounded we chucked away our chance of a shot at Wembley but having played for Darlo since it has taken the sting out of the hurt because I’m also a Darlo fan now through my time playing with them, so it has eased the blow.

I was glad Darlington won at Wembley, especially the way they did with a last-minute goal. I see on social media every year Chris Senior Day – what a great memory to have and what a feeling that must be for him. He’ll be remembered in history and that’s something no one could ever take from him.

Hopefully I get the chance to play at Wembley again so it either means winning the Trophy or I’d also accept winning the FA Cup!

I’m pleased with my performance levels since coming back into the team. I had a disastrous pre-season with injuries, Covid and a couple of personal issues which meant I couldn’t play, but I feel like I’m up to full match fitness again and I think that’s showing in my performances.

I’m enjoying my football as much as ever and really appreciating it too because I know inevitably I’m coming towards the end. I’ve read numerous players autobiographies and a common thing mentioned about the latter years of their playing days is that they really started to appreciate playing the game again.

I am the exact same. I feel more relaxed than ever going into games which I always think is the best way to be, and combined with that I still have the desire to win more than ever. I think when that competitive edge goes is when I know my time is up and to call it a day, hopefully that’s a couple of seasons off yet.

Have a good week, everyone.

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