Paul Sunter runs the rule over the Darlington's foreign policy
When the children of the world lay down their heads at night, many probably dream of playing for a great football club. Recently several have achieved that dream, by turning out for Darlington.
The foreign fancy dans began arriving after David Hodgson took over as manager in November 1996. Among Hodgson’s jobs since he stopped playing, he appears to have recruited British players to go abroad. As he said: “Loads of lads go to Scandinavia. I know because I put 30 there myself.”
This refreshing Eurocentric view, allied to the fact that Darlington have not paid a transfer fee since the abolition of the maximum wage, has led to 20 foreign players arriving on loan or frees in the past three years. Among the reserve team fodder, there have been some diamonds, above all Canadian defender Jason de Vos. From his first game De Vos showed the rest of the back five to be plodding donkeys. This, combined with his ability at set pieces, led to a move to Dundee United for £450,000 early last season. He went straight into the first team and became a regular, though whether this indicates his talent or the lack of it in the Scottish Premier, I’m not sure.
Another Hodgson find was the Austrian Mario Dorner, who came on a free from Motherwell with compatriot Franz Resch. Two years on, Dorner is still saving our blushes as a goalscoring supersub. But Resch was released at the end of last season, highlighting the problem with Hodgson’s policy – he has half the UN turn up for training but often all they get is a couple of Pontins games and a free transfer home.
In 1997-98 we had French midfielder Daniel Barbara who, on his few appearances, seemed to have decent pace, an eye for goal and the toughness to look after himself . That he was let go last summer seemed unfair to me, especially in a team that can find a place for Lee “The Pie” Ellison.
The trend continued this season, with a young Portuguese winger, Ricardo Costa. Hodgson said he expected him to come on and “do something to change the game”. Instead he spent most of his time sitting at the back of the stands looking glum.
From WSC 149 July 1999. What was happening this month