Darlington scores in `Euro 96' shoot-out

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The Independent Online
It's been a game of two halves - one in Scarborough, the other in Darlington. But now the score is finally settled: 2-1 to Darlington, with a winner in injury time.

For the Bulgarian Euro 96 team has checked out of the Raven Hall Hotel, 12 miles outside Scarborough, a week early and, like Romania, has headed for Darlington. The players were booked in at Scarborough until the end of the qualifying round, but lengthy trips to matches, the hotel's "isolation" and, crucially, the shortage of girls, proved to much.

John Williams, the leader of Darlington council, was celebrating victory last night. Scarborough, he said, never made sense as a place to stay.

The team was at least two hours from St James' Park, Newcastle, and one and a half hours from Elland Road, Leeds, the match venues, compared with a mere 45 minutes from both if it moved to Darlington.

But while Scarborough was dignified in defeat, Darlington, meanwhile, could be in danger of getting too big for its football boots. "It might be a good idea for England to come up here to escape the news hounds," said Mr Williams. "It's only two and a quarter hours to King's Cross so it would be very easy for them to get to Wembley."