Only way is up for Staunton's 'Darlo'

While Ireland were taking on the world champions, their former manager was embarking on keeping lowly Darlington in the league. Phil Shaw reports

Reaching the back of the tiny stand at Dagenham & Redbridge where a local-radio reporter from the North-east awaited his verdict on a 2-0 defeat in his first match as manager of Darlington, the Football League's bottom club, Steve Staunton perused a lap-top displaying the League Two results.

He muttered the names of Grimsby, a struggling outfit Staunton must target if Darlington are to prevent the worst start in their history turning into a second fall into non-League football, and Shrewsbury, next weekend's visitors. For the only Irishman with more than 100 caps for the Republic, who also won two League titles with Liverpool, this is the grave new world.

Later, the Irish national team, which he managed before being ousted 21 months into a four-year contract, met Italy before 71,000 fans in Dublin. In contrast, Staunton launched his career in club management by losing to a team sponsored by funeral directors in front of fewer than 2,000 at the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham Stadium. If it seemed a back-to-front way of doing things, there was no sense of culture shock.

"I started at Dundalk in the boys' club," he said. "This is like Wembley compared with that. Before I came over to Liverpool, I played at all sorts of places that struggled in terms of facilities and pitches. But I've seen enough games in this division when I scouted for Wolves and with Leeds [as assistant to Gary McAllister] to know what it's all about."

Would he feel a twinge of patriotic fervour when the clash at Croke Park got under way? "Twinge? It's more than that," Staunton said. "My heart is with Ireland – always will be." But Darlington's straitened circumstances – they were in administration earlier this year – would not allow him to watch the drama unfold. "Whatever money we have is utilised in the transfer market."

Darlington's position also means every match is in the "must-win" category. However, once Danny Green and Josh Scott scored, it became a damage-limitation exercise. While that objective was achieved, a big victory would not have flattered Dagenham. "They were playing with us a little bit," Staunton admitted.

It was a little surprising, giving that Darlington's chairman, Raj Singh, had named him to succeed Colin Todd barely 72 hours earlier, to hear Staunton bemoaning "the same old story". As at Leeds in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy the night before he took over, he felt that the players did not "react" until they were 2-0 down. If ever a side needed to heed Danny Blanchflower's 50-year-old imperative of "equalising before the others have scored", it is "Darlo".

Staunton and his No 2, former Villa team-mate Kevin Richardson, now have a week to give their new charges "a sense of direction" in the search for that elusive first victory. The wisdom of appointing a big-name manager remains to be seen. John Still made a solitary League appearance, with Leyton Orient in 1967, and cut his managerial teeth at Leytonstone, Dartford and Maidstone, yet his Dagenham side are up to second place.

Goals: Green (17) 1-0; Scott (18) 2-0.

Dagenham & Redbridge (4-4-2): Roberts; Ogogo, Antwi, Arber, Griffiths; Green, Spiller (Tejan-Sie, 44), Thurgood, Gain; Benson, Scott (Thomas, 77). Substitutes not used: Lewington (gk), Doe, Nurse, Montgomery, Bingham.

Darlington (4-4-2): Hoult; Arnison, Miller, Foster, Barnett; Groves (Convery, 57), G Smith, Chandler, J Smith (Devitt, 72); Gall, Whelan (Main, 35). Substitutes not used: Knight (gk), Plummer, Bennett, Barnes.

Referee: D Deadman (Cambridgeshire).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine