Platt fired up for Wembley

Clive White looks forward to this weekend's promotion play-off finals

Today the players of Darlington will step out of the massive shadow cast by their North-east neighbours and bask in their own glory, come rain or come shine (probably the former), with a day out at Wembley, the first in the club's history.

It will be a moment that money cannot buy for players who earn less in a year than Faustino Asprilla earns in a week. No wonder Jim Platt, their manager, who has sampled the experience with Northern Ireland as a player, has no regrets that the club missed out on automatic promotion on the last day of the season.

"If you are going to get promotion, this is the way to do it," said the man who appreciated that rare occasion when he was able to step out of the shadow cast by another giant - Pat Jennings - to keep goal for Northern Ireland. "Many of my players will never get the chance to play here again and, besides, it is financially beneficial to the club. No one has been talking about promotion in Darlington, it's all about Wembley.

Thanks largely to the 34,000-plus fans that Plymouth Argyle will bring to the occasion, a record Third Division crowd in excess of 50,000 is anticipated for this coming together of the Quakers and the Pilgrims, comfortably beating the 40,109 for Wycombe v Preston two years ago. Darlington stand to make about pounds 200,000 in all from the play-offs, which could just about pay the annual wage bill of the Feethams Ground playing staff. Their entire first team was assembled for a total of pounds 75,000 compared to about pounds 800,000 in the case of big-spenders Plymouth, although Neil Warnock, their manager, is only about pounds 12,000 down on his transfer dealings.

A footballing side, with the best away record in any of the four divisions, Platt fancies Darlington's chances in Wembley's wide open spaces against a side they have beaten home and away. In fact, the only blemish on their last 22 matches was a home defeat to bottom club Torquay, hitherto the only Devon club side other than Tiverton to play at the old stadium.

While it is also Plymouth's first appearance at Wembley, eight of their players have been there before and with the likes of striker Adrian Littlejohn, who played in the Premiership with Sheffield United, they also have pedigree. Warnock himself has steered three teams through to victory in the play- offs, twice with Notts County and then with Huddersfield, whom he left after last season's Second Division final to join relegated Plymouth.

County, now under the stewardship of Colin Murphy, are in tomorrow's Second Division final against Bradford City, who pulled off the outstanding performance of these play-offs in coming from two goals behind to beat Blackpool away in the semi-finals. Murphy has been to Wembley just once before, as a coach with Derby County in the 1975 FA Charity Shield. An unforgettable occasion? "Not really, I can't even remember who we played."

News
peopleJonathan Ross has got a left-field suggestion to replace Clarkson
News
Johnny Depp is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean
peopleBut how did he break it?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
Arts and Entertainment
The teaser trailer has provoked more questions than answers
filmBut what is Bond's 'secret' that Moneypenny is talking about?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballDoes Hodgson's England team have an identity yet?
Sport
Lewis Hamilton secured his second straight pole of the season
f1Vettel beats Rosberg into third after thunderstorm delays qualifying
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss