Saturday 7th October 1989 saw Darlington visit Southbury Road for a GM Vauxhall Conference match. The Quakers had been relegated from the football league at the end of the 1988/89 season finishing bottom of the Fourth Division adrift by seven points to Doncaster Rovers. Brian Little was the manager at Feethams at the time and had made an excellent start to their Conference campaign winning 8 and drawing 2 of their 10 matches. He had been unable to stop the North-East club from falling from the Football League after taking Charge in February 1989.
Listed in The Darlo side for the game which attracted 1,749 people to Southbury Road (only the New Years Day visit of local rival's Barnet topped that figure at 2,212) were goalkeeper Mark Prudhoe who is currently an academy coach at Premier League Sunderland, Les McJannet (currently manager at Carlton Town of the Evo-Stick First Division South), Frank Gray (who was player-coach at the time. The former Sunderland, Leeds United, Nottingham Forest and Scottish International went on to manage Darlo from 1991-1992 and go on to boss Farnborough Town, Grays Athletic, Woking and currently Basingstoke Town in the Blue Square South) and midfielder Andy Toman (who had signed along with a large percentage of the other players named in the programme in the close season. Little had paid a club record fee of £40,000 at the time to Hartlepool United for Toman's services).
Both Toman and Prudhoe were voted in the Darlo all time greatest XI as voted in 2003 as part of the Farewell to Feethams celebrations.
|The line ups for the match as per programme - Andy Toman is listed as Andy Towan.|
From Hartlepool he had joined Darlington and helped them back into the Fourth Division. He went on to represent Scunthorpe United, Scarborough, Whitby Town (where he scored in the Vase final victory over North Ferriby United at Wembley Stadium in 1997), Blyth Spartans, Barrow and Spennymoor United. He has since managed Peterlee Newton, Durham City, Guisborough Town, Northallerton Town and Seaham Red Star. Toman left Red Star at the end of the 2010 season.
Brian Little who had played 247 times for Aston Villa from 1970 to 1980 went on to a successful managerial career with Leicester City, Aston Villa, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, Hull City, Tranmere Rovers, Wrexham and currently is in charge of Gainsborough Trinity in the Conference North. His Darlington side won Division Four in their first season back in the league and were subsequently promoted to Division Three.
Enfield's team that day in a game Darlo won 0-3 was Andy Pape, Brian Cottington, Brian Sparrow, Dave Howell, Kevin Mudd, Nigel Keen, Paul Harding, Gary Smith, Trevor Wilkinson, Gary Abbott and Paul Furlong. Substitutes were Nicky Francis (who replaced Abbott) and Andy Edmonds who was unused.
Out of the twenty-two sides in the 1989/90 Conference season only Darlington, Kidderminster Harriers, Kettering Town and Barrow will compete in the 2011/12 season. All four have left the league and returned over the last two decades. Darlington were promoted in 1990 as Champions after only one season in the division but returned to the non-league game in 2010, Kidderminster Harriers spent five seasons as a league side after winning the title in 2000 but returned back down in 2005, Kettering Town were relegated in 2001 to the Southen Premier League which they won on the first occasion being promoted back only to be relegated again in 2003 to the Isthmian Premer Division. They eventually came back to what is now called the Blue Square Premier via the Blue Square North division.
Enfield were relegated along with Farnborough Town (Southern League) and Chorley (Northern Premier League). Farnborough Town won the Southern League in 1990/91 at the the first time of asking and were promoted back only to relegated again in 1993. They showed bouncebackability again when winning the Southern League again in the 1993/94 season.
Ironically both Enfield FC and Farnborough Town FC were liquidated in the summer of 2007 with Farnborough FC and Enfield 1893 FC subsequently being formed.
Chorley have not yet returned to non-league's top division. They spent just two seasons in the Conference finishing 17th (1988/89) and 20th (1989/90). The Magpies achieved their first promotion in 23 years last season under manager Gary Flitcroft and will play for this coming season in the Evo Stick Premier Division.
The season for E's fans will be remembered for the last time the now defunct club played in non-league's top tier with the 9-0 defeat at Runcorn sticking in the memory of those loyal supports who travelled to Canal Street on Saturday 3rd March.
The E's made the return journey to Feethams prior to the 9-0 defeat on the 27th January. 3,654 people saw a starting XI with six new faces contained from the game at Southbury Road. Andy Edmonds, Keith Hayzelden, Dave Waite, Nicky Ironton, John Cooper and Danny Benstock all playing in a 2-1 defeat to the champions elect.
Slough Town replaced the E's as champions of the Isthmian League. The rebels were to gain another promotion as the E's expense in 1995 when the E's were declined promotion back to the Conference after winning the Isthmian League and the Berkshire club who finished in the runners up position were promoted instead.
At the turn of the 80's and the beginning of the 90's The Starlight Rooms were still a major attraction in the area. Nearly everyone I speak to who I tell that I supported Enfield FC and Enfield Town mention the famous night-spot and nearly always have a story to tell about a night out there.....Mostly about the Friday night disco!!! Frank Carson, Danny La Rue, The Drifters, Joe Longthorne, Brian Conley, Showaddy Waddy, Jimmy Tarbuck, Kenny Lynch and Bob Monkhouse were all some of the names that had or were due to perform at the time.