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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Booth

Sporting History

A nice return for me to the Darlington Arena on Saturday to photograph both the men and women's Darlington Mowden Park rugby teams. While there, I realised that I'd been coming to the venue for some 20 years, and in that time it's definitely seen some changes over that time. Most notably, the main sport is now rugby rather than football, which was the catalyst for the construction of the 25,000-seat stadium.

It's also held several gigs over the years with 17,000 fans turning out to watch Elton John in 2008. Others that have taken to the stage include Tom Jones, A-ha and Steps.

Therefore it saddens me that during the majority of my visits, empty seats have far outnumbered those of the paying spectators.

The task of filling the stadium was always going to be difficult. Darlington has an estimated population of around 93,000 so to ask one in four to turn up every other week in support of their local sporting team was never likely to happen. The ex-chairman of the football team, George Reynolds, who masterminded the move in 2003, was an interesting character to say the least. The stadium was initially named after him but financial difficulties broke his ties to the ground and the football team.

Darlington Mowden Park rugby club have called the stadium home since 2012 and they achieved promotion to National League 1, the third tier of English rugby in 2014.

I believe the stadium is an asset to the town and I hope its future can be a successful one, with the present owners continuing to find new and interesting ways for the ground to thrive.

#darlingtonmowdenpark #dmp #sharks #rugby @mowdenpark @DMP_Sharks

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