Despite there being a football club in the town since as far back as 1861, the Darlington Football Club that we know today grew from a meeting held at Darlington Grammar School in July 1883. They soon grew to be the leading club in South Durham and in 1889 became one of the ten founding members of the Northern League. Success followed with championships in 1896 and 1900, and the club moved on to the North Eastern League. Annual applications for Football League membership showed the club’s ambition, and although unsuccessful until 1921 they took professional status just before the First World War.
Football has been played at Feethams in one form or another since the 1860s. Feethams ground itself was originally rented from a certain magnificently named John Beaumont Pease, a prominent member of the local Quaker community. The ground was re-laid with turf from the old Park Street cricket ground, where cricket had been played since 1839. The early founder’s religious persuasion led to the team’s nickname of The Quakers.
Darlington took on the blue and white stripes of the first club in town, who in turn adopted these colours from the town’s shield, representing the River Tees. They introduced for themselves black and white hoops when they became founder members of the third division north in 1921. The choice for black and white was inspired by the traditional dress code of the Quakers and remains until today, having seen over the years both unusual and fashionable variations in shirt patterns, including chevrons and chest bands.
Towards the end of the penultimate century the town had adopted a locally designed “badge” or “symbol” which was widely used on uniform buttons, public transport and Council documents and publications. This was unofficial and never registered with the College of Arms. It also became Darlington’s first badge. The shield shows the Stephenson’s ‘Rocket Locomotion’, Stockton and Darlington Railway’s first steam engine, which dates from 1825. The St. Cuthbert’s cross commemorates the legend of the monks of Lindisfarne fleeing from the Danish invaders. They carried with them the body of the Saint and eventually came to Darlington. On the spot where the body rested an early Saxon Church was built. Hence the Parish Church is named after Darlington’s Patron Saint, Cuthbert. The white and blue lines symbolise the River Tees. The motto ‘Floreat Industria’ means “Let Industry Flourish”
From the Seventies into the early Eighties Darlington used as a logo the letters DFC, intertwined and set on a football. In 1984 Darlington once again embraced its local heritage by adopting a badge, including a Quaker’s hat and the famous locomotive.