By Mark Carruthers
TOMMY Wright is clearly a man in a hurry – after all this is someone that turned up for our interview almost an hour ahead of its scheduled start.
The Darlington manager was straight to the point, keen to discuss his ambitions for the club, his thoughts on a potential Football League return and most of all, his passion for the area and the club.
The former Quakers striker is a popular figure around the town after solidifying his place in club history as part of their FA Trophy-winning side of 2011.
Six years have passed since that Wembley triumph against Mansfield Town, but the ties forged in triumph have led to Wright’s return in adversity.
Wright left his full-time role as Nuneaton Town manager to take over the part-time role left by Martin Gray when the former Quakers boss left for York City last month.
Some were surprised that Wright chose to take a step back from a full-time role, but he insists Darlington were a different proposition.
“To go back to part-time, this was the only club I would have done it for,” revealed the former Leicester City striker. “It’s the potential of the club, it’s really exciting.
“Where the club was, then where it went to, now it’s heading back to where it should be.
“We are on the up and it’s a massive project for me.
“The ambitions of the club, to get back into the Football League, that was just something I couldn’t turn down.
“It would be a great story to tell, it’s a club I have great affection for.”
The Quakers have taken one point from a possible nine in Wright’s three games in charge – but progress has been made.
A defeat at north-east rivals Blyth Spartans was followed by a home reverse against Brackley Town.
A third loss looked likely, with the Quakers 3-1 down at Kidderminster Harriers as the game headed into the last ten minutes.
Late goals from Terry Galbraith and David Syers secured the first point of the Wright reign before Sunday’s defeat against Tamworth.
“Last Saturday, I think the penny started to drop,”?he said confidently. “You can see the work that we are putting in on the training pitch is starting to bare fruit.
“For the first 15 minutes we looked comfortable and should have been leading. Then we felt hard done by to go a goal down.
“They then get a second and you are looking at the lads thinking this is sloppy.
“That Darlington grit and determination showed in the end and we took a point.”
There have been key players that have left the club in recent weeks. Goalkeeper Adam Bartlett and defender David Ferguson were reunited with former boss Gray at York, while last season’s top-scorer, Mark Beck, joined National League North promotion-chasers Harrogate Town.
Wright has made his first moves into the transfer market, signing winger Greg Mills and defenders Luke Trotman and Josh Heaton.
More could be added soon as Wright looks to help steer the club back towards the Football League – and he insisted that is a realistic target.
“What we have always had is a loyal group of fans,” he continued.“I have so much admiration for what they have done off the field.
“They deserve to go back to the Football League and at the moment that is a long way away.
“We need to get out of this league and this club will grow, but we will do it together and we will do it our way.”
*This article originally featured in The @NonLeaguePaper, which is available every Sunday.