Throughout the years of Darlington Football Club there have been many teams who the fans consider their main rivals however Hartlepool United has come out on top as Darlington's biggest rival.
The two teams, located 25 miles apart from each other, had the largest attendance for their league in a fixture played at the Darlington Arena. A crowd of around 10,000 supporters turned up. Since Hartlepool got promoted into the National League the two teams no longer come face to face as often.
After the promotion of Hartlepool from the National League North to the National League, Darlington soon found a new intense rivalry. This new rival was Spennymoor Town and still is today. This all started when it became a title race between both clubs to win the league in the 2012/13 season. Prior to this, Spennymoor had won the title multiple times before, only to be relegated back down. By the end of the 2012/13 season, Darlington was the only team that stopped Spennymoor from winning the title for that season.
Ever since Darlo and Spennymoor first played the rivalry has been there and it remains to this day. In more recent games there has been trouble between fans as the competitiveness took over. On Boxing Day 2021, the two sides came face to face for a league game played at the home of Spennymoor Town. The final score for this fixture was 1-1. Although everyone loves a bit of Boxing Day football the fans at this game left with anger and emotion as both sides started throwing items at each other. A fan from Darlington threw a fence panel at his opposing rivals, subsequently leading to an arrest.
On Saturday 30th September, Darlington face Scarborough in the latest round of the FA Cup, another game with a slight derby feel. However this is more of a fan rivalry compared to a club rivalry. When these two teams face each other, more often than not the fans will be segregated due to past trouble and acts of hooliganism toward each other.
In the past year, Darlington have faced Scarborough twice. Once on Boxing Day 2022 and the other in January. At the Boxing Day game, there was little trouble was caused. However, in January the game played at Scarborough, there was a delay due to fans abusing an official. Having fans abuse players, teams and officials leads to the opposition‘s dislike for the club growing potentially leading to further trouble between fans and bigger rivals in the future.
Darlo will hope to put that behind them this weekend as they bid to reach the final round of qualifying for this season's FA Cup.