Darlington Change

Darlington Chris Hope

I have been very fortunate over my football career to have a lot of great memories for the clubs I've played for and with the players I've encounter on the way.
But my favourite memory that will stay with me forever was my first day as footballer.
During my last year at school I did the rounds trialing at quite a few football league clubs but rejection was becoming the norm not big enough for a centre half was the common consencus.My dreams of becoming a professional footballer harboured as a young boy were starting to look doubtful.I left school and was due to start my apprenticeship as a pipe fitter when I got a call from Darlington FC to play in a trial game at Shildon.The game went well and afterwards the manager Brian Little and youth coach Tony McAndrew offered me a two year apprenticeship at Darlington football club,to say I was happy was an understatement.The next day I got the bus to Darlington and walked down to the ground Feethams.Following in my Dads footsteps he started his career at Darlington also.
To get into Feethams you have to walk through a big gate at the top of the drive and then walk down past the cricket pitch to the football club, as I passed through the gate the feeling was unbelievable the only thing I wanted to do over my school years was be a footballer and here I was. All the hard work hour after hour of trying to improve my game on my own kicking a ball off the school wall till it got dark or playing a game with my mates, sometimes we'd play for hours and hours in the summer there wasn't enough time in the day.The countless trial games.But what I thought to myself as I walked down that driveway was that I never gave up on my dream and now I had a chance to do what I loved,the hard work was just about to begin.
And to be honest I never got tired of that feeling of walking into the ground everyday to work as a footballer.


Chris started his career at Darlington before moving to Nottingham Forest. He has played over 500 league games for Scunthorpe, Gillingham and Rushden & Diamonds.

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisHope18


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