While the rest of football in the North East of England is enjoying something of a renaissance, with Newcastle United pushing for a place in Europe, Sunderland enjoying a change of fortunes under new manager Martin O’Neill and Middlesbrough vying for promotion from the Championship, one club stands in stark contrast to their three illustrious neighbours.

Darlington Football Club have faced a number of crises in their 129-year history, but last week was surely their darkest hour, with the club, affectionately known as the Quakers, facing liquidation after the administrator sacked all the side’s players and management.

The club had been put into administration on 3rd January, for the third time in nine years by owner Raj Singh, who has invested over £2M in the Quakers in a failed effort to win promotion back to the Football League.

The team was saved at the eleventh hour by the Darlington Football Club Rescue Group, who managed to put together £50,000 to keep the club running for three more matches, the first of which was a spirited 1-0 defeat at home to high-flying Fleetwood Town.

While the result was not the fairy tale ending written in most supporters’ scripts, it was important in terms of raising much needed funds for the club, as an impressive 5,000 plus, almost treble the average attendance Darlington usually draw to the over-sized 25,000-seater Echo Arena, turned out to watch the match, with the local community rallying round and even fans from rivals Hartlepool United turning up to show their support.

But even if the club survives beyond the next two games against Hayes & Yeading and York City, they face a tough challenge to stay in the Conference. The Quakers’ administration has incurred a standard 10-point deduction and, with little chance of investment in the squad, manager Craig Liddle will have to motivate a threadbare team into putting distance between them and those sides occupying the relegation zone.

Darlington’s debts are thought to be substantial, with the administrator describing the books as "dire", and the club’s continued occupancy of a stadium which frankly embarrasses their pulling power are huge millstones around the Quakers’ neck and could prove major stumbling blocks in any takeover.

The club would require a large cash injection to bring down debts as well as a move away from the current stadium to a smaller and more appropriately sized home venue in order to have a long-term and successful future.

Football League clubs face the same worries as Darlington, and usually fear administration and the accompanying points deductions and transfer embargoes. However, they rarely fear that their club may go out of existence, though this is a common occurrence outside the league pyramid; Darlington have until the end of January to avoid this fate.

For the sake of the club’s fans and the town of Darlington, football supporters from across England should unite behind the Quakers and hope that someone secures this historic outfit’s long-term future.