Paul Robinson could make his Blyth Spartans debut tonight. Martin Gray has joked about registering “just to kick him”.
There is an air of good humour and friendliness about this evening’s Doodson Sports Cup – the Evo-Stik League Cup, in effect – first-round clash at Heritage Park, between Darlington 1883 and the Northumberland outfit.
A bucket collection, for example, will raise money for the nearby St Teresa’s Hospice, and the Scott Bell Fund.
But come kick-off, all concerned aim to treat the match with the utmost gravity.
“It’s a special game for the club,” said Gray, who last week allowed Robinson to leave, and join Blyth.
“It’s the first time we’ve ever played Blyth, and there are a lot of links between the two clubs, people like Alan White, Mark Bell and Harry Dunn.
“We’ll be taking it seriously because results haven’t been great recently, and a win could really boost us.
“The players must show their character now, roll their sleeves up and stick together. They have to be more consistent, and have to learn quickly.
“Tom Wade’s done a great job at Blyth over the last year or so, they’re having a very good season.
“So we’ll have to be on top form, and hopefully people, fans of both teams and neutrals, will be intrigued by the match up and come along in their numbers.”
To that end, admission has been reduced to £6 for adults, £4 concessions.
Both clubs have enjoyed decent starts to their respective seasons, with Blyth fifth in Evo-Stik Premier and the Quakers sixth in Evo-Stik North, though not in the best of form.
And Spartans manager Wade said: “It’s massive for us. It’s another game and it helps develop this squad.
“The lads showed tremendous attitude and commitment against Grantham Town on Saturday and we want to carry that on.
“They all want to play in every game and the Darlington 1883 game is no different.”
Spartans striker Sonny Andrews – on loan from Spennymoor Town – spent last season at Heritage Park with Bishop Auckland.
He added: “I’m really enjoying it here and it’s been great so far.
“I’ve been brought in to score goals and to help the team win a few games.
“That hasn’t happened today (Saturday) but hopefully we can get back on track on Wednesday.”