Newly promoted Darlington have announced three new signings as they begin planning for the National League North season.
Manager Martin Gray has signed attacking midfielder Lewis Nightingale from Farsley and Blyth Spartans duo Arran Wearmouth and Jordan Watson.
Nightingale, 25, was with Farsley Celtic in the NPL First Division North last season, and scored 21 goals for them as they just missed out on the play offs.
He scored twice against promoted Spennymoor, and also a hat trick against Northwich Victoria.
He started his career as a youngster at Huddersfield, before being released and going on to play for Bradford Park Avenue, Farsley, Curzon Ashton, Mossley and again Farsley.
He turned down a move to National League North Chorley during the season just ended.
“There was plenty of interest in me from clubs in the National League North and National League Premier, but Darlington is the club I want to play for,” he said.
“I know Nathan Cartman and he sold the club to me really well, and when I met Martin Gray, then joining Darlington was a no-brainer. There is plenty to look forward to, with the new ground and joining a new league.”
Gray said; “He’s someone whom we’ve had an eye on for two or three years. He has a good pedigree, having been a pro at Huddersfield, and is a very good attacking left or right sided player. He turned down one or two other good moves, including one from Halifax, in order to join us.”
24 year old Arran Wearmouth was on Middlesbrough’s books as a youngster, and when he was released, signed for Bishop Auckland in the Northern League in 2011.
When Bishops boss Colin Myers moved to Blyth as assistant manager, Arran, who can play on both wings, followed him to Croft Park, where he played an important part in their run to the third round of the FA Cup in season 2014-15. He was also a regular for Blyth in the season just finished, when Blyth finished runners up to Quakers. He has also represented England C against the Northern League.
Gray said; “Arran has improved greatly since we first came across him in the Northern League when he was at Bishop Auckland.
“He is a player that I’ve always admired, and I’ve kept a close eye on him. He has been a standout player, as he’s shown with his performances at Blyth.
“We tried to do a deal for him on transfer deadline day but we couldn’t agree a fee, so to get him on a free transfer now is superb.”
Arran said; “I think my mind was made up to join Darlington before I even met Martin. The club is going to play at a higher level, it’s going back to the town, and has got a great fanbase. I’ve played against Darlington four times for Bishop Auckland and Blyth, and there have always been big crowds.”
Quakers’ third signing is 23 year old Jordan Watson from Blyth.
Northern Irishman Watson started his football career at Sunderland and can play at either left back or centre half.
He was released by Sunderland in 2014 after suffering two serious injuries, and he signed for Blyth just after the start of the 2014-15 season.
He proved his fitness by becoming a regular in the Blyth side, and he played a major part in their FA Cup win over Hartlepool two seasons ago before they lost to Birmingham City in the third round.
He was also a regular in the season just ended. He has been capped by Northern Ireland Under 19s.
His new manager said; “Jordan will be a very useful addition to the squad, because he has experience of playing in several positions. When he played against us last season, and on the other occasions when I’ve watched Blyth, he has always done well. Just like the other lads who we’ve signed, he will provide competition for places.”
Watson, who played twice for Blyth against Quakers in the season just finished, said; “Darlington is a big club with lots of history, and it’s a good move for me. The club is run very professionally — I want to help it win promotion and become a full time pro again.”