After 31 days, 696 fans making nigh on 800 pledges and just shy of £30,000 raised on the final day, it became apparent to all at one minute past midnight on Thursday 1st June that Darlington fans had raised a staggering £162,070 for the 2023/24 Boost The Budget campaign.
Some would say it was never in doubt, given previous efforts and the fact that just over 1,270 fans own the football club, however a tricky end to what looked like a play off-bound season until late in the campaign, coupled with the ongoing 'cost of living' crisis, did lead some to think that Darlington fans would fall short of the ambitious £150,000 target this time.
But fear not. As they always do, Darlington fans got right behind the campaign, raising £40,000 on day one, getting to £100,000 in the quickest time yet, donating over £60,000 in the final week alone and beating the highest BTB target to date by £12,070.
Along the way the club made four new signings - Tom Platt, Jordan Mustoe, Toby Lees and Cameron Salkeld - had new contracts accepted by Andrew Nelson, Jarret Rivers and Kallum Griffiths, announced a new sponsorship deal with NuLeaf Projects and we also tipped over 1,270 Owners for the first time.
Chief Executive David Johnston, as ever, gave an honest and realistic interview to Ray Simpson on 19th May on where the club is at just now and manager Alun Armstrong outlined his plans for the forthcoming season to Stuart Armstrong on the Bank Holiday weekend.
The £162,070 raised beat the previous record - 2021's £138,465 - by £23,605. Of the 696 who pledged, 33% were new pledgers and 60% pledged the same as or more than in 2022. The average pledge was an incredible £233.
The reaction was, quite rightly, ecstatic. Here is what David Johnston had to say to Stuart Armstrong on the evening of 31st May:
DFCSG Chair Jon Saddington commented:
"A record breaking Boost The Budget. Darlo fans and owners surpassing all expectations yet again. It was particularly pleasing to see over 20% of donations coming from first time donors. Our fundraising achievements really are the envy of non-league football. Can’t wait to see our new signings in action. Come on Darlo!"
Whilst DFCSG Vice-Chair David Steel talked to BBC Tees' Mark Drury the following day to give his thoughts on what had just happened.
The DFCSG board and 'Boost The Budget' project team would like to thank every single person who pledged to this year's campaign. Darlington fans proving, yet again, that they are indeed the best fans in the game.
Roll on August...