So no wonder Waddle was greeted with great affection when he returned to Sandy Lane last week to watch the Tigers’ 1-1 draw with AFC Mansfield in the Toolstation Northern Counties East League’s Premier Division.
After a sparkling career at clubs such as Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur, Sheffield Wednhesday and Marseille, Waddle was signed by manager Paul Mitchell at the start of the 2000/01 season and went on to make 49 appearances that campaign.
While he netted only twice himself, he made countless goals for striker Kirk Jackson with his pinpoint crosses. Indeed Jackson did so well that Darlington paid £25,000 for his services at the end of the season. Waddle was retained for the following campaign, making a further 20 appearnces and scoring in a 3-3 draw at home to Vauxhall Motors.
He was always keen to talk to Tigers’ fans and sign autographs, often during matches, much to the displeasure of referees! Many a time, fans would have to warn him when a pass was coming his way!
At one game, Kenny Clark was lining up a free-kick inside the box. For some reason, Waddle was in the press box at the time and, in his broad Geordie accent, he could be heard screaming: “Kinny, Kinny, you’ve just got to whack it in, mon!”
Waddle took nothing from ther club but brought a great deal, and has always been a supporter, including when son Jack played.