As you'll have noticed, we recently made our first signing of the summer. Little-known former Darlington defender David Ferguson on a free transfer, as he signed a 1-year deal with the club (some more on that here).
We know very little about him. In fact, we'd never even heard of him to be perfectly honest, but we do know someone who can shed a little more light on things for us, so we went to them.
Craig Stoddart (@CStoddartEcho for you Twitterites) is the Deputy Sports Editor for The Northern Echo, covering and supporting Darlington throughout their trials and tribulations for many a year, so he's very well placed to tell us more on new-boy Ferguson.
So without further ado, here's what we can tell you...
As we know, Ferguson was born in Sunderland, and is a fan of the club, which is excellent news to see more players who are quite literally fans on the pitch.
At just 17-years old, Ferguson already has six professional games under his belt - four sub appearances against Southport, Alftreton, Lincoln and Forest Green, plus two starts, a 5-2 drubbing at the hands of Mansfield Town and a 2-2 draw with Bath City.
Ferguson made his first start, as we mentioned in defeat against Mansfield, where Ferguson set-up Darlington's opening goal inside three minutes. Reports say Ferguson in an advanced position latched on to a Rob Ramshaw cross, turning the ball back into the path of Marc Bridge-Wilkinson to head home.
According to Craig Stoddart, we shouldn't read too much into the fact that he only has limited first team experience, although personally I'd say to have so many games under his belt at a young age is commendable, regardless of the level. It does appear though that recently appointed youth coach, Craig Liddle, will have had a major influence on the signing of Ferguson.
Craig Liddle rated Ferguson very highly, him Scott Harrison (centre-back/striker) and Dale Hopson (midfielder) were his three favourites. Besides, Aaron Brown was one of the few senior players Darlington and a left-back, so Ferguson didn't get much of a look in.
Craig (Stoddart, not Liddle) tells us that Liddle was keen to protect his promising youngsters;
He was keen to keep their appearances to a minimum, partly to reduce the physical demands on them and this approach provedwas borne out when two lads that had played too much, Harrison and Rob Ramshaw, ended up sustaining back problems due to - they were told by physios - playing and training more than teenagers should. Also, Liddle didn't want them taking on the burden of fighting relegation, didn't want them feeling responsible for what was going on at that circus!
The circumstances of Ferguson's move seem unusual. Not many players released from non-league sides get picked up by Premier League ones, but this is just a case of what the circumstances dictate. With Darlington currently fighting for their lives and existence, Ferguson was moved on. Don't look down on it though, as Craig S. tells us...
Had Darlington been on a firm footing they'd have had Ferguson under contract and would've been looking to sell him on. Besides, Curtis Main was released by Darlington a year ago and has done well for himself, so hopefully Ferguson will do the same at Sunderland.
Here's hoping Ferguson does go on to fulfill his potential at Sunderland, and should he do so, it would be nice if we could arrange a friendly or two with Darlington to help them out financially, or even continue to send some loan players at no expense as we did with Jordan Pickford and Liam Bagnall last season.
If you want to find out more from our new recruit, and you're into all that sort of Twitter stuff, Ferguson is on there @DavidFerguson7, plus it's his 18th birthday on Thursday, so from all of us here, have a good one David.
Thanks once again to Craig Stoddart from The Northern Echo, follow him on Twitter for more news and notes from around North East football - @CStoddartEcho