Former Ipswich Town defender Ian Miller on Darlington crisis

LIFE could have been so much different for defender Ian Miller right now, had his decision to leave crisis-hit Darlington turned sour.

The former Bury Town and Ipswich Town defender handed in his notice at the north east club after the Quakers failed to pay his wages in full for November and December, but was soon snapped up by Grimsby Town, playing his first game for the Mariners on New Year’s Day.

Darlington have since gone into administration and received funding last week to fulfil their next three fixtures at least in the Blue Square Bet Premier.

Miller lifted the FA Trophy with the club in May, at Wembley, and played over 150 games. However, he knew he had to think about himself and his family and set about finding a new club.

“After an FA Cup defeat earlier in the season, the players were told we would have to take a pay cut so the club could continue,” recalled Colchester-born Miller.

“They offered me a 10%wage cut to help save the club and I was willing to do that.

“I feel it has been all take, take, take from the Darlington’s point of view. I asked for a clause in my contract with regards to the January transfer window. When they refused to do that, I decided not to sign the contract and handed in my 14-day notice.”

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Miller now has an outside chance of reaching the play-offs with the Mariners but he could have been facing Saturdays without football.

However, his standing in the lower echelons of the football pyramid stood him in good stead and he was able to have an enjoyable Christmas with his family back in Colchester and Bury St. Edmunds, knowing he had options elsewhere.

“I received interest from a few clubs,” said Miller.

“But Grimsby are a big club with lots of tradition and a big fan following and I was impressed with them from an offensive point of view, having played against them earlier in the season.”

It was not the first time that Miller had experienced administration at Darlington but back in 2009, the 6ft 2ins defender decided to stay put.

“I was not in the team, I was on the fringes, and I decided to stick around to see if I could force my way into the side,” Miller recalled.

“I have had a couple of good years there since including that FA Trophy final and I really hope the heritage of the club survives.

“That (FA Trophy win) was certainly the proudest moment in my career and that made it all the more heartbreaking. I didn’t get chance to say a proper goodbye to the fans who were brilliant and pulled together to give the lads money.

“I think they (fans) understand that football is a short career and I had to look after myself.

“There are some players who have left Darlington who have yet to find new clubs. I hope they can get fixed up.”

A spokesman for Darlington FC said this week: “Ian’s departure took place before the administrators were appointed. His employment was under the previous administration.

“Ian Miller was that he was a model professional for Darlington Football Club and he conducted himself through a very difficult period in the Club’s history with honesty and integrity. He exercised a clause in his contract and left the football club.

“The club at the time was allegedly losing �80,000 per week which was unsustainable. The club could no longer sustain such losses and was placed into administration on January 3rd.

“On January 18th the club almost folded only to be saved at the last minute by a local group of businessmen and supporters. We have a stay of execution until January 31st during which time the future of the football club will be decided.”