Darby were formed in 2015 from a partnership between two established soccer clubs in Durham Region – Darlington and Whitby, then known as Whitby Iroquois – who were looking to create the next step in their local development pathway.
The history of Darlington goes back more than a century to the Darlington Soccer League – one of the earliest soccer leagues in Canada. In the 1870s and ‘80s, soccer was becoming an escape from the financial hardship that washed over Europe and North America and its popularity started to grow.
Meanwhile, Whitby Iroquois were formed in 1966, taking their shortened name five decades later as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. The club were pivotal in the formation of the Whitby Soccer Centre – a state-of-the-art indoor soccer facility which is used by Darby as their home field.
The two founding team names were combined to form Darby, and both clubs still have a big part to play in the youth soccer scene around Oshawa, developing players who could go on to feature in League1 Ontario.
Darby made their first steps in L1O in the Women’s Premier Division in 2016 but their inaugural season didn’t go according to the script. They shipped 74 goals and won just twice to finish second from bottom – a theme that continued in the ensuing years.
But that’s now long in the past. The 2019 Premier Division team made it to the playoffs, and this year’s squad have won six times already this season in returning to regular-season action following the COVID-19 pandemic, including a 7-1 victory over ProStars.
Did you know? Darby’s record this season means they have already surpassed their number of wins from the 2016, 2017, and 2018 seasons combined.
Attributing to this season’s success are stalwarts Alexis Wilson, who was included in May’s Women’s Premier Division Team of the Month, Tori Chia, and striker Lauren Illman, who has netted seven times this season.
Fellow forward Selah Hopkins has also had her say. The physical education major at Trinity Christian College was the top scorer for Darby in their inaugural season and has scored six goals in nine games this campaign – two of the goals coming in the first two minutes against BVB IA Waterloo in May.
The Men’s Premier Division team have three wins and two draws this season, placing them in 17th. Their position in the league has dropped after four consecutive losses having earlier in the season established their ability to see out matches – gaining points despite being one of the division’s low-scoring teams.
Goalkeeper Matt Zaikos has regularly been in contention for a spot in the Team of the Week since first making the cut in the second gameweek along with striker Jemuel Paul. Defender Granville Chambers was also selected in Week Six.
Darby expanded to the men’s competition in 2018 and reached the playoffs in the first time of asking. Le Rohne Young netted four goals that year and six in 2019 but they couldn’t reach the postseason in back-to-back seasons, before finishing second from bottom in the smaller 2021 campaign mid-pandemic.
Forward Stefan Lamanna has returned to Darby this year after a deal at York United (then York9) in 2019 followed his first stint in blue and yellow. He’s played seven games so far this season.
Former Darby centre-back Cale Loughrey is now playing for FC Edmonton in the Canadian Premier League on loan from Forge, and L1O fans will have heard of current Simcoe County Rovers player Shawn-Claud Lawson – he previously played for Darby between stints with professional US team Detroit City.
Meanwhile, the women’s team have a Jamaican international in their ranks. Twenty-nine-year-old Christine Exeter has featured four times for her ancestral country after representing Canada at age group level, scoring in red and white at the U20 Women’s World Cup in 2012. She has netted five times for Darby so far this season.
To enhance their pathway to the professional game, Darby have also fielded teams in the L1O Reserve Divisions and offer both outdoor and indoor soccer to children and adults, while planning to run specific soccer skill-based programs.
Some say that success breeds success, and the development opportunities in the region are helping to improve L1O results for Darby, who will no doubt have their eyes fixed on the playoff line for the rest of the season.
Darby's men warming up at Whitby Soccer Centre