Gary Bennett was given his first managerial appointment at Darlington in August 2000, replacing David Hodgson at the helm.
Bennett had worked as a coach under Hodgson after signing for The Quakers on a free transfer in July 1998 scoring his first goal for the Quakers against Manchester City in a televised match.
His appearances were restricted as he concentrated on coaching, taking the reserve team to promotion to the Pontins League First Division and to victory in the Durham Challenge Cup final.
Gary spent twenty years as a player in English football beginning his professional career at Manchester City before moving on to Cardiff, Sunderland, Carlisle, Scarborough and eventually Darlington.
In his first season in charge Gary was faced with a battle to keep The Quakers in the League after a poor start to the 2000/2001 campaign, fighting it out with Exeter, Carlisle and York to retain their League status.