Stephen Darby


By Steve Ayers

Stephen Mark Darby (born 6 October 1988) is an English former professional footballer who played as a right-back. Darby represented England at under-19 level. He was part of the Bradford team that reached the 2013 Football League Cup Final, made over 200 appearances for the club and captained the side for two seasons.

Darby was brought up in Maghull, Merseyside, where he attended St. John Bosco's primary school and Maricourt Roman Catholic High School.


On 18 July 2006 Liverpool's official site announced that five academy players have been promoted to Melwood, Darby was one of them. Darby played in Liverpool's FA Youth Cup winning teams in 2006 and 2007 that defeated Manchester City and Manchester United's academies in the finals respectively, captaining the team in the 2006 final. He was first selected for the Liverpool squad which played Turkish side Galatasaray in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League in December 2006, but he was an unused substitute in that match. Despite being on the first team bench he didn't forget his roots and after a four-hour flight from Istanbul to Liverpool he went straight to The Hawthorns and played a full game including extra-time to help the youth team through to the fourth round.

During the 2007–08 season, Darby was the captain of Liverpool's reserves team that ended the campaign as northern and national champions. His performances earned him praises from manager Gary Ablett calling him 'Mr. Consistency'.

His first appearance in a competitive match was as a substitute in Liverpool's League Cup fourth round defeat against Tottenham Hotspur in November 2008.

He made his Champions League debut against PSV Eindhoven on 9 December 2008, coming on as a substitute alongside fellow homegrown players Jay Spearing and Martin Kelly. On 5 July 2009, Darby secured a three-year extension to his contract along with fellow Melwood graduate Jay Spearing.

He made his first competitive start for Liverpool against ACF Fiorentina in the UEFA Champions League on 9 December 2009 in a 2–1 defeat. His second competitive start came against Reading in the FA Cup. The game finished 1–1. Darby was praised by Liverpool centre-back Jamie Carragher for his performance in the game.

Darby made his Premier League debut against Tottenham Hotspur on 20 January 2010, coming on as a substitute in the 90th minute for Philipp Degen.

He was included in Liverpool's 21 man squad for the 2010–11 Premier League season.

He was released by the club at the end of the 2011–12 season.


On 11 March 2010, Darby joined Swindon Town on loan for the remainder of the 2009–10 season. He started his first game on 13 March 2010 against Brighton & Hove Albion and played the full 90 minutes at right back. He then took part in the play-off semi final against Charlton Athletic, where he scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out.

Notts County

On 1 November 2010, Notts County manager and ex-Liverpool player Paul Ince snapped up both Darby and Thomas Ince on a loan deal from Liverpool. He made his County debut on 6 November in an FA Cup 1st round match against Gateshead. On 13 November, he started in County's 3–1 league defeat to Exeter City. A week later, he started again in the 1–0 home defeat to Tranmere Rovers. On 23 November, he started and was named Man of the Match in the 1–0 win against one of his former clubs, Swindon. Again he started on 11 December, this time in a win as County defeated the Milton Keynes Dons at home, 2–0. After his loan spell completed on 3 January 2011 he returned to Liverpool. He rejoined County later in January for the remainder of the season, before returning to Liverpool in early May.


On 7 July 2011, Rochdale confirmed the signing of Darby on loan for the 2011–12 campaign. He made his debut on 6 August 2011, against Sheffield Wednesday, playing the full 90 minutes in a 2–0 defeat. He was the fans' man of the match in the 0–0 home draw against Carlisle United on 16 August 2011. He made 40 appearances for the club during his season-long loan.

Bradford City

On 4 July 2012, Darby signed for Bradford City on a two-year contract.[ He made his debut on 11 August 2012 in a 1–0 League Cup win against Notts County. He made his league debut a week later against Gillingham. He made his home debut on 21 August, coming on as a substitute for Nahki Wells in a 1–0 win against Fleetwood Town. On 25 September, he scored the only goal of his career in the 115th minute of a 3–2 win against Burton Albion in the League Cup third round. Bradford went on to reach the final, beating Premier League sides Wigan AthleticArsenal and Aston Villa in subsequent rounds.

Darby won 7 awards at the Bradford City end-of-season dinner in May 2014. Darby was made club captain after Gary Jones joined Notts County, and signed a new three-year contract in June 2014.For the 2016–17 season, Darby was replaced by new signing Romain Vincelot as captain, under new manager Stuart McCall. In May 2017 it was announced that he would be released at the end of the season, when his contract expired.

Boulton Wanderers

On 7 July 2017, Darby signed a two-year contract at Bolton Wanderers, reuniting with former manager Phil Parkinson.


On 18 September 2018, Darby announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 29 after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

Darby set up the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation to fund support for families affected by motor neurone disease, and research a cure.