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National League South Season Preview 2017/18 – Part V

 Wealdstone | Welling United | Weston-super-Mare | Whitehawk

Wealdstone

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Vale Stadium

A late surge coupled with Poole Town and Hungerford Town unable to participate in the playoffs, almost saw the Stones sneak a shot at promotion. However, the Middlesex club were unable to nudge past Hampton and Richmond Borough so ended the campaign in a respectable eighth. Wealdstone will feel they have a greater chance this time around as the top seven will take part in the end of season playoffs.

Last Season

National North: 8th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Runners Up

League Top Scorer: Elliot Benyon (16 goals)

Average Attendance: 734 (5th in league / 43rd in non-league)

The Manager – Gordon Bartlett

The longest serving manager in the National South having joined the Stones in the Summer of 1995, playing in the Isthmian Division Three without a home. Bartlett was put under pressure last term but still managed to almost gatecrash the playoffs. An experienced manager with three promotions and an F.A Trophy semi-final appearance whilst with the Middlesex club, Bartlett’s chances of guiding Wealdstone to the National League have increased now finishing seventh is good enough to reach the playoffs.

The Summer

Experienced heads have been retained with the likes of Eddie Oshodi, Elliott Benyon and Ricky Wellard signing for another year. Former Dartford full back, Josh Hill made a switch from Chelmsford City, Shaquille Hippolyte-Patrick moved from Hampton and Richmond Borough and Jerome Okimo from Braintree Town. Looking towards the league’s below, Bartlett has also signed Benji Crilley from Chesham United and Abobaker Eisa from Uxbridge. Returning to action after time out from the game will be defender Liam Harwood.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 12 / Wealdstone wins: 13 / Draws: 12

Previous Meetings

28.01.2017 Wealdstone 0 Dartford 4
06.08.2016 Dartford 2 Wealdstone 2
26.01.2016 Dartford 1 Wealdstone 2
03.10.2015 Wealdstone 2 Dartford 1
21.02.2012 Wealdstone 1 Dartford 0
14.02.2012 Dartford 2 Wealdstone 2

Next Meetings

Saturday 4 November 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 17 February 2018 at Vale Stadium

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Welling United

Founded: 1963 / Ground: Park View Road

Relegated to the National South just over a year ago, the Wings were probably expecting to perform better last season considering they gained three years National League experience. The goal scoring form of Adam Coombes who netted 20 times was missed in the latter stages of the campaign. Stability is a word the Wings would welcome after managers have been and gone over the last year.

Last Season

National South: 16th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Runners Up

League Top Scorer: Adam Coombes (20 goals)

Average Attendance: 536 (11th in league / 68th in non-league)

The Manager – Jamie Coyle

A former full back with Dartford, Coyle has been part of successful teams including the Darts title winning campaigns in 2008 and 2010 making 140 appearances under Tony Burman scoring 19 times. He also experienced promotion with Maidstone United and played for Welling United six years ago. Coyle started out coaching whilst with the Darts working with the academy and now he’ll be eager to impress in his first managerial role.

The Summer

Welling United will have a familiar look about them to Dartford fans. Coyle has kept in contact with his former club and signed Alfie Pavey and brought back Tom Bradbrook to the world of football, after his brief retirement. Chairman, Mark Goldberg will be overseeing his son’s progress as Bradley Goldberg joins from Bromley. Returning to Park View Road will be Joe Healey and Jack Parkinson both previously with Dover Athletic. Conor Dymond also joins from Bromley whilst Jack Parter and Ian Gayle come in from Tonbridge Angels. After a spell in Ireland with Cork City, Cristian Nanetti signed to join the Wings squad.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 17 / Welling United wins: 7 / Draws: 10

Previous Meetings

28.02.2017 Welling United 0 Dartford 0
22.11.2016 Welling United 2 Dartford 2
06.09.2016 Dartford 2 Welling United 1
19.10.2015 Dartford 3 Welling United 1
11.11.2014 Dartford 2 Welling United 1
30.09.2014 Welling United 2 Dartford 2

Next Meetings

Tuesday 26 December 2017 at Park View Road

Monday 1 January 2018 at Princes Park

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Weston-super-Mare

Founded: 1887 / Ground: Woodspring Stadium

If there is one team guaranteed to be in the National South, it’s Weston-super-Mare. The only side to have taken part in every National South campaign since its creation in 2004. Apart from being reprieved on two occasions they have rarely threatened to leave the second tier of non-league. Last term they finished strongly rattling in the goals, but still finished in the bottom half.

Last Season

National South: 15th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Runners Up

League Top Scorer: Dayle Grubb (19 goals)

Average Attendance: 435 (15th in league / 91st in non-league)

The Manager – Marc McGregor

Excited by his new role as Seagulls boss, Marc McGregor returns to the Woodspring Stadium having played for the club. He’s been player coach at Worcester City and represented Oxford United and Notts County on the pitch too. After a spell at Forest Green Rovers McGregor earned a move to Queens Park Rangers but injury cut his full-time career short. The new Weston-super-Mare boss managed to have playing spells with Tamworth and Hinckley United before going into coaching.

The Summer

Danny Greenslade will be playing in Weston-super-Mare shirt after joining from Bristol Rovers. The Seagulls will miss Bradley Ash who was on loan from Barnsley last season and has returned to his parent club. It took a while for the summer activity to come to fruition and when it did the Seagulls secured the services of Jarrad Welch, Ben Seymour, Jake Mawford and Tristan Plummer.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 7 / Weston-Super-Mare wins: 2 /  Draws: 4

Previous Meetings

17.01.2017 Dartford 3 Weston-Super-Mare 2
26.11.2016 Weston-Super-Mare 2 Dartford 4
20.08.2016 Weston-Super-Mare 1 Dartford 2
05.03.2016 Weston-Super-Mare 2 Dartford 1
13.09.2015 Dartford 2 Weston-Super-Mare 1
12.11.2011 Dartford 1 Weston-Super-Mare 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 23 September 2017 at Woodspring Stadium

Saturday 7 April 2018 at Princes Park

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Whitehawk

Founded: 1945 / Ground: Enclosed Ground

Tough times have hot the Sussex club highlighted by the managerial merry-go-round last season. The Hawks went through five managers and almost 50 players last term alone. For a club that made F.A Cup headlines just over a year ago, Whitehawk have fallen rapidly with a former club president imprisoned and rumours of cashflow issues. The 2014/15 playoff runners up hit their peak in that season almost making it four promotions in six campaigns, now progress has halted the Sussex club need to find stability.

Last Season

National South: 17th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Danny Mills (16 goals)

Average Attendance: 297 (21st in league / 139th in non-league)

The Manager – Jimmy Dack

A former midfielder who knows his way around the non-league scene, Jimmy Dack spent his playing days in Surry and Hampshire with Sutton United, Carshalton Athletic, Aldershot Town and Farnborough Town. Spells in Sussex with Crawley Town means he has already travelled most of the Southern counties. Dack was appointed in January after being Andy Woodman’s assistant and he will be hoping to last longer than the last four managers of the Hawks.

The Summer

The loss of top striker Danny Mills is a huge blow for Whitehawk, the 26 year old has joined Ebbsfleet United. Experienced midfielder Sergio Torres leaves for Eastbourne Borough and Michael West has gone to Chelmsford City along with Elliot Omozusi. Academy players have been given the opportunity with no less than seven under 18’s joining the senior squad, perhaps a sign of the budget cuts at the Enclosed Ground. Connor Tighe has signed from Brighton and Hove Albion, Alex Tokarczyk from Basingstoke Town and Ed Sanders from Gosport Borough. Boosting the squad number another four signed, defenders Tom Cadnam and Ed Wakley as well as forwards Papa Gueye and Bayan Fenwick joined the list of Hawks players.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 /Whitehawk wins: 3 / Draws: 0

Previous Meetings

04.02.2017 Dartford 3 Whitehawk 1
10.08.2016 Whitehawk 1 Dartford 0
12.03.2016 Dartford 2 Whitehawk 4
19.12.2015 Whitehawk 0 Dartford 1
28.11.2015 Dartford 1 Whitehawk 2
04.09.1982 Dartford 5 Whitehawk 2

Next Meetings

Tuesday 5 September 2017 at Enclosed Ground

Saturday 27 January 2018 at Princes Park

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National League South Season Preview 2017/18 – Part IV

 Oxford City | Poole Town | St Albans City | Truro City

Oxford City

Founded: 1882 / Ground: Marsh Lane

The Nomads had an ordinary campaign last time out and will spend their third season in the National South, following their sideways step from the North in the summer of 2015. Justin Merritt resigned halfway through last term and Mark Jones took over in December to ensure a mid-table finish. This season, Oxford City will be playing on a 3G pitch after their Marsh Lane ground was renovated.

Last Season

National North: 14th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: Jefferson Louis (8 goals)

Average Attendance: 302 (20th in league / 132nd in non-league)

The Manager – Mark Jones

Already on the coaching staff, Jones was promoted from within the club to take on his first managerial role (??). He represented the Nomads over 100 times during his playing days and also played for Aylesbury United, Harrow Borough and Thame United. Jones is hoping the new playing surface can help attract new players as he builds a competitive squad for the National South.

The Summer

Justin Bennett hammered in the goals at this level before with Gosport Borough and after a spell with Salisbury City he’s back. He will partner Matt Paterson who left Havant and Waterlooville, the pair enjoyed a successful spell together at Borough which could be pivotal in Oxford City’s latest campaign. Joe Oastler, formerly Aldershot Town and Gosport Borough will be part of the squad as will David Pearce from Chesham, Eddie Jones from AFC Telford United, Zac McEachran from Banbury United and Horatio Hirst on loan from League One champions Sheffield United. Mamadou Fofana joins as a free agent having played for Barrow. Veteran striker Jefferson Louis has departed the Nomads at the age of 38.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Oxford City wins: 1 / Draws: 3

Previous Meetings

25.02.2017 Oxford City 1 Dartford 1
29.10.2016 Dartford 1 Oxford City 0
23.04.2016 Dartford 2 Oxford City 2
15.09.2015 Oxford City 2 Dartford 1
04.11.2008 Oxford City 2 Dartford 4
01.11.2008 Dartford 3 Oxford City 3

Next Meetings

Saturday 18 August 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 24 March 2018 at Marsh Lane

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Poole Town

Founded: 1880 / Ground: Tatnam Ground

The surprise package of 2016/17 finishing in the top five but denied a playoff place due to required ground improvements. The Dolphins kicked on from their Southern Premier League title campaign with consistency and a decent brand of football. Now the ground grading has been resolved, the Dorset club will be hoping their time comes round again. With the expansion of the playoffs, Poole Town will want to prove last term was no fluke.

Last Season

National South: 5th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Steve Devlin (14 goals)

Average Attendance: 570 (9th in league / 60th in non-league)

The Manager – Tom Killick

Poole Town have been on the up since Tom Killick joined the Dorset club 13 years ago. Although he has won three Wessex League titles in a row, three Southern League Division One South and West championships, promotions and the Southern Premier League, last season was arguably up their with the best as the Dolphins exceeded expectations finishing in fifth.

The Summer

Marvin Brooks will be missed at the Tatnam Ground, the midfielder decided to join Salisbury City and drop two divisions. Tony Lee comes in from AFC Totton, but there has been very little change. Manager Tom Killick put trust in his Southern Premier League squad and will be content in doing so again. With new Chairman, Chris Reeves calling it a massive task to keep up with operational costs, Killick may well have to work with what he already has.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 16 / Poole Town wins: 15 / Draws: 5

Previous Meetings

29.04.2017 Poole Town 2 Dartford 3
03.12.2016 Dartford 2 Poole Town 1
14.03.1992 Dartford 4 Poole Town 0
02.11.1991 Poole Town 0 Dartford 0
06.04.1991 Poole Town 1 Dartford 0
24.11.1990 Dartford 0 Poole Town 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 2 December 2017 at Tatnam Ground

Saturday 10 March 2018 at Princes Park

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St Albans City

Founded: 1908 / Ground: Clarence Park

Two years ago, St Albans City were battling at the wrong end of the table until a tremendous run of form helped them steer to safety. The Saints survived with games to spare and their form continued into last term. The Hertfordshire club became promotion contenders and with Louie Theophanous netting the goals a top five finish looked good. Then, the striker left and the squad struggled in the second half of the campaign sinking down the standings to tenth.

Last Season

National South: 10th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: Louie Theophanous (15 goals)

Average Attendance: 703 (6th in league / 46th in non-league)

The Manager – Ian Allinson

The man responsible for turning the Saints fortunes around last season, Ian Allinson now has a full campaign under his belt with the Hertfordshire club. The former Arsenal player has 28 years managerial experience and was very successful at Boreham Wood, leading them to the National League via two playoff triumphs. In October 2015, work commitments saw Allinson resign and take up a tough role at St Albans City. After guiding the Saints to safety, the 59 year old almost turned his side into title contenders, but early season promise dwindled.

The Summer

Former Dartford defender Tom Gardiner has been retained, the 22 year old moved to St Albans City due to work commitments in January. At the back he will join Tom Bender who also played for the Darts. Zane Banton has turned his loan spell from Luton Town into a permanent place at Clarence Park and former Cambridge City duo, Rhys Murrell Williamson and Dean Snedker have been added to the squad. Looking towards the divisions below, Percy Kiangebeni and Harold Joseph join from Enfield Town and Layne Eadie from Harlow Town.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 6 / St Albans City wins: 3 / Draws: 4

Previous Meetings

25.03.2017 St Albans City 1 Dartford 0
08.11.2016 Dartford 0 St Albans City 2
30.04.2016 St Albans City 4 Dartford 0
06.02.2016 Dartford 2 St Albans City 0
02.04.2011 St Albans City 1 Dartford 2
22.03.2011 Dartford 2 St Albans City 2

Next Meetings

Saturday 28 October 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 3 February 2018 at Clarence Park

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Truro City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Treyew Road

From playoff semi-finalists to a tussle against the drop, the White Tigers have experienced the highs and lows of football in recent seasons. Relegated from the National South in 2013 and promoted as Southern Premier playoff winners in 2016, the Cornwall club have had two more contrasting campaigns since. Last time out they conceded 99 goals and must tighten their defence to avoid looking over their shoulder this time.

Last Season

National South: 19th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

League Top Scorer: Andrew Neal (16 goals)

Average Attendance: 402 (16th in league / 97th in non-league)

The Manager – Lee Hodges

Leading the White Tigers to Southern Premier League glory was a highlight for Hodges seven years ago. Then the club’s financial situation worsened and their grip on National South stability loosened, eventually returning to the Southern Premier. Hodges lost his managerial role as the White Tigers couldn’t afford to keep him. After returning to the National South, the former Plymouth Argyle midfielder came back to Treyew Road reaching the playoffs before last season’s battle with relegation.

The Summer

Truro City welcome back forward Stuart Yetton who played over 300 games for the White Tigers, the 32 year old comes back after a spell with Torquay United. Also coming back to the club, Jordan Copp from Weymouth, Ed Palmer from Taunton Town and Ben Gerring from Bideford Town. Ben Harding switched this summer from Gosport Borough. Finally work begins on a new stadium due to be ready for the 2019/2020 season. Designed to share with rugby club Cornish Pirates, their new home is expected to be completed to Football League standards. Hard working midfielder Aaron Lamont, ‘busy midfielder’ Noah Keats and full back Bill Palfrey also make up the squad numbers. On loan from Exeter City will be defender Alex Hartridge.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Truro City wins: 3 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

18.03.2017 Dartford 5 Truro  City 3
08.10.2016 Truro  City 0 Dartford 5
05.04.2016 Truro City 3 Dartford 0
19.09.2015 Dartford 0 Truro City 1
28.04.2012 Truro  City 1 Dartford 1
22.10.2011 Dartford 1 Truro  City 2

Next Meetings

Saturday 11 November 2017 at Treyew Road

Saturday 24 February 2018 at Princes Park

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National League South Season Preview 2017/18 – Part II

 Chippenham Town | Concord Rangers | Dartford | Eastbourne Borough | East Thurrock United

Chippenham Town

Founded: 1873 / Ground: Hardenhuish Park

A new entry into the National South, Chippenham Town are the Southern League champions and set their highest ever points tally last season, with an impressive 103, a league record. The Bluebirds spent 15 years in the Southern Premier League reaching the playoffs on four occasions and suffering heartbreak in the final three times. So when the Wiltshire club took all the glory last term, the long wait was certainly worth it for club officials and supporters.

Last Season

Southern Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Qualifying Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Andrew Sandell (27 goals)

Average Attendance: 459 (8th in league / 86th in non-league)

The Manager – Mark Collier

Responsible for guiding Chippenham Town to thee highest level they have ever played, Collier gained experience at Swindon Supermarine. He led the Marine to the F.A Cup second round seven years ago and three months later left the club. Since then Collier has been learning his coaching trade at Wootton Bassett and Abingdon United. The current Bluebirds boss has a championship winning side to work with and hopes his team can repay the trust he is giving the players.

The Summer

Not too much action in the transfer marker and that is because Collier has retained 16 players believing his squad will be competitive. The three signings he has made, Dean Evans, Mark Cooper and Jason Matthews have all come from Weymouth. Most importantly the Bluebirds have kept hold of Andrew Sandell, the Southern Premier League top scorer for the last two season’s. The striker used to play for Bristol Rovers and Newport County. On loan for the season, Chelsea teenager Jared Thompson could gain experience between the sticks. Jake Andrews has been added on a two month loan from Bristol City. Attacking midfielder, Scott Donnelly will provide more experience having played for numerous clubs at Football League and National South level.

Next Meetings

Saturday 9 September 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 20 January 2018 at Hardenhuish Park

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Concord Rangers

Founded: 1967 / Ground: Thames Road

A well run club who have moved up the divisions from the Essex League in a short space of time. Despite small crowds the Beachboys continue to hold their own in the National South and will now participate at this level for a fourth consecutive year. Last term was their lowest finish since promotion to the National South as the Essex club started poorly, but a decent recovery lifted them away from the drop zone to safety.

Last Season

National South: 18th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: 3rd Round

League Top Scorer: Steve Cawley (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 287 (22nd in league / 140th in non-league)

The Manager – Adam Flanagan

Former Dartford defender Adam Flanagan impressed in his first two season’s as Concord Rangers manager. He had replaced Danny Cowley who guided the Beachboys up the non league pyramid so had big shoes to fill. The 38 year old previously managed Brentwood Town where he won promotion to the Isthmian Premier League via the playoffs. As a player he captained the Dartford side who clinched the Isthmian Premier League title five years ago, making a total of 145 appearances for the Darts and scoring 14 goals.

The Summer

Steve Cawley has been the club’s top scorer regularly and will get help from Jordan Cox, who signed from National South champions Maidenhead United. Lewis Taafe returns to Thames Road and Khale Da Costa will be a Beachboy too. Flanagan has returned to a former club in Maldon and Tiptree to sign up Jordan Sanderson and Billy Roast. From Southend United, Jason Williams joins Concord Rangers and Jordan Brown from Welling United. Last season their were a fair few former Dartford players around Thames Road, now that has been cut down with the departures of James White and Jordan Chiedozie.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Concord Rangers wins: 1 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

11.03.2017 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1
24.09.2016 Dartford 2 Concord Rangers 1
27.02.2016 Dartford 1 Concord Rangers 2
18.08.2015 Concord Rangers 2 Dartford 3
27.01.2009 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 3

Next Meetings

Tuesday 15 August 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 6 January 2018 at Thames Road

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Dartford

Founded: 1888 / Ground: Princes Park

After a season of consolidation, the Darts went a step further by reaching the playoffs losing out to their season’s nemesis Chelmsford City in the semi final. Considering the budget available to the top two Maidenhead United and local rivals Ebbsfleet United, Dartford finished the best of the rest pipping the Clarets on the final day. Once again, captain Elliot Bradbrook led by example in midfield top scoring, but a small, solid and flexible squad had the togetherness to almost challenge for the title in February. However the strength of the top two left the Darts behind in a respectable third place.

Last Season

National South: 3rd

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Elliot Bradbrook (14 goals)

Average Attendance: 998 (3rd in league / 37th in non-league)

The Manager – Tony Burman

It seemed like Tony Burman rediscovered the Dartford spirit of old last season. Overseeing title winning sides in the Isthmian Leagues and a triumphant National South playoff team, Burman guided the Darts to eighth in the National League back in 2014/15. From then on Dartford spiralled downwards with a reprieve then relegation leaving supporters in the doldrums. Consolidation has now been followed by optimism again and with Burman’s experience, the Darts are eyeing up promotion again.

The Summer

The nucleus of last season were tied down early doors largely due to the team spirit Burman has once again created. The ‘core’ of Elliot Bradbrook, Ryan Hayes, Danny Harris and Lee Noble have stayed on. The hole left by goal scoring winger Luke Wanadio to Bromley has been filled by Lyle Della Verde from Concord Rangers. Full back, Tom Wynter who moved down a division to relegated Margate has been replaced by Mark Onyemah from Thurrock, who played 24 times whilst on loan at Princes Park from Luton Town back in 2015/16. Scorer of 44 goals last term for AFC Croydon Athletic in the Southern Counties East League, Warren Mfula impressed enough for Burman to take a gamble.

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Eastbourne Borough

Founded: 1964 / Ground: Priory Lane

It’s time for Eastbourne Borough to show some progression after Tommy Widdrington’s five year tenure. The Sports finished between 10th and 17th during Widdrington’s spell in charge and are only on their fifth manager in 34 years. Stability is a word Eastbourne Borough are used to but the new boss wants more. Last term the Sussex club ended in a predictable mid-table spot and will continue life in the National South once more.

Last Season

National South: 11th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: Elliot Romain (20 goals)

Average Attendance: 541 (10th in league / 67th in non-league)

The Manager – Jamie Howell

After ten years as a player at Bognor Regis Town and seven years as a manager, Howell shocked the Rocks with his switch to Sussex rivals Eastbourne Borough. The 40 year old played over 400 games for last season’s Isthmian Premier playoff winners taking his former side to their highest ever level. Howell now wants to take Eastbourne Borough back to the National League by playing attractive football and in the long term have a team of local players from the county.

The Summer

Sergio Torres is the main signing this summer joining the Sports from Whitehawk. The 35 year old Argentinian made his name at Wycombe Wanderers and Peterborough before being part of Crawley Town’s rise. Jamie Howell, also went back to a former club to get Leon Redwood to sign from Burgess Hill Town. Replacing Josh Hare at full back will be ex Wothing player Will Hendon and Matt Drage comes in from Dulwich Hamlet. Yemi Odubade returns to the Sports after spells with Oxford United and Maidstone United.

Head To Head

Dartford wins: 8 / Eastbourne Borough wins: 4 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

08.04.2017 Dartford 4 Eastbourne Borough 3
16.08.2011 Eastbourne Borough 2 Dartford 3
20.02.2016 Eastbourne Borough 1 Dartford 1
11.08.2015 Dartford 1 Eastbourne Borough 0
03.04.2012 Eastbourne Borough 0 Dartford 1
29.11.2011 Dartford 2 Eastbourne Borough 1

Next Meetings

Tuesday 12 September 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 14 April 2018 at Priory Lane

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East Thurrock United

Founded: 1969 / Ground: Rookery Hill

The Rocks had a fine season last time out consolidating in the National South in their first ever campaign at this level. The Essex club will be one of four representing the county and they have their fair share of former Darts in their squad. A similar season to last term will be the aim for the club and success will be signs of improvement at this level.

Last Season

National South: 13th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: Second Round

County Cup: Runners up

League Top Scorer: Tom Wraight (19 goals)

Average Attendance: 305 (19th in league / 129th in non-league)

The Manager – John Coventry

East Thurrock United needed rebuilding following relegation to the Isthmian Division One in 2008. The astuteness and coaching experience of John Coventry has had a large part to play in the Rocks rise to the National South. Four years ago, the Essex club won the playoffs to reach the Isthmian Premier League. Last term provided consolidation after winning promotion via the Isthmian Premier playoffs.

The Summer

Three former Dartford players join East Thurrock United and will team up with ex Dart Lee Burns, who was signed a year ago. Max Cornhill left Chelmsford City and James White moved on from Concord Rangers. The Rocks have also signed Lewis Smith, who Dartford gambled on a few years ago only for the striker to move out to Australia shortly after agreeing to sign for the Darts, he was later banned for 17 months by the F.A which ends next month. George Allen also joins East Thurrock United from fellow Essex side Canvey Island. Leaving Rookery Hill this summer wsa top scorer Tom Wraight who secured a move to Maidstone United.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 1 / East Thurrock United wins: 2 / Draws: 1

Previous Meetings

07.01.2016 Dartford 6 East Thurrock United 1
10.09.2016 East Thurrock United 1 Dartford 1
30.04.2005 Dartford 0 East Thurrock United 3
28.08.2004 East Thurrock United 2 Dartford 1

Next Meetings

Monday 28 August 2017 at Princes Park

Monday 2 Monday 2018 at Rookery Hill

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National League South Season Preview 2017/18 – Part I

 Bath City | Bognor Regis Town | Braintree Town | Chelmsford City

Bath City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Twerton Park

The Romans achieved their highest finish in three years last term to finish in the top ten. Decent form from mid-November to mid-February helped the cause as Bath City tasted league defeat just once in that period. This season will mark the Romans sixth consecutive campaign in the National South as they push for a playoff place and a hopeful return to the National League, which they exited five years ago.

Last Season

National South: 9th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Andy Watkins (14 goals)

Average Attendance: 612 (8th in league / 59th in non-league)

The Manager – Gary Owers

Former Sunderland, Bristol City and Notts County midfielder last managed Bath City over ten years ago in the Southern Premier League. The 47 year old, went on to manage Forest Green Rovers and Weston-Super-Mare prior assistant manager roles at Aldershot Town, Plymouth Argyle and his hometown club Gateshead. Owers enjoyed his first full campaign last season and this time is aiming for the top five. The Romans boss committed to the club this summer for the next two years and hopes the community buy out off the field will reap its rewards.

The Summer

Shaun McClousky returns to his parent club Bristol City, which allows Jamie Lucas from Bristol Rovers and Nat Jarvis from Hungerford Town to try and replace his goals. Owers has opted for experience at the back signing Grenadian international Anthony Straker from Aldershot Town and Darren Jones from Newport County, adding a little youthfulness in the defence will be Miles Welch-Hayes from Oxford United. Top scorer Andy Watkins was retained after picking up last season’s Player of the Year for the Romans. Turning his loan spell last season to a permanent deal, Marvin Morgan signs from Havant and Waterlooville. Triallists, Matt Cafer and Ryan Case impressed enough in pre-season to earn deals.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 29 / Bath City wins: 40 / Draws: 19

Previous Meetings

04.03.2017 Dartford 2 Bath City 0
22.10.2016 Bath City 0 Dartford 1
16.01.2016 Dartford 4 Bath City 1
05.09.2015 Bath City 0 Dartford 0
07.04.1990 Dartford 1 Bath City 0
09.09.1989 Bath City 0 Dartford 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 14 October 2017 at Twerton Park

Saturday 21 April 2018 at Princes Park

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Bognor Regis Town

Founded: 1883 / Ground: Nyewood Lane

Isthmian Premier League runners up two years in a row, the Rocks return to the National South after an eight year absence. In that time the sank to the Isthmian Division One South where again they finished second in consecutive seasons, going up in the playoffs. The Sussex club managed to overcome a strong Dulwich Hamlet side in April’s playoff final and deservedly earned promotion.

Last Season

Isthmian Premier: 2nd

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: James Fraser (22 goals)

Average Attendance: 550 (5th in league / 64th in non-league)

The Manager – Vacant

The search for a new boss took some time only for the hard work to be undone. Sami El-Abd agreed to combine the manager’s post with a full time coaching role at Brighton and Hove Albion, only for the defender to step down. General Manager, Jack Pearce praised El-Abd’s honesty and believes any disruptions won’t be a problem for the Rocks.

The Summer

Bognor Regis Town suffered a double blow, after losing manager Jamie Howell, top scorer James Fraser departed Nyewood Lane for Worthing. Corey Heath, once a youth team player with the Rocks will now be part of the senior squad. Goalkeeper, Dan Lincoln and midfield trio Joe Lea, Pat Suraci and Tommy Scutt have all signed on but attracting new players has proved challenging without a manager for most of the summer.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 3 / Bognor Regis Town wins: 1 / Draws: 4

Previous Meetings

24.04.2010 Bognor Regis Town 0 Dartford 2
07.11.2009 Dartford 3 Bognor Regis Town 3
02.05.1981 Dartford 1 Bognor Regis Town 1
13.12.1980 Bognor Regis Town 2 Dartford 2
01.05.1980 Bognor Regis Town 2 Dartford 0
10.11.1979 Dartford 2 Bognor Regis Town 0

Next Meetings

Saturday 7 October 2017 at Princes Park

Saturday 28 April 2018 at Nyewood Lane

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Braintree Town

Founded: 1898 / Ground: Cressing Road

The Irons six year stay amongst the elite of non league ended in relegation last season. In that time the Essex club kept defying the odds starting with mid-table finishes and in 2014 were three points from a playoff spot. A couple of years later, Braintree Town achieved their best ever campaign finishing third, losing the playoff semi final against Grimsby Town. Perhaps victims of their own success, the Iron never recovered and were relegated last term on the final day. At least they reached the F.A cup second round for the first time.

Last Season

National League: 22nd

F.A Cup: 2nd Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Michael Cheek (17 goals)

Average Attendance: 725 (22nd in league / 44th in non-league)

The Manager – Brad Quinton

The club’s record appearance maker after twelve successful seasons with the Iron, Brad Quinton re-joins the Essex club to take charge. Winner of the Isthmian Premier and National South as a player with Braintree Town, he has had a lot of rebuilding to do and his new look squad will be hoping to consolidate in the National South. Quinton has set his sights on the top half of the table by the festive period and then see where he can take them from there. Being a crowd favourite on the pitch may well help him in the dug out.

The Summer

The Irons have signed a teams worth of new players alone including former Dartford striker George Sykes from Canvey Island. Quinton also raided resources at Enfield Town, his former club to work with players he knows and trusts. Nathan McDonald, Jonathan Muleba, Scott Schulton, Samir Bihmoutine, Ricky Gabriel, Nigel Neita and Connor Bolton all join from the Middlesex club. Xavier Vidal has been brought in from Mertsham, Roman Michael-Percil from Metropolitan Police, George Craddock from East Thurrock United and Marc Okoye from Dulwich Hamlet.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Braintree Town wins: 6 / Draws: 2

Previous Meetings

01.01.2015 Braintree Town 3 Dartford 0
26.12.2014 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
18.04.2014 Braintree Town 1 Dartford 0
24.08.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 2
11.04.2013 Dartford 0 Braintree Town 0
25.09.2012 Braintree Town 0 Dartford 2

Next Meetings

Tuesday 8 August 2017 at Cressing Road

Saturday 23 December 2018 at Princes Park

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Chelmsford City

Founded: 1878 / Ground: Melbourne Stadium

A solid reliable outfit last season, the Clarets failed at the final hurdle in the playoffs, this time against ten men Ebbsfleet United. Chelmsford City will be aiming for promotion after their fourth place finish last term was a vast improvement on the three campaigns before. Like local rivals Braintree Town, the Clarets have been busy in the summer transfer window and have overhauled their squad in an attempt to mount a challenge.

Last Season

National South: 4th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Shaun Jeffers (21 goals)

Average Attendance: 912 (4th in league / 38th in non-league)

The Manager – Rod Stringer

The Chelmsford City boss ensured the club finished in their best league position since 2011. Stringer’s reputation has been built on two league titles, first with Aveley’s triumph in the Isthmian League Division One North then with Braintree Town in the National South. He will come up against his former club Braintree Town this season after controversially walking away. Last summer he made the move back to Essex from Bishop’s Stortford and has the Clarets believing again.

The Summer

Capitalising on players leaving rivals Braintree Town, the former Irons boss Rod Stringer grabbed the opportunity by signing former Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur forward Lee Barnard. Ex AFC Wimbledon goalkeeper Sam Beasant joins from the Clarets rivals as does Harry Lee. Chelmsford City are amongst the busiest teams in the transfer window capturing the likes of Michael West and Elliott Omozusi from Whitehawk, Craig Braham-Barrett from Welling United and former Dartford loanee Jim Stevenson from Dover Athletic. Former Peterborough United, Millwall and Leyton Orient striker, Shaun Batt was signed from Barnet with the help of the Clarets ’12th man’ fund. Scott Davies (Oxford City), Paul Rodgers (Bishop’s Stortford), Kudus Oyenuga (Greenock Morton), Matt Johnson (Billericay Town) and Aaron Greene (Bishop’s Stortford) have also signed for the Clarets. Former Darts, Max Cornhill and Josh Hill have left the club.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 36 / Chelmsford City wins: 53 / Draws: 91

Previous Meetings

07.05.2017 Dartford 1 Chelmsford City 2
03.05.2017 Chelmsford City 0 Dartford 0
18.02.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
14.01.2017 Dartford 0 Chelmsford City 1
17.09.2016 Chelmsford City 2 Dartford 3
13.08.2016 Concord Rangers 1 Dartford 1

Next Meetings

Saturday 21 October 2017 at Melbourne Stadium

Saturday 10 February 2018 at Princes Park

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Dartford v Ebbsfleet United

Dartford will scrapping for points on Boxing Day against their local rivals Ebbsfleet United to keep in contention of the playoff places.

In a tough December, the Darts know that a win against the Fleet will be the perfect recipe for festive cheer. Often the highlight of the season’s fixture list, Dartford host Ebbsfleet United before the return fixture on New Year’s Day.

After a heavy defeat at table toppers Maidenhead United, Tony Burman’s side will have the opportunity to bounce back and move level on points with their opponents. Dartford were victims of a superb solo performance last weekend by the National South’s top goalscorer, Dave Tarpey who netted four for the Magpies in their 5-0 drubbing of the Darts.

The set back was only the fourth league defeat for Burman’s team this season and third against a top four side. If Dartford are to show they have playoff credentials then positive results against the teams around them need improving. Despite the reverse, the Darts have been in decent form winning eight of their last ten.

Last season, the Fleet won bragging rights as the rivals met after a two year absence. At Princes Park, Ebbsfleet United won 1-0 when Jordan Parkes scored the winner from close range. Dartford pushed for an equaliser but were unable to break down their opponents even after Dean Rance was sent off.

Tom Bonner returns from his suspension but in his place Tom Wynter will be missing. Wynter was red carded in the 5-0 defeat to Maidenhead United and will serve a three match ban.

Ebbsfleet United, amongst the favourites to return to the National League fell short last term, finishing runners up then losing the playoff final. This time out they are back in second spot but rather than setting the pace like twelve months ago, they are playing catch up.

The Fleet started slowly by their standard with a run of four consecutive draws in August, leaving Daryl McMahon’s side in tenth. Since then they have taken an impressive 28 points from the last 33 available, with the last three collected in a 2-0 victory over Gosport Borough. McMahon commented told www.kentonline.co.uk: “We’ve evolved from day one to now and hopefully it continues and we keep on getting better,” he said. “Barring the start of the season, our form from September 5 to now, we’ve only lost one game, drawn two and won the rest in the league. So we’ve been in good form for a couple of months and we’re ticking along nicely”.

Head to Head
Dartford wins: 116 / Ebbsfleet United wins: 108 / Draws: 91

Current League Form
Dartford (LWWWLW)
Lost 0-5 v Maidenhead United (A)
Won 2-1 v Poole Town (H)
Won 3-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Won 2-0 v Hemel Hempstead Town (H)
Lost 0-2 v St Albans City (H)
Won 1-0 v Oxford City (H)

Ebbsfleet United (WWLWWW)
Won 2-0 v Gosport Borough (H)
Won 3-1 v Oxford City (A)
Lost 2-3 v Maidenhead United (H)
Won 2-1 v Welling United (A)
Won 4-2 v Truro City (H)
Won 1-0 v Bath City (H)

Previous Six Meetings
Ebbsfleet United 1 Dartford 1 (28/03/2016 – National South)
Dartford 0 Ebbsfleet United 1 (31/08/2015 – National South)
Dartford 1 Ebbsfleet United 0 (29/10/2013 – F.A Cup Replay)
Ebbsfleet United 1 Dartford 1 (26/10/2013 – F.A Cup)
Ebbsfleet United 2 Dartford 2 (01/01/2013 – National League)
Dartford 3 Ebbsfleet United 1 (26/12/2012 – National League)

Stats
Dartford have picked up one point from 12 against teams above them in the National South. Last term they managed 13 points from 48 versus those that finished above them.

Despite conceding five on Saturday, the Darts still have the third best defensive record conceding 20. Ebbsfleet United (17) are second behind Maidenhead United (13).

Last season saw the Fleet win their first league game in Dartford since 1983. The Darts won the last six games at Watling Street against Gravesend and Northfleet before reforming, scoring 23 and conceding just once.

On This Day
Since reforming Dartford have won five, drawn three and lost six on Boxing Day. The most notable victory was the 6-1 home win against Canvey Island in 2007. Steve Norman, Ryan Hayes, Brendon Cass, Jay May, Eddie McClements and Jamie Coyle all scored for the Darts that day, in the season they clinched the Isthmian Division One North title. Only once has Dartford played Ebbsfleet United on St Stephen’s Day and that was four years ago at Princes Park. Dartford claimed the local bragging rights with Harry Crawford netting a brace and Elliot Bradbrook scoring the other. Before then, the Fleet were known as Gravesend and Northfleet and the previous fixture 23 years earlier saw Peter Taylor’s Dartford win 5-0 at Watling Street. Last season’s outing on 26 December ended with the Darts beating their next F.A Trophy opponents, Chelmsford City 1-0 thanks to an Andy Pugh winner.

Welling United v Dartford

Dartford continue to defend their Kent Senior Cup title and will reach the last eight if they beat Welling United.

For the second year in a row the Darts take on the Wings in the county cup. Last season, Dartford started their run to the final with a 3-1 victory over Welling United in round one. In a dominant display, the Darts were forced to wait until the second half when goals from George Sykes, Callum McNaughton and Dajon Golding helped Dartford progress.

This term Tony Burman has already led his side to all four Kent derby victories and Welling United were one of those teams that suffered. A late Elliot Bradbrook winner, after the captain had earlier missed a penalty secured three points. Alex Brown had put the Darts in front by netting the rebound from the spot kick before Welling United’s Adam Coombes scored a free kick.

In the last round, Dartford overcame Cray Wanderers with Burman admitting his side had not reached fifth gear. Falling behind, the Darts were made to work hard for victory, which they managed thanks to goals by Andy Pugh and Duane Ofori-Acheampong.

The Darts remain on excellent form in the league and on the weekend moved into the playoff places with a comfortable 3-0 win at bottom of the table side Bishop’s Stortford. An own goal got Dartford moving and from that moment they didn’t look back. Pugh notched his fourth league goal of the season and Elliot Bradbrook moved on to 11 in all competitions.

Keaton Wood missed the win against Bishop’s Stortford through illness but goalkeeper Deren Ibrahim returned from international duty. Dartford’s number one set a milestone reaching 100 appearances for the club having graduated from the academy.

Welling United’s first campaign since returning to the National South has been a season of struggle so far. Occupying a relegation place at the moment, the Wings are second from bottom and four points adrift of safety. The Wings have lost their last three league matches with the most recent against Hampton and Richmond Borough.

In the previous round Welling United brushed aside Isthmian Division One South side Chatham Town. The away tie became a formality when Dan Walker scored a hat-trick and further goals by Jonte Smith, Lyle Della-Verde and Josh Jackson secured a 6-1 win.

Head to Head
Welling United wins: 6 / Dartford wins: 17 / Draws: 9

Previous Meetings
Dartford 2 Welling United 1 (06/09/2016 – National South)
Dartford 3 Welling United 1 (19/10/2015 – Kent Senior Cup)
Dartford 2 Welling United 1 (11/11/2014 – National League)
Welling United 2 Dartford 2 (30/09/2014 – National League)
Welling United 1 Dartford 1 (10/01/2014 – National League)
Dartford 1 Welling United 2 (26/12/2013 – National League)

Current Form (all competitions)
Welling United (LLLDLL)
Lost 1-3 v Hampton and Richmond Borough (A)
Lost 0-1 v Hungerford Town (A)
Lost 1-2 v Ebbsfleet United (H)
Drew 1-1 v Gosport Borough (A)
Lost 0-1 v Wealdstone (A)
Lost 1-2 v Whitehawk (H)

Dartford (WWLLWW)
Won 3-0 v Bishop’s Stortford (A)
Won 2-0 v Hemel Hempstead Town (H)
Lost 0-2 v St Albans City (H)
Lost 3-6 v Sutton United (H) – F.A Cup
Won 1-0 v Oxford City (H)
Won 1-0 v Bath City (A)

On This Day
Dartford have to look back 28 years to find their last win on 22 November. In 1988, a Southern League Cup second round tie against Crawley Town ended in a convincing 4-0 victory. Since then, three defeats and two draws later leave Dartford still waiting. A F.A Cup first round replay in 1989 versus Football League side Exeter City ended 4-1, but the Darts pushed them close in the original tie in front of over 3000 supporters. Losses against King’s Lynn (4-1 in 2003) and Lincoln City (1-0 in 2014) came either side of the two draws versus Wivenhoe Town in 2005 and St Albans City in 2008.

Ten Years Back Home – Princes Park

A decade ago football proudly came home for Dartford with the opening of a brand new environmentally friendly stadium. Princes Park has been the venue for some memorable moments in the club’s history and so Pure DFC raises a glass for many more to come.

Without the pain and heartbreak it’s really hard to experience the pride and joy Princes Park gave club officials and supporters on 11 November 2006. Exiled for fourteen years after one of the most difficult periods in Dartford’s history the road back home seemed never ending.

End of the Watling Street era
Whilst the eighties and in particular the latter part of the decade was successful on the pitch, the financial situation worsened. When Maidstone United started their groundshare with the Darts, the extra income was welcome. However, further politics turned the thought of bankruptcy into a reality and so Watling Street was finished and the following 1992/93 campaign went unfinished. Mudeford dart, one of over 550 forum members using Pure DFC remembers the day the terrible news broke, “I don’t mind admitting I sat at my desk and cried my heart out the day we went under, that might explain my half full, rose tinted attitude through thick and thin”.

It is with that positive attitude that kept the club going thanks to The Club’s Supporters’ Association. The club was rescued and senior status was kept thanks to the Youth Team. All that was left was to appoint a manager (step forward Tony Burman), find a squad and a venue, so the Darts could start over in the Kent League.

Watling Street: A former home of Dartford Football Club.

Watling Street: A former home of Dartford Football Club.

Dartford on tour
Known as the nomadic days, the fourteen years before Princes Park saw Dartford touring Kent and Essex with false alarms of homecomings along the way. Oxford Road, Sidcup became the first ‘home’ of the new era as the Darts shared with Cray Wanderers, a period Mudeford dart looks back on nostalgically, “from a personal point of view I loved our days at Cray with the iconic “Dave Skinner Stand”. There was a real camaraderie because everyone was so happy to have our Darts run by our supporters. Cray were great landlords and made us feel very welcome”.

Park View, Belverdere had better facilities, but once again drama unfolded and the main stand was burnt down in 1997. Between September and December, Dartford played home fixtures at Purfleet, Slade Green, Northfleet and Barking. The Kent derby against Margate was actually played in Essex.

Unsuitable to host Dartford matches the club were forced to move from Park View and into Ship Lane, Purfleet. With that came new problems, enticing fans across the River Thames, poor public transport links and the M25 to contend with. Attendances declined but the venue would eventually be the last destination of Dartford’s tour.

Before Ship Lane hosted Dartford games again, the club struck a deal with rivals Gravesend and Northfleet to play at Stonebridge Road. It was during this period news broke on 10 April 2004 that funding for a new home was granted by Dartford Borough Council. The words of a former fanzine title was never more apt, finally their was a “Light at the End of the Tunnel”.

So the nomadic times may have been tough but many have fond memories and were delighted the club were back, paulnorwich reflects on those fourteen years, “I never went to Stonebridge Road to watch the Darts. Cray was good, Erith and Belvedere and Welling was handy for me as they were both so local, but because of family commitments I could only really start watching the Darts again more regularly at Purfleet, which I quite liked though. None of them were ever “home” though”.

Oxford Road: A lifeline for the Darts.

Oxford Road: A lifeline for the Darts.

Homecoming
11 November 2006. An emotional day in the history of Dartford Football Club, a celebration of the continuous hard work put in by those that kept the club running, of those that made Princes Park happen. A huge sense of pride and relief to be home again and for new supporters an exciting adventure. In the days leading up to the grand opening, on the morning before kick off, behind the scenes was hectic. In the excellent Princes Among Men: The History of Dartford Football Club, Jeremy Kite MBE recalls the desperation on the eve of the homecoming when the Princes Park lights went out. Luckily it wasn’t a metaphor of fourteen years ago, the venue was ready for the sell out crowd against Horsham YMCA.

A day of entertainment didn’t disappoint on and off the pitch. paulnorwich remembers, “I was talking to everyone I know about the “return” throughout 2006 and it was a day I’ll never forget!”. The team arrived by coach almost cup finalesque with fans waiting for the arrival. Fireworks greeted the two teams out of the players tunnel and finally football would do the talking.

Princes Park erupted when Brendon Cass entered the history books with the first goal. The striker netted another before Eddie McClements struck the goal of the day. Although the visitors pulled two goals back, Nick Barnes scored Dartford’s fourth in a 4-2 victory. The win was the icing on the homecoming cake.

Another Pure DFC user, El Kebabus of Arabia sums up the journey from homelessness to Princes Park, “all those years of following the Darts around during our nomadic days. Putting hard earned cash into the Warbler, holding ebay sales to raise funds, whip rounds and signing other people up for the Warbler. Boy was it worth it”.

Jeremy Kite’s chapter in Princes Among Men looks back at the long road back home and how much it meant to the community and on a personal level, “in the years since opening day, Princes Park has certainly fulfilled its promise as a catalyst for change and I couldn’t be more proud of it”.

Homecoming: Dartford take to the Princes Park pitch for the first time. Photo courtesy of Tony Jaglo.

Dartford take to the Princes Park pitch for the first time. Photo courtesy of Tony Jaglo.

Ten years of history and memories
Three promotions, two county cup wins, becoming the best part time team in the country and many more wonderful moments, the last decade at Princes Park has without doubt changed Dartford Football Club. Attendances have risen, an academy is beginning to blossom and the reputation of the club has improved.

In the early days, the venue helped attract players to pull on a white shirt and some of those players, Dave Martin, Cody McDonald, Charlie Sheringham, Ebou Adams, Tom Champion and current centre half Tom Bonner went on to play higher up the football chain. The core of today’s squad Elliot Bradbrook, Ryan Hayes, Lee Noble and Danny Harris have all provided brilliant moments, whilst a former core member Lee Burns added his imaginative and humorous goal celebrations. Title winning captains, Adam Flanagan and Alex O’Brien embodied the character and spirit manager Tony Burman works so hard to create, the type of spirit provided by current captain Elliot Bradbrook, Princes Park’s top goalscorer.

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Wingers such as Hayes and Martin have produced some special goals and creativity, in particular Hayes’ trademark curler in front of the television cameras against Mansfield Town, Martin’s wonder strike against Burgess Hill Town. There have been a fair share of important goals, like Lee Noble’s in the National South playoff final against local rivals Welling United and the one that goes down in history as the first scored at Princes Park, Brendon Cass’ effort versus Horsham YMCA.

As team performances go, the Darts have blown opponents away at times, twice they have won 7-2 against Burgess Hill Town and then Witham Town. Through the leagues Enfield Town, Canvey Island, Ilford, Tilbury, Kingstonian, Thurrock, Sutton United, Alfreton Town and Woking have all been put to the sword. Dartford have shocked and conquered bigger sides such as Crawley Town in the F.A Trophy, Luton Town, Mansfield Town, Macclesfield Town, Grimsby Town, Newport County, Hereford United and Wrexham in the league. Port Vale were so close to being put on the list in the heroic F.A Cup first round 1-1 draw.

paulnorwich picks his favourite moments, “beating Welling United in the playoff final cannot be beaten in front of over 4000 and what a goal from Lee Noble to do it. So many great memories in ten years and so many goals but the performance versus Port Vale was excellent, as was the one against Mansfield Town on television when Ryno’s goal must be in the top five at Princes Park”.

Dartford have got used to celebrating whether it was the homecoming, the two league titles, the playoff win or the two Kent Senior Cup’s. Here’s to more glories, to ten brilliant years and many more fond memories. Cheers.

Thank you to Pure DFC forum users paulnorwich, El Kebabus of Arabia and Mudeford dart. Thank you sonytino for all the youtube highlights over the years, Tony Jaglo for the excellent photographs on homecoming day (to view them all go to http://imgbox.com/g/E0nCwQ0wUK). Credit to John Anthony, Mike Brett-Smith, Tony Brown, Gary Clark and Steve Irving for the excellent Princes Among Men: The History of Dartford Football Club book, available in the club shop.

Dartford v Havant & Waterlooville

Dartford play their fifth consecutive home game this weekend when they host Havant and Waterlooville in the National South.

The Darts have been getting back on track after a six match unbeaten run in all competitions. However, last weekend Tony Burman’s side suffered a setback, losing their F.A Trophy tie against Whitehawk. Defeat leaves Dartford out of both major cup competitions and a chance to concentrate on the league and Kent Senior Cup.

In the league, Dartford need to make their two games in hand count if they are to challenge for a playoff spot. Currently eight points adrift, the Darts know two victories will bring them within touching distance. In the meantime, the club need to keep pace and stretch their unbeaten league form to five matches.

Last time out in the National South, an Elliot Bradbrook equaliser earned Dartford a point against Kent rivals Maidstone United. The draw followed consecutive league wins over Bishop’s Stortford then Hayes and Yeading United. Elliot Bradbrook will be hoping to keep his goalscoring run going having scored in each of his last three league appearances.

Tony Burman has backed his on loan defender Mark Onyemah this week, the full back’s mistake was vital in Whitehawk knocking Dartford out of the F.A Trophy, Burman told www.kentonline.co.uk: “He’s a more than strong enough character to put that behind him. He has been outstanding for us since he’s been here. He was nearly the hero when he went through and hit the bar, then he was penalised for handball and he should have done better when he got closed down (for the second goal)”. The Dartford boss also felt his side struggled to get into ‘top gear’ after a two week break.

A return to National South action starts against Hampshire side Havant and Waterlooville, who have only won once on their travels in the league this campaign. The Hawks finished last season in the playoffs losing in the semi final to the promoted Boreham Wood. This term fortunes have turned with Lee Bradbury’s side in nineteenth, five points clear of the bottom two.

Bradbury may have pedigree as a Football League player and his short managerial career has been promising. Now, the 40 year old faces an unfamiliar challenge at the wrong end of the table after two victories in the last dozen league games. Back to back 3-1 wins at Oxford City and home to Maidenhead United have been a brief respite from eight defeats and two draws they have recorded since the end of August.

Dartford last played Havant and Waterlooville during their National South playoff winning campaign. In March 2012, Sam Pearce put the Hawks ahead and Scott Jones missed a penalty, which only served to stir the Darts into action. Dartford bounced back with three goals without reply, with the first coming from Lee Noble. With nine minutes remaining Danny Harris bundled in the second and to seal victory Luke Wilkinson scored his first for the Darts. A 3-1 triumph was added to the comprehensive 4-1 win achieved at Westleigh Park two months prior, completing a double against the Hampshire side.

In the previous campaign, the two sides met on the opening day in an entertaining 2-2 draw. Dartford, just promoted as Isthmian Premier earned a point with a stoppage time Ryan Hayes penalty. Earlier, Danny Harris headed the first goal from a Hayes free kick before the Hawks went ahead through Bobby Hopkinson’s penalty and Wes Fogden’s strike two minutes from time.

The Darts won’t return to Princes Park until the end of the month to close out the year.

Head to Head

Dartford wins: 2 / Havant and Waterlooville wins: 3 / Draws 2

Current League Form

Dartford (DWWDLL) Havant & Waterlooville  (LLWWLD)
Maidstone United  H  1-1 Weston Super Mare  A  2-3
Hayes & Yeading  H  2-0 Sutton United  A  0-3
Bishop’s Stortford  A  2-1 Maidenhead United  H  3-1
Hemel Hempstead Town  H  2-2 Oxford City  A  3-1
Wealdstone  A  1-2 Margate  A  1-4
Truro City  H  0-1 St Albans City  H  1-1

Previous Meeting at Princes Park

17 March 2012 – Dartford 3 Havant and Waterlooville 1 – attendance 1087 – view highlights 

Goalscorers: Noble (23), Harris (81), Wilkinson (87); Pearce (8)

Dartford lineup: Wells, Jones, Green, Bonner, Wilkinson, Champion, Noble, Wallis, Erskine, Bradbrook, Harris (Subs used: Hayes, Garrod, Burns)

Previous Meetings (* – F.A Cup)

17.03.2012 Dartford 3 Havant & Waterlooville 1
07.01.2012 Havant & Waterlooville 1 Dartford 4
18.04.2011 Havant & Waterlooville 1 Dartford 0
14.08.2010 Dartford 2 Havant & Waterlooville 2
15.10.2000* Dartford 0 Havant & Waterlooville 4
29.04.1999 Havant & Waterlooville 1 Dartford 1
06.03.1999 Dartford 0 Havant & Waterlooville 2

 

Stats

At home, Dartford have won three out of three against teams below them in the league

The Dartford defence at home ranks sixth in the league on average conceded per game. However, only two teams home and away (Ebbsfleet United and Maidstone United) have conceded fewer.

Havant and Waterlooville have the leakiest defence having conceded 39 times, they have shipped in 25 goals on their travels.

 

On This Day

Dartford’s last win on 5 December came 34 years ago in the top flight of non league. A 5-0 home win against Yeovil Town. Since then, in 1987 the Darts picked up a goaless away draw with Nuneaton Borough in the Southern Premier League. Following relegation to the Southern Division Dartford lost a year later, 3-2 away to Baldock Town.

National League South Season Preview 2015/2016 – Part Five

Sutton United | Truro City | Wealdstone | Weston-Super-Mare | Whitehawk

Sutton United

Founded: 1898 / Ground: Borough Sports Ground

A famous name in non league football thanks to a F.A Cup third round win, against holders Coventry City in 1989. Sutton United were a Conference Premier side back then but have spent most of their time in the Isthmian League. Joining the Conference South when non league was restructured, the club were relegated in 2007/08. The U’s spent just three season’s away winning the Isthmian Premier League after two playoff attempts, including a runner up spot behind Dartford. The Surrey club reached the playoffs twice in the Conference South in four seasons, but last term finished mid table.

SuttonunitedLast Season

Conference South: 15th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 3rd Round

League Top Scorer: Jessy Reindorf & Dan Fitchett (6 goals)

Average Attendance: 548

The Manager – Paul Doswell

Making his name at Eastleigh, Paul Doswell led the Hampshire club through three consecutive promotions to take the Spitfires from the Wessex League to the Conference South. Doswell had an immediate impact at Eastleigh, appointed in 2002 he won the Wessex League title in the same year. Two playoff triumphs followed and the first season in the Conference South his side finished a creditable eighth. Leaving Eastliegh in 2006 it wasn’t until two years later he joined Sutton United. Success has continued with two playoff appearances in the Isthmian Premier League before winning the league title. In the Conference South Doswell has made a further two playoff appearances and came runners up against his old side Eastleigh in 2013/14.

The Summer

Connections with Eastleigh remain sound for Paul Doswell by signing a trio of players. Dean Beckwith, Dan Spence and the experienced Craig McAllister move from the Silverlake Stadium to the Borough Sports Ground. Striker Stuart Fleetwood, another former Eastleigh player will provide goals and has had spells with Forest Green Rovers, Luton Town and Hereford United. Last season’s goalkeeper for the Darts, Jason Brown had joined but left without playing a match to concentrate on coaching. That meant Doswell had to search for a goalkeeper again finding AFC Wimbledon’s Ross Worner. Tom Bolarinwa comes in from Cray Wanderers and Ross Stearn from Bath City.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

14 April 2012 – Sutton United 0 Dartford 1 – view highlights

Dartford may have taken all three points but results elsewhere meant they couldn’t catch Woking at the top of the table. A counter attacking move starting from the Darts own half ended with Tony Garrod scoring the winner.

20 March 2012 – Dartford 6 Sutton United 1 – view highlights

One of Dartford’s finest performances since Princes Park opened. The Darts thrashed eventual runners up Sutton United in some style. Lee Noble and an Adam Green penalty three minutes apart had the hosts two up. Harry Beautyman pulled a goal back then Dartford raced away. Danny Harris before the break, Luke Wilkinson, Elliot Bradbrook and Jacob Erskine turned the match into a rout.

Next Meetings

Saturday 15 August 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 23 January 2016 at Borough Sports Ground

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Truro City

Founded: 1889 / Ground: Treyew Road

If ever there is example of how a chairman can influence a club then Truro City fall in to that category. An F.A Vase triumph nine years ago and promotion the same season was only the start. Three consecutive league titles moved the Cornwall club through the regional divisions into the Southern Premier. After only two attempts the Southern Premier League was won and then wheels began to fall off. A winding up petition in August 2011 caused uncertainty and chairman Kevin Heaney stepped down. The club were relegated back to the Southern League in 2012/13, however they have enjoyed a swift return winning the playoffs in May.

Truro-city-football-clubLast Season

Southern Premier: 3rd

F.A Cup: 1st Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Did not enter

League Top Scorer: Craig Duff (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 417

The Manager – Steve Tully

At just 35 years old Steve Tully is one of the youngest managers in this season’s National South. The former full back spent his playing days in the West Country representing Torquay United, Weymouth and Exeter City making over 100 appearances for each club. He joined Truro City as a player in 2013 and in March 2014 became player manager. In his first role as boss Steve Tully guided Truro City back to the National League South with a playoff triumph over St Neots Town.

The Summer

It’s been quiet at Treyew Road with only three signings being made. Martin Rice makes the short journey across the Devon/Cornwall border moving from Torquay United, the goalkeeper returns to the club after spending three years at Truro City. Midfielder, Aaron Dawson has limited experience at Exeter City and Torquay United, the 23 year old can also play in defence. On loan left back Conor Riley-Lowe will be at Treyew Road for at least the next six months.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

28 April 2012 – Truro City 1 Dartford 1
With a playoff spot secured the final match of the season played out evens. Dartford fans made their way across the country to enjoy a celebratory weekend. Former Premier League striker Barry Hayles scored for Truro City with three minutes left. Dartford’s Jacob Erskine equalised with virtually the last kick of the game.

22 October 2011 – Dartford 1 Truro City 2 – view highlights
Truro City took full advantage of slack defending, Adam Green and Andrew Young got things mixed up leaving Andrew Watkins to tap in for the visitors. A couple of minutes later Paul Goodacre scored an own goal giving the Cornishmen a two goal lead. Tom Bonner halved the deficit after Truro City were reduced to ten men.

Next Meetings

Saturday 19 September 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 13 February 2016 at Treyew Road

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Wealdstone

Founded: 1899 / Ground: The Vale Stadium

It may have taken a while but Wealdstone have returned to the level they were at in the late eighties. Whether they can return to the heights of the early eighties is another matter, the Middlesex club won the Alliance Premier League and F.A Trophy double but were relegated from the Conference in 1988. The Stones sunk as far down as Isthmian Division Three before their current manager was appointed. Since then four promotions in twenty years, including the most recent Isthmian Premier League title in 2013/14, has seen Wealdstone get back to the second tier of non league. Three years ago they embarked on a F.A Trophy run to reach the last four and last season finished a creditable twelfth in the Conference South.

wealdstoneLast Season

Conference South: 12th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Jefferson Louis, Scott McGleish and Matt Ball (8 goals)

Average Attendance: 720

The Manager – Gordon Bartlett

By far the longest serving manager in this season’s National South, Gordon Bartlett has been in charge of Wealdstone since 1995 and involved in non league coaching for 25 years. At Southall and Yeading before he joined the Stones he guided both clubs to Wembley reaching F.A Vase finals. Since taking over at the Middlesex club he has won four promotions, including the Isthmian Division Three and Premier titles, seventeen years apart. The school teacher also had a playing career with Portsmouth, Denver Dynamos in the United States of America, Brentford, Slough Town and Hayes.

The Summer

Budget plays a part any any level and Wealdstone have had to look at divisions below the National South over the summer. With the exception Ryan Hope who won promotion with Boreham Wood, each signing has come from the National South or lower. Dale Binns has plenty of experience at this level having played for **********, he joins from Sutton United. Tom Cadmore missed out on promotion at Whitehawk last term and he also moves to the Stones. From the Isthmian and Southern Leagues comes in Bradley Hudson-Odoi from Metropolitan Police, Josh Urquhart from Harlow Town and Josh Hutchinson from Potters Bar Town, Oliver Duffy has arrived from Hanwell Town.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

21 February 2012 – Wealdstone 1 Dartford 0

An upset was caused a week later as Wealdstone’s Lee Chappell scored the decisive goal to take the Stones to the next round. The Isthmian Premier leaguers held on to defeat the Darts, a division higher, and went on to reach the last four in an excellent trophy run.

14 February 2012 – Dartford 2 Wealdstone 2 – view highlights

An entertaining F.A Trophy third round tie ended with the Wealdstone levelling twice. Danny Harris scored first before Richard Jolly equalised. Lee Noble had the Darts ahead once more until Chris O’Leary forced a replay ten minutes from time.

Next Meetings

Saturday 3 October 2015 at the Vale Stadium

Tuesday 26 January 2016 at Princes Park

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Weston-Super-Mare

Founded: 1887 / Ground: Woodspring Stadium

The Somerset club boast a proud record in that they have never been relegated in their 128 year history. Weston-Super-Mare did however come close on three occasions when reprieves saved the club in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Over the last five years the Seagulls have improved into a mid-table side and three season’s ago they recorded their highest ever league finish, two places outside of the Conference South playoffs. The forthcoming season will be Weston -Super-Mare’s twelfth consecutive in the National League South and that comes after twelve campaigns in the Southern League.

Weston-super-Mare_AFC_logoLast Season

Conference South: 17th

F.A Cup: 1st Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Round

County Cup: 2nd Round

League Top Scorer: Dayle Grubb (11 goals)

Average Attendance: 287

The Manager – Ryan Northmore

A career change was forced upon Ryan Northmore when a number of knee operations led to coaching. The former goalkeeper made over 200 appearances for the Seagulls and won Player of the Year three seasons in a row. As a player he turned out for Torquay United before making his way in non league football. Spells at Team Bath, Woking and Dorchester Town before returning to Weston-Super-Mare as boss, he officially retired from playing just three years ago. Northmore has been heavily involved in  working with Weston-Super-Mare’s academy side and in November 2014 was named caretaker manager. The 34 year old impressed enough last term to make the vacant managers job his own.

The Summer

Returning to Weston-Super-Mare for a third spell is 25 year old Tristan Plummer. The winger was unable to hold a first team place whilst at Bristol City, Hereford United and Aldershot Town. Two other signings come from Southern Premier League side Paulton Rovers, Danny Wring is added to the midfield and Scott Wilson could provide goals up front. Joe McClennan returns to Weston-Super-Mare after leaving the club previously for Bath City.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

12 November 2011 – Dartford 1 Weston-Super-Mare 1 – view highlights
Even with a man advanatge Dartford failed to capitalise. The visitors left when Matt Villis got on the end of a goal mouth scramble.  Adam Green made the game all square with a well driven shot. James Price was red carded with just under twenty minutes remaining.

13 August 2011 – Weston-Super-Mare 0  Dartford 4 – view highlights

The campaign couldn’t get off to a better start for the Darts. An away trip West and Charlie Sheringham’s brace put three points on the board. Elliot Bradbrook and Tom Bonner had earlier put Dartford two goals to the good.

Next Meetings

Saturday 12 September 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 5 March 2016 at Woodspring Stadium

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Whitehawk

Founded: 1945 / Ground:Enclosed Ground

Only five years ago Whithawk were playing in the Sussex League where they had been throughout their history. Finally winning the title in 2009/10, the club excelled at a rapid rate. A playoff defeat in their début Isthmian Division One South was soon forgotten when they won the championship the following campaign. A consecutive title followed moving Whitehawk out of the Isthmian Premier League to the Conference South. The Sussex club survived their first term finishing nineteenth, six points from safety. Last season the Hawks reached the playoff final with a fourth place finish losing out to Boreham Wood, the clubs best ever league performance.

Whitehawk_F.C._logoLast Season

Conference South: 4th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Danny Mills (18 goals)

Average Attendance: 258

The Manager – Steve King

In the space of just five years, Steve King took Lewes from Isthmian League Division One South to the Football Conference with three titles and that was just the beginning of his managerial career. At this level he has finished in each of the top four positions and in the league below added a further title with Farnborough. Another spell at Lewes was followed by leading Macclesfield Town in the Confereence Premier, who he took to the F.A Cup fourth round bowing out to eventual winners Wigan Athletic. In February 2014, he retunred to management and was denied another promotion this time with Whitehawk losing the playoff final to Boreham Wood.

The Summer

Steve King possesses enough confidence in his squad which very nearly gained promotion to the National League. Rather than bringing in new blood, King has concentrated on securing players in last years squad. Paul Lorraine, who joined Dartford briefly before the Darts were reprieved will be part of the Whitehawk defence. In midfield Sergio Torres brings his experiences with Wycombe Wanderers, Peterborough United and Crawley Town. Last season’s top goalscorer Danny Mills remains at the Enclosed Ground and will be looking to add to the 18 he scored last term.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

4 September 1982 – Dartford 5 Whitehawk 2

Carl Laraman scored a hat trick and was the star of this F.A Cup preliminary round fixture. The Darts went on to win comfortably against the Sussex club representing their regional division. Dartford were spending their first campaign back in the Southern Premier following relegation from the Alliance Premier League the season before.

Next Meetings

Saturday 19 December 2015 at Enclosed Ground

Saturday 12 March 2016 at Princes Park

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National League South Season Preview 2015/2016 – Part Four

Maidenhead United | Maidstone United | Margate | Oxford City | St Albans City

Maidenhead United

Founded: 1869 / Ground: York Road

A proud record is held by Maidenhead United in that York Road is the oldest senior football ground continuously used by the same club. For nine of those years they have had the same manager in Johnson Hippolyte in charge, stability is important to the club. Now the Berkshire side feel it is time to push up the pyramid and in the summer Maidenhead United welcome a familiar face in town. Fresh ideas, experience and a bit of backing could see the Magpies enjoying a more comfortable campaign than they are used to. Over the last six seasons, Maidenhead United have finished no higher than sixteenth, so flirtation with relegation has been the norm at York Road.

Maidenhead UnitedLast Season

Conference South: 18th

F.A Cup: 3rd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Winners

League Top Scorer: Dave Tarpey (20 goals)

Average Attendance: 406

The Manager – Alan Devonshire

A former England international as a player, Devonshire returns to Maidenhead United after managerial experience with the club in the late nineties. The former West Ham United midfielder played over 350 games for the Hammers winning the F.A Cup in 1980. The 59 year old knows a thing or two about being an underdog and proved this at former club Braintree Town. When he took over in May 2011, Braintree Town had just won promotion to the Conference Premier for the first time in their history. At Cressing Road, he improved the club each season until last term. Devonshire also impressed at Hampton and Richmond, who he took from the Isthmian Division One to the Conference Premier.

The Summer

Contacts at a former club has come in handy for Maidenhead United’s new boss. Devonshire has signed three from Braintree Town and one he worked with whilst with the Iron. Defenders Ryan Peters and Alan Massey, creative midfielder James Mulley and goalkeeper Carl Pentney all move from Braintree Town. When the Iron spent their first campaign in the Conference Premier striker Ben Wright was amongst the goals, he links back up with Devonshire. Josh Huggins follows Wright from Havant and Waterlooville. Dean Inman from Hayes and Yeading, Jake Reid from Dover Athletic and Rene Steer from Boston United also bulk out the Magpies squad. Last season’s top scorer with 20 goals Dave Tarpey signed a new contract at York Road. To make way for the host of signings there has been something of a clearout including former Dartford striker Jacob Erskine.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

31 March 2012 – Dartford 2 Maidenhead United 1 – view highlights
A playoff spot was clinched by Dartford as the two sides met for the second time in just over a fortnight. Jacob Erskine tucked the ball in the net just before the hour and Luke Wilkinson doubled the lead. Paul Semakula pulled one back for the visitors. Daniel Brown was dismissed for Maidenhead United and Danny Harris followed for the Darts.

13 March 2012 – Maidenhead United 1  Dartford 1 – view highlights
The hosts had to grind out a result when they were left with ten men meaning Dartford dropped valuable points. Alex Wall opened the scoring for the Magpies then Reece Tison-Lascaris was sent off. Danny Harris scored the equaliser for Dartford who pushed for a winner to no avail.

Next Meetings

Saturday 21 November 2015 at York Road

Saturday 2 April 2016 at Princes Park

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Maidstone United

Founded: 1992 / Ground: Gallagher Stadium

The only former Football League club in the National League South, Maidstone United had to make their way back up from the Kent League. Off field mismanagement led to the Stones being declared bankrupt in 1992 and being forced out of the Football League. Progress was made up to 2007 when they won a place in the Isthmian Premier League with three promotions. A relegation followed after three campaigns and progress stalled until their new Gallagher Stadium opened in 2012. Crowds flocked back and the club flourished ever since, an average attendance of 200 fifteen years ago is now just under 2000. One of two sides to have installed a 3G pitch, the Stones were the first to host an F.A Cup proper match on that particular surface.

maidstoneLast Season

Isthmian Premier: 1st

F.A Cup: 2nd Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Quarter Final

League Top Scorer: Jay May (22 goals)

Average Attendance: 1846

The Manager – Jay Saunders

Entering a fifth full season in charge Jay Saunders was appointed caretaker manager in March 2011. The former Gillingham midfielder made the most of his opportunity and at the end of the 2010/11 campaign he was given the role permanently. Over the last three seasons the Saunders has added three honours to his list. The Isthmian Division One South playoff was won followed by the Isthmian League Cup . Last term the 35 year old guided Maidstone United to the Isthmian Premier League title after a close contest with runners up Hendon. If he continues the good work at the Gallagher Stadium then come the end of the campaign Saunders will have guided the new look Stones to their highest position since reforming.

The Summer

A host of former Dartford players will be at the Gallagher next season. Jamie Coyle will remain part of the managerial team, the former Darts defender made 140 appearances for the club. On the pitch, Callum Driver left Princes Park in the summer in favour of the Stones. James Rogers impressed last season and signed a new contract to stay at the Gallagher Stadium, he also won the Supporters Player of the Year award. Former loanee Matt Bodkin has also agreed to remain with Maidstone United. One impressive capture over the break is former Welling United midfielder Joe Healy he joins Mitchell Pinnock from Bromley, Manny Parry from Grays Athletic, Simon Johnson from Eastbourne Borough and Bobby-Joe Taylor from Cambridge United.

Last Meetings Versus The Darts

20 March 2010 – Dartford 3 Maidstone United 0 – view highlights

The double over Kent rivals was completed a fortnight later  by the champions elect. Danny Dafter finished at the far post to give the Darts the lead. Lee Burns tapped in late in the first half and a trademark Ryan Hayes curler made victory convincing in the second half.

7 March 2010 – Maidstone United 0 Dartford 1 – view highlights

It took ten minutes for Dartford to get their noses in front when Ryan Hayes crossed for Lee Burns to score. In difficult conditions where the pitch was sandy and the ball bobbling about, the Darts held on to the slender lead to take all three points.

Next Meetings

Saturday 14 November 2015 at Princes Park

Saturday 9 April 2016 at the Gallagher Stadium

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Margate

Founded: 1896 / Ground: Hartsdown Park

The Seaside town of Margate peaked at the turn of the millennium when they won the Southern Premier League under Chris Kinnear. The Gate had their place in the top flight of non league which lasted three season’s without finishing in the bottom four. Reaching eighth place in their first campaign, two years later they were demoted to the Conference South because of ground grading issues. Whilst Hartsdown Park was being redeveloped the Gate suffered another relegation the following season. The Kent club returned to their home in 2005 and spent the next ten years in the Isthmian Premier League. Margate rarely threatened to leave the division they were in until last term when they beat an in form Hendon to clinch victory in the Playoff final.

MargateFCLast Season

Isthmian Premier: 3rd

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 1st Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi Final

League Top Scorer: Frederick Ladapo and Ryan Moss (22 goals)

Average Attendance: 682

The Manager – Terry Brown

Promotion was a must for Terry Brown last season and winning the playoffs may have kept him in the job. Seems harsh ater finishing third but high expectations have been set by Margate by appointing a successful manager. Starting out at Hayes, where he began hi playing career, Brown was in charge for nine years taking the Middlesex club from relegation candidates in the Isthmian Premier League to third in the Conference Premier. Frustrated with the budget he moved to Aldershot Town where he won promotion to the Conference Premier at the first attempt. The following campaign saw the Shots lose the playoff final. Most notably, Brown led AFC Wimbledon into the Football League and kept the Dons in League Two in his final full season at the club.

The Summer

During a short spell with Dartford, Nathan Green impressed on the wing but decided to move to the coast joining the Gate. Soloman Taiwo switches his allegiance from another Kent club moving from Dover Athletic making Margate his sixteenth club. Christian Jolley helped Newport County to Football League promotion two years ago and will be part of Margate’s strike force. Terry Brown made a double signing from Maidenhead United by capturing David Hunt and Danny Green. Former Aldershot Town defender Glenn Wilson will add experience at the back and is joined by Millwall’s Jake Goodman. Last season’s top scorers Frederick Ladapo and Ryan Moss also signed new contacts to remain at Hartsdown Park.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

23 March 2010 – Dartford 0 Margate 1 – view highlights

Princes Park was left stunned when the league leaders were undone by Margate. James Pinnock capitalised on a defensive mishap and netted the winner just after the hour. The visitors stayed organised and desperate for points at the other end of the table grabbed them.

18 August 2009 – Margate 0 Dartford 4 – view highlights

A training ground free kick routine had Dartford one up after seven minutes. A Ryan Hayes faked to cross but slid the ball through to Jamie Day who finished the move. Margate couldn’t cope with John Beales’ long throw in’s and twice the Darts benefited through Rob Haworth then Lee Burns. Alan Tait came on as a substitute and added to the scoreline.

Next Meetings

Saturday 29 August 2015 at Hartsdown Park

Monday 28 December 2015 at Princes Park

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Oxford City

Founded: 1882 / Ground: Marsh Lane

Over the last ten years Oxford City have steadily moved up the non league pyramid. Champions of the Spartan South Midland League in 2005/06 set City on their way. That campaign finished in dramatic circumstances with Oxford City taking the title on goal difference. After two attempts the club were promoted again this time via the playoffs to the Southern Premier League. A runners up place and another playoff triumph three years ago completed their journey to the second tier of non league. In the Conference North results have been mixed, a tenth place finish was followed up with surviving relegation. Last season City narrowly missed out on the top five to remain in the second tier of non league, making a début in the National League South.

OCFCLast Season

Conference North: 6th

F.A Cup: 2nd Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 2nd Round

County Cup: Quarter-Final

League Top Scorer: Adi Yussuf (26 goals)

Average Attendance: 321

The Manager – Justin Merrit

A second spell in charge of City having guided the Oxfordshire club to the Southern Premier League via the playoffs. With business interests on the side, Justin Merritt resigned just two matches into the 2009/10 campaign to concentrate on a sports coaching company. The 40 year old returned to Marsh Lane last summer replacing Mike Ford, who took Merritt’s place after his first spell. The difference this time is that Merritt will have to work with Enrique Guillen, the Spaniard who has been promoted to head coach. The current Oxford City boss has also won honours with Oxford City Nomads and managed Witney Town.

The Summer

The Spanish connections remain strong with a trio of Spaniards joining up with those already at the club. Jon Arzamendi moves from Real Union, Carlos Pifarre from Olimpic de Xativa and Julen Fafuente from Deportivo Alaves. Experienced player at this level, Bradley Bubb has signed from Havant and Waterlooville having had spells with various Hampshire clubs. Midfielder at Solihull Moors last term, Reece Fleet will be at Marsh Lance this season. Craig Hill will give Laurie Walker competition in goal both players signing from Aston Villa and Hemel Hempstead Town respectively. Cheltenham Town duo Omari Sterling-James and Jamal Lawrence agreed a loan deal, Mark Bell joins from Chesham United and Kynan Isaac from Luton Town.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

4 November 2008 –  Oxford City 2 Dartford 4 – view highlights

Another six goals but this time Dartford came out on top. City’s Jon Gardner put the hosts in the lead which was cancelled out by Cody McDonald’s fourth of the tie. Steve Butterworth, Lee Noble and once more McDonald again increased the Darts advantage. James Saulsbury’s spot kick halved the deficit for Oxford City as the match ended 4-2.

1 November 2008 – Dartford 3 Oxford City 3 – view highlights

In a set of entertaining F.A Trophy Second Qualifying ties, Dartford’s Cody McDonald poached the opener after two minutes. The visitors levelled with a superb curling effort from Jon Gardner. McDonald headed the Darts back in front and completed a hat trick after half time. The visitors forced a replay with goals from Andy Gunn and a last minute header by Steve Jackman.

Next Meetings

Tuesday 15 September 2015 at Marsh Lane

Saturday 23 April 2016 at Princes Park

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St Albans City

Founded: 1908 / Ground: Clarence Park

The Hertfordshire clubs finest moment came nine years ago, a playoff victory earned St Albans City a place in the Conference Premier. The Saints only managed one season in non league’s top division finishing bottom of the table. Four years in the Conference South ended with relegation to the Southern Premier League and a ten point deduction. Financial concerns worried the faithful at Clarence Park prior dropping out of the Conference, however the club enjoyed better league positions in the Southern League. Rewarded with another playoff triumph just a year ago returned St Albans City to the Conference South where they finished mid table last term.

stalbansLast Season

Conference South: 13th

F.A Cup: 4th Qualifying Round

F.A Trophy: 3rd Qualifying Round

County Cup: Semi-Final

League Top Scorer: John Frendo (11 goals)

Average Attendance: 570

The Managers – John Gray & Graham Golds

The only managerial joint partnership in the National League South, John Gray and Graham Golds have worked together in the managers role for two and half years. The pair have guided St Albans City to promotion to the Conference South and appearances in the first and second rounds of the F.A Cup and F.A Trophy. Gray and Golds were appointed after a successful spell as caretaker managers, the duo replaced David Howell who was dismissed after a poor run of results. Over the last two and half years, Gray and Golds have guided the club through better days.

The Summer

New signings have been sparse for St Albans City over the summer, Jack Lampe has joined from Concord Rangers, Billy Medlock from Sutton United and Lewis Hilliard from St Neots Town. Defender, Ben Martin returns to the club having previously left for Boreham Wood.

Last Meeting Versus The Darts

2 April 2011 –  St Albans City 1 Dartford 2 – view highlights

Lee Burns scored his first goal of the campaign when his hopeful long ranged header looped over the City defence and into the net. Relegated, St Albans City pegged the Darts back through Tony Battersby and almost went in front from the spot. Jack Pallen came off the bench to score the winner with four minutes remaining.

22 March 2011 – Dartford 2 St Albans City 2 – view highlights

A late penalty miss denied the Darts all three points when Ryan Hayes hit the woodwork in the final minute. The visitor led through Inih Effiong and led until Charlie Sheringham equalised. Sheringham completed his brace before Dartford had James White sent off. Ollie Kelly grabbed a point for St Albans City in an unexpected draw.

Next Meetings

Saturday 6 February 2016 at Princes Park

Saturday 30 April 2016 at Clarence Park

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