Tuesday evening saw Dartford host Hampton & Richmond Borough at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. Brandon Barzey featured in our matchday programme that day. For those who missed that feature, here is the full article:

SECTION ONE

Brandon Barzey is another new name on Alan Dowson’s squad list, as the lively winger arrived from Hampton & Richmond Borough during the off-season determined to prove his worth to his new manager, teammates, and supporters.

And, fresh from an impressive debut against Bath City in the season curtain-raiser, our discussion finds him in good spirits…”I’m really excited for the season ahead and to be playing regularly once again. I’m feeling really good. I feel sharp and fit, so I’m in a good mind-space right now.”

With a vast majority of players at this level being part-time, a summer’s holiday isn’t often a luxury for many, as work commitments outside of the game are a continuing priority, especially during the current cost of living crisis. And, this 24-year-old isn’t any different from his peers… “I haven’t been up to much outside of football to be honest Chris. There hasn’t been too much going on recently, other than work and football. However, it was actually my birthday not too long ago, so I went go-karting with some of my family members. It was a lot of fun… although I didn’t finish where I wanted to, but it was an enjoyable experience.”

It appears that Brandon has a busy life, as he tries to make ends meet as well as carve a career within football. So, how does a young man balance working life with football, fitness, as well as his nutrition levels, etc…? He explains…

“I’ve actually had quite a few jobs whilst being in Non-League to be honest. I used to work in construction, which took a lot of my energy away to be honest, especially last season. But, with the help of my old coach Simon Haughney, who was at Hampton & Richmond Borough, I’ve been able to work out what I can and can’t do. I was struggling with balancing working life with football, but Simon really helped me with that, and of course, Dartford is a lot closer to home, so that’s definitely helped me. I was doing coaching, which was around football and sport. It wasn’t a drain on my energy, so was good for me.”

Today, Brandon works for a subcontractor for Amazon whereby he delivers parcels locally. It’s not draining all his energy and is flexible to allow him to have a life outside of football and work. It also enables him to prioritise more time to work on his fitness in the gym.

He continues, “Mum is actually very helpful, especially when it comes to nutrition. I’m very lucky that, whenever I’m home, there’s always food available for me, and it’s not junk food! Mum likes to cook proper food and maintain a healthy lifestyle for herself, me, and my brother. And in terms of fitness, when I’m away from Dartford, I train on my own sometimes, as well as with a couple of coaches that I’ve known since I was younger. I really like to keep on top of my fitness because, with us being part-time, I feel that just training twice a week isn’t really enough. I like to do more in order to keep on top of my game and perform to the best of my ability when I’m out on the pitch.”

However, this intelligent young man is fully aware that physical fitness isn’t the only thing that he needs to be aware of. He’s also extremely mindful of his mental health and general wellbeing… “I’d say that just being around my family and friends really helps with me taking myself away from football and switching off. Spending time with family and friends keeps me grounded, as well as sane if I’m being totally honest. Spending quality time with them helps to keep me happy as well.”

Having mentioned the fact that he’s happy to be closer to home now, why did Brandon decide to sign on the dotted line for Dartford?

“There’s many reasons as to why I signed for Dartford. I honestly believe that most players playing at this level would love to sign for the club. So, when I was told that there was interest, it was pretty much a no-brainer for me and, what solidified that, was speaking to Dowse.

“Dowse spoke to me and showed how much belief he has in me and my abilities. He told me where he wants me to play and how much freedom I’ll have to be able to express myself, as well as get at people (opponents) on the pitch. That really resonated with me and gave me a sense of confidence. As a player, when you have a manager who you see shows belief in you, it makes you want to put it all out on the pitch for them. Dowse showed me around and I saw how great the facilities are here. I’ve played here before (as an opponent) and the pitch is one of the best in the league without a doubt.

“As a team, we want to be in and around the play-offs again, and do better than last season by going straight up. But, we know it’s not going to be easy, but we’re prepared for the challenge. As for myself, I want to prove to a lot of people what I can do on the pitch. I think it was tough for me last season, especially with some of the adversities I had to face and unfortunate injuries I suffered. But, that’s life, that’s football. I’m here to score goals and help my team win!”

It’s perfectly clear how humble and grounded Brandon is, both as a footballer and as a man. And, yet he contains that wonderful fighting spirit which makes supporters fall in love with such sportsmen. With that being said, does Brandon have a message for the Dartford faithful?

“Yes I do Chris. I’d like to thank the Dartford fans for the support they’ve shown me already. It’s only been a short space of time, but they’ve already shown me much love and appreciation. I can’t thank them enough for that. I want them to know that, whenever I do step onto the pitch, I’ll be giving 100% and more. I believe that, with the way that I play, I can be an exciting player for the club.

“I’ve also seen the graft that the other players put in during training, etc…, and I’ve seen what goes on behind the scenes with all the staff at Dartford. I want all the fans to know that a lot of people are putting in a lot of work to make sure that, ultimately, the fans are given what they deserve. We all know what’s expected of us, and we hope to not fall short of that. We’ll give our all in the hope of meeting those expectations”

SECTION TWO

Faith or Superstition? I’m a Christian, I come from a Christian home. My family is very religious and they also help me to keep the faith. I try to stay away from superstitions, as I’m not the biggest fan of them to be honest. I just like to go to games and not have to worry if everything’s right for me to play well.

Best Memory? I used to play for a team called Brunswick in South West London when I was a kid. I was also a big fan of the Sunday League tournaments, where it’d be a whole day of playing football, and I was scoring goals and winning tournaments. Those were the kind of moments that will always stay with me. Also representing my national team, Montserrat. I’ve represented them five times. My best memory was definitely making my debut for Montserrat… just the feeling of representing my country and seeing how proud it made the people around me feel. That’s definitely my best memory so far.

Biggest Influence In Your Career? My Dad. He’s no longer with us. He was the person who introduced me to football and helped me to enjoy it. He just played football with me when I was younger, and helped me realise how great the sport is. So, he’s definitely the biggest influence, as is my uncle, who has helped me and gives me guidance whenever I’m unsure about certain things. I’m also an Arsenal fan, so growing up watching the likes of Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas, etc…, and just watching the way that Arsenal play really helped me to love the game. There’s also so many people who I have to give thanks for helping me along the way. Us players go to many different places and there’s always people that go that extra mile for you, like Simon who I mentioned earlier. Others are people like Kevin Moss and Danny Volino, people who’ve helped me along the way, especially during my younger days at QPR. Paul Furlong was my manager, and was very helpful. There’s many more names I’ve missed out, but I’ll always be thankful to all those people.

Best Goal Scored? I don’t have a favourite goal as of yet. I plan to have a good few to pick from come the end of this season though!

Most Under-Rated Player You’ve Played With? They’re definitely much more rated now but, at the time, I felt that Connor Kurran-Browne at Hampton & Richmond Borough was seriously under-rated. He’s a winger like myself and didn’t really get a look in, until the new manager came in and showed his belief in him. I see him as being similar to myself in the sense of, if you have someone who believes in you, it helps you to excel. Connor definitely showed that towards the end of last season and is a big reason as to why Hampton stayed up. I’m happy for him and what he’s been able to do for himself. I wish him the best going forward.

Most Under-Rated Player You’ve Played Against? I also played with this player… Nathan Minhas, who’s moved to Slough Town (striker). There’s one game that I’ll pretty much never forget, HaHaHaHa… he was playing for Bracknell Town I believe and I was playing for Staines. He scored quite a few goals, in fact, I think they put 7 or 8 past us! He was just unreal in that game. I then stopped playing for a while and, when I did return to football, I met up with him at Hampton. Unfortunately, like me, he had a lot of injuries last season and it just didn’t fall for him, but I’ve always seen him as a good player.

Biggest Influence In The Dressing Room? I have to give this to Alan Julian, goalkeeper at Hampton & Richmond. He’s experienced and isn’t arrogant at all, despite having played at a higher level. The way he speaks to people and leads the team means he’s someone that other players can look up to. He made me feel comfortable and welcome during my time there, and he wasn’t shy in telling me where I was going wrong, and he’d always try to point me in the right direction. I always knew that was coming from a good place. I felt that he was like that with a lot of people.

If you were to be involved with a five-a-side tournament, and had to select the best players you have played against, which five players would you choose? In goal, I’ll have Rhys Forster (Enfield Town). He’s a good friend of mine and someone I’ve come up against a lot in Non-League. In defence, I’ll have Lucas Ness (Charlton). I played alongside him when he joined Hampton on loan and against him in the pre-season friendly this summer. In midfield, I’ll choose Ryan Sessegnon (Tottenham). I played against him in my youth days at QPR when he was at Fulham. He’ll be alongside Joe Willock (Newcastle). I played against him when he was at Arsenal and I was at QPR. And, in attack it has to be Shaun Jeffers (St Albans)! Whenever I’ve played against him, he’s always had a good game to be fair and scores a lot of goals each season.

By Chris Palmer