Last weekend’s fixture against Taunton Town saw Martin Binks feature in our Matchday Programme. For those who missed it, here is the full article:

Today’s fixture against Taunton Town sees us continue our celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of that historic 1973-74 campaign. That season saw the Dartford squad write itself into the history books, as Ernie Morgan led the team to the Southern League Championship.

On top of that, the manager also took his team all the way to Wembley in an historic cup run in the FA Trophy! A run that saw the Darts eventually lose 2-1 to Morecambe, yet still return home as heroes.

Around this date fifty years ago, Dartford came up against Minehead in the ’73-74 FA Trophy 2nd Round. Having been held to a 0-0 draw in the first fixture, the Darts travelled to Minehead on the 9th of February 1974. Ernie’s side returned home with a 2-1 victory and a place in the third round of the competition.

One of the players to feature in that fixture, and score the winning goal, was Central Defender Martin Binks. Born on the 15th of September 1953 in Romford, Martin spent three seasons with Leyton Orient, before moving on to Colchester United and Cambridge United. He signed for Dartford in 1973 and went on to make 65 starting appearances, while chipping in with two goals before leaving the club in 1975.

It was an absolute pleasure to chat with Martin via WhatsApp (despite technical issues on my end), and learn more about the former Dartford player. I began by asking him what he’s been up to since he left the Darts?

“After leaving Dartford, I was very much a journeyman Chris. I played for many clubs, including Gravesend, Chelmsford City, and Dagenham. I was actually a Dagenham player when they won the FA Trophy in 1980, but unfortunately I was cup-tied!”

After leaving Cambridge United and signing for Dartford in 1973, Martin made his debut on the 11th of August as we travelled to Yeovil Town. Ernie’s side earned a 1-1 draw that day, does Martin remember much about it?

“Not really to be honest Chris. I do remember that it was Ernie’s first game back as Dartford manager though.”

So much time has passed since that historic season, that Martin can be excused for not being able to remember parts of his playing career. Afterall, I can’t even remember what l ate for breakfast yesterday…! With that being said though, he does remember the important things, including one of the two goals he scored for the Darts.

You may recall that I mentioned that he scored the winning goal at Minehead in the 2nd Round of the FA Trophy. Martin elaborates…

“I do remember scoring the goal at Minehead yes, but I can’t remember the other one…! I didn’t score many goals Chris, but that one I can easily remember!”

He continues, “Playing at Minehead and scoring the winner is one of my favourite memories but, obviously, playing at Wembley in the FA Trophy Final has to be at the top of the list. Returning to the Minehead game(s), I remember that it was a tough game, and it was great to score the winning goal.”

Continuing with the subject of that excellent run in the ’73-74 FA Trophy, I asked Martin about his memories of the competition, and one round in particular sticks out for him…

“I remember playing Banbury United in the 3rd Round. We drew the home game 1-1, then went to their place and drew 2-2, so had to play them for the third time at Bedford on a Tuesday or Wednesday afternoon… we couldn’t play under lights because of the electricity shortage at the time. Danny Light got sent off after only a few minutes, so winning with ten men was a great achievement.”

The Darts won the game 1-0, courtesy of Bob Glozier’s goal to eventually get through to the next round of the competition. But, that’s Bob’s story to tell, this is Martin’s and he recalls another game that remains fondly in his memory…

“The second game against Chelmsford City in the league is a favourite of mine Chris. We travelled there over Easter (23rd of March 1974). They’d won the previous week and knocked us off the top of the Southern League as we had a few games in hand. Anyway, we went there and won 2-0 in front of a massive crowd… possibly 5,000…, which put us back on top. We stayed there for the rest of the season.”

Of course, Dartford went on to win the Southern League Championship, finishing eight points clear of Grantham. Is there anything else that sticks in Martin’s mind when thinking about playing for the Darts?

“Yes… I remember playing away once and the crowd were having a go at Ernie. He turned around and started singing to them! He loved to sing, but usually it was in the bar after the games!”

It’s no secret that that ’73-74 Dartford side was full of some exceptional and gifted characters, both on and off the pitch. But, who stands out in particular for Martin?

“Graham Carr without a doubt. He was such a good player and, what surprised me, was the amount of clubs he played for! I couldn’t believe that anyone would let him go…!”

What about rivals? Is there anyone who he played against that he thought was underrated at the time?

“Kenny Gray… He had a fantastic amateur career, and I actually played alongside him when he was 34 years of age. Kenny was a top, top striker and should have been a pro. Even at that age, he was the best frontman that I ever played with… other than Jimmy Greaves… HaHaHaHa!”

Sadly, all good things must come to an end, but it has been an absolute pleasure to learn about one of Dartford’s legendary players. As our conversation comes to an end, I ask Martin if he still follows Dartford’s results?

“Yes, all the time Chris.”

And now for something completely different to finish with… I asked Martin which five players (that he’s played alongside/against) he’d pick if he was involved in a five-a-side tournament. This is what he said…

“This is an easy one Chris! Carry (Graham Carr), Danny Light, Denis Moore (Dagenham), Jimmy Greaves (Chelmsford City), and myself… if I’m playing! HaHaHaHa!”

By Chris Palmer