The last home game against Concord Rangers saw Samir Carruthers feature in our matchday programme. For those who missed that feature, here is the full article:

Attacking Midfielder, Samir Carruthers, arrived during the previous manager’s regime and has become an important part of Alan Dowson’s side this season. In fact, the 29-year-old is currently the Darts’ top scorer, having netted eight goals in 19 appearances.

And our discussion finds Samir in good spirits… “I’m feeling good thanks. I’ve been enjoying this season with this bunch of lads that I’m with as well. I can’t ask for much more and am feeling good, sharp, and excited for the times ahead.”

Speaking of his teammates and times ahead, what made Samir remain here at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park? Afterall, he’s an extremely talented player and must have attracted interest from the National League… “I enjoyed my time here last season and, even though it was short, I’ve made some good friends. During the summer, I had Bonner chewing my ear off down the phone every day, begging me to sign! HaHaHaHa! (Well done Tom!) But, also the conversation I had with the gaffer made me want to remain here. I’m buzzing to be a part of this club.” He continues, “…I want to make sure that (at the end of the season) I can look back and say I’ve given my all and that there’s no regrets. Also, as a collective, the club and fans deserve a successful season, so I want to get promoted as well!”

Encouraging and fighting words from Samir…and, with just one defeat in the last thirteen league games, the midfielder’s thoughts have certainly been equalled by the team, as the Darts fight for the top three positions in the league. But where did it all begin for Samir?

“I got into football when I was around the age of six-seven. However, I was more interested in playing basketball with my older brother but, obviously, the height would have been an issue…”

His football journey began at Cambridge United where he played as a child, before moving to Arsenal at the age of eleven. He remained with the Gunners for five years and was offered a scholarship with the North Londoners. However, “…I decided that I would have a better chance making it elsewhere, so moved to Aston Villa.” Samir managed to break through to make a few Premier League appearances for the Villains’ First Team but, after not playing enough games, he decided to head out on loan to MK Dons. He went on to make that move permanent and won promotion from League One to the Championship with the side.

After spending a few years in Milton Keynes, Samir then signed for Sheffield United… “I won League One and the Championship to get promoted to the Premier League with them but, after a tough season out with an injury, I signed for Oxford United on loan.” That was then followed by a move to Cambridge United and Hemel Hempstead, before he signed for, “…the mighty Darts and I’m loving life!”

Samir realised that a career in the sport was possible while he was at Aston Villa, “…when I started training with the First Team and played with the likes of Ashley Young, Richard Dunne, Vitaly Petrov, Shay Given, and Gabriel Agbonlahor, I believed that I could also make it.”

It’s no secret that most players at this level have full-time jobs outside of the sport, Samir is no different… “Outside of football, I coach for college programmes that vary from the ages of 16-19. It’s been a real eye-opener to another side of football, and I feel like going into coaching… It makes you see football from a different perspective, and I feel like I’ve also been benefiting from it.” He continues, “…I got into it at Hemel Hempstead as I needed a job to keep me active during the day and I loved it, which surprised me. I have a lot to learn still, which I’m really looking forward ro.”

It sounds like Samir has a busy life. I ask him how he manages it and if he has any hobbies, etc… “To be honest, most of my days are pretty routine. I usually wake up, go to work, then back home to chill for a bit with my girlfriend or my dog. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get a bit of time to play Call of Duty on the PlayStation with Murts (Keiran Murtagh), then head to training in my carpool with Dan Wilks and Alex Wall. Jack Smith has also joined us and, together, we travel from Hertfordshire to Dartford. That’s pretty much how my days work out.”

On the pitch, Samir comes across as being fiercely competitive. For those who don’t know him, he can also come across as being seriously private and quiet. Yet, during the times I’ve met him briefly and during our conversation, he contains an air of friendliness and calmness. He claims that he’s never considered himself to be a superstitious person but, this season… “I’ve found myself doing the warm-ups right in the corner of the pitch and needing to be right at the end. I don’t know why it happened and it’s weird I know, but I’m always there and everyone knows I’m at the end.”

Samir also comes from a family of hard workers and says that his parents are a huge inspiration for him… “They were such hard workers who travelled around the country to support my dreams, especially my dad, who even trained me and got me to where I am today. So, whenever I do well, I know that he’s looking down on me and telling me to do more… HaHaHa!”

That hard-working personality is clear for all to see when Samir’s out on the pitch. However, what isn’t so obvious is that he is of Moroccan, Irish, Scottish, and Italian heritage. He can speak fluent Arabic and, “…was once banned from every race-course in the country… that’s got to be hard to beat… HaHaHa!” He doesn’t tend to think too far into the future, as he likes to focus on what’s in front of him. He believes, “…you should enjoy your moments in front of you and make sure you take them in and understand it all.”

As far as his future is concerned, the midfielder does hope that he remains in football, either in coaching or management but says, “…you never know… I could end up doing something completely different. I’ll always keep an open mind.” In the meantime, however, he is focused on helping Dartford get promoted… “…and see how far we can go. I just want to carry on working hard and enjoying my football.”

As our conversation comes to an end, Dartford’s number four has these final words for the Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park faithful: “You (the fans) have been brilliant with me since my arrival and, we as a team, love it when you’re right behind us. It gives us that extra boost we need when we’re struggling. So, thank you. Hopefully, we can repay you with our performances and results on the pitch.”

By Chris Palmer