It’s been a long season for everyone involved with Dartford FC Women, none more so than for Connor Dymond. I sat down to chat with the manager via WhatsApp, as he spoke about his experiences and thoughts, after the curtain had come down on the 2022/23 campaign….

“I’m very good thanks Chris, hope you’re well… it’s been a long season, HaHaHaHa…!”

It has indeed been a long season and, despite a few ups and downs on and off the pitch, Connor believes that it’s been a successful one overall, “…we’ve done really well in the cup competitions, but not so much in the league. You need consistency and dedication in order to be successful in this league… The London & South-East Regional Women’s League Premier, where the team finished mid-table… “some of the players have shown those attributes, but some haven’t. However, we’re working on changing that mentality constantly and will continue to do so going forward. That consistency and dedication is what this football club demands.”

For the start of the recent campaign, Connor installed a change of approach with the coaching of the team, and he’s delighted with the progress so far… “I brought in Martin McCarthy as a coach, and he’s been brilliant. The ladies have really bought into what we have tried to do and into where we want to go as a team. This includes the tactical side, the physical demands it takes to compete with teams in higher leagues, and the preparation for games.”

Upon reflection, Connor believes that the changes implemented have been very successful in the cup runs throughout the season. This was awarded by an excellent defensive run in the League Cup, of which was unluckily ended in the Final against a strong Worthing side… “Yes, I think the changes showed a lot in the cup runs mainly, but it’s definitely something we’re looking to build on as a group.”

Having had the pleasure of being able to attend a handful of games this season, the hard work done by Connor, Martin, and their team can be seen on the pitch, particularly during cup fixtures. I have my own favourite moment, does Connor?

“Yes I do. My favourite part of the season was Fulham away. It was a game where I thought everything fell into place. Everything we’ve been working on all came together in that game, it was just a shame that we couldn’t push on from there. However, we know the players are more than capable. It’s in them, we just have to get it out of them. On another note, the FA Cup run was fun wasn’t it!”

Yes it was! It wasn’t good for our nerves though! Yet, the ladies made us all so proud, as they wrote themselves into the history books by reaching the Vitality Women’s FA Cup 2nd Round for the first time ever.

Unfortunately, their FA Cup adventure was ended by Hashtag United in that second round. And, despite everyone being obviously disappointed, Connor doesn’t remain focused on such matters… “I wouldn’t say disappointments because, the women would never go out onto the pitch to not try their best to play well. Yes, there have been occasions where their own standards were below par, but the overall feeling is that they are all heading in the right direction.”

The changes implemented by Connor and Martin are already showing signs of lifting the squad up to the next level. And, as the duo continue their work, the potential within the team will certainly be unleashed and we’ll see the side return to challenge for promotion. In the meantime, though, it’s the off-season where we all should be taking a well-deserved break. Well, some of us…

“I can’t really switch off to be honest. I’m actively looking at bringing new players in, trying to improve the squad, as well as pushing for us and the women’s game in order to keep the progression going. I’d love to go away on holiday, but I’m not sure I’ll have the time to be honest.”

For those who are unaware, Connor isn’t just the manager of Dartford FC Women. He also has a job outside of the beautiful game and actually plays the sport as well!

“My life has been mental! I play outside of coaching and I had a baby eight months ago… not physically obviously, but you get the gist! I work full-time and try to be a parent and a good partner too. Besides all of that, life’s been easy…! HaHaHaHa!”

At the beginning of season, Connor played in the midfield for Cray Valley PM, before moving on to Herne Bay. He has recently been signed to play for Ashford United for the 2023-24 season, but hopes for a better campaign than the last one…

“I got relegated with Herne Bay this season! Not something to boast about, but they say it’s all experience. I took a gamble and it failed.”

So, in between working full-time, being a parent and a good partner to Jade, as well as playing football for Ashford United AND managing Dartford FC Women, it’s a wonder Connor gets time to breathe, let alone sleep! And, as we reach the end of our conversation, does he have any final words for the Dartford supporters?

“Yes Chris, yes I do. I would just like to say thank you to all the fans that have managed to come and support us on this journey. It’s only just beginning. You’ve been so supportive of the women, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. We hope to see many more of you next season and, if you do manage to see anyone, me included, and want to ask questions, please don’t be shy.”

By Chris Palmer