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….TOM BONNER

I recently sat down in conversation with Dartford FC Captain, Tom Bonner.

The written article was published in the club’s Matchday Programme for the season’s opening fixure against Cheshunt at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. For those unable to attend the games, here is the full article:

IMG 20220810 WA0006 | Dartford Living

It’s no secret that Dartford’s ending to last season was a major disappointment for all concerned within the club, but especially for Captain Tom Bonner. Kent Senior Cup victories aside, failure to win promotion to the fifth tier of English football sparked many changes behind the scenes at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park during the off-season.

And, the Captain was no different, as he decided to take time out away from the sport he loves to reflect, rest, and realign his focus for the new season ahead. Tom was even lucky enough to get away for the first time in three years. Not just once, but twice during the summer, as he made up for the lack of holiday breaks due to the upheavals with COVID during recent years.

Firstly, he travelled to Ibiza, where he was spoiled with a well-deserved lads holiday, before following that up with a family holiday to Cyprus. However, due to the extremely short break between seasons, he had to cram the two holidays into the month of June! Yet, despite that little “inconvenience”, Tom says that he feels “fully recharged and ready for another full-on season”.

The great news is that he’ll remain as the ever-reliable Skipper of the Darts, after signing with the club for another season. And, this is what he had to say about his decision: “I’m proud to be the captain of this club, and I think everyone knows how much Dartford means to me. I’m obviously delighted to be here for another season. As soon as Dowse got the job and called me, we had a great chat, and I couldn’t wait to sign again and start playing for him. My ambition is to gain promotion, simple as that. We’ve been so close in the past and suffered play-off heartache for six seasons now. It’s an extremely tough league with a lot of very good teams, so we know how tough an ask it is. But, with the new manager and new faces, we’re ready to give it another crack.”

But, what about off the pitch? Tom works full-time at his own small, bespoke recruitment company called F&N Recruitment. His job keeps him away from his young family from 6.30am until 4.30pm daily, as he helps clients find tradesmen (and women) suitable for their projects by ensuring that operatives get to the relevant work site. A typical day is spent speaking to construction companies, seeing if there’s anything he can help them with, and then sourcing the very best candidates for the required job.

Despite his phone never being switched off, Tom’s wife and two children (Frank and Nancy) know that when he’s not working, he’s playing for the Darts! So, it’s highly likely that you’ll bump into them at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park on a Saturday afternoon.

However, when time does allow, the Skipper loves his sport, especially being out on the golf course. And, it’s his hope to be able to improve his handicap one day because, “It’s a dream to one day be able to play more golf, as I’ve not improved in the five years I’ve been playing!’

But, in the meantime, Tom wants to play for as long as possible while making his company a success. He feels physically fit and looks after his body outside of the game. It’s important to him that he’s able to continue performing at the levels he demands of himself, and he wants “…to remain at Dartford for as long as physically possible.”

And, that starts again this season, with promotion to the National League the first and foremost target. Despite setting himself many goals, promotion is always at the forefront of Tom’s list that he’s desperate to tick off. His passion and pride for the club is truly inspiring, as he “Wants Dartford to be a competitive, well-established National League side.” This, ultimately, is his purpose on the pitch. For Tom, nothing else is acceptable for him because, “I honestly don’t think I could look back on my time here with fondness, if that (promotion and establishment) can’t be achieved.”

Tom Bonner is a man of many, honest words, and his drive and passion for the club is there on his sleeve for all to see. I’ll leave the final words for him: “I’ve noticed a change in the atmosphere around the place since the new Gaffer’s arrival. He’s brought a real feel-good factor back to Dartford. The crowds so far have been unbelievable, and we’ll need your continued support throughout this season more than ever. Let’s pack the stadium regularly and, together, we’ll make Princes Park a fortress!”

By Chris Palmer