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Hello there, welcome to Walking With The Darts, a monthly update on all things related to Dartford FC, courtesy of Dartford Living Magazine.

In case you missed the article in our January issue, here’s a reminder: 👇

An awful lot has happened at the football club during the last few years. However, taking into consideration the state of the world right now with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s fair to say that we’re extremely fortunate and pleased just to be in a position to play football on a weekly basis. And, having already notched up 23 competitive games since mid-August (at the time of writing), life for everyone concerned at the club has been rather busy indeed!

With a settled squad of thirty players (including some academy players), Steve King has done a marvellous job of keeping things relatively consistent on the pitch with the men’s first team. We currently sit second in the National League South table, although have accumulated the same amount of points as table-toppers Oxford City, having won nine of sixteen league games so far. However, although we are unbeaten at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park, we seem to have come across a sticky patch on our travels with just the one victory (at Hemel Hempstead) during the last five games. And, while we’ve only lost three games on the road in the league, a deserved defeat (4-0) at bitter rivals Maidstone was a huge wake up call for captain Tom Bonner and company.

Yet, if there’s one thing I’ve learned as the reporter of this Steve King side, it’s that the team doesn’t lose very often and always bounces back after a defeat. The upcoming Buildbase FA Trophy game at Cray Wanderers this weekend (Saturday 18th December) will surely prove to be a healthy distraction for the players, as they aim to get back on track in time for the busy Christmas period.

Cup games have provided a mixture of emotions for the club so far this season. Whilst an eleven-game unbeaten run was ended away at AFC Sudbury, thus knocking the Darts out of the illustrious FA Cup at the final qualifying hurdle, Dartford have made progress in the London Senior Cup with victories over Athletic Newham (5-2) and CockFosters (9-0).

The best news of the season so far, however,was that Dartford beat Whitstable Town FC 6-1 to win the delayed 2019/20 Kent Senior Cup Final in November. The result saw the club lift the trophy for the twelfth time in its history, the last of which was back in the 2015/16 season. One of the many highlights of the game was seeing striker Jake Robinson bag a hat-trick and the Man of The Match award in wonderful celebrations under the floodlights of Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.

Hopefully, the next time I write, Tom Bonner and Company would have made further progress in the Buildbase FA Trophy and London Senior Cup, as well as this season’s installment of the Kent Senior Cup, not to mention the main focus of the National League South! And top goal scorer, Ade Azeez, will surely be intent on adding to his fourteen goals in all competitions as well.

As for the Dartford Women’s team, Connor Dymond’s side are making solid progress as well. The team currently sits at the top of the London & South East Regional Women’s League table and are a point clear of Ashford Town having played twelve games. However, the second placed side do have a few games in hand over the Darts. The most recent game for the team saw them play out a 2-2 draw at home against New London Lionesses First Women, before they take a break for the Christmas period. The side have certainly been on form recently having scored a whopping 28 goals in the last five games alone, and striker, Emily Vaughan, has netted fifteen league goals so far, which sees her sitting second in the league’s top scorers.

Earlier this year, the Dartford Women were victorious in the delayed 2019/20 Women’s Kent Cup Final, beating Aylesford Ladies 3-1 to lift the trophy in a thrilling game at Maidstone United’s Gallagher Stadium. They are, however, yet to be drawn in this season’s tournament and await to see whether they’ll face Gillingham, Welling, or Aylesford again.

Manager, Connor Dymond, is particularly pleased with the progress his players are making, stating the following recently: “I think, considering we’ve had a new management team and a very big squad, to go into the new year as top of the league shows that it’s very hard to argue that it hasn’t gone well. But, I would have liked to have won more matches, and had more of a lead (at the top of the table). But, overall it’s been good.” 

It’s fair to say that both Dartford’s men’s and women’s teams are doing exceptionally well so far this season, and credit must go to both Steve King and Connor Dymond for the excellent job they’re doing at the helm of our teams. However, none of this would be possible without the support of the local fans either, so thank you for all your support and words of encouragement to the players and staff throughout the season so far.

On behalf of Dartford FC, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and we look forward to seeing you all at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park as both sides aim for success on (and off) the pitch.

By Chris Palmer