dartford fc player interview

The matchday programme for the first playoff eliminator featured an extended article based on an interview with Dartford Captain, Tom Bonner. If you missed it, here’s the full article:

20220513 112504 | Dartford Living

This season has been a mixed bag for 34-year old defender and Captain, Tom Bonner, but not an unsuccessful one.

With the National League announcing that only one automatic promotion place was available this season, the probability of finishing in first position was deemed to be an extraordinarily difficult task. As a result, the more realistic target of achieving a play-off berth was set for the club.

However, a superb start to the season saw expectations increase, as some predicted a Dartford domination display. Yet, forty league games is a lot for any group of players to maintain at such high standards, let alone the additional Cup competitions thrown in. And, when injuries began mounting up, inconsistent results materialised. Despite that, it’s important to remember that Dartford has remained inside the top six of the league table all season, which is an excellent achievement in itself.

That’s not to say that the Skipper isn’t disappointed, because he is. He’s disappointed that the team couldn’t maintain such high levels of performances on the pitch in order to win the league. But, he’s ready and focused on finishing strongly and performing well in the play-offs.

This family man is a true legend of the club, and his love for the Darts is clear to see every time he leads the squad out onto the pitch every Saturday afternoon. Tom says that he still gets that same buzz as he walks out of the tunnel, knowing that his family and friends are watching and cheering on the team he loves.

Princes Park is Tom’s home. And, despite his career history listing several clubs, Dartford is the place where he’s played a majority of his games. He’s registered over 40 appearances alone this season, not to mention surpassing the 400 starts mark recently! That’s impressive when you consider that both Josh Hill and Connor Essam suffered long-term injuries, leaving both Tom and Kory Roberts to play the majority of the season.

And, what a season it’s been. Tom has enjoyed playing alongside his teammates, stating that midfielder Keiran Murtagh is one of the best he’s played with. Yet, on the other side, he believes that Oxford City’s Zac McEachran is one of the best he’s played against this season. Meanwhile, the brilliant FA Cup victory over Maidstone United in their own back yard is one of Tom’s favourite moments of the season. Unfortunately, he states that THAT defeat at the hands of the Stones is his worst moment of 2021/22.

Tom is a traditional footballer in the sense that, if he can walk, he’ll declare himself fit to play! Whilst he’s been extremely fortunate on the injury front throughout his career, he still looks after himself and doesn’t let any knock or niggle stop him from playing. His motto is to strap it up and get on with it.

It’s as if such a mindset has been ingrained in him since he first played for his local side, Elms FC (Catford), at the tender age of six. Seemingly born with a football linked to his feet, Tom was soon signed by QPR where his dreams of becoming a professional footballer began to become a reality. And, with his dad rarely missing a game, and a mum alongside to keep him grounded, the influences are plain for all to see.

Having learnt an awful lot from Mark Arber, Tom the footballer has years’ of knowledge which he passes onto the younger players of today. And that, along with his playing, is set to continue for the foreseeable future, as he has absolutely no plans of stepping aside just yet and, who knows, there might even be the possibility of Tom Bonner the manager in the future, such is his knowledge and influence.

The possibility of Tom stepping into management in the future is a rather exciting one, afterall, he claims to be obsessed with useless facts…something that would drive journalists crazy! And, unlike some in the dressing room, he doesn’t consider himself to be a superstitious person, even though he keeps to exactly the same routine every Saturday… And, as he so eloquently puts it, he always puts his socks on before his boots!

For a player who believes he’s played the best football of his career during recent seasons, he has nothing but respect for his manager Steve King. The defensive unit has thrived under the current boss and his Captain, a feat proved by the fact that Dan Wilks and Kory Roberts won the end-of-season awards, while Tom finished runner-up to his goalkeeper. Yet, Tom is only happy when Dartford are winning.

As the season reaches its conclusion, I’ll leave the final words for Tom, our Captain: “Dartford has always been a well-supported club. To me, the fans have been fantastic this season and, on numerous occasions, have helped get us over the line when required. (However), I can’t stop my kids singing about the size of my head now though…!”

walking with the darts