The June 2023 issue of Dartford Living Magazine is out now. If you missed it, or are unable to get a copy, here is the latest instalment of Walking With The Darts: 

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

It doesn’t feel possible that the 2022-23 season is now over after more than nine months of thrills and spills on the football pitch. It has been another thoroughly enjoyable ride, as I’ve followed the Darts on the road as well as on the sidelines at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park.

Unfortunately, our adventure ended with an unlucky defeat in the lottery of a penalty shootout against St Albans City in the play-off semi-final. Harvey Bradbury gave us an early lead, before Aidan Francis-Clarke levelled before the half-time break. The Darts tried desperately to get the second goal their efforts deserved, but it just wasn’t to be and, after extra-time, the visitors went on to win the game from spot-kicks.

So, we will spend another season competing in the difficult National League South, but will face a number of different teams next term. We say goodbye to Ebbsfleet United and Oxford City, as they will deservedly be challenging in the National League next season, while Hungerford Town, Cheshunt, Concord Rangers, and Dulwich Hamlet all suffered relegation to the league(s) below.

Meanwhile, we welcome the likes of National League relegated sides Maidstone United, Torquay United, and Yeovil Town. We also welcome newly promoted outfits Aveley FC, Weston-Super-Mare, and Truro City to the National League South. Dartford FC will certainly be racking up the miles next season for sure!

Nothing is quiet during the off-season, as many continue to work behind the scenes in building the squad for the next campaign. And, since manager Alan Dowson was rewarded with a new two-year contract by the club recently, he has been working tirelessly since… At the time of writing, the likes of Jordan Wynter, Tommy Block, Marvin Herschel, and Sam Odaudu have all been retained. Meanwhile, Lewis Manor (from Concord Rangers) and Harvey Bradbury (from Dorchester Town) have both signed for the club. The latter, of course, was on loan for the closing few weeks last season and netted six goals in eight games, so it’s delightful news to have the striker sign on a permanent basis.

So, preparations for the next campaign are well under way at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park, and the pre-season is also being put together quickly as well… Three friendly fixtures have been arranged at the time of writing, with the Darts hosting Charlton Athletic on the 8th of July. We then travel to Margate (18th of July) and Bromley (25th of July), both of which will be evening kick-offs. Keep an eye on the official club website and social media platforms to keep updated on any additional fixtures.

In other news, Samir Carruthers and Tom Bonner were selected in the Vanarama National League South Team of The Season, so huge congratulations to them both!

As far as Connor Dymond’s Dartford FC Women side is concerned, they were extremely unlucky to finish second best in their defence of the League Cup a few weeks ago. The ladies started slowly and went behind by a rather fortunate goal straight from Georgia Tibble’s corner. However, they grew into the game and were unlucky to not be ahead by the half-time break, let alone be level.

As the gorgeous afternoon weather continued, Lizzie Adams and Co made a game of it, with an excellent second-half performance. A superb run and assist by the brilliant Shauni Griffiths set up Emily Vaughan to smash home the equaliser, before poor officiating denied the Darts a dead cert penalty!

But, as they continued to press high up the pitch whilst constantly attacking, Worthing caught them on the break… and the game was virtually killed off by goals from Emily Linscer and Ellie Russell.

Whist Worthing were worthy winners, with more consistent officials’ decision making, the result could have been completely different. Regardless of that, however, Lizzie Adams and Co put on an excellent performance and should be proud of themselves.

By the time you read this, the ladies’  season will also be finished and Connor Dymond and his coaching staff will begin preparations for their next adventure. In the meantime, though, they face Enfield Town FC at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park in what is their last league game of the season.

Finally, there will be a Dartford FC Community Fun Day on Sunday the 11th of June. The day starts at 10am and runs until 2pm, and is completely free to attend, so please do come along and enjoy the activities. Please check the club’s official website and social media platforms for further details. I hope to see you all there!

As always, thank you for your continued support and thanks for reading.

By Chris Palmer