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The Non-League Football Paper

Promotion chasing Dartford have the Bur-fect return plan

TONY BURMAN thinks he’s rediscovered the Dartford of old – and says the club will use the knowledge of what it’s like in Non-League’s top tier if they are fortunate to get up again.

It hasn’t all been plain sailing over the last few seasons for the Kent club following a remarkable eighth-place finish in Non-League’s top flight in 2012-13.

The following year they finished in the relegation zone, but a late reprieve meant boss Burman’s summer plans had to be torn up.

Relegation did follow in the next campaign before falling short of the National League South play-offs last season.

But six wins and three draws in their last ten games has catapulted the Darts up to third this season and Burman says it’s the result of a tight-knit squad.

“It’s not always the best and highest-paid players who perform sometimes,” Burman, who also highlighted their knack to bounce back from defeats, told The NLP.

“There’s a lot more pressure on those teams and players. But we’ve got a squad that, whenever we change it, sometimes play in different positions and we’ve used the same 16 or 17 all season.

“They didn’t all know each other, but they’re a close-knit group now and that togetherness in the changing room is a big reason why we are where we are.

“I go back to when we beat Chelmsford in the FA Cup. No one gave us a chance, but we went there and won the game. It was a massive stepping stone for us in bringing us together.”

While there are no doubt plenty more spills and thrills to come, Burman says the club have learnt valuable lessons from their three seasons at Step 1.

“We may have got up too early, who knows,” he said. “The club have a three-year plan. We’re looking at whether we should go to a semi-pro situation where we train in the daytime, which a lot of clubs are doing now.

“If we were to go up into the National League then that’s something that will definitely happen.”

Meanwhile, the Darts have announced a five-year deal for Ryman Division One North side Thamesmead Town to groundshare at their Princes Park home.

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