Monday 14th November 2005

Burman: I'm very privileged to be involved with Dartford

This is a photograph everybody associated with Dartford Football Club have been dreaming about for 13 years - and now it's becoming a reality for this famous football club, writes Stephen McCartney.

This is not just any piece of land being dug up in the Borough of Dartford.  

But Princes Park - the location where the Darts will be playing their HOME football matches next season.

It's been a long, rocky road for the club since leaving their Watling Street Stadium, which has led to a nomadic existence playing at Cray Wanderers (Oxford Road, Sidcup), Erith & Belvedere (Park View, Belvedere), Purfleet (Ship Lane) and currently at Gravesend & Northfleet's Stonebridge Road ground.

But the club has been backed by some great people during that time and I'm sure there were grown men shedding tears during this emotional charged day as work finally began on their new stadium.

This is the catalyst for Tony Burman and his team to rocket up the Southern League Division One East table and win promotion.

Well, we do want this great club playing decent sides inside a packed stadium, don't we?

The Ryman Premier League beckons.  And they deserve it!

"On Saturday a couple of things happened off the field, which made me feel very privileged to be involved with Dartford Football Club," said a very proud Burman.

"Firstly our vocal support from everybody who managed to travel down to Hartsdown Park, Margate was superb and on behalf of myself and the staff, I cannot thank you enough."

He added: "Secondly, I mentioned raising money so Darren Penfold could have a scan to determine the damage to his knee ligaments.

"I can tell you through the generosity of supporters of Dartford Football Club, Darren is booked in this Wednesday to have his scan.

"On behalf of Darren, I again, cannot thank our supporters enough."

That is the kind of spirit that has kept this football club in business, and with the best support in the division, the future is very bright - it's black and white!

Darts' fans have celebrated their side knocking out two of their Kent rivals to reach the third and final qualifying round of the FA Trophy.

After needing a replay to dispose of Dover Athletic, Margate followed them out of the competition thanks to Dave Martin's first half winner.

Speaking about their trip to Margate, another Kent club that have suffered with the loss of their stadium for three years - they returned home on the eve of the season in August - and were on the brink of going out of existence.

"I thought the performance from all the players was excellent and I think we thoroughly deserved to go through to the next round," admitted Burman.

"I would like to thank the officials and supporters of Margate Football Club for their hospitality that was shown to everyone connected with Dartford Football Club."

This is something that sadly cannot be said a few miles away at Southwood Stadium where rival fans clashed at Ramsgate's 1-1 FA Trophy draw against AFC Wimbledon.

Incidentally the winners of Tuesday night's replay at Kingsmeadow will travel to Stonebridge Road on 26th November in the final qualifying round.

"Usually Monday's are not exciting but the 14th November 2005 will be remembered by everyone who has been connected with Dartford Football Club as the start date for the construction of our new stadium at Princes Park," said a proud Burman - who is also a director of the club.

"I was present with about sixty other supporters to see the earth move for the first time - absolutely fantastic feeling, which I am glad I was able to see.

"I came back into my office and then heard the draw for the next round of the FA Trophy, which is Ramsgate or AFC Wimbledon at home.

"Whoever wins the replay we will have a very tough game on our hands but from a financial point of view, I know who our financial director would want us to be playing - whoever said Monday's were dull!"

Burman takes his side into Essex on Saturday to tackle Great Wakeing Rovers, who are managed by former Margate star Iain O'Connell, who will surely offer his congratulations with today's news.

But Burman hopes his 39-year-old goalkeeper, Kevin Hudson has shunned a move to Dover Athletic by then.

"I will do my best to get the players concentrating on our pursuit to climb up the league table," promised Burman.

"We have had a seven day approach and they will be allowed to talk to him anytime after Tuesday.

"I hope that Kevin will turn down this approach as he is very much part of my plans for the future."

And what a future they have!

* Were you at Princes Park today?  How do you feel about the club's future? Want to talk about the past?  We would love to hear your views.  Email:


(Please include your name and age and how many years you've supported the Darts)

Photograph and quotes: www.dartfordfootballclub.co.uk - www.dartfordfc.co.uk