Tuesday 15th November 2005

Dartford are back on their way up, insists delighted fan

Yesterday was one of the finest days in the history of Southern League Dartford Football Club, writes Stephen McCartney.

And all fans of this famous football club will be wanting more days like this when Tony Burman's side take to the field at their new stadium Princes Park in August.

The club has been backed by some great people during these 13 years of hurt - groundsharing at Cray Wanderers, Erith & Belvedere, Purfleet and currently, at a high cost, at Nationwide Conference neighbours, Gravesend & Northfleet.

And long-serving supporter, Matt Burgess, 29, cannot wait to see his beloved Dartford climb up the league's and into the Football League.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk, Burgess who first attended a Darts match at the tender age of 18 months with his dad, said: "The future for Dartford Football Club is nothing but very rosy or should I say the future's bright, the future's black and white.

"The sleeping giants have awoken and are coming back to the top," he warned.  "All I can say is give it about five years or so and it will be look out Gravesend & Northfleet - Dartford are coming to get you!"

Sadly for Burgess, he was unable to attend the emotional day when construction work commenced at Princes Park yesterday, but whilst at work, I'm sure he had his mind on more important things (and I don't mean work!)

"But I was there in spirit," he said.  "And I admit that whilst looking at the pictures and now fully believing that it's definitely happening and whilst reading the comments of the supporters that did make it, I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye."

And whilst writing these pieces on Dartford, it does make the hairs stand up and the emotion creeps in.

Two people take credit for making this dream turn into reality.

Burgess added: "Dartford Football Club can only build on this great news that after just over 13 years we are finally coming home and to a brand new purpose built stadium, thanks to Dartford Council and especially to the Leader and Deputy Leader Kenneth Leadbetter and Jeremy Kite.

"If it wasn't for these two guys we would still be groundsharing with either Gravesend & Northfleet or somebody else and sooner or later I'm sure it would've finished the club off due to the constant loss of revenue and very high outgoing costs."

And now the club can start preparing for their first match at their beautiful new stadium.

Club officials can plan which team will take to the field for the very first time - and I am sure their fans will suggest who it should be. 

Or maybe a chance to celebrate the great players that have played in those white shirts over the years, or against them.  The list is endless.

And most importantly the club can raise funds through sponsorship and corporate facilities, which will fund a winning team.

The club are currently averaging 258 fans in the Southern League Division One East this season.  Just calculate how many more will watch their first league game at Princes Park next season - when football finally comes home.

"I've been a supporter of the club for almost 28 years now after my father took me to my very first game at the tender age of 18 months old," revealed Burgess.

"I've been hooked ever since and follow them all over the place to both home and away games.

"In all of my years as a supporter this has got to be without doubt the best news to ever happen to this club.

"It really is just reward for all of the directors of the club as well as the great band of supporters the club has for all of the hard work that has been put in by everyone to keep the club afloat for as long as they have.

"This is a family club and lots of the supporters are 3rd or 4th generation supporters.

"My dad has followed Dartford for over 50 years and took me at a very young age.  His father was a supporter and took him at a young age and my dads uncle was also a supporter.

"This is a club that we are very proud of and with the possibly the best facilities in non-league football we can only hope that we could in time possible turn the club professional and see us playing in the Football League.

"This club is heading back to where we belong, which is the top flight of non-league football and with our youth policy in place we will be bringing some great young players through with us, which we will hopefully see playing in the first team within five to ten years."

Send us your views on Dartford's return home - the past, present and the future.

Any Dartford players, past and present want to air their views? 



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