I’m delighted and think it’s a great honour to be granted the testimonial year with Dartford FC, says winger Ryan Hayes - Sevenoaks Town honour club stalwart Eddie Diplock's 60 years' at the club

Monday 14th March 2016

TRIBUTES are pouring in for talented winger Ryan Hayes, who has been granted a testimonial year by Vanarama National League South side Dartford.

The 30-year-old started his career under Steve O’Boyle in Thamesmead Town’s reserve side before signing for then Kent League club Slade Green.

He signed for Dartford in 2005 and the current player has made 474 appearances for the club, scoring 89 goals and has impressed and frustrated crowds with his skill and wing-play for the past 11 years.

Hayes quickly established himself as a fans’ favourite, scoring twice on his debut against Tilbury.

A series of testimonial events will take place over the course of next season, which will be organised by a committee of six, all of which that the player has chosen himself, including his other half.

“I’m delighted and think it’s a great honour to be granted the testimonial year with Dartford FC,” Hayes told the clubs website.

“I’m looking forward to all the events that my committee are going to organise, but especially the match.  The players’ I’m inviting will make the day a good one I’m sure – and I hope the fans turn out in their numbers to help me celebrate my playing career and time at the club so far.”

Dartford chairman Steve Irving added: “It is 11 years now since an 18-year-old Ryan Hayes announced his arrival at Dartford with two goals on his debut against Tilbury.

“In the seasons since then Ryan has thrilled and frustrated fans in equal measure.

“His 89 goals place him eighth in the history of the club. The vast majority of which were scored in his trademark fashion, many of which have made us gasp at the sheer magic of the finish.

“His 474 appearances, made up of 339 starts and 135 from the bench put him fifth in the history of the club.

“In that time winning the Ryman League, Division One and Premier Division titles, a Conference South play-off winner’s medal and a Kent Senior Cup winner’s medal.

“To honour his amazing achievements, the club is delighted to honour Ryan with a testimonial year, starting with the match in pre-season. Well done Ryan.”

Hayes’ wife, Leia, has been appointed as the chairwoman of the testimonial committee.

“I am so excited to be organising Ryan’s testimonial.  We’ve got a great committee who have all played a big part in Ryan’s career at Dartford FC,” she said.

“The club is like our second home and our children have grown up going to all the home games. We are thrilled to be organising a series of events to celebrate his time at the club.”

The testimonial game will take place at Princes Park on Sunday 17 July 2016 – with the Ryan Hayes XI and opponents to be announced in due course.

Tickets cost £10 for adults and £5 for concessions (Under 18s) – while a family ticket (consisting of x2 adults and x2 children) costs £25.

Tickets will be available to purchase from Friday 25th March 2016 when Dartford FC play Bishops Stortford at home. You can buy these from the club shop and main reception. Alternatively you can reserve your tickets over the phone during the week. Payment will be required when collecting.

VIP Tickets will also be available to purchase. These include a reserved seat, access to the VIP Suite pre match and an Official ‘Meet & Greet’ after the match with all the players of the testimonial match. The price for a VIP ticket is £20 per person.

Over the next few weeks the club will be announcing the teams for the day as well as various ways you can get involved with supporting what we know will be a great testimonial year.

A Twitter account @RH7Testimonial has been set-up to provide updates.

Team mate Lee Burns, who plays behind Hayes at right-back, tweeted “He’s done some fantastic things for this club, even if he does leave me two on one most of the time lol.”

Former team-mate, retired striker, Jon Main tweeted: “Too right as well. Not many players have done this in the world let alone at non-league level. Congrats mate.”

Stephen McCartney, the editor of www.kentishfootball.co.uk added; “Ryan Hayes is one of the most exciting wingers I’ve had the pleasure to watch and fully deserves his testimonial year at Dartford. To spend 11 great years at one club is unheard of nowadays. Congratulations Ryan.”

Meanwhile, Sevenoaks Town have marked Eddie Diplock’s 60 years of hard work at Greatness Park by naming their new stand in his honour.

Sevenoaks Town’s manager Micky Collins tweeted: “So fitting, what a wonderful man.”

Barry Wicks, who managed the club during their Kent County League days, added: “It was wonderful as always to see Eddie on Saturday. There won’t be any like him. Kent football are people that care.

Harry Smith, who previously played for the club before signing for Sittingbourne, who sold the striker to Ryman League Division One South leaders Folkestone Invicta earlier this season, added: “Great gesture from a great club!”

Visit Dartford’s website: www.dartfordfc.com

Visit Sevenoaks Town’s website: www.sevenoakstownfc.co.uk