We've laid the foundations and we want to build, says Burman - EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW

Sunday 14th May 2006

Dartford manager Tony Burman admits there’s an “air of optimism” surrounding the club at the moment, writes Stephen McCartney.


There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel for the club and it’s loyal band of supporters and an announcement is going to be made early this week through their official website but Burman kept tight-lipped when www.kentishfootball.co.uk caught up with him today.
The Darts played some attractive football during the course of the season and have two talented young wingers – both plucked out of the Kent League from neighbours Slade Green – in Ryan Hayes and Dave Martin, whose pace scared opposing defenders and entertained supporters.
The club finished their Southern League Division One East campaign in seventh place – missing out on a place in the play-off’s by just one point, but the club can now look ahead to a brighter future.
Martin’s talents were recognised at last night’s presentation night, scooping the supporters’ player-of-the year award.
“Dave has come along from Slade Green and has just been a breath of fresh air,” praised Burman.  “He’s pace is frightening but he’s not the finished product.  But I want him, and he wants to improve to help him progress in the game.”
Whilst Martin shone down the left-flank, ever-present goalkeeper Kevin Hudson was also recognised, scooping the away supporters Grassbank Trophy and players’ player-of-the-year accolades.

”Kevin has made some outstanding saves this year and kept us in games,” said Burman.  “He’s not missed a game all season, he’s a young 39-year-old and has just been excellent.  Kevin wants to be at the club next season.”
In front of the experienced goalkeeper are central defenders Anthony Henry (managers’ player-of-the-year) and young player of the year, Richard Avery.
“We signed Anthony in pre-season last year and he has played every single game this season and his help to other players has been second to none,” said Burman.

”Richard has only missed one game this season and has just turned 20 and this is his second full season at the club.

”His improvement has been tremendous and again his another player who wants to learn and progress.”

Brad Potter picked up the Paul Sykes Trophy, which recognises the contribution of any of the club’s young players.
“Brad has shown a tremendous amount of character,” said Burman.  “He’s helped out the youth and reserve teams since I’ve been here and he thoroughly deserved his chance in the side and basically took it and hopefully he will progress even further next year.”
Reflecting on the season, the manager said: “I think it was a very exciting season for the club and it was all round a breath of fresh air really because I felt we played some good football and overall the people wanted to come and watch us.”
Burman revealed all his players have been invited back to pre-season training, which begins on 6th July.
But with work on their new Princes Park stadium gathering pace, Burman can use this as a bargaining tool to attract new players.

He said: ”I’ve not spoken to many new players at the moment but I’m trying to agree terms with existing players at the moment, but when we look across to Princes Park and the way the construction is happening so quickly it’s definitely helping me.
But Dartford won’t start the new season back home but Burman revealed: “I don’t think the club knows where it’s going to play at the moment but we’ve got things in place.  We’re talking to one or two third parties and the league as well.”
The club is one of seven Kent clubs that will be playing in the Ryman League Division One South when the season kick’s off on Saturday, 19th August.
Looking ahead to the new season, he said: ”There’s an air of optimism around the place mainly to do with the new ground.
“We’ve laid the foundations and we want to build.  I want to put in new things in place on and off the field to make us even stronger.

”Hopefully we can expect some exciting football.  You always have to try to better yourself so we need to be in the top six next year.

”Nothing’s going to be easy, there’s a lot of hard work to do, but we’ve got to improve as a team and a club and hopefully it can take off with the new stadium and have a fantastic football club to be proud off.”
Dartford have currently arranged seven pre-season friendlies – all away from home.

They travel to Thamesmead Town (15th July), Whitstable Town (22nd July), East Thurrock United (29th July), Tunbridge Wells (1st August), Bournemouth (5th August), VCD Athletic (8th August) and Folkestone Invicta (12th August).