Burman looking at Dartford future
Burman looking at Dartford future

Promotion hopes ended for Dartford with the disappointment of a play-off defeat against Braintree Town.

Those who question the fairness of play-offs will point to the fact that Braintree ended up sixth, a full twenty-seven points behind runners-up Dartford. In previous years, play-offs were only contested by clubs finishing between second and fifth but Braintree have taken advantage of the new format and will contest the promotion decider with Hampton and Richmond Borough next weekend.

Tony Burman, Dartford’s manager, made no excuses and said: “It’s a bitter pill to swallow because being a little bit old school, if you like, the play-offs are great. The interest is there with the play-offs. You know the rules and the top two should go up.”

In the one off play-off eliminator, Dartford had the better of the first period but didn’t take advantage. In the second half Braintree offered more threat and claimed the only goal. Burman said: “In that type of game, I think you need a little bit of luck and I don’t think we got it.

“I think we were excellent first half. We had some chances to score but just didn’t take them. The keeper’s pulled off a great save from Elliot (Bradbrook). In the second half the game will open up. Credit to both (sets of) players. They played in a lot of heat and it was very very warm out there.

“They got the breakthrough, and once they got the breakthrough it’s hard to get back in these games. The boys have tried their best. A really really good season has turned into disappointment.”

He went for an attacking line-up, explaining: “We had three out and out strikers so we could occupy their back four who were big strong lads. I’m disappointed with the result but I’m not disappointed with the boys effort and the way that they performed and in these games you do need that little bit of luck.”

Although it was hard to take, Burman accepted that it was football and said that he had no worries about the players’ reactions. “They’ve got all summer to get over it.” He said. “Some of them will be devastated but there’s a lot of players out there and a lot of staff around this place who might not be here next year.

“I don’t know what will be happening.” he continued. “I don’t know who’s going to be staying and who’s going to be going. I’ll take a bit of time out and have a think about it and we’ll see what happens.”

Burman said that plans were in a good stage for had they gone up but that they had been shelved. “We’re probably in a place now where we can probably go up and hopefully we can succeed. We were going to try and go to three mornings a week if we’d gone up.

“That’s out of the question now so we’ve got to be challenging for the league title again next season. It was difficult this year. Regardless of what anyone else says, it’s still difficult to win leagues and there’s a lot of teams coming into it so it will be a difficult league.”

Looking back through the campaign, Burman said: “Yes, we could have had three more goals here or there. At Gloucester we hit the post twice and we only won one-nil. Where do you stop? We’ve had a great season and the guys have been brilliant, they’ve been absolutely brilliant.”

Then he looked a bit further back at his time with the club and the progress that has been made. “There are so many people at the club now.” he said. “There are so many teams in the junior section. When we first came here we had four teams playing in the Kent League.

“People don’t look at that. They’re not interested in that and I understand because they want the first team to win all the time but football’s not like that.”

Following the recent news that Arsene Wenger will no longer be manager of Arsenal next season, it means that should Burman be back next season, he will be the longest serving manager of one club in the first six leagues of English football. He said: “I’ve been here for a long time and I’ve enjoyed it while I’ve been here but who knows? It may continue and it may not.”

It could be an interesting few weeks at Princes Park.