Billy Crook: the key man in Dartford’s passing game
Billy Crook: the key man in Dartford’s passing game

When Billy Crook signed for the Darts, in January 2019, it would be fair to say the Darts fans were pleased. A natural central midfielder good on the ball and capable of picking out a pass.

It all started well enough being thrown straight into the side, he impressed with his calmness and composure on the ball. He definitely looked like a solid addition to the squad.

Unfortunately for himself and the team the rest of the season was blighted by injuries. It was disappointing after a great start that offered so much more.

Throughout the summer it was unclear whether joint managers at the time, Adam Flanagan and Jamie Coyle would re-sign an unfit player. His desire to play for Dartford was clear and the quality he possessed was unquestionable but could he prove his fitness.

He was given a contract but spent the first couple of months of the season on loan at East Thurrock United where he could build up his match fitness.

When Steve King arrived at Dartford one of his first decisions as new manager was to recall Crook. King has built up a well earned reputation for passing football and Crook would be essential in his rebuild of Dartford.

He was selected straight away and has improved exponentially since. It is no coincidence that as Billy has improved, so has the quality of football and results on the pitch.

He has the ability to play a simple pass and retain possession whilst also capable of spotting a through ball that others might not. His calmness on the ball under pressure means he rarely gifts away possession. If you’re looking for a top flight comparison think Michael Carrick.

Not only good with the ball, he is willing to work to win it back. He may not be your archetypal tough tackling but certainly gets stuck in. He reads the game well enough that he often doesn’t need to make a big tackle.

Now being used as the permanent anchor of a midfield three, his position in the side has allowed others to flourish, in particular Tyrique Hyde and before he left, Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong.

The front three know that if they make a run then Crook is likely to spot them and have the class to pick them out.

Like anyone else Crook can have a bad game, only when he does it normally means the team as a whole are not at their usual best. He is that influential in the way Dartford play.

Goal scorers like Elliott Romain and Darren McQueen generally get all the plaudits and quite rightly so but Crook is a big reason why Dartford have done so well under King. A successful side usually has an assured player in the middle of the park and Crook is the key ingredient in this Dartford side.

If Dartford are to continue their push to secure a playoff place then the form and experience of Crook will be essential. Hes been there and done it before with Braintree he has the game know how and ability to anchor this team to success.