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Dartford boss Tony Burman proud of whole club on 10th anniversary of opening of Princes Park ground

By Matthew Panting

Dartford celebrate 10 years at Princes Park this weekend with a glowing endorsement from manager Tony Burman.

The Darts played their first game back in the borough after a 14-year absence when they beat Horsham YMCA 4-2 in Ryman League, Division 1 South on November 11, 2006.

“It’s been amazing, a fantastic time,” said Burman. “I’m proud that I’ve been part of what’s happened with this fantastic ground.

Dartford celebrate the 10th anniversary of their move to Princes Park this weekend Picture Martin Apps

Dartford celebrate the 10th anniversary of their move to Princes Park this weekend Picture: Martin Apps

“With the help of everybody – supporters, players who have been and gone – the whole place should be proud of what’s happened to us.

“A lot of people do things voluntarily at the club and that includes members of the board. They should be proud of what everyone has done.”

Burman believes that without Princes Park the club would not have lasted much longer as they struggled to survive during their nomadic existence.

But Dartford have thrived in their new home, enjoying promotions all the way to the top flight of non-league football on the pitch, while their stadium has become a blueprint for other clubs to follow around the country. “Overall it’s been a fantastic achievement by everyone,” added Burman.

“The club was going nowhere 10 years ago, it was the only thing that was going to keep it alive.

“You can’t keep going forever sharing grounds here, there and everywhere. The 300 supporters who stayed with us for the 10-15 years we were away deserve a lot of credit.”

Dartford host Hemel Hempstead at Princes Park on Saturday (kick-off 3pm), with a Kids Community Session starting at 12.30pm and including bubble football and penalty shoot-outs.

“It will be nice to have some celebrations and I hope there will be people here who were here on that first day,” said Burman.

“It’s one of the highlights of my career, as a player and manager, the first time we played here.

“I’d like to put the icing on the cake and get three points.”

As for where Darford will be after the next 10 years at Princes Park, Burman certainly doesn’t intend to still be the manager.

But he hopes that the Darts have established themselves in the division above.

“I guarantee I won’t be the manager in 10 years’ time,” he said. “At this moment I am and I intend to stay here but maybe I will wake up one morning and know when it’s enough. At the moment, it’s not that.

“In the next 10 years we want to be established in the fifth division.

“That’s going to be tough but when I hand over I hope that we are able to say to the new manager this is what we want to be doing, this is how we’ve done things and there’s a good foundation to take it forward.”

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