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Ryan Hayes will lead Dartford FC out for his testimonial against Ebbsfleet United at Princes Park

By Steve Tervet

Dartford will honour one of their all-time greats on Sunday when Ryan Hayes leads the team out for his testimonial.

The winger, who joined Darts from the now defunct Slade Green FC in 2005, has made almost 400 appearances for the club over the course of a decade.

Hayes has scored 90 goals for Dartford and helped them win three promotions, rising from Ryman League Division 1 North to the National League.

Ryan Hayes joined Dartford from Slade Green in 2005 Picture Andy Payton

Ryan Hayes joined Dartford from Slade Green in 2005 Picture: Andy Payton

A bumper crowd is expected when team-mates past and present line up alongside Hayes for a match against local rivals Ebbsfleet at Princes Park.

He said: "I can’t wait. It’s been on our minds all summer and now it’s nearly here so we’re looking forward to it.

"I can’t thank the committee and my wife enough. They’ve been on top of it, doing as much as they can to make sure it all runs smoothly. You don’t really hear of it (players having testimonials) these days. I am proud and excited that I’ve managed to stay there 10 years.

"I’m happy in myself that I’ve managed to do that, to keep doing as well as I have been to make Tony Burman want to keep me."

Among the former Dartford players pulling on the white shirt one more time on Sunday are Concord manager Adam Flanagan and coach Mark Arber. Nathan Collier, who will play against the Darts for newly-promoted Hampton & Richmond this season, is also in the squad.

Hayes said: "I’ve got family there, I’ve got friends coming that I haven’t seen in a while and to walk the boys out will be brilliant.

"When I first got told about the testimonial, I started inviting players to play, people I’ve played with in really good teams.

"That part of it was good, to see what we’ve done over the years as a club. It’s been brilliant.

"But just because I’ve got a testimonial, I haven’t even thought of leaving or hanging my boots up.

"I want to keep going, keep doing well for Dartford and I know Tone feels exactly the same."

Kick-off is at 1pm, with tickets £10 for adults and £5 for under-18s. A family ticket, for two adults and two children, costs £25, or you can purchase a VIP ticket for £20.

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