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New Dartford manager Alan Dowson makes captain Tom Bonner his first signing on his first day in charge


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New Dartford manager Alan Dowson was delighted after landing his number one target on the first morning in the job - keeping Tom Bonner at the club.

The popular 34-year-old signed for another season at Princes Park on Tuesday and Dowson says he will keep the captain’s armband.

Keeping the services of Dartford captain Tom Bonner was new manager Alan Dowson's top priority. Picture: Keith Gillard
Keeping the services of Dartford captain Tom Bonner was new manager Alan Dowson's top priority. Picture: Keith Gillard

But the new boss wants Bonner to take a backward step when it comes to leading the way off the field, so he can focus all his efforts on what happens once he crosses the white line.

“Tom was the first person I wanted to get tied up which is great,” said Dowson.

“He is a club man, he gets in the team of the year for the last couple of seasons.

“He’s a leader, we’re going to improve him. There’s no good me coming here and not trying to improve him.

“He leads on the pitch and gets the lads in the bar but I’ve told him to leave all that stuff to me. I want him to improve on the pitch, work on different formations whether it’s a back three or four that we play.

“He’s delighted to be here, he’s played over 400 games for the club and wants a bit more success. Hopefully he can help me and I can help him get that.

“I like the way he plays and how much he wants to be at Dartford.

“I make sure every player goes in the bar after games so he doesn’t have to drag that along, I make sure every player engages in what we have to do with supporters so he doesn’t have to worry about that.

“I think he’s tried to take everything on by being the leader on the pitch but also trying to lead the dressing room. You can’t do everything.

“The main thing for him is playing well so if I can take that pressure off him and get him to concentrate on playing well then I can take care of all the other stuff.”

Dartford's Connor Essam has agreed to stay at Princes Park for the 2022/23 campaign. Picture: Keith Gillard
Dartford's Connor Essam has agreed to stay at Princes Park for the 2022/23 campaign. Picture: Keith Gillard

Dartford’s defence was the second-best in National League South - conceding just 42 goals in 40 games - so it’s no surprise Dowson followed up Bonner’s signature by retaining Connor Essam’s services on the same day.

“I like Connor Essam and how he plays alongside Tom Bonner, speak to the ones you want first and then build your team,” stated Dowson.

Bonner started 40 games for the Darts last season while Essam made 30 starts, missing the final nine matches of the campaign through injury.

The Darts boss is also due to meet the likes of Jordan Wynter, Keiran Murtagh, Kristian Campbell, Olu Durojaiye and Jernade Meade. Worthing have signed striker Jake Robinson and midfielder Jack Jebb is expected to join Dorking Wanderers while Ade Azeez and Tyrique Hyde have already moved to Welling.

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