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Dartford FC captain Elliot Bradbrook on his new deal at Princes Park

By Steve Tervet

Elliot Bradbrook was two wins away from leaving Dartford but had no hesitation in signing a new deal for next season.

Had the Darts been promoted via the play-offs, their step up to the National League would have forced Bradbrook to walk away because of work commitments.

But their 2-1 aggregate defeat to Chelmsford meant another season in National League South and club captain Bradbrook was quick to agree a new deal for 2017/18, along with nine of his team-mates.

Dartford captain Elliot Bradbrook Picture: Andy Jones
Dartford captain Elliot Bradbrook Picture: Andy Jones

Bradbrook said: "That was the strange thing about those play-off games. Because you never know what’s going to happen, it might have been the last game, it might not have been and realistically, if we had won (the final), it would have been probably my last game for Dartford.

"It was in the back of my mind a little bit but I’m one of those people that just wants to win.

"I’d have much rather we’d have beaten Chelmsford and Ebbsfleet and that would have been my last game.

"But all of a sudden, you’re faced with another season, which I’m looking forward to."

Next season will be Bradbrook's ninth at Dartford. His post-season contract renewal talks with manager Tony Burman are usually straightforward and this year was no different.

He said: "Tony’s always made it very clear that I’m important to him and that he wants to keep me around and that’s good enough for me.

"Dartford’s the club I’ve wanted to play at and that’s always been the same.

"It’s always a very quick conversation, it doesn’t take too long. It’s less of a conversation about me and more about what Tony’s going to be doing and who he’s going to be looking at, what his plans are and that sort of thing.

"That’s what we mainly talk about, it’s never much of a conversation about whether I’m going to stay or not."

Elliot Bradbrook in action during Dartford's play-off defeat to Chelmsford Picture: Andy Jones
Elliot Bradbrook in action during Dartford's play-off defeat to Chelmsford Picture: Andy Jones

Bradbrook scored 24 goals in 49 appearances for Dartford this season, making it his best in front of goal. But a positive campaign on a personal level came second to the collective disappointment of missing out on promotion.

He said: "I gauge a season on whether we win anything or not. Although I played well and scored a lot of goals, we didn’t win so you look back with a bit of disappointment.

"It’s still a bit early, it’s only been a couple of weeks since we lost that game. As time goes on, you probably reflect and I’ll be able to appreciate the achievement a little bit.

"I feel good. I managed to play a lot of games, which is what I wanted to do, scored a lot of goals and managed to get us into third. We just fell at the last hurdle.

"We got a good result, going to Chelmsford and drawing. It was one of those games where neither team wanted to lose and there wasn’t much in it at all.

"We ended up having to play Chelmsford six times this season and it’s been that sort of game almost every time, with a goal in it.

"We knew we needed to score first (in the second leg). They’re a big, solid, defensive side and it was one of those situations where I felt we needed to score first and we just didn’t manage to do that.

"It was always going to come down to a mistake or something happening on the spur of the moment which cost us and it did in the second game. We managed to concede from nothing and then the game was away from us.

"I thought it was a good season. The plan was always to get into the play-offs and to challenge and I thought we did that.

"The two teams that finished above us (Maidenhead and Ebbsfleet) were, far and away, the two best teams in the league so for us to come third, it was about as good a season as it could have been.

"We managed to fulfil what we wanted to do by getting in the play-offs and unfortunately it’s a bit of a lottery then. It can go either way. Sometimes it just doesn’t go in your favour and it didn’t for us this time, unfortunately.

"But I don’t think that changes the fact it was a good season."

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