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Tony Burman looking forward to Dartford's first league meeting with Maidstone United since 2009/10

One of the most passionate rivalries in Kent returns this Saturday when Dartford and Maidstone clash at Princes Park.

Both clubs are battling to reach the National League but the story goes much deeper than that – an ill-fated groundshare at Watling Street in the 1990s spelt bad news for both clubs.

Since then Darts and Stones have climbed back up the non-league pyramid and this is their first meeting at this level since 1986 – when Dartford manager Tony Burman was playing.

Dartford manager Tony Burman Picture: Ruth Cuerden
Dartford manager Tony Burman Picture: Ruth Cuerden

Burman said: "Games against Maidstone are always special because of the history between the clubs.

"I love local derbies. They’re good for the clubs involved. Playing Maidstone was always tough. When I played, the league (Alliance Premier) was full of Kent teams and I hope one day we all get back to the top level, where we belong.

"It’s been a few years since we played each other in the league and it’s good for Kent football that this fixture is back."

Burman’s side have won their last five league games against Maidstone, most recently 3-0 at Princes Park in March 2010. Dartford went on to win the Ryman League, Premier Division that season but it’s the Stones who start Saturday’s derby as slight favourites.

They recorded nine straight wins in all competitions before going out of the FA Cup to nine-man Yeovil on Sunday.

Burman said: "They’ll try to respond after that. I was at the game and I don’t think they’ll have a better chance to get through to the next round – although it is difficult to break teams down when they go down to 10 or nine men.

"I get on fine with (Maidstone boss) Jay Saunders. We speak at academy games and he’s doing a good job there. When your club’s got a lot of supporters, there is a lot of pressure so it’s a good learning curve for him.

"They’ve managed to get a run of results going but there’s a long way to go. It’s still close enough from us to the top of the league."

Read the full story in the Dartford Messenger.

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