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Dartford FC agree new deals with Elliot Bradbrook, Ryan Hayes, Lee Noble and Danny Harris

By Steve Tervet

Dartford's core is staying together for another season to the delight of manager Tony Burman.

The long-serving quartet of Ryan Hayes, Lee Noble, Danny Harris and club captain Elliot Bradbrook have all agreed new deals at Princes Park for 2017/18.

It will be Hayes' 13th full season with Dartford while Noble is approaching 10 years at the club. Bradbrook and Harris both joined eight years ago in 2009.

Dartford's core: Danny Harris, Ryan Hayes, Lee Noble and Elliot Bradbrook
Dartford's core: Danny Harris, Ryan Hayes, Lee Noble and Elliot Bradbrook

Burman said: "Loyalty is a strange word now in football. These players have been the backbone of the side for many years.

"It doesn’t sometimes come easy for them. It’s difficult because they know they’ve got to look after themselves, they know they’ve got to perform week in, week out and there’s always that added pressure now that people say ‘he’s not as good as he used to be’ - well, all of them proved that wrong last year.

"It’s a credit to them that they’ve stayed loyal. They’ve looked after the club, they’ve performed excellent for the club and the club have looked after them.

"That’s the way I see football, it’s not just every five minutes someone’s offering more money and you go there for the sake of it.

"It’s difficult decisions now with players having to pay the bills and things like that but it’s getting beyond ridiculous with the amounts of money going around in the non-league football scene."

Dartford midfielders Lee Noble and Elliot Bradbrook Picture: John Westhrop
Dartford midfielders Lee Noble and Elliot Bradbrook Picture: John Westhrop

The statistics of 'the core' are quite extraordinary, Between them the four have made 1,648 appearances for Dartford, scoring a collective 334 goals. Tom Bonner, meanwhile, who's now in his second spell at the club, has played 214 times for the Darts.

Burman said: "They are loyal and you have to remember that but, above all, they’re experienced. You still need experience and their experience is rubbing off on the new group who are coming along behind them.

"Ronnie Vint is 20 years of age, he’s not 21 until July. Keaton Wood is just 21 and they’ve both been recognised by the FA for the England C squad (Vint is in the contingency squad).

"Deren Ibrahim is 26 and he’s going away with Gibraltar. They’re the new group coming through.

"Duane Ofori-Acheampong’s only 24, Luke Wanadio’s only 24, Alex Brown’s only 24. It’s building again and the group there last year, we hit it off and they’ve stuck together. They get on all right and that’s a major part of any successful side.

"I wanted to keep the team together as much as I could and I was expecting maybe nine or 10 of them to come across but I’ve been fortunate enough that we’re going to be dealing with the majority of last season’s squad, with two or three additions and hopefully one or two of the boys who are coming through from the second year of the academy."

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