Manager Alan Dowson has paid a glowing tribute to defender Connor Essam after he left Dartford.
New father Essam felt he couldn’t commit to National League South football next season, calling time on his Princes Park career after establishing a formidable defensive partnership alongside skipper Tom Bonner.
“I knew it was coming,” admitted Dartford boss Dowson. “I knew once he had the baby that he couldn’t commit to National South football.
“I loved him, I really enjoyed working with him. Everybody appreciated the work he did for Dartford.
“I loved the lad and out of everyone who has gone he’s the main one I am gutted about. I told him that I’m gutted that he’s left.”
Dowson made sure he rounded up club staff, including director of football Tony Burman and groundsman Jay Berkhauer, to give Essam a good send-off.
“I had a pint with him to celebrate his time at the club,” said Dowson. “I got people from the club together, the groundsman and Tony Burman who signed him initially.
“Out of all the players, he got on with his job and never gave me any problem. He made me laugh so I was devastated that he’s left.”
Former Gillingham youngster Essam rejoined the Darts in 2020 having previously joined the club on loan in both 2011 and 2013.
He’s also played for Dover, Leyton Orient, Eastleigh and Hemel Hempstead. Essam is expected to link up with Sammy Moore at big-spending Faversham in Southern Counties East, having previously played under him at Hemel.
Meanwhile, Dowson has confirmed he’s held positive talks with midfielder Luke Coulson about extending his stay at the club.
He’s talking to other members of his squad but has warned them: “I won’t meet anybody halfway. If anyone at the club wants to go, they can go. It’s as simple as that.
“I’ll tell them how much I love them and how they’ll fit into my football but if they want to go then I’m not going to stand in anyone’s way.”
Dowson is still in talks with potential new signings and has “shook hands on one or two deals” but is not expected to conclude any more business for another week.