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Dartford FC captain Elliot Bradbrook on his goal record and expectation from supporters

By Steve Tervet

Elliot Bradbrook feels he has been unfairly judged this season because of his superb record for Dartford over the years.

Club captain Bradbrook scored 12 goals in the first 12 weeks of the campaign but then went almost four months without finding the back of the net.

He ended that drought in a 2-0 win at Oxford City on Saturday and now has 132 goals in 403 appearances for the Darts.

Elliot Bradbrook on the ball against Hemel Hempstead Picture: Andy Payton
Elliot Bradbrook on the ball against Hemel Hempstead Picture: Andy Payton

But manager Tony Burman had to defend his skipper last week after criticism from some supporters.

Bradbrook said: "It’s very difficult for me because I feel like I’m sometimes held to a different standard than everyone else.

"I got 24 goals last season and I’ve got 50-odd in the last few so everyone expects that will continue.

"There’s a lot of expectation on me because of what I’ve done in the past but I don’t think I’ve performed any different than what I’ve done over the years.

"I’m in there to do the ugly work, I offer 7 out of 10 every week and when you score two goals with that, everyone’s raving about how brilliant you are but when you’re doing a 7 out of 10 and you don’t score for a while, people start to question you.

"I got quite a lot of goals early on and over the last couple of months, the ball just hasn’t gone in for me.

"I think I’ve hit the post five times in that time and if those five go in, I’m sitting there on 20 goals and everyone’s raving about how brilliant you are rather than saying you’re too old or past it.

"That’s the way football goes sometimes."

Bradbrook is only the ninth player to reach 400 appearances for Dartford and five more goals would rank him as their second-highest goalscorer of all time.

But he said: "The best times are the ones when you lift a trophy. That’s happened only a handful of times (for me) so I’d certainly trade any scoring statistics for moments like that.

"We’ve got a massive opportunity to do that again this year. It’s not about me individually. As long as I’m lifting that trophy at the end of the season, that’s all I care about.

"There were some pretty dark days a few years ago, when we were relegated twice in a row. You can leave and say 'I've done my bit' or think ‘no, I’m going to stick around and try to get the team back up there again’ That’s always been the aim and it’s been three years in the making."

Elliot Bradbrook goes close against Poole Town Picture: Andy Payton
Elliot Bradbrook goes close against Poole Town Picture: Andy Payton

Bradbrook, like Ryan Hayes, Lee Noble and Danny Harris, has nothing left to prove at Dartford but is more motivated than ever.

"It becomes very personal after a while," he said. You know you haven’t got that much time left and these opportunities don’t roll around that often.

"We’ve only managed to lift a trophy a handful of times in the nine years I’ve been at the club and we’ve got an opportunity to do that now. That’s why the pressure’s on a little bit.

"We haven’t got long left in our careers to be doing this sort of thing. I’ve never won this league before and we’re in a position to do that.

"The pressure is on from ourselves more than anything else because we want to succeed and leave on a good note."

Bradbrook became a father earlier this season and his son Reiss is now almost five months old.

"I’m really enjoying it," he said. "I don’t get half as much sleep as I used to but it’s nice to come home from work and see him.

"It has been tough. My work’s very busy and it’s pretty full-on to balance everything; work, football and home life but I’d rather be in this position than not."

He added: "It’s been a funny old season. We’ve done well and we are where we are in the league on merit but we’ve dropped some really bad points along the way as well. All the teams have.

"If you look at the league over the past few years, there’s always been one or two real standout teams who have been 15-20 points ahead of everyone else but it’s not been the case this year. Some people have said that means the league’s weaker but I just think it hasn’t got that standout team.

"That makes it more exciting because a lot of the teams in the group we’re in are of a similar standard and you never know what the league’s going to look like at the end of a Saturday afternoon.

"If anything, it’s made things more interesting. It’s been frustrating on our part because I’d like to have a lot more points than we’ve got but it’s not to be and we’re in the position we are now.

"There’s seven games left and it’s full steam ahead to get as many points as we can."

Dartford, second in National League South, host third-placed Hampton & Richmond on Good Friday (3pm).

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