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Dartford manager Alan Dowson on his new office, building a squad and having to deal with agents at National League South level

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The only item missing from Alan Dowson’s new office at Dartford is a bed.

The worrying thing is that if he puts one in there the new Darts boss is just as likely to move in permanently as he plays catch-up on his summer rebuilding job.

New Dartford manager Alan Dowson. Picture: David Holmes
New Dartford manager Alan Dowson. Picture: David Holmes

“They’ve got everything here, I’ve even got Sky Sports in my office which is great!” joked the good-natured Geordie.

“I don’t have to go home, I can watch Coronation Street from here, I’ve got everything in this office. Once I get a bed in here, I’m made up. I’m looking forward to cracking on.”

Pre-season games to schedule. Players to retain, players to sign, agents to avoid. It’s an endless list for Dowson, who has been busy retaining players in his first few days in the job.

Tom Bonner, Connor Essam, Dan Roberts, Samir Carruthers, Kristian Campbell and Cameron Brodie have already put pen to paper.

“It just means I’ve got to work harder, as simple as that,” said Dowson. “I will come in every day to do it. I’m trying to get some pre-season friendlies, I’ve arranged one against Millwall and I’m working on that schedule.

“We’ve got two weeks this Saturday until we start pre-season so we’re a little bit behind but it’s nothing we can’t deal with.”

Dowson’s reputation is for a community manager, as much as a football one. He’s got an open-door office policy at Princes Park - unless he’s talking to a player – and had already shared a cuppa with the cleaner, groundsman and decorator in between signing Bonner in his first morning on the job.

“The reaction from around the place has been excellent,” said Dowson. “I have to give a special mention to Tony Burman, who has been really good.

“I’ve got to get through players and calls in the next few hours and days, and get on with it now. I want to do the best I can for Dartford but we need everybody’s help.

“I’ll always be there for interviews and front things up, even after games I’ll go in the bar and if we lose a game then have a crack at me. They’ll get used to my Geordie accent eventually, and as time goes on it will come natural to people!

“I’m really excited to take it on, it’s a great challenge here.”

Dowson may have plenty of gaps to fill in his squad but his experience tells him there’s no rush, even if Darts start further back than some of their rivals.

Dartford fans will be happy that a number of familiar faces are already signed up but Dowson doesn’t want alarm bells to start ringing if the squad looks thin in the next few weeks.

“Whatever happens because we’ve lost a lot of players we need to make up the team,” he said.

“I want to get a settled side and a settled squad of 16 or 17 plus a couple of academy lads involved to make us as strong as possible.

“I’m working on targets every day, I’ve got meetings with players every day this week, over the weekend, next week.

“I’ve got to get a side together for pre-season but what will happen then is that you’ll get the panickers who can’t get a club, who can’t get to an AC Milan or a Liverpool, that’s when you get them - but you’ve got to hold your nerve, that’s all.

“You come into a new job and want to impress and do this and that but at the end of the day you’ve got to hold your nerve and get the best players out there.

“If that means going in the loan market for one or two, that’s what I will do. I’ve got good connections around here, I know the Gillingham manager Neil Harris well, obviously Millwall and Charlton, who play their under-23 games here.

“If I can get the best non-league players about plus nick one or two from higher up then we’ll have half a chance.”

But if agents are mixing up Dowson’s desire to bring players in with him wanting to do business, then they’ll have a rude awakening.

It’s a sensible approach from the former Hampton and Woking boss, who sees no point in players at National League South level having agents.

“Players will take the gold fillings out of your teeth given the chance at the moment,” said Dowson.

“They come and ask for money and have an agent with them. That’s why it was great talking to Tom Bonner, just me and him.

“Sometimes you get a daft bugger sat next to the player who thinks he knows more than me and him (the player) about the game - that’s what agents do for you. We try to keep the agents’ fees away - why does a player need to play for Dartford and need an agent? I’ll never know!

“Why does a player need an agent to get them a move from, for example, Billericay to Hornchurch, why would you want to do that? Go higher up and you’ve got to deal with them.

“All I get is agents calling me about players but why doesn’t the lad ring me themselves? It’s not that hard.

“I rang players up when I was on holiday and they said speak to my agent. I said 'what do I want to speak to him for? I want to sign you not him'.

“I have to work with one or two but if they think they’re going to get agent fees from here they’ve got another thing coming, they won’t be getting any money off us.”

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