Published: 06:00, 21 January 2021
Josh Hill hopes his patience is going to be rewarded at Dartford this season.
The 29-year-old turned down the chance of a loan move earlier in the campaign and is hoping to get an extended run in the team after already being an unused substitute 13 times.
Hill started just his third game of the season – and scored – in the 1-1 draw with Hungerford last weekend.
The centre-back revealed a loan move was discussed before fellow defender Ronnie Vint opted to join Dulwich at the end of November.
“We spoke about it at the time,” said Hill. “I said that I’d bide my time but if the manager wanted me to go out and get games then I’d do it. I do want to be playing but I want to be playing for Dartford, not somewhere else.
“Luckily, I think that decision has paid off having come into the team but it can all change very quickly and I’ll keep doing the best I can.
“We’ve got a big squad, there’s a lot of players to manage and this year is different to any other.
“There’s players dropping like flies at times, we lost three or four last week and we’ve had seven or eight out who would be challenging for a starting spot.
“It’s difficult this season more than ever for the manager so you’ve got to be patient and wait for your chance.”
Hill has been around National League South for most of his career, and he believes it is that experience that has helped him cope with a spell on the sidelines.
A younger Hill might have been knocking on the manager’s door or worrying away from the pitch, but he’s taken it all in his stride.
“I would have dealt with this a lot differently five or six years ago,” he said. “I would have been different outside of football, thinking about it all the time and wondering if there was something else I could do.
“As you get older you get used to it, you learn more about how it all works – in non-league especially – and it becomes a bit easier to deal with, from a mental point of view that’s crucial and I’m getting there with that.
“The annoying thing, especially at our level, is that you make so many sacrifices. Ninety per cent of us work 40 hours a week and then the reason you do that – and don’t go out doing what your mates might do normally – is to then play on a Saturday and get that glory.
“The bug bear is not actually playing. You spend all week building up to it and preparing for it but on a Saturday you could just be sat down for the whole 90 minutes.
“I’ve experienced it a lot this year, probably more than ever before in my career. It’s disappointing but you’ve got to be patient and be ready when your chance comes.
“No-one makes the sacrifices we do at our level to sit on the bench every week but at the same time we’ve been top of the league so there’s been no reason to change anything. The lads that have been playing there have been brilliant so I’ve had to wait for my chance.”
Hill scored Dartford’s equaliser against Hungerford at Princes Park last Saturday.
It wasn’t quite the bullet header it first appeared – but he was happy to get on the scoresheet.
“I’d say it was a really good finish but it actually came off my shoulders,” admitted Hill.
“I’ll take that though, it doesn’t really matter how they go in, it’s just nice to be back playing again and to get a goal.
“It’s nice to contribute but I’m disappointed we didn’t get three points. We didn’t really get going first half but after a rollicking at half-time we dominated the second half. It was good we got the goal early and I thought there was only going to be one winner after that.
“It took us until the final few minutes to get those chances but we had two or three really good ones, there was one cleared off the line and the keeper’s made two worldie saves that you don’t normally see at this level.”