Published: 06:00, 03 September 2021
Jake Robinson has spoken of his admiration for Dartford manager Steve King after rejoining his former boss this season.
The 34-year-old forward has scored goals for fun in recent season - and revealed that non-league defenders have King to blame for giving them a torrid time.
When the pair were together at Whitehawk, it was King who kept the former Brighton youngster Robinson as his main striker and he’s not looked back since.
Robinson netted 123 goals in 161 appearances for Billericay after arriving in 2017 - the first of two spells - for a then-record fee of £24,000 from Whitehawk.
On re-uniting with King, Robinson said: “He was the first person I called when I realised my time at Billericay was up. We did so well together before, I knew he was going to put a squad together here that was going to challenge.
“At this stage of my career, I want to be right up there and really enjoying it. It’s just like the old days really. He’s built an unbelievable squad, he still shouts quite a lot, he still shouts at referees and linesmen but so far, so good.
“Since we were last working together I’ve matured as a player more and I understand this level a lot more.
“The first time with him I was just out of the pro game and finding it quite tough being moved around the pitch when I first joined non-league and playing left wing and stuff.
“He was the first one to come to me and say I want you to play up front, stay between the posts and score goals. Ever since then he has built teams that play the right way and that worked well for me. He’s someone who understands me, we get on well off the pitch as well and I think that helps.”
Robinson also revealed that getting the team spirit right in the squad is just as important as splashing the cash at his level.
He added: “The one thing I can guarantee having played for Steve before is that he is going to build a team that is going to compete at this level.
“You can come into this league, spend loads of money and get the best players in but there’s the balance you have to build with the right characters and getting the team spirit right.
“This season at this moment, this is one of the best groups I’ve been in. It’s enjoyable coming to training, the football we play is enjoyable and everyone is knuckling down. There’s going to be times when people aren’t in the team but so far everyone has shown the right attitude and being patient.
“We’ve got four top centre-halves, we’ve got four top strikers who are all scoring. There’s going to have to be tactical changes here and there but everyone is fighting to keep their shirt and it’s certainly one of the most talented squads I’ve been in. But if you don’t work hard and do the right things then it doesn’t count for anything.”
'I wasn’t particularly worried that I would struggle for goals because at this level I’ve always done it'
Robinson scored his first goals for Dartford in the 3-1 win over Eastbourne at Princes Park on Monday.
It means they travel to Bath this Saturday clear at the top of National League South after winning all four games.
“It’s not something I’ve ever done before and I don’t think I’ve even won three out of three and I’ve played a lot of football,” said Robinson, reflecting on Dartford’s impressive start.
“It’s definitely the perfect start, there’s a lot to build on and a lot to improve. We’ve played four, won four, you can’t ask for more than that, it’s just whether we can keep it going now. Given the quality and the depth of the squad we’ve got, there’s no reason why we can’t.
“It’s a weight off your shoulders for a striker to get off the mark. I wasn’t particularly worried that I would struggle for goals because at this level I’ve always done it. But it’s always nice to get going and build the confidence.
“We’ve got four forwards who are all firing, with the amount of chances we create and the football we play, there’s going to be opportunities for everyone. On a personal level I’m delighted to get off the mark and hopefully go on a run now.
“In the last couple of years I’ve been in the top three goalscorers for the league and it’s been cancelled twice. I want to get to 10 first and then re-assess. I’ve been lucky and scored 20 goals in the last six or seven years so I’ll be looking for that again.
“As long as the team is doing well, that’s the most important thing. My most enjoyable season was when I won the league, albeit the league below.
“We scored a lot of goals that year. It was very similar (to Dartford now), we had a lot of talent in the squad, we were outscoring teams and I was the beneficiary of being in that role where you have to score goals and let everyone else do the creating.”
Dartford visit Bath in National League South this Saturday.