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Christian Jolley's journey proves Dartford boss Alan Dowson is ideal manager to launch players' careers

Assistant boss Christian Jolley is the perfect example for Dartford’s young guns under Alan Dowson.

The 34-year-old was plucked from local football by Dowson at Kingstonian - a move that eventually led to a successful playing career which included spells at AFC Wimbledon and Newport County.

Christian Jolley gets stuck into Gillingham during his AFC Wimbledon days. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Christian Jolley gets stuck into Gillingham during his AFC Wimbledon days. Picture: Barry Goodwin

So Jolley knows from experience that the new Dartford boss will have no hesitation in bringing through the youngsters if they are good enough.

“That’s one thing the gaffer is about,” said Jolley. “I’m the kid that he took on 15-odd years ago and he put me on the way to getting a career.

“He really is invested in giving youngsters an opportunity and he puts trust in them. If you can be trustworthy and can deliver on what we work on week on week, then you can execute on a matchday.

“It doesn’t matter if you are 17 or 18, or 35 and have been in the game for 15 years, he will give you the opportunity.”

Academy product Marvin Herschel has already earned himself a first-team deal, impressing during pre-season matches against Millwall and Barnet in the past week.

So is Herschel ready to make an impact in National League South this season?

“We think so,” said Jolley. “The level will determine his performances. He is young and hungry and has attributes.

“Martin Tyler is always one to say if you’ve got a 10 out of 10 quality, you’ve got a good chance. Although he’s got many qualities that still need developing, he is rapid.

“He showed the Millwall boys that are Championship-level footballers who think quicker than they move - and they move pretty quick as well - and he put clean heels to them.

“In training he has done the same to the squad so we’re really excited for him. He needs to keep his head down and develop, and enjoy these moments because against Barnet he was the star of the show.

“He’s come from nowhere to really taking to a good Barnet side and he only missed a goal.

“At the moment, he has put his name in the hat and we go again on Saturday. Can he train again on Thursday after the game on Tuesday, and can he get in the mix for Saturday and give us some thinking to do?”

Dartford are coming together nicely under Dowson with a blend of youth and experience sprinkled around familiar faces from last season’s campaign.

The latest arrival is midfielder Luke Coulson, a regular for Bromley last term who opted to drop down a level when he was surprisingly released by the Hayes Lane outfit.

He scored the opener in a 2-0 win over Barnet on Tuesday night, which followed a goalless draw at Bromley last weekend.

It’s a major coup for the Darts and Jolley believes it was a case of right time, right place.

“Sometimes it’s a timing thing, players are at stages in their life when you have an eye on what’s going to happen after football,” said the Darts assistant boss.

“If you can time the opportunity just right then you can get someone of his calibre.

“He showed two moments of real quality against Barnet, the first goal was a fantastic finish and the free-kick that hit the bar - they’re moments in a National League South game when you need someone to come up with something.

“There’s many a game where it’s a nothing game and it’s a stalemate. You need those glimpses and Luke is someone who can really create with fantastic quality at the right moments. He’s got ice blood in the key moments.

“We’re really excited, we’ve had to build him up as he joined us later in pre-season but he’s getting stronger and stronger, and is an intelligent player. We’re very fortunate to have him.”

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