Samir Carruthers is only interested in looking forward after last season’s play-off heartache.
The Dartford midfielder was a late addition to former manager Steve King’s squad, but he proved an influential figure and was left deflated by their penalty shoot-out exit to Chippenham.
He’s back at Princes Park again this season, with a new manager in Alan Dowson at the helm and a new outlook.
“It was disappointing how it ended for all the players, especially with the end of the season that we had when we scored so many goals,” said Carruthers, pointing out Darts had scored 13 goals in their last two away games.
“It felt like it was the worst night for us because the performance levels we’d shown since I was here to the performance levels in that play-off game wasn’t there.
“It was disappointing and obviously losing on penalties is the worst way, really. But that’s part of football, you’ve just got to get up and go again.
“Some of us stayed and played in the Kent Senior Cup final. Even though you don’t get over it, you want to finish on a bit of a high which we did.
“Me, Tom Bonner, Connor Essam and a few others played in that final.
“It’s at the back of your mind so you want to go out this season, work hard and obviously look to get promoted.”
It’s a fresh start for Dartford under Dowson, who has already proved a popular character among the dressing room.
The former Kingstonian, Hampton and Woking boss has had success everywhere he’s gone and Carruthers expects a successful campaign.
“You’ve just got to start again,” said Carruthers. “It’s a new manager with new ideas.
“You’ve got to trust him in what he says, do what he says and if everything goes the way he wants it to and we perform on the pitch then it will be fine.
“He’s had a good record in these leagues. From what I’ve seen so far, we’ll be fine.
“We’ve got a lot of games from now until then so I’ve got to stay fit, keep working hard and performing well to get to the highest level that I can be.”
Dowson felt Carruthers stood out in Dartford’s pre-season opener against Charlton on Saturday.
He described the midfielder as “one of the best in the league” - if the Darts can get Carruthers playing to his maximum.
“It’s nice to hear, obviously,” responded 29-year-old Carruthers, who has played for MK Dons and Sheffield United.
“I know my levels and my standards and if I don’t go out there and try to be the best player every game then I’m not happy with myself.
“Because I’ve played in higher leagues, in my head I think I should be pushing on again but I can only do what’s in front of me so I have to go out there and perform every game.
“My aspiration now is to play for Dartford, win for Dartford and do as well as I possibly can for Dartford. Whatever happens is not in my control. For now, the only thing I am looking at is the next game and making sure we do well in that.”
Carruthers knows there will be more additions to the squad at Princes Park, and he’s only concerned about players at Dartford instead of worrying what business their rivals do this summer.
“We can’t look at other clubs, we can only focus on ourselves,” he insisted.
“I’ve seen clubs in this league bringing in numerous players but sometimes that can be bad for a club. If there’s too many players and they’re not playing then it can cause a friction in the team.
“But it’s early in pre-season, I’m sure the manager has got his ideas on who he wants to bring in.
“Whoever comes in we will welcome with open arms and we’ll make them feel comfortable and fit in with the team.
"The boys welcomed me well last year and I want to do the same for them.”