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Dartford manager Ady Pennock jokes meeting potential transfer targets have enabled him to get a lot of free drinks at Costa Coffee; Denzelle Olopade and Jacob Marsden sign while midfielder Samir Carruthers is set to return

Boss Ady Pennock has joked how meetings with potential Dartford transfer targets have enabled him to get a lot of free drinks at Costa Coffee.

Pennock is preparing to form a Darts’ squad this summer to challenge for a swift return to National League South football after 2023/24 relegation.

Jordan Wynter - has turned down the chance to stay at Dartford after more than five years with the club, making nearly 200 appearances. Picture: Keith Gillard
Jordan Wynter - has turned down the chance to stay at Dartford after more than five years with the club, making nearly 200 appearances. Picture: Keith Gillard

Some experienced Dartford players have already moved on as Pennock puts his own stamp on the squad he inherited in early March.

He said: “My Costa card is going through the roof!

“It’s lucky that I have got the card because I’m getting a lot of free drinks with the amount of meetings that I have been having.

“It’s been up and down the motorway, here, there and everywhere, but it’s good.

“I’ve met them at the stadium - and a lot of Costa’s and Starbucks’ - it’s been a very busy time for me.

Dartford manager Ady Pennock. Picture: Steve Terrell
Dartford manager Ady Pennock. Picture: Steve Terrell

“But we have got to get it right. Recruitment at this time of year is so important.”

While Pennock knows Dartford will not have the biggest budget in the division, he thinks the club’s facilities and fanbase will help sell the club to prospective summer signings.

But with rivals Folkestone, Cray Wanderers and Cray Valley, as well as nearby Billericay and Dulwich also set to be in the division for 2024/25, that could be easier said than done at times.

“We have got to compete,” noted Pennock, who has signed former Ramsgate midfielder Denzelle Olopade and goalkeeper Jacob Marsden this week while playmaker Samir Carruthers is also set to return.

“If you look at the financial side, there’s some big clubs and some bigger budgets than ours.

“There’s a lot of money in the league and a few surprises. Certain teams maybe didn’t have it last year or in the last few years but there’s a lot of money being thrown around.

“We just try to do things properly at Dartford. There’s nothing under the table, everything is above board, and we do it right.

“Also, if you look at the stadium, the facilities and the supporters we have got, that allows me to sell the club, as well.

“It’ll be, arguably, the best stadium and with the best supporters in the league so everyone will want to come here.

“Selling Dartford Football Club is easy. But we have to be realistic that money matters, as well, to individuals.

“People have got families and it’s hard out there for families and individuals. But we will get there.

“I’m not in any rush to get anyone. It’s tough but I’m enjoying it.”

Pennock has vowed to do plenty of research before bringing any players in at Princes Park.

He said: “Anyone who does come in, I’ll do a lot of homework on them, watching videos and phone a lot of people.

“I don’t just get one or two references. They need to be the right characters that come in.

“I’m not always going to get it right. Every manager in every league in the world, they will say that they don’t always get it right.

“But I’ve done a lot of work on the ones that are going to come in.”

Pennock also commented on the departures of winger Brandon Barzey and utility player Jordan Wynter, the latter having made nearly 200 club appearances, with both turning down new contracts. Barzey has since signed for National League South outfit Hemel.

“I’m a little bit disappointed but you have got to respect their decision,” said Pennock. “They want to stay at a higher level for more money.

“They have been offered more money than they were even on last year, so you’ve got to respect their decision. They have been two good players for the club, especially Wynts.

“He has been at the club for a long time and we do wish him all the best. With Barz, he hasn’t played as many games as we would have wanted.

“Obviously, I wanted both of those players to stay, but I respect them so much and wish them all the best for the future.”

On X, Wynter wrote: “Thank you to all the supporters, staff and players I’ve crossed paths with during my six years at Dartford.

“A club that helped me grow as a player and person, allowing me to feel at home from day one, (you have given me) memories through the highs and lows, (which) will be cherished forever.

“To put on the shirt and gain 191 appearances was a true honour and an achievement I’m extremely proud of.

“I genuinely wish the club the best for the future and know they will get back to competing where they belong. Thank you.”

The Darts have confirmed away pre-season friendlies against Isthmian South East outfits Sevenoaks (July 13) and Margate (July 16).

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