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Published: 00:00, 30 May 2019
New signing Mark Smith has promised to bring a vocal presence to the Dartford goal next season.
The former Billericay and Eastbourne keeper will be the Darts’ No.1 in what he knows will be a hugely challenging National League South.
Dartford’s defenders will certainly know who’s behind them when Smith, 23, starts barking out instructions.
He said: “I pride myself on my communication, talking my team-mates through the game, being loud and being a presence.
“It’s something me and the manager spoke about and that’s a big reason why he was interested in me because I can provide that leadership from the back.
“Just by chance, I’ve always done quite well against Dartford so a lot of what they’ve seen of me is positive.
“I’ve been to Dartford quite a few times now and I’ve always enjoyed playing at the ground. I like the fanbase, how many people they get through the gates and I like the feeling around the club.
“When we sat down for a chat, we realised we were both working from the same page and it made the decision quite easy in the end.”
Smith knows the level well and is ready for the task facing Dartford in 2019/20.
“For starters, it’s going to be a very tough league,” he said. “It’s all about getting off to a good start.
“Play-offs has to be the aim for a lot of teams this year.
“It’s tough to call a winner and even the top seven is virtually impossible when you see the amount of big teams that are in there, especially the four coming down from the National League.
“But the pre-season friendlies will give us a great chance to get together. There’s a few tough challenges there so it will put us on a good path.”
Stability is also key for Smith after a campaign which didn’t exactly go to plan.
He admitted: “It was a mixed season, a bit of a rollercoaster.
“I started at Eastbourne as the No.1, played quite well, attracted interest from a couple of clubs and decided I wanted to move to Billericay in January.
“I started playing from the get-go under Dean Brennan but then he lost his job and it put me on the back foot a little bit.
“I had to work my way back in so I didn’t play for about four months. I went back on loan to Eastbourne, did quite well and had fight for my position when I got back.
“Alan Julian got sent off, I got my chance and that’s when I ended up playing at Dartford (on Easter Monday).
“I managed to keep my shirt and we just fell short of the play-offs on the last day of the season.”