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Ryan Hayes on his decision to leave Dartford FC for Concord Rangers

By Steve Tervet

Ryan Hayes was so emotional when he told Tony Burman he was leaving Dartford that he had to hang up the phone.

The winger called time on 13 eventful years with the Darts last weekend and has signed a two-year contract at Concord Rangers.

Mercurial Hayes was Burman's greatest source of frustration but also produced a catalogue of champagne moments.

Ryan Hayes has left Dartford after 13 years Picture: Andy Payton
Ryan Hayes has left Dartford after 13 years Picture: Andy Payton

And when Burman decided his time at Princes Park was up, Hayes followed suit.

"Tone going had a lot to do with my decision," he said. "He always said that if he was there, I'd be there but he went and it didn't feel the same.

"I wouldn't want to play for anyone at Dartford other than him and I told him that. We spoke on Sunday and we had to put the phone down because I was crying my eyes out.

"My little girl had never seen me cry before.

"It was stuff he couldn't tell me while he was my manager because he didn't want to get me too high. He was telling me what he thought of me and it broke me to be fair.

"The missus said 'why are you crying?' and I said 'for 13 years I wanted him to tell me what he's just told me.'"

Ryan Hayes with his wife Leia and children Madison and Freddie Picture: Steve Crispe
Ryan Hayes with his wife Leia and children Madison and Freddie Picture: Steve Crispe

Messages of appreciation flooded in from Darts players and supporters and one in particular got Hayes going.

Elliot Bradbrook, who is also set to leave the club this summer, wrote: "We are all in your debt Ryan. You were always the one who could do what the rest of us couldn’t. Thank you."

Hayes said: "I got home and read the tweets. I was fine, I got myself together but then I read Elliot's tweet and it broke me. It still upsets me every time I look at it.

"To see one of your best mates and captain tweet that, it was hard to take.

"All the boys texted me and it was overwhelming."

He scored 108 goals in 580 appearances for Dartford but Hayes will be remembered for his moments of magic more than any statistic.

Ryan Hayes turns away from his marker Picture: Andy Payton
Ryan Hayes turns away from his marker Picture: Andy Payton

The sight of him cutting in from the right and bending a shot into the far corner was pure art and no matter how much they scouted Hayes, opposing left-backs couldn't stop him.

Hayes said: "I'm a player but I'm also a fan. I hated it when Dartford lost. Some boys might just have gone out Saturday night but it affected my whole weekend.

"It hurt every time I lost. I was at Dartford for so long and I did become a fan. I wanted us to win every game and I wanted us to do well.

"The first year in the Conference was unbelievable. I met up with Marcus (Bettinelli) the other week, he's played in the Championship and he said it's still one of the best experiences of his life.

"Everyone doubted us but we finished eighth and it was a great season. I think we should be proud as a team and as a club that we did that.

"Hopefully one day they can do it again."

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