We profile Barnet's opponents on Bank Holiday Monday, Dartford

Dartford forward Harry Crawford during his Barnet stay. Picture: John MacDonald-Fulton

Dartford forward Harry Crawford during his Barnet stay. Picture: John MacDonald-Fulton

First published in Sport by

The Dartford story has been a remarkable one and if club legend Tony Burman oversees a successful attempt to avoid the drop this season, the story will have reached a new peak.

Handed a reprieve from relegation last season following Salisbury City’s demotion due to financial irregularities, Burman has a tough task on his hands as he bids to keep the Darts in the Conference for a fourth consecutive season.

A former player at the club – boasting 158 goals in 488 appearances – Burman has been instrumental in the club’s resurrection after going bust in 1992.

Having joined the Kent League in 1993 as a phoenix club, the Darts’ have enjoyed a staggering rise in the 21 years since, moving back to the borough in 2006 following the construction of their present-day home at Princes Park.

The story really picked up pace in 2008, when the club reached the Ryman Premier Division after winning Division One North.

It took the Darts just two seasons to exit the Ryman Premier, winning the title in 2010 before securing a third promotion in 2012 by finishing as runners-up in the Conference South, securing promotion via the play-offs.

Sixth in their first season in the top-tier of non-league football, the 2013/14 season was something of a reality check.

Burman been proactive in the transfer market; bringing in several experienced heads to supplement his youthful squad.

In goal, Jason Brown is former Welsh international and has graced the Premier League with Blackburn Rovers.

Still only 32, the former Gillingham gloveman established himself as one of the best keepers outside the top-flight, before moving to Ewood Park in 2006.

Unable to dislodge Brad Friedel in five years with the Lancashire outfit, Brown made just six Premier League starts before moving to the SPL and Aberdeen. After 28 appearances in two seasons at Pittdorie, Brown returned to England.

A short stint with Ipswich Town didn’t work out and nor did a brief stay with last season’s Conference play-off winners, Cambridge United.

Signed by Sutton United, the Southwark-born stopper finally got some playing time with the Conference South outfit before moving to Princes Park this summer.

In midfield, Peter Sweeney is another who brings bags of Football League experience to Kent, after dropping into the non-league game for the first time this summer.

A one-time Scotland ‘B’ cap, the 29-year-old signed after being released by AFC Wimbledon and can play in the centre of midfield or out on the left-hand flank.

Sweeney counts Millwall, Stoke City and Leeds United amongst his former employers but, like Brown, has found regular action harder to come by in recent years.

One name which will be known to Bees’ fans is Harry Crawford. The 22-year-old returned to the club where he made his name this summer after a year-and-a-half at The Hive.

Initially signed on loan from the Darts after netting 13 times in 17 starts for the club, Crawford could never establish himself as a regular with Barnet, scoring three goals 49 outings – the vast majority of which came from the bench.

Winless after four, the Darts have picked up draws against Woking (1-1) and Torquay United (0-0) but been beaten by Wrexham (2-1) and Kidderminster Harriers (1-0), leaving them 20th in the table after four games.

Probable Dartford line-up: Brown; Collier, Mitchel-King, E.Bradbrook, Green; Hayes, Sweeney, McAuley, Cornhill; T.Bradbrook, Pugh.

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