Sunday, 24 June 2012


Now that England are out of Euro 2012, it's high time we turned our attentions to the new domestic football season. For Dartford, that represents a crack at non-league's top division following their victory over Kent neighbours Welling United in May's Blue Square Bet South play-off final.

I decided to get the close-season thoughts of Darts defender Tom Champion, who has only recently hit the tweet trail.

First up, you're new to the Twitter party. What (or who) persuaded you to get involved?

I just started to feel like a grandad who couldn't get a grasp on technology so I had to take the plunge!

It's been a little while now since your play-off win over Welling. What memories stand out for you from that day?

The dry mouth after five minutes! The goal from Lee Noble and the unbelievable celebrations at the final whistle!

Where does your medal live?

It's in the trophy cabinet now but it lived round my neck for about a week after the final! I even wore it on Ryan Hayes' stag-do!

What is the ultimate pre-game food?

Scrambled eggs and beans on toast is what I go for. And a giant coffee before the game has become religion!

What's your earliest memory of football?

Playing in the local park with my older brother wearing a full Tottenham kit with 'Barmby' on the back!

If you took over from Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, what's the first thing you would change?

Goal line technology would have come in a long time ago and Qatar wouldn't have had a sniff at the 2022 World Cup!

Who are your best friends in football?

So many good friends in football. Really close with Matt Jones and Paul Goodacre (together we're the tripod), Greg Pearson (Burton Albion), Elliot Bradbrook, Lee Burns, Tom Bonner and Ryan Hayes (Darftord), Ben Bowditch (ex-Bishop's Stortford) and Max Porter (Newport).

And the best players you've played with and against?

Best players played with: Ashley Young, Steve Morison (Norwich), Nicky Bailey (Middlesbrough), Danny Green (Charlton). Best players played against: played Spurs in pre-season a few years back - they had Aaron Lennon, Jermaine Jenas and Tom Huddlestone but best of all was Danny Murphy. He was like the puppeteer pulling the strings! Ran the show!

If footballers were given end of season reports, what would yours say?

My report would say.. he's a great spoiler! Good at breaking up the game and passing simple but needs to get over the halfway line! And loves a yellow card!

What sort of pre-season training regime do you think Tony Burman has in store for you?

I think Tony is planning to step up the pre-season after promotion, so can't wait to be running up and down the golf course next to our ground. He loves a box-to-box too but I think the fitness manual might have turned a page this year!

What's the best game you've played in?

I played for England U18 Schoolboys vs Rest Of The World at Villa Park. Amazing atmosphere and I'll never forget singing the National Anthem. But winning the play-off final v Welling to get promotion after a long, hard season was probably the best feeling I've had after a game.

A couple of team-mate questions. Who's the best dressed... and who has the dodgiest clobber?

Best dressed - I'll have to go with the skipper, Elliot Bradbrook, but there's not much quality clobber in that dressing room. Worst dressed - he's not at Dartford any more but Adam Burchell had some serious issues with clothing.

What are your expectations of Blue Square Bet Premier? And who are you most looking forward to playing?

It's obviously going to be a lot more difficult in the BSP and we have to get used to the idea of winning less games than we did last year. But I think we can still cause teams problems and we have to aim as high as we can. Realistically, we will be pleased if we manage to stay above the bottom few teams and stay in the BSP for the next season. Most looking forward to Luton away - they're a big club and it'll be great to go there in front of a big crowd and compete with them.

Tell us something we wouldn't know about the gaffer.

When the gaffer gets over-excited, his voice breaks to the pitch of a 12-year-old girl! It comes from nowhere, mid-sentence. It's hilarious. I could be in trouble on that one...

How hot do you have your chicken at Nando's?

I have my chicken lemon & herb at Nando's and I'm embarrassed about that. I can't do spicy food unless I've got a bucket of yoghurt close to hand.

What did you make of Harry Redknapp leaving Spurs?

Very shocked that Redknapp has gone but it all comes down to who his replacement is! If we get a big manager in quickly and hold onto our big players then I won't be too fussed about Harry!

Finally, what does the future hold for Dartford Football Club?

I thinks it's going to be really important for Dartford to hang onto our BSP status at the end of this season. If we achieve that then I honestly think as a club they have everything in place to kick on and make it into the Football League eventually. It's such a good set-up there and the club is run very sensibly so they won't try to grow too quickly by throwing silly money around. But steadily we can keep progressing and the ultimate aim has to be to become a League club in years to come. A lot of that will depend on if we can survive our first year in BSP.

You can follow @TomChamps on Twitter

Friday, 1 June 2012


I don't think I'm going to get tired of doing these twinterviews. Every player I speak to has a different perspective on the Beautiful Game and their varied careers throw up some fascinating stories.

Gary MacDonald was someone I saw play many times, as a fixture in one of the better Woking defences of recent times. But his impact on non-league football has been felt further afield, including an FA Trophy winners' medal with Ebbsfleet United, promotion with Hayes & Yeading and a couple of spells at Havant & Waterlooville.

A young professional at Peterborough United earlier in his career, Macca has most recently been seen sporting the famous red and white hoops of Kingstonian. He may be a relative newcomer to Twitter - but he is all over the hashtags.

What's your earliest memory of football?

I have a photo of me when I was two, kicking potatoes around the kitchen floor.

Love it. Who were your heroes growing up?

Football heroes were Gazza, Tony Adams and King Kenny [Dalglish]. My mum's my real hero though! !

A significant part of your career was spent at Woking. How do you look back on your time at Kingfield?

Woking, what a club! One of the happiest times of my career. Great club, great fans, great lads..... Oh and KC Cat!

Any particular memories stand out from your four years there?

Three, really. FA Trophy Final Goal against Stevenage at home and the winner against Accrington!

The Accrington game sticks in my mind too. Wasn't that the goal that kept you in the play-off picture?

Yeah, it was 1-1 in injury time, we both still had a chance of making the play-offs but a draw was no good! Ian Selley put it on my head.

You played on both sides of the Woking-Stevenage divide... How did you find that rivalry? And the Aldershot derbies?

I left Stevenage under a bit of a cloud, not on good terms with the manager, Mr Westley, but I got straight into it at Woking. Whenever I played against Stevenage, I always had a bit of a point to prove and luckily I always played well. I loved the rivalry between Woking and Stevenage and loved the atmosphere at both stadiums. It was good to score against them! The derbies were great too, although the last one I played in I got sent off away at Aldershot !

You were in a pretty solid back four with the likes of Smith, Boardman, Oliver. How strong was that unit?

Yeah, that was a great back four. We were in the top-five in the Conference defensively at the time. Great lads off the pitch too!

You mentioned the Trophy final... You played in two with differing results. Memories of those two days?

The first one I started in and it was at Upton Park in front of 20,000 or so. We lost and that's the worst feeling ever! The second, I was coming back from injury and came off the bench when we were 1-0 up ! Lol. This one was a bit different, Wembley over 40,000 and we won! !

MyFootballClub had taken over Ebbsfleet shortly before the 2008 final. As players, did you take an interest in that?

Not really. No manager is going to let anyone pick a team over the internet, least of all Liam Daish!

Would it be fair to say your Fleet debut didn't exactly go as planned?

Errr yep! New club, first game, skipper, 1-0 up, 70 minutes gone and then SNAP! ! I always joked with the lads that we were joint-top of the league before I got injured !!! Lol.

Who are your best friends in football?

Over 16 years you meet some great lads and all of then you'd happily have a beer with as if it were yesterday that you played together. But only a handful will be regular mates that you holiday with families etc, mine, Ian Selley, Jon Boardman, Matt Gill.

And the best players you've played with and against?

Played with..... Matt Gill, Micky Nelson, Jimmy Bullard, Tom Williams and the ledge that is Ian Selley. Played against: Rio and Les Ferdinand, Paulo di Canio, Freddie Kanoute, John Barnes, Michael Carrick, Joe Cole, Martin Tyler lol.

What's the toughest ground you've been to as an away player?

Morecambe was always horrible: long journey, always windy, bit of a slope and always got beat! Good side.

That's how I remember it too! Later in your career you moved to Havant and Bognor. Good times on the south coast?

I went to Bognor for a month or so to get fit after leaving Ebbsfleet, so it just served a purpose really. I left Bognor and joined Hayes & Yeading where we got promoted back to the Conference. By this time I had a 'real job', couldn't commit to the travelling with a 'real job' so stayed in the Conf South and went back to Havant. Great club though, Havant, they'll always be a favourite!

But the saying rang true?

The club had different backroom staff that I didn't get on with towards the end. Love the club and love the supporters though!

You mentioned Martin Tyler, one of your coaches at Kingstonian. Tell us something we wouldn't know about The Voice Of Football.

Oooh I couldn't do that! It always makes me chuckle when he swears though, because obviously you can't do that on telly !

Does he get involved with the five-a-sides?

Yeah - if one team is dominating the game, the gaffa will give that team Martin to even it up! Lol !

Excellent stuff. Two of my old colleagues wouldn't believe MT is a huge Woking fan, so can you set them straight?

Massive Woking fan!

How hot do you have your chicken at Nando's?

Medium. Whole chicken with sweet potato mash !

Of all your past and present team-mates, who is/was... the fastest... the hard man... the joker... the biggest moaner?

Fastest..... Jefferson Louis, joker.... Jimmy Bullard, moaner would have to be me and hard man..... err..... Neil Smith.

Are you coming down with Olympic fever yet?

Sorry to be boring but it doesn't interest me one bit. Don't know why??

Who's the best manager you've worked for and why?

Wow what a question! All have been great for different reasons, and I'd play for all of them again.

Not boring at all. But I'll put it this way... How do they compare in terms of their approach and characteristics?

Well, on one end of the scale you've got the enthusiasm and passion of Barry Fry and at the other, the calm, collected approach of Garry Haylock.

Finally, what does the future hold and what motivates you these days? How many more seasons have you got in the tank?

I want to play until my legs won't carry me anymore! I'll have plenty of time to rest after that! I'd love to stay in the game in some capacity, management later on, but I reckon there's still life in these old legs yet!

You can follow @GaryMacDonald6 on Twitter