Dowson's Darts Aim To Take Flight With The Big Boys Again

If there’s one man well placed to cast his eye over the up-coming Vanarama National League South season, it’s probably Alan Dowson.

He’s spent seven of the past nine years managing in a division he knows is about to get even more demanding.

A year on from his appointment at Dartford he was reminded of the league’s cut-throat nature when his side were done for on play-off penalties for the third time in four years.

Now full-timers Yeovil Town and Torquay United - not forgetting 2022 champions Maidstone - have joined the party. Everyone is understandably already talking things up.

But Dowson isn’t so sure the the big clubs will have it all their own way.

He told us: “I think it’s going to be a very tough season, but is this the toughest the league has ever been? I don’t know.

“There’s more full-time clubs than ever and players are on the whole probably earning more at this level, but how much does that actually tell you?

“Paying good money doesn’t make for better players. Bigger stands doesn’t mean better footballers, or better results. You’ve got to have a lot about you and yes money does talk sometimes but it’s not just the fancied sides who always go on to really achieve.”

Dowson says Dartford still have “probably a middle of the road” budget but that shouldn’t worry their supporters.

The former Woking and Hampton & RB manager is used to not being at the right end of the finance table and has a promise for the club’s fans.

Despite Tom Bonner’s retirement and influential Samir Carruthers switching to Chelmsford City, he sees no reason why that will hold them back.

“I think come the first game of the season we’re going to be a stronger team than we were last year,” he said.

“That doesn’t mean we won’t miss the players who aren’t with us, we will - we’ve lost some top talent, but it’s always about what happens next.

“People will write us off, but the same people will get a shock.”

The likeable Geordie says he is not going to run to the board with a begging bowl demanding they start to match the division’s more flush clubs.

“That’s just not something I will ever do,” he went on.

“You’ve got to remember what happened here before, the club found itself in a terrible place and it can’t go back to the dark days again by taking risks.

“We’re not allowed to get into debt so we spend what we can afford. I’ve got to cut my cloth and find players who will do what we need them to for the right price. It’s that simple here.

“I’m happy with how we’re looking but I still need a few players, I think most managers will say the same before July.”

But it’s not been a stress free summer.

Assistant manager Martin Tyler is leaving Sky Sports and Dowson says there’s trouble ahead.

“He now has more time to be a pain in the a***!” he joked.

“He’s now going to be sitting in my office seven days a week instead of two but in all seriousness we love him - he’s a brilliant football man and everyone knows what he brings.

“We’re looking forward to seeing what the new season brings. It’s going to be a league everyone is talking about.”

Where next?

Friendly Round-Up As Preparations Crank Up A Notch National League clubs are back in the groove as pre-season preparations went up a notch over the weekend.
Vanarama National League Ones To Watch: Part Six The new season is inching closer and our sides are adding to their squads.