Upcoming MatchSevenoaks Town vs Dartford/July 13, 2024/Greatness Park

DARTFORD FC | IN CONVERSATION WITH ADAM FLANAGAN

Last month saw Dartford host Torquay United at Bericote Powerhouse Princes Park. Adam Flanagan featured in our matchday programme that day. For those who missed that feature, here is the full article:

I distinctly remember the first time I met Adam Flanagan… He was the Dartford manager, alongside Jamie Coyle, when I begun my role as the reporter for the Darts.

I remember how warm and open he was, as we spoke in the corridor at Powerhouse Princes Park while waiting for the coach to my first away trip with the club (at Wealdstone).

Sadly, his tenure as manager didn’t work out, as we all know. But, Adam is still as warm and open as we talk over WhatsApp and email about his playing career with the Darts.

“It’s been eleven years since I left the club as a player Chris. My last game was at home against Aveley, where we drew 3-3 from memory. Having captained the team that season and winning the league, my last game saw us pick up the Championship trophy. You couldn’t really have asked for a better last game/day from a playing perspective.”

Adam then decided to hang up his boots and retire from playing the beautiful game. Yet, his career within the sport didn’t end there, as he explains…

“After I stopped playing, I went into management and my aim was always to try and get back to Dartford in some remit. I was fortunate enough to have some early success in management and, after three seasons at another National League South club (Concord Rangers), I achieved what I’d set out to do, as I came back to the club as joint manager with a fellow team mate, Jamie Coyle. Unfortunately, this stint wasn’t as successful as the playing side and, even now is still something I look back on with disappointment.”

Despite the disappointment, Adam is still a legend of Dartford football club. Afterall, the defender made 133 starting appearances and twelve substitute appearances during his three seasons. And, it all started back on the 18th of August 2007 against Maldon Town. Does he remember that day?

“I remember that we ended up drawing 2-2. I didn’t think I played particularly well that day to be honest. I was nervous at being at a new club and the set up and fan base at Dartford wasn’t similar to what I’d experienced before. I think Ollie Berquez (who I think went on to play for the Darts) scored for Maldon on the day, and they were winning. But, we came back to get a draw… that’s all I remember Chris.”

As is mentioned above, Adam went on to make 145 appearances for Dartford. With those games comes many memories obviously, but is there any specific memory that stands out for him?

“When I think of Dartford, I think of the whole experience, which I genuinely loved. Sometimes, when you are in a moment, you don’t always get to appreciate things as much as you should. But, when I was at the club, I feel that I did. I signed when I was 30 years old, so I knew that I didn’t have many seasons left to play and, more so, the opportunities to play football at a club like Dartford. I was aware of this, so I made sure I enjoyed and valued every minute that I had at the club.”

He continues, “Fortunately, I was able to help the club gain two promotions, and I won the Player’s Player of The Year Award, so in terms of football it was successful. What probably adds to my love of the club was that, at the same time, I had my children and they were able to come and watch me play. Seeing my son and daughter at games was a special feeling… walking my children on the pitch when we won both leagues are memories that will always stay with me.”

Seeing as Adam has touched on those successful promotions. I ask him what his memories are of winning the Ryman League Division North and Ryman Premier League Championship with the Darts?

“My memories are ones of pure joy and pride Chris. Sharing special moments with some great players, a top management team and backroom staff. I felt that, as a player, I played more for the people that were in the stands and behind the scenes… the people that would have loved to have played for the club, but couldn’t, so winning the two championships for them and seeing what it meant to everyone was very humbling.”

During his time, Adam obviously played in 145 games for the club. Does he have any specific favourite?

“As I said earlier Chris, I loved every moment at Dartford. But, if I was pushed to pick one game, I’d probably have said Kingstonian away when we won 6-2. The result meant that we had won the league, as they were our closest rivals at the time, and we absolutely destroyed them! It was still an age where I felt the players and fans could have a real togetherness, so I remember fans coming onto the pitch. I remember Gary Clark coming over to me, so it was a good day.”

Adam scored on fourteen occasions during his spell at Dartford. Does he have any particular favourite(s)?

“To be fair, I don’t think any of my goals were that great, as they were typical centre-half goals. The one that probably was a bit unusual from the rest though, was my goal against Harlow in the FA Cup or FA Trophy. It was a shot from distance that flew in. So, that’s probably the best one if I had to pick one.”

As Adam has already said, the Dartford team that he played with had a great group of players. However, he believes that a couple really stood out to him and were underrated by others.

“I’d say that Ryan Hayes was the best player I played alongside. I would say that he was valued within our team and at the club, but he had a period of time where I felt he was unplayable and should have gone further. In terms of players that never let the club down and who I felt always went under the radar, Tommy Osborne was one of them. He was a fantastic player, who could play in several positions and I can’t recall him having many bad games.”

And, what about those you’ve played against? “When I played, I looked at most players we played against with nothing but ill will! I never looked at them with any value, other than wanting to make sure I did my best to stop them from playing well. I had the mind-set that I’d do whatever it took for us to win.”

I admire this mind-set in players, as winning is the name of the game. A “win at all costs” attitude is a positive attitude to have, particularly if you’re a defender. And, as our discussion draws to a close, I ask Adam one final question…

Do you still follow Dartford’s results? “I love Dartford Chris. So, of course I look out for the results. I would message Kingy on occasions when he took over, and I still speak to Dowse via messenger from time to time, offering support and from a place of wanting the managers and the club to do well.”

And now for something completely different to finish with… I asked Adam which five players (that he’s played alongside/against) he’d pick if he was involved in a five-a-side tournament. This is what he said…

“My team would consist of Cody McDonald (unattached), Lee Noble (retired) Elliott Bradbrook (retired), “Ryan Hayes (Phoenix Sports), and Paul Lorraine (unattached).”

By Chris Palmer