MY MOST MEMORABLE SEASON – Adam Morrish

    Adam Morrish

    Adam Morrish played for Dartford from 1998-1999 to 2002-2003. He made 96 starts, scoring 21goals.

    What was your most memorable season in a Dartford shirt?

    That’s a tough one, but I would have to say the 2011 – 2012 season. If I recall correctly, we finished 8th that season and also finished as the highest placed Kent club in the league. I also think it was the season where I played under three different managers?

    Why does this season stand out for you?

    For me it was the season where I played my best football and remained relatively healthy on the injury front. Having my brother as captain that season at a club we grew up watching as kids was and remains a proud moment for our family. It was also the season where I feel I evolved most as a player in my career. Quite early in the season I switched from playing as a striker to holding midfield, and I really felt that positon complimented my strengths and style of play. I finished the season as the Manager’s and Player’s player of the year which is an enormous honour to be presented with, especially at a club with the history of Dartford FC.

    Was there a specific game that stood out for you that season and why?

    I think this game was the same season, but it was against Erith & Belvedere at Park View Road. The first half was somewhat uneventful, but the second half we played some fantastic football and I think we ended up winning 4-2 or 5-2. The game stands out for me as I played a major part in all goals and dominated the midfield against some really good players. I still remember one of their players approaching me after the game to tell me that their manager changed their formation and playing personnel to stop me. So for me, that was a huge compliment which has always stayed with me.

    The manager that season was? What was it like working under them?

    If I recall the season started with Gary Julians, then Tony Burnham took over as caretaker manager before Tommy Sampson was appointed on a permanent basis. Each were different, Gary brought me to the club and believed in my ability as a player when my confidence was low after leaving Southend United. I absolutely loved playing for Tony, I wanted him to take the role permanently. He really believed in me and was great around the players, brought a real togetherness. Tony gave me a free role when I played under him which enabled me the freedom to impact the games in different areas. Under Tommy I don’t remember how it came about but I found myself playing holding midfield and really dictating games. I really enjoyed my football under Tommy, his style of management was very different and didn’t sit well with me at times, but we finished the season strong and in a good position.

    Dartford’s standout player that season?

    We had some strong players that season, my brother Luke was always consistent and never dropped a performance below a 7. Danny Evans and Tom Adlington again had great seasons and picked up support’s player of the year awards. In terms of natural talent, Richard Usherwood broke on the scene, he was raw but had blistering pace (Unfortunately something I was never blessed with) and could win you a game on his own. Those players stand out for me for that season.

    Why do you think we did so well that season?

    We started the season terribly, I think we were near the bottom of the table. Our results started picking up towards the end of the season and we went on a good unbeaten run. The team had a good mix of youth and experience and was quite diverse, but it worked. We also had a really good team spirit and had that social side of things where we all got on. We tried to play good football and we all had each other’s back on and off the pitch.

    Favourite goal that season?

    I can’t actually remember any of my goals from that season (If any). I don’t know why, but I’ve always got a bigger kick out of providing an assist to my team mates than scoring a goal myself. Throughout my career, I’ve always played for my team mates to help make them the best they can be.

    Do you still keep in touch with any of the team from that season?

    I obviously still see my brother Luke, I played for Danny Evans a few years later when he took over as manager of Slade Green. Paul McCarthy still blows up my facebook timelines all the way from New Zealand.

    Season Review 2001/02

    A packed pre-season campaign of eight matches was supposed to give the Darts the ideal start, but in truth, the pre-season was an unmitigated disaster. A solitary draw away at Lordswood was the only joy as the Darts lost the remaining seven, only scoring in two matches.

    The season began in much the same manner, losing at home to Stamford in the opener, relying on an own goal to net for the home team. However, a goal-less draw away at Rugby United in the first midweek got the points tally off the mark, even if a defeat the following Saturday set the progress back. However, this did spark a revival with three back to back wins, including a gutsy win away at Grantham Town. Grantham had started the season in sparkling form, and took the attack to Dartford for 89 minutes of the match, only letting their guard down after the break when Adam Morrish scored within moments of the re-start.

    However, only three days later, the Darts lost to Eastbourne Borough in a match that was played in one of the strangest atmospheres, as it was the evening following the September 11th atrocities in the United States. A narrow 2-1 defeat was the result, but there couldn’t have been too many people who had wanted to be at Stonebridge Road that evening.

    A draw at home to Deal Town in the FA Cup meant a midweek sojourn to the coast, where the Darts came out 3-0 winners. Two further league defeats followed the cup victory, and led into an away trip to Croydon Athletic in the next round. A 2-2 draw meant a further cup replay, and on this occasion, the Darts were, again, successful and a 4-2 victory sealed a lucrative home tie against landlords Gravesend & Northfleet.

    It’s often said that league form can be buoyed by a cup run, and this was certainly the case as the Darts won their following two league games, both at home and both by three goals to one. The build up for the big match was huge, and the attendance matched this. A delayed kick off helped to accommodate the crowd of 1,270 for the defeat by the Fleet. A financially lucrative cup run had ended but the Darts came out winners in their next match, winning away at Burnham. In what was a strange twist, the Burnham match also had a delayed kick off (surely, the first time in the club’s history that two matches in a row had been the subject of delayed kick offs). However, with a crowd of 122, this was not due to crowd congestion, but due to the partial collapse of one of the goal areas.

    However, following the cup run, it seemed the adrenalin had run out and the Darts went on a six match run of defeats, including three on the spin without scoring. The final of these matches was a dismal 3-0 defeat against Sittingbourne at Stonebridge Road, and the writing was on the wall. Although the next match at St Leonards was won 4-2, Gary Julians parted from the club following this match. Tony Burman came in on an interim basis. His first match was a 4-1 defeat at Banbury United, but TB got his first victory three days later with a 2-1 victory over Whitstable Town in the Kent Senior Cup.

    A creditable draw at Spalding United followed with an extraordinary win at Stonebridge Road, as the Darts came out 5-4 winners over Burnham. By this time, the managerial candidates had put their names in the hat for the Dartford job, and former Dart, Tommy Sampson came in to take the job in December. As starts go, back to back away matches at Stamford and Rothwell Town were about as tough as they came, and the Darts were narrowly defeated in both matches. However, the final match of 2001 ended with a 1-0 victory over Bashley.

    The new year started off with a whimper as opposed to a bang with three straight defeats, but this run of form was arrested with a 0-0 draw at Fisher Athletic, followed up by three straight wins, including crucial away victories at Chatham and Erith & Belvedere which helped to move the club up the table. Only a Kent Senior Cup defeat at Gravesend & Northfleet stopped the winning run, but following a further victory at home to Chatham, the club suffered back to back away defeats.

    A new lease of life had penetrated into the team though, and following a home draw with Banbury United, the team won three in a row again, beating Corby Town and Sittingbourne without conceding, and then edging out Tonbridge Angels in a 3-2 thriller. The run in to the end of the season was upon the team and only two defeats in the last six games helped the team to eighth place in the league, especially following a final flourish, winning the last three matches.