Marcus Bettinelli played for Dartford during the 2012/13 season after arriving on loan from Fulham. He made 42 starting appearances keeping 13 clean sheets.
You arrived at Dartford on loan from Fulham. Were you happy to drop down into Non-league football to get first team experience?
Yeah absolutely. To be honest it wasn’t a case of me dropping down it was more of a case of a step up for me. It was a big risk from Tony to take me on board knowing I hadn’t played in the league before and it was a gamble for him so it was a massive chance for me and I knew it was a big step in my career and really glad he gave me my first opportunity in mens football.
It was a good season for Dartford as we finished 8th and best part time team. Why do you think we did so well that season?
Yeah it was a great season. I think when I first came in I knew it was going to be a relegation battle kind of season as we were around the bottom when I joined and I remember thinking for me that’s great because i’ll probably get quite a few shots and have a lot to do in the games and then we just started winning games and going on little runs here and there and we was really good at home that season and I think it was one of the big reasons we did so well and finished where we did. A lot of teams came to Princes Park thinking these boys are part time and we are full time so we should win comfortably but the boys that season just had a underdog attitude and never give up mentality and it took us a long way
You kept 13 clean sheets that season. Were you happy with your spell at Dartford? Was there a game that stood out for you?
Yeah I was over the moon to be honest. I loved every second of it. I probably didn’t think I was going to enjoy it as much as I did but I think because we were doing so well as a team the feeling in the dressing room was great. But coming in as a young lad like I was I had brilliant team mates who recognised that I was young and really got around me and protected me during them games which was a pleasure to play behind. We had a great back 4 that year especially Tom Bonner who was brilliant to play with who I knew every game would put his body on the line but it wasn’t just him it was the whole team willing to do that which helped so much to our success.
I will always remember Luton away. Was by far the biggest and largest crowd I had played in front of and at the time Luton was going for promotion and some big money players and I knew it was going to be a tough game and we won 1-0 and made a good few saves that game and I just remember celebrating with the Dartford fans at the end and even a few Luton fans clapped us off as they could see how much we wanted it and it was a game i’ll never forget.
Tony Burman was the manager that season. What was it like playing for Tony?
Yeah it was brilliant. Like I said I owe him a lot for taking a gamble on me and giving me a chance which other managers might of said no as I had zero experience. I remember meeting him the Friday at Princes Park and walking around the stadium and just remember thinking he seems like he really cares and that made me feel really comfortable. John Macrae the goalkeeping coach at the time was a huge help as well. The way he prepared me for games and the advice and confidence he game me was second to none and i’ll always remember John for really helping me that season.
Who would you say was Dartford’s standout player that season?
I think its a really tough one that. I could literally name most of the team to be honest. You had a lot of boys who worked so hard and did stuff off the ball which went unnoticed a lot of the time like Bradders (Elliot Bradbrook) and Champs (Tom Champion) and Nobes (Lee Noble) and that was key to us winning games but if i had to pick one i would say that year was Ryan Hayes. He scored some great goals that season cutting in on his left foot and game after game putting it top corner. And i knew if he got it one v one around there box he was going to create something so I think Hayes that year was brilliant
Do you still keep in touch with any of the team from that season?
Yeah I was meant to be involved in Elliot’s testimonial this season but sadly it didn’t happen and have seen Hayesy a few times as well over the years so try and keep in touch with a few of them.
After returning to Fulham you were sent out on loan to Accrington but in 2015 you got an England U21 cap. Do you feel your loan spells had helped in your development as a Goalkeeper?
Yeah massively. I think without my loans I wouldn’t have got to where I am today. They taught me so much as a young goalkeeper mentally and physically and I always say to the young boys at Fulham now get yourself out on loan asap as it was the best thing for me.
You broke into the Fulham first team in the 2014-15 season and have been in and around the first team ever since. Are you happy with how your career has gone so far? What have been the highlights so far?
Yeah I have been really happy at Fulham. I have had a few really bad injuries which has really stunted my career at times but I think overall I can be proud of what I have achieved so far.
I think my highlights so far have defo been winning playoff final at Wembley. Probably my best day in football by far. Something I won’t forget making my family proud that day and I actually had a lot of Dartford fans and players text me and tweet me the day of the game which was lovely. And of course being called up for England first team was something I never thought would happen so when it did it was another really proud moment for me.
What are your hopes for the future at Fulham?
Hopes are to hopefully get back to the Premier League with Fulham and get back into the England team. Was great to do it once and would love to do it again
Have you been back to Dartford since you played for us?
Yeah been back a few times. To watch the boys play but I love Princes Park. Great stadium with so many good memories and such great fans so looking forward to coming back there soon.
Full review of the 2012/13 season coming soon.