MY MOST MEMORABLE SEASON – MARTIN BINKS

    One of Dartford’s Wembley heroes, Martin played for Dartford between 1973-1974 and 1974-1975.

    He played 65 games, scoring 2 goals.

    What is your most memorable season in a Dartford shirt?

    1973-74 was fantastic playing I think 41 out of 42 league games and all of the F A Trophy games. A wonderful season.

    Why does this season stand out for you?

    It was the best season because of what we achieved- winning the league by a mile and playing at Wembley.

    The manager that season was Ernie Morgan. What was it like working under Ernie?

    Ernie was a fantastic manager and a lovely man (even though he was always nicking cigarettes off me )

    Who would you say was Dartford’s standout player that season?

    Difficult that one – probably Graham Carr shading it from Les Burns and Danny Light

    Why do you think we did so well that season?

    I was one of the new players but we all got on so well on the pitch and off the pitch. The camaraderie I experienced at Dartford was like nothing I’d experienced anywhere else

    Do you have a favourite goal you scored that season?

    I only scored 2 according to Steve Irving (I thought 3 as I am sure I scored against Guildford from about 25 yards but a newspaper clipping gave it to Danny Light ).
    My best goal was probably away to Minehead in the trophy as it was an important winner.

    Did anything unusual happen that season that you can share with the fans?

    We played 2 games 1 weekend (Saturday and Sunday) against Ashford and Dover or Folkestone and stayed in a hotel on the Saturday night. The vice chairman Brian Alford I think wore a white suit and I think Graham Carr pushed him in to the swimming pool.

    The other funny thing for me personally was when the crowd started singing 6 foot 2 eyes are blue Martin Binks is after you. We had a good laugh in the dressing room afterwards

    Season 1973/74 Review

    The season of 1973/74 would be one of, if not the, most successful in the Club’s history, but it could have been so different. The sacking of manager Doug Holden on the eve of the first league match to re-appoint Ernie Morgan turned a lacklustre pre-season campaign into a positive start, winning four of the first five matches. League form continued to be good, but a defeat to Kingstonian in the FA Cup dampened spirits, but barring one slip against Cambridge City, there would be no further league defeats until the beginning of December. Barnet were the ones to lower the Dartford colours, but by this time, there was a five point gap between the rest of the league and the Darts. This was extended to seven by the time 1974 was rung in.

    Following a 6-0 drubbing of Telford United at Watling Street, there would be a fortnight away from league action as the Darts started their run to Wembley in the FA Trophy by beating Ashford Town 3-2. Cup football would be the standing order with only one further league match played between 27th January and 16th March with a defeat by Kettering Town. The Darts had to negotiate a replay away to Minehead  before requiring three matches to see off Banbury in the last sixteen of the Trophy.  Only three days later, the Quarter Final would see the Darts edge out Weymouth 2-1 but this gave a pause for breath as league action was back on the menu. Draws at home to Cambridge City & Tonbridge Angels were followed by a victory away at Chelmsford City. This victory, in front of 3,673, took the Darts back to the top of the table only a week before the first leg of the FA Trophy Semi Final, away to Macclesfield Town. 

    The Darts took a 2-1 lead back to Watling Street for the second leg, following goals from Dave Cunningham and Alan Payne. A 3-0 win in league action at Margate followed before the second leg and in front of a bumper crowd of 5,150, the Darts held out resolutely to draw 0-0 and seal their place at Wembley for the first time in the Club’s history. There would not be much time to be overcome by excitement for Wembley as there would be a large backlog of matches to catch up in the quest to win the Southern League. In the sixteen days following the second leg, the Darts would be playing seven league matches and following a 2-0 win at Wimbledon, six points were required from six matches to win the Championship. It took until the Monday night before Wembley, when Dartford defeated Romford 3-0 in front of 3,180 at Watling Street. The celebrations started that evening, and there was a real opportunity to do the biggest double of them all on the Saturday following.

    The Darts’ opposition on the day was Morecambe, a side in the lower half of the Northern Premier League. Missing John Mitchell and John Stevens through injury, the Darts took at least 10,000 supporters of the 19,000 in attendance at the Home of Football. However, they were to return back to Dartford disappointed when two goals in three first half minutes gave Morecambe a healthy half-time lead. Dave Cunningham scored in injury time, but this would only be a consolation. However, this could not dampen the spirits when the League Trophy was presented four days later after a 3-1 victory over Grantham Town. 

    Following the culmination of the season and winning the league by eight points, the Club were invited to a Civic Reception and were treated to an open-topped bus ride around Dartford.