Eastbourne Borough begin new era at Dartford

A new era, and an old adversary. Danny Bloor, freshly confirmed as permanent manager, takes his team of Borough battlers to north Kent tomorrow, to face a Dartford side revived by Steve King.

Action from Eastbourne Borough v Dartford in November. Picture by Jon Rigby
Action from Eastbourne Borough v Dartford in November. Picture by Jon Rigby

Bloor’s appointment will see him take the Sports through this season and on to next season 2020-21.

It seals an impressive turn-around of the club’s on-field fortunes – currently unbeaten since Boxing Day in National South, and enjoying a curious run of six successive draws.

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It also coincides with a new two-year partnership with Bexhill College, who become the club’s principal sponsor and education provider.

But the once and future King remains the manager the Sports never quite had.

Locally based and well known to Sussex fans, as well as further afield, Steve remains a charismatic and slightly enigmatic figure.

His success in welding promotion-seeking teams has few parallels, and his Midas Touch has transformed the Darts – in just a couple of months – from mid-table flounderers to strong play-off contenders.

Dartford’s revival is based on a drastic overhaul of their playing squad, and Borough will face a tough battle at Princes Park on Saturday.

The infectiously buoyant Bloor is not in the least dismayed at the prospect.

“It’s a game I’m looking forward to. We go there full of confidence.

"I’ve known Steve since he was at Lewes and I was manager at Worthing. He is one of the most proven managers at this level.

"But when that whistle goes at three o’clock it doesn’t matter if you’re Steve King or Jose Mourinho or Jurgen Klopp or Danny Bloor – it’s the same three points and we are all dependent on our players.”

Last Saturday’s enforced postponements – Dartford’s fixture also fell victim to the weather – brought mixed blessings for the two clubs.

The Kent side will be without ace striker and former Sport Elliott Romain, who must still complete a suspension for a sending off against Hampton and Richmond.

But Borough are easing back towards full strength, with midfield stylist Mike West and towering defender Kiran Khinda-John both fit again, and first-choice keeper Tom Hadler finally in contention after his lengthy knee injury.

Despite the New Year unbeaten run, and some team performances full of bravery and enterprise, the Sports still need a fair few points to secure their National League South status.

In a curiously bunched league table, the glowering, threatening cloud of relegation hovers over possibly as many as ten clubs.

Borough’s remaining twelve fixtures will need to yield, at very minimum, twelve points.

As England cricketer George Hirst, in a historic Ashes encounter, once pricelessly remarked to fellow tail-ender Wilf Rhodes: “We’ll get’em in singles.” And they did….