Danny Bassett brilliance drives Tooting and Mitcham’s promotion push

By William Pickworth
March 4 2020, 12.00

What do Harry Kane, Jamie Vardy and Son Heung-min all have in common? 

They’ve each scored fewer goals than Danny Bassett over the past two seasons.

Bassett, the prolific Tooting and Mitcham United marksman has followed up last season’s 24 goals with 20 this term plus an astonishing 22 assists and is firmly driving Tooting’s promotion push in the Isthmian South Central Division.

The Terrors lie eighth in England’s eighth tier, five points off the play-offs but with a game in hand.

“I genuinely didn’t even know that stat,” said Bassett.

“That is remarkable, it makes me proud of myself and pushes me to go and do more and makes me feel like I can go higher which is what I really want to do.

“It would 100% be my best season and I feel like I’m only improving, and I say that because this season players and managers know I can score goals, so they’ve been more mindful of me.

“Subsequently I’ve had to think outside the box to score goals whereas before no one really knew about me.

“The opposition always double up on me – it’s crazy. But it helps me become a better player.”

Bassett’s exploits are made all the more remarkable by his role as a wing back in Tooting’s hybrid 3-4-3 formation and have not gone unnoticed with the talisman gaining plaudits throughout the league. 

Ahead of a recent fixture, Barking manager Justin Gardner heaped praise on Bassett and professed he should be playing at least two leagues higher.

Bassett said: “It’s very nice because last year I did kind of feel like what I did went under the radar as the players that did well for us all moved up and got pro contracts. 

“It makes me feel like my hard work is being recognised by my peers and if everyone is saying a similar thing that tends to push on to something. Other managers expressing it gives you more belief in it.”

Tooting have been mainstays in-and-around the top of the league throughout the season but are currently on a five-game winless streak, yet Bassett remains resolute.

“A dip happens to most teams it’s just ours has decided to happen towards the end of the season.

“But I feel we’ve learnt from it, like the games we’ve lost we haven’t been outplayed in any of those. 

“Just us as a team we’re not performing to our abilities and we’re letting ourselves down if I’m being honest.

“The mood is still good and of course we’re confident. When everything’s clicking and we take our chances I genuinely feel we are the best team in the league.

“After matches most teams that beat us come up to us and say ‘yeah, you’re the best team in the league’ so we know it’s not just us thinking that, but we can’t be complacent.

“We can’t just think we’re the best because if you don’t get promoted or win the league you clearly weren’t the best team.”

Bassett is 24 and harbours hopes to move into full-time football. In the summer he secured an exciting move up two divisions to Concord Rangers of the Conference South, yet he had to leave after three weeks due to personal reasons.

Since then, he has given up his job installing alarms in what he believes is his final push to turn pro.

“It’s my last chance to follow my boyhood dream and at least if it doesn’t work, I will know I tried 100%.

“It would mean everything to turn pro. Playing football is where my happiness lies and if I’m playing full-time, I’m complete as a person and I’m fully happy.” 

But for now Bassett’s focus is on helping Tooting complete a memorable season.

“My ideal end to the season is to get Tooting promoted, reach 30 goals, win player of the year at Tooting, be included in the league’s team of the year and go on to sign for a full-time club.

“If it happens, I don’t know what I’ll do.”

Image credit: Sam Conquest Photography

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