Of course, we’re trying to try to be up there in the top echelons of the league but this is a stronger and stronger, tougher and tougher league every year, warns Dover Athletic chairman Jim Parmenter
DOVER ATHLETIC chairman Jim Parmenter says it will be a tough fight to compete in an even stronger National League next season.
The club retained their league status having finished their campaign on a nine match unbeaten run to finish in fourteenth-place in the table with 60 points on the board from their 46 games.
Dover Athletic started the campaign with Chris Kinnear in charge and he collected seven points in the 14 games before his second spell came to an end.
Kinnear’s number two, Jake Leberl took caretaker charge for their 4-1 home defeat to Salford City, before Mike Sandmann took their Kent Senior Cup tie at Maidstone United, which ended in a 4-2 defeat, before Andy Hessenthaler returned to the club in October to steer the club towards safety.
The former Gillingham stalwart took charge of 36 games in all competitions and Dover Athletic won 17 of them and finished 16 points clear of the relegation zone.
“It’s unbelievable really, isn’t it. What were we? Bottom of the table, one win in 18 I think it was and there we are we finished joint 12th with 60 points and I think it’s nine unbeaten. What a fantastic, that’s almost more of an achievement than actually winning the league from the position we were in,” Mr Parmenter said in an interview with www.doverathletic.com.
“We try not to do relegation at Dover. We’ve never done it since I’ve been in the club and we hope we’re going to continue like that.
“What can I take from it? I guess, as I know in football you never give up. A week’s a long time in football, it’s an old cliché, but it really is a long time in football and you just have to be very calm, very collected and not knee jerk react to things and just work your way through things and try to make the right moves.”
Having finished the season on the front foot, Mr Parmenter hopes to continue that momentum going into next season.
“I’ve said before, I always say it, if you’re in it, you have to try to win it! Of course, we’re trying to try to be up there in the top echelons of the league but this is a stronger and stronger, tougher and tougher league every year,” he said.
“We’ve probably got two very strong teams coming down (from Sky Bet League Two)_ and probably four very strong teams coming up (from National League North and South) to join the massive clubs that are already in the league.
“We’re quite a small club now in this league when we look at the ex-League clubs that are around and the well-financed clubs so we have to try to fight our way through that next year.
The Whites’ chairman praised Hessnethaler and his squad to come in and secure the points required to retain their league status.
He said: “We started planning for next season the minute we knew we were safe. The planning for next season has started but we got to give full credit to not only the management but the squad of players we have here that have really dug in and really worked hard.
“It’s not easy to come to a club halfway through the season, that’s at the bottom of the table and not winning games with a bad atmosphere around it. To come in as a player to help pull that round is quite something and it takes some great characters.”
Dover Athletic made the switch from part-time training to full-time training as soon as Hessenthaler returned.
“That was a little bit tricky, mind you a lot of the players were on full-time wages anyway, even though they weren’t training full-time, so that made it a bit easier but it wasn’t easy. It was tricky with a few, we had a few conversations that were difficult but we got there in the end,” revealed Mr Parmenter.”
Dover Athletic have frozen their season ticket prices for a fourth season next season but match day admission prices have increased.
“We’ve kept our season ticket prices frozen again for a fourth year and I hope people get behind us and get the season tickets in,” said Mr Parmenter.
“It’s a very hard league to compete in. We’ve moved to full-time, there’s an enormous amount of costs involved in that, not only players wages but you’ve got full-time training facilities, you’ve got other expenses and you’ve got to try and somehow bridge that gap, even with the gate money it doesn’t, even with the increase, it doesn’t come near to meeting our expenses as you can imagine.
“But it just helps a little bit. As it’s not been increased for four years we feel the small increase on the gate was justified, although trying to reward those people who come regularly the season tickets have been frozen again.
“I would expect to see a full pre-season under Andy and his team and his management team and a few more players brought in, I would expect to see the same quality or better next season.”
Meanwhile, three days after the season finished, the club issued its retained list.
The following players are under contract for next season and have therefore been retained:
Scott Doe, Inih Effiong, Kevin Lokko, Ricky Modeste, Alfie Pavey, Josh Passley, Jai Reason and Lee Worgan.
The club have taken up the option on Jamie Allen’s contract.
Joe Bedford, Mitch Brundle, Bedsente Gomis, Anthony Jeffrey and Bobby-Joe Taylor are all out of contract and have been offered new deals to extend their stay at Crabble.
Emmanuel Adebowale, Jack Connors, Kadell Daniel, Moussa Diarra, Connor Essam, Stuart Lewis, Nortei Nortey, Tim Schmoll, Tobi Sho-Silva, David Smith and Mitch Walker have all been released by the club.
Joshua Debayo, meanwhile, has returned to Cheltenham Town following the end of his loan spell on the Kent coast.
Visit Dover Athletic’s website: www.doverathletic.com