Wednesday 19th October 2005

It's time to make up and move on!

As the bitter row between Kent clubs Dover Athletic and Dartford intensifies today, you can be sure the two rivals will avoid each other when arranging pre-season matches next summer, writes Stephen McCartney.

Dover feel aggrieved that four of their players have picked up injuries in their two games against the Southern Leaguers in their FA Trophy duals over the last three days.

In the 1-1 draw at Crabble, defenders Daniel Braithwaite and Craig Cloke and midfielder Danny Chapman didn't last the ninety minutes and last night at Stonebridge Road, Shane Hamshare was stretchered off after 67 minutes.

But two goals, in a 3-2 win, from former Dover player Steve Hafner booked the Darts' passage into the second qualifying round with a trip to Hartsdown Park, to play another one of the 22-year-old's former clubs, Margate.

Meanwhile, Dover boss Clive Walker has challenged his young players to stand up and be counted as they enter a tough series of games in Ryman League Division One.

The Whites' boss - never allowing injuries to be an excuse for defeat - admits his team did not defend well at Stonebridge Road last night.

He was particularly disappointed with both Darts goals in the first half, although recognises that Hafner's winner after the break was a stunning strike.

He told www.doverathletic.com : "We could've won the game had we done some basic defending right.

"Their first two first-half goals were poor from our point of view.  The third was a good strike.  I'll give their lad that, but he could've perhaps been closed down more quickly.

"But we've got to get this defeat out of our heads and look to beat Met. Police away on Saturday, which won't be easy.

"However, I feel we can improve on the performance against Dartford and it's down to these young lads to stand up and be counted.

"We've lost some important players during these two games.  Danny Chapman, Craig Cloke, Daniel Braithwaite and Shane Hamshare are all good lads, who work hard for the team.

"Now it's down to the kids to step up to the first team and show us what they're made of.

"They've all got first-team experience, but the only problem is the amount of games they've played.

"You need experience in any successful side - and there's going to be a lot of that missing now.

"However, what are the fringe players here for?  They're here to step up if we have injury problems like we do now.

"It's their chance to break into the side and add competition for places."

Dover chairman, Mr Jim Parmenter, however, was not a happy man over the two games.

"The tackle on Daniel Braithwaite was horrific and, again, the tackle last night on Shane (Hamshare) was shocking," he said.

"Clive has told us he doesn't want to bring anyone in at the moment.  He's going to stick with his squad - but we are willing to assist him if he wishes to bring a couple in to plug the gaping holes in our squad.

"It is no coincidence that during two games, we've ended up with all four key players getting crocked.  It's a shame that football has become like this.

"If that was the way Dartford wanted to play, I said during the (Tuesday's)  match "let them have the game".  

"I don't want to be associated with football being played like that."

It was not only passionate out on the pitch or the terraces, but also in the directors boxes.

Dartford, however, have issued the following  statement on their website www.dartford.fc.co.uk:

"The only sour part of last night were the disgraceful comments coming from certain high ranking officials from Dover.

"Perhaps they should read part of their programme notes (see below) on how to behave themselves before preaching to others.

"Such a shame that people cannot accept that their own team has been beaten by a better team on the night and over the two games that they storm off into the night without so much as accepting the hospitality of the home club in accepting a drink with club officials and Kent County FA representatives.

"We are sure that we'll receive a much friendlier reception when we travel to Margate in the next round."

In a statement issued by Dover Athletic chairman Mr Jim Parmenter to www.kentishfootball.co.uk earlier today, he explained why the visiting officials left Stonebridge Road without a drink in the boardroom with Dartford officials, Kent County FA representatives and the match officials.

"The Dover directors left the ground after the match because our party (including two ladies) was subjected to a stream of four mouthed abuse from an individual who appeared to be a Dartford official and the decision was made to leave to avoid further confrontation," he said.

Darts' boss Tony Burman, however, who takes his side to Rothwell Town on Saturday, admitted he didn't need to motivate his players for last night's replay, following the comments they read and heard following Saturday's 1-1 draw.

At Crabble on Saturday, we also witnessed one Dover fan enter the field of play - from where the visiting vocal Dartford contingent were standing - when Nick Humphrey's 73rd minute header cancelled out Dartford's first half opener from Eddie McClements' drive.

And in Dover's match day programme, director Roger Knight warned fans that bad behaviour will not be tolerated by officials of the Ryman Premier League club.

He wrote: "We have noticed a good deal of friendly terrace banter of late and what seems to be a new generation of Dover Athletic supporters.

"It is fair to say there have been some quite funny songs and chants, so thank you for your support.  

"Sadly though we have received a few complaints of one or two more over exuberant individuals who have over-stepped the mark.

"We encourage your support of the club but we will not allow racial or vocal attacks on any person either on or off the pitch.

"Individuals who are reported as causing such offences will be removed from the ground.

"Please remember you are not the only ones on the terraces.  We wish to encourage families with children of all ages to support the club."

And Darts' boss Tony Burman added his views on www.dartfordfc.co.uk today:

"Because of the terrible publicity that our team has received over the last two games I can not sign off without expressing my opinion," he said.

"I felt both sets of players and management conducted themselves in the correct manager throughout both games.

"In no way were the games dirty or played with any malice or intent to injure any player from either side.

"I stated in my previous notes that the officials of Dover have been doing a fantastic job in trying to save the club from its financial circumstances, but unfortunately amongst them comes a degree of arrogance, which is not very pleasant and from memory was around non-league clubs 15-20 years ago.

"In my opinion this can only interfere with the performance of their team as like last night I didn't have to motivate my players at all, simply because of the ludicrous comments that they had heard or read over the weekend.

"I would like to wish Clive Walker and all his team the very best for the rest of the season as without doubt they are one of the best, if not the best side we have played against this season."

And Stephen McCartney, 28, editor of www.kentishfootball.co.uk added:
"As a regular visitor to both clubs to cover their games, let's all make up, put all this behind us and move on."