Our latest opposition interview is with loyal Dover AFC supporter Lee Bowman (@LeeCPDAFC) as TT build up to Saturday’s big match at the Crabble:
Hi Lee – before we talk about the team, tell us a bit about yourself and how long have you supported DAFC?
I am a born and bred Dovorian and have supported Dover Athletic since the 1993/1994 season, our first year in the GM Vauxhall Conference as it was then. My first game at Crabble was a home defeat that season to fellow promoted side Southport.
How would you describe Dover’s season so far and what’s been your highlights?
Considering we had a complete overhaul of the squad in the summer that saw only goalkeeper Mitch Walker and forward Mitch Pinnock remain from last season’s side, we have done very well on the whole. We have spent the majority of the season in the play-off places and even hit top spot on a couple of occasions late last year which has to be our highlight of the season to date along with the memorable away wins at Hartlepool & Tranmere within the first month of the season.
How’s your recent form been and can you achieve promotion?
Our recent form has been somewhat up and down. Having taken 10/12 points from our first 4 games in March, that included 4 clean sheets and wins over Leyton Orient, Chester and league leaders Macclesfield, we have dropped points at both Eastleigh and Ebbsfleet over the past week.
We fell to a 2-1 defeat at Eastleigh having led for 84 minutes whilst, having got ourselves back into the game on 90+3 minutes, we succumbed to another 2-1 defeat at Ebbsfleet after they netted a 90+6 minute winner.
I believe we can achieve promotion but cannot see it just yet. If we can finish in the play-off places then anything is possible but I believe we are another year or two away from seriously challenging for promotion.
Which players should we look out for this Saturday and why?
Mitch Pinnock has been our most improved player this season and his performances recently earnt him a call-up to the England C side that saw him play 90 minutes in the 3-2 win over Wales. He has looked fitter, faster and has added goals to his game and has been our match winner on several occasions this past year.
Keanu Marsh-Brown has looked an excellent addition since joining us on loan from Forest Green Rovers last month. He bagged a brace against Macclesfield on his debut as well as our solitary goal at Ebbsfleet earlier this week which takes his goals tally to 3 from his 3 games played so far.
Giancarlo Gallifuoco joined you guys from United in the summer, how has he done?
GG has been a very good acquisition for us and has started the majority of games this season. He has also contributed 3 goals along the way having netted against Aldershot, Chester & Sutton. He has adhered himself to the supporters and has become a fans favourite at Crabble.
Have you got the right man in charge and what tactics does he employ?
This is a topic of discussion that divides opinion amongst some fans right now….
Chris Kinnear is a club legend and our most successful ever manager. Having won us the Beazer Homes League and promotion to the Conference in 1993, he returned to the club in 2013 and took us back to the very same level after a 12 year absence from the division.
We are now in our 4th season in the National League since winning promotion via the Play-Offs in 2014 and have finished 8th, 5th & 6th and currently lay 7th making us one of the most consistent teams in the league.
With Kinnear at the helm we’re always confident that we’ll be safe from relegation and will always be challenging up at the right end of the table. However, the frustration amongst certain sections of supporters are his perceived ‘questionable’ tactics and the failure to see out games at times, especially when having led. There is also talk on the terraces of whether Kinnear has taken the club as far as he can but you have to be careful what you wish for in football!
Who are DAFCs owners and are they ambitious for the future of the club?
Jim Parmenter is the owner and chairman of the club and is very ambitious. He is serious about taking the club into the Football League and has invested heavily in numerous ground improvements and facilities to ensure Crabble meets the required criteria needed for membership to the EFL.
Improvements to Crabble have recently seen the construction of a brand new all seater Family Stand with a new dressing room area and control room, new floodlights, a PA system, electronic score boards, safety barriers as well as new executive lounges that provide further hospitality and enhanced VIP facilities.
What’s Crabble like and which nearby pubs will be welcoming for the Yellow Army this Saturday?!
Crabble is a unique Football ground situated in River (a picturesque suburb of Dover) and is setback amongst the hills and trees at the top of the famous slope. The Centre Spot is the clubhouse inside the ground (only accessible to away fans on non-segregated games).
The Cricketers is the nearest pub to the ground and is ‘Away’ friendly and is just a 5 minute walk from the Away End entrance located in Crabble Avenue.
For those who like their Real Ale & Ciders, Dover has become one of the more favoured away days for travelling supporters thanks to our excellent selection of Micro Pubs. We now have The Mash Tun, The Lanes & Thirsty Scarecrow who offer a selection of Ales & Ciders along with the new Breakwater Brewery & Taproom which is a personal favourite pre-match for both sets of supporters and is just a 15 minute walk from the ground.
What’s the local support like for Dover and how is the atmosphere at games?
The dedicated and hardcore supporters are excellent and travel the length and breadth of the country to see the ‘Whites’ play week in week out. Being situated down in one corner of the country, most away days mean travelling hundreds of miles (something Torquay fans can no doubt relate to!) with Barrow being our furthest trip of the season at over a 700 mile round trip.
As for the Home support and atmosphere, this is another hot topic of discussion at present. We generally see around 1,000 per game give or take. Our average attendance is around the 1,300 mark but this is mainly due to the fact we hold a Community Day 3-4 times a season where tickets are given to local schools and their parents in a bid to bring in a new generation of supporters.
Personally, given that we are back at National League level and playing ex-league sides like Torquay Utd, Tranmere Rovers, Wrexham, Leyton Orient & Hartlepool Utd as well as consistently challenging for the Play-Offs every season, I am surprised and often somewhat disappointed at some of our attendances, a sentiment shared amongst many fellow supporters and particularly by chairman Jim Parmenter who believes we should be averaging at least 1,500 per game and rightly so.
Last April’s win at the Crabble was the highlight of last season for me, what’s your prediction for this Saturday?
We go into this game in a similar position to last season. We jeopardised our hopes of a play-off place then following a 1-0 defeat at Aldershot the week prior to playing Torquay at Crabble. That game was certainly one we needed to win, and were expected to win from our point of view and it was probably the moment we blew our chances.
A year on and we are on the back of 2 away defeats and now find ourselves out of the play-off places due to AFC Fylde winning their game in hand at Barrow on Tuesday night. With Ebbsfleet and Bromley both having 2 games in hand over us and hot on our heels, Saturday’s game arguably takes on a ‘must win’ tag. Dover fans will be looking at this game as one we should be winning but we are fully aware of your recent Away form that suggests Saturday’s game will be a tough fixture for both sides.
I’ll have to go with a home win though, 2-1 Dover!
I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best in your battle to stay in the Division, you are not a club we want to lose from this league and we hope to see you at Crabble again next season, best of luck!
P.S. Any Gulls fans who want any help with, or recommendations for, Pubs or Restaurants etc. feel free to ask.
Many thanks for chatting to Torquay Talk Lee and your kind words about United, I can tell how passionate you are about DAFC and I just hope I can ask you questions again next season!