“Chairman Jim Parmenter has invested a lot of money and has done great things for the club”
Lee Bowman is back discussing his team Dover Athletic
Hi Lee so it’s been a tough start for Dover, I guess you must have expected it after the squad upheaval?
Very much so. After losing the majority of last season’s squad of full-time players and having to revert back to part-time along with a heavily reduced playing budget, we were expecting to have to bring in players of a lesser quality than we have been used to and, therefore, face a more challenging season ahead.
What’s the current situation like at the club and are you hopeful they can survive this tough time?
Many supporters are perplexed as to why we have been the only National League club to have voiced our financial difficulties (as a result of Covid-19) as vocally as we have done. It certainly feels to many of us that other National League clubs are seemingly operating as though it is ‘business as usual’ and have been somewhat unaffected by the pandemic, whereas with us, there has been serious uncertainty raised over the future of the club. I am hopeful we can survive, but have not seen much evidence yet that we can or will, but we are still only 4 games in. With just 3 teams facing relegation this season we are very much hoping for 21st in 2021 (or above of course!).
The squad has seen many changes, what notable signings have the club made?
Frontman Ade Azeez has re-joined us for the season having had a previous loan spell from Cambridge Utd in early 2018. Azeez has arrived from EFL League Two side Newport County. Fellow forward Ahkeem Rose has taken the number 9 shirt this season upon his arrival from Grimsby Town. Young talent TJ Bramble has joined us from Gillingham.
Our key players should be the older and more experienced heads like defender Will De Haviland and midfielder Jack Munns. They will need to guide the younger players and those who have not played at this level previously.
Who’s the gaffer and what tactics is he likely to employ at Plainmoor?
Andy Hessenthaler, a Gillingham legend both as a former player & manager, is currently in his second spell at Dover Athletic having managed us between 2007-2010. Hess led us to two consecutive League titles (Isthmian League Division One South and Isthmian Premier Division) during his three year tenure with us previously. He was re-appointed manager in 2018 and steered us out of the relegation zone, following the departure of former boss Chris Kinnear, to a respectable 13th place finish. Last season, Hessenthaler guided us to a mid-table 12th place finish. He is likely to employ similar tactics at Plainmoor as to what he did at Stockport last week, which was to set ourselves up defensively, be hard to break down and to hit the opponent on the counter. Whilst this worked effectively for the first 45 minutes at Edgeley Park, having conceded a penalty early in the second half, we eventually fell to a 3-0 defeat.
Your owner has been quite outspoken since COVID, what’s his relationship like with the fans?
Chairman Jim Parmenter has invested a lot of money and has done great things for the club under his stewardship and we wouldn’t be where we are now if he hadn’t taken us over and saved us from oblivion during the mid-2000’s. Admittedly he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but since the pandemic hit I think efforts are being made to have a closer relationship with the fans and Supporters Club.
You like a flutter, who do you fancy for promotion this season in the NL?
Unoriginal prediction I’m afraid, and like many, I have gone with the bookies’ favourites Stockport County to win the title this season. I feel they are set up for promotion, given the investment they have made and the quality of player brought in, particularly that of John Rooney who has a wealth of experience in playing in this League and winning it with Barrow last season.
How much have you missed being at the football and why should fans be let in?
I have gone several months without missing the Football itself too much but have certainly missed, and continue to miss, the social side of what match days bring in ‘normal’ times. I feel that all the while ‘X’ amount of fans are allowed in at Step 3 and below, many of whom will have far lower budgets to invest in covid-secure measures, then a percentage of supporters at Step 1 & 2 should be permitted back into stadiums as long as it is safe enough to do so.
And finally, United will be heavy favourites for Saturday afternoon but what’s your prediction?
Following our opening day win over Notts County, we have since lost 3 games with an aggregate score of 1-12. Whilst I would love to be more confident in our own side’s chances, I do fear we are in for another 3-0 defeat.