A popular figure has become Dover’s assistant manager once again.
Jake Leberl, a utility man who featured in defence and midfield during his playing days, returns to Crabble, having been Chris Kinnear’s No.2, before Kinnear was sacked five years ago.
Whites boss Mitch Brundle has been working without an assistant since the 2023/24 National League South campaign got under way - although he’s been supported on the sidelines at times by scout Errol Johnson.
Brundle appointed two different people to the assistant position this summer - firstly Ricky Holmes and then ex-Sutton Common Rovers joint-manager Lee Flavin - only for both to swiftly u-turn on their respective decisions to join struggling Dover. But the 28-year-old will now work alongside a man who helped bring him to the club as a player.
Leberl made nearly 200 appearances for Whites between 1997 and 2002 and rejoined under then-boss Andy Hessenthaler in 2009 after he had been released by AFC Wimbledon.
Among the 46-year-old’s other old clubs are Margate, Dagenham & Redbridge and Faversham, where he was player-coach.
He also worked alongside Kinnear as Whites battled it out at the top-end of the National League in some of the club’s best-ever years.
With his comeback being announced on Friday, Leberl told the club website: “[I am] looking forward to getting back involved with the club that’s played a massive part in my life and career, and [I] am thankful to be given the opportunity by Mitch and Jim (Parmenter, Dover’s chairman).
“I helped bring Mitch to the club as a player and we had some great times, so I am looking forward to picking up where we left off.
“I fully appreciate it’s a different club to when I left last and is going to be an extremely difficult challenge. But, hopefully, I can pass on my knowledge I’ve picked up throughout on to the group to make us more organised, disciplined and a harder team to beat – in the hope of picking up enough points to get us out the situation we currently find ourselves in.
“I’ve watched the last few games so have an understanding of what we have as a group and where I feel we can improve.
“It’s a start of a new era for myself with the ultimate aim of fans walking down the slope at the end of games with a smile on their faces.”
He rejoins second-bottom Dover amid a critical period.
They are without a league win since August but host Weston-super-Mare this Saturday, prior to journeys to basement boys Havant next weekend and fourth-bottom Truro on Tuesday, December 12.
The club also plan to discontinue their Striker Lottery in the New Year. It will be replaced by a 200 Club.
Chairman Parmenter explained: “There are laws around lotteries of the Striker format which require a certain percentage of the takings to be paid to the intended recipient.
“With falling membership, mainly due to the ever-increasing competition - with a new charity lottery being announced nearly every month - coupled with people having to watch their budgets in the current environment, we have struggled to meet those legal obligations.
“With a drop in prize-money not being a viable option, we have taken the only decision open to us, which is to discontinue the Lottery which has been an important source of income to the club over many years.
“I would like to thank all of those involved in the lottery over the years and in particular Harry Reid who has worked tirelessly over the last few years on a voluntary basis to try to keep the Striker up and running. The last draw will take place on January 3, 2024.
“However, those wishing to regularly support the club while still having the chance to win £1,000 every month will have the opportunity to do so through our new 200 Club format.”
More details will be announced soon but those interested can register for membership, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or contacting the club office.