Published: 06:00, 07 July 2021
Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler's love for the game has been rekindled by his summer transfer activity.
The Whites boss has faced a difficult 12 months after the club's much-publicised budget cut last summer, the subsequent squad rebuilding and then chairman Jim Parmenter's decision not to finish the season.
It meant Hessenthaler and his players had to sit out the second half of the National League campaign.
But that frustration has turned to smiles in recent weeks with Whites bringing back popular striker Ricky Miller to Crabble, along with experienced National League players including Ben Williamson and Reda Johnson.
"I'm excited," declared Hessenthaler. "When you know you're starting the season on minus 12 then you do think that we can't do that with a squad of young boys and little experience.
"So just to get those players around the table to talk to them was excellent - to get them to sign for the club was even better. It's given the club a lift as well, and the fans are pleased with the signings.
"The players all understand the situation, they've been in tough situations before. The experienced players have all had good careers but they are excited about this chapter with Dover.
"The last year has been crazy and difficult. When we stopped playing and were watching games, I know it was hard for the players as well, that was the hardest part for me. I was able to watch my son Jake play for Crawley but, as nice as that was, I'd much rather have been there taking my team.
"It's been quite rewarding since we've started to work on this season. I'm glad that we've got the decision (the fine and points deduction), it's not great, but we know what it is and I've been pleased that the players want to be here.
"We're going to be up against some big teams again, sides like Chesterfield, Stockport, Notts County and Torquay, and I'm excited to see fans back in grounds and hear that abuse from opposition supporters - I've actually missed that!
"I'm excited by that and the pressure that comes with each game, I know it's a cliche but every game will be really important for us."
Hessenthaler's outlook has probably been lifted by the club's decision to revert back to part-time status.
It means the Dover boss can attract some of the better part-time players in the country, rather than shopping for full-time players who often are too young and inexperienced after being released by Football League clubs.
"I knew what the budget was going to be (this season) and I've been speaking to people and other players about the ones that I wanted to sign," revealed Hessenthaler.
"Every one of them wanted to go part-time for various reasons, they are looking at their futures in life as football is not going to be there forever, and so that's fallen into our lap really.
"The top end of part-time football has meant we've been able to keep Sam Wood, and then get Ben Williamson, Reda Johnson and Ricky Miller.
"Jake Goodman and Seth Nana Twumasi have played enough in this league. Some of them are the other side of 30 now but we're going to need that experience.
"I've got four or five more players that are going to be of mainly a younger element to bring into the squad so we'll have a nice blend of youth and experience.
"Of course, Ricky is a legend at Dover and his heart is here. If we can get him to recreate what he did before that would be great but we've got to get the ball to him and get the ball in the box."
Hessenthaler also revealed he was hopeful of adding one more experienced face to his squad.
He disclosed: "I spoke to another experienced player on Sunday who is keen and interested in going part-time so that's something that might develop."