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Experienced new Dover Athletic goalkeeper Stuart Nelson didn't take much convincing to link up with manager Andy Hessenthaler again


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Experienced goalkeeper Stuart Nelson didn’t take much convincing before agreeing to link up with Dover boss Andy Hessenthaler once again.

The 40-year-old, a title winner during his time at Gillingham, has joined Hessenthaler’s Whites who will play in National League South this season.

Goalkeeper Stuart Nelson celebrating during his Gillingham days. Picture: Andy Jones
Goalkeeper Stuart Nelson celebrating during his Gillingham days. Picture: Andy Jones

“The chance to work with Hessy was a big pull for me,” said Nelson.

“I have known him a long time - since I joined Gills. He was there as director of football at the time and then he had a spell as caretaker manager.

“I played with Jake (Hessenthaler’s son who is also a professional footballer), not just at Gillingham, but at Crawley as well.

“There’s always been that relationship between us, he’s always a guy that I have stayed in touch with.

“He’s an honest guy. The chance to work with him was, obviously, something that really interested me.”

Dover signed veteran keeper Stuart Nelson ahead of the new season on Saturday. Picture: Richard Harvey/Dover Athletic FC
Dover signed veteran keeper Stuart Nelson ahead of the new season on Saturday. Picture: Richard Harvey/Dover Athletic FC

Dover’s defensive plans are beginning to take shape.

Alongside Nelson, defender Tyrone Sterling has re-signed for the club from Dulwich Hamlet and centre-back Jake Goodman has agreed to stay on at Crabble, although Danny Collinge last week departed for Barnet, turning down a new contract.

Nelson lives in Gloucester these days but is hoping to move back closer to the area soon.

Dover are still looking to add another keeper to the squad but Nelson is not concerned about competition for the number one shirt.

He still expects to be one of the club’s fitter players due to the strict diet he sticks to.

Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“I have come to play football and that’s my main focus,” said Nelson.

“Whether it’s at Gillingham, Dover or Norwich, every day I thrive to get the best out of myself. I don’t pick the team but I have signed to play football.

“It was time to, maybe, not sit on the bench.”

Dover finished bottom of the National League last season - winning just twice all campaign - but they will hope to compete at the right end of the table as they return to playing at Step 2.

Nelson, who is looking forward to working with the club’s younger players, is not overly concerned about setting team targets for the new season.

He said: “Ultimately, we are aiming to win more football games than we lose.

“We have a lot of young talent that we really want to push through. That’s going to be exciting for the supporters.

“Off the back of that, if everything is positive, the results will come. It will just make Dover a really positive place again. Everything on the back of that will come.

“I don’t think we necessarily need to set [team] targets because the target is to win every football game.

“If we go for that and fall a little bit short, we will still be more than all right.”

Nelson made 223 appearances for Gillingham overall - Ron Hillyard and John Simpson are the only goalkeepers to have played more games for the Priestfield club.

He played every game during the title-winning 2012/13 season under Martin Allen at Gills.

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