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Dover chairman Jim Parmenter talks survival, Andy Hessenthaler and hopes for 2019/2020

By Cameron Hogwood

Chairman Jim Parmenter has saluted boss Andy Hessenthaler and his players for their role in steering Dover’s remarkable transformation over the second half of the season.

Whites defeated fears of National League relegation with three games to spare before finishing nine games unbeaten having been bottom at the time of Hessenthaler’s return to Crabble in October.

Work is under way to polish Dover’s squad in view of a push for a top-half finish in 2019/2020.

Andy Hessenthaler. Picture: Alan Langley
Andy Hessenthaler. Picture: Alan Langley

Parmenter said: “It’s a tremendous effort by everybody and a great achievement. I think we won one game in the first 18 games so to finish equal 12th in the league with 60 points in some ways it’s a bigger achievement than winning the league with a good start.

“You can’t fail to admire what they’ve achieved. Just the transition from part-time to full-time in the middle of the season is a big ask and a big challenge. We managed to do that as a club and Andy (Hessenthaler) in particular drove that. It’s an amazing achievement.

“There are quite a lot of players signed for next season which is unusual for us, but obviously good for us as well. I think there will be four or five additions to the squad so hopefully with them we can push towards the top part of the table.

“Some players have still been playing and competing in the play-offs but we are certainly talking to players. We signed Bobby-Joe Taylor again so that takes us to around 12 or 13 on the books. We’ve got a bit of time but we’ve identified targets and Andy (Hessenthaler) is working on that as we speak.”

Dover announced they had retained the services of nine players last week, which became 10 when Taylor agreed to a new two-year contract at the club.

It was also confirmed that 11 players had been released, while four players are still to respond to contract offers.

Those to depart included Stuart Lewis, Mitch Walker, Kadell Daniel, David Smith, Connor Essam, Jack Connors, Tobi Sho-Silva, Nortei Nortey, Tim Scholl, Moussa Diarra and Emmanuel Adebowale.

Stuart Lewis. Picture: Alan Langley
Stuart Lewis. Picture: Alan Langley

Parmenter added: “Those decisions (on who to release) are down to the manager.

“Andy had to bring players in last year but we had way too big a squad by the time we got to the end of the season, close to 30 players.

“Obviously he wants to shape the team to his team and that’s the basis on which I believe he’s made the decision.”

Despite finishing the campaign top of the form guide, Dover remain under no illusions as to the increasingly-fierce competition throughout the fifth tier of English football.

“You’ve only got to look at the clubs, with Notts County and Yeovil Town coming down and the big clubs that are already in there, your Hartlepools and Chesterfields, it goes on,” said Parmenter.

“The league now is a full-time professional league barring a couple of clubs. It is an extension on the Football League, it’s not really a non-league league any more and I think that’s something the relevant authorities will need to look to in the future.

“I always say if you’re in it you’ve got to try and win it so that’s what we’ll try and do. We recognise with the well-financed and the massive clubs in the league that we’re quite a small fish, so we’ll be taking our challenge quite seriously and will try to push on towards the play-offs.

“The home crowds have been decent but I would hope with the new regime, the football on display and the players we are signing that we’ll see an increase in the crowd and get the atmosphere buzzing.

“We’ve already seen an increase in season ticket interest so that’s a good thing.”

Read more: Ebbsfleet United striker Michael Cheek joins National League rivals Bromley

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