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Dover Athletic boss Andy Hessenthaler condemns abusive messages after postponement of Barrow game

Dover boss Andy Hessenthaler has condemned abusive messages which were sent to his players from opposing fans 'who hoped they would die on the way back' from a postponed match.

The messages were directed towards players and staff after the postponement of Saturday’s National League clash at Barrow.

Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler. Picture:Chris Davey
Dover manager Andy Hessenthaler. Picture:Chris Davey

One of the messages sent from a fan said he hoped the team's train would crash into the rest of the squad while they were on their way back home.

Whites had set off by train in the morning before being halted at Crewe due to a fatality on the line at Milton Keynes, with services from London Euston being delayed or terminated.

The match, due to take place on the annual Non-League Day, was officially postponed just over an hour before kick-off.

Dover proceeded to release a statement both apologising to supporters who had made the journey north, as well as going on to describe abusive remarks from a Barrow official towards kitman Richard Harvey and the supporters’ club coach driver.

Harvey has since received apologies from both Barrow manager Ian Evatt and owner/director Tony Shearer, with the Cumbrian club set to launch an internal investigation.

Dover kit man Richard Harvey (left) with Ryan Bird after their win at Tranmere in 2018/19
Dover kit man Richard Harvey (left) with Ryan Bird after their win at Tranmere in 2018/19

Hessenthaler said: “We were supposed to be in Lancaster by 12 o’clock and unfortunately we were nowhere near that because of the fatality at Milton Keynes.

“We were all disappointed but it wasn’t only us, obviously Dagenham’s game against Stockport was called off and Sutton’s at Fylde as well and unfortunately it’s one of those things.

"A lot has been said certainly from the Barrow people and from the Barrow manager.

“I’m not going to get into an argument about who does what but our club have been travelling for 20 years by train and that’s never happened before.

“We played Barrow last year and we got there in plenty of time.

“They should worry about their own team and not comment on Dover and how we travel, it’s nothing to do with them.

“We can’t afford to go up on a Friday and stay overnight, we haven’t got the money to do that.”

Barrow boss Evatt had questioned Dover’s travel arrangements on the day, despite Hessenthaler’s men having faced no such problems in last season’s corresponding fixture.

“It’s nothing to do with Barrow,” added Hessenthaler.

“It’s an unfortunate incident and everybody’s thoughts go with the person who has passed away and their family.

Manager Andy Hessenthaler spoke out about the messages
Manager Andy Hessenthaler spoke out about the messages

“Football doesn’t come into perspective as far as I’m concerned. It should be forgotten about and we should think about the family and what’s happened to them on Saturday.

“It’s one of those things. In my opinion, the Barrow people and the Barrow manager should worry about their own team rather than what Dover do.”

On whether Barrow had offered to assist with alternative transport from Crewe, Hessenthaler explained: “No, not really. We were stuck at Crewe, we left in plenty of time.

“It’s just an unfortunate incident that has happened on the day.”

Dover winger Anthony Jeffrey took to Twitter to post a screenshot of a direct message from one social media user wishing for the the team’s train to crash on the journey back.

Anthony Jeffrey. Picture: Phil Lee
Anthony Jeffrey. Picture: Phil Lee

“What has been said by the Barrow people is not right, certainly by their fans,” said Hessenthaler.

“There was a message saying they hoped we’d die on the way back, what’s all that about? It’s embarrassing some of the comments and they should keep their comments to themselves.

“It’s disgusting. Think about the poor family that have just lost somebody on Saturday. Forget about football on the day.

“As far as we’re concerned, we did everything to try and get to the game.

“We got to Crewe and it was terminated.

“The league made a decision, it wasn’t feasible to play the game and it’s a shame it’s happened.”

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