On 12 June 2018, two Dover Athletic players turned down new contracts to remain with the club, instead opting to sign for National League rivals. Ryan Bird moved to Maidenhead United and although he was Dover’s top scorer last season, his presence brought about a questionable playstyle to say the least and for the team you could argue it’s better. The other departure was Manny Parry. The much-admired central defender signed for Boreham Wood, despite claiming he wanted to play in the Football League with Dover and wanted to sign a new contract, just two weeks before he left the club.
However these occurances have become second nature to Dover fans following last summer where only one first-team starter remained with the club. The goals of Ricky Miller departed to Peterborough United and captain Jamie Grimes signed for Cheltenham Town. These were understandable as following a semi-successful season at Dover they wanted to move onto bigger and better things however the majority of the players made sideways moves to other clubs in the league with three players joining Sutton United.
Many expected Dover to struggle yet once again they defied expectations and were fighting for a play off place right until the very last day where they only missed out on goal difference. So why is it that Dover failed to learn their lesson and in a time where the stadium is undergoing massive improvements from the new family stand opening in November 2016 to this summer’s installation of a new hybrid pitch, why is it that although the club appear to be going in the right direction off the pitch, players want to leave?
The biggest problem is the club only offering players one year contracts. Ryan Bird for example, who as previously mentioned departed for Maidenhead United, was on a one year deal with an option for a second year. You can see from the financial aspect that the club is only part time and may struggle to be able to offer the players long-term deals, especially as the transfers could be a flop. Some players show loyalty to he club that gave them a chance when they were released such as ever reliant Mitch Walker who’s approaching his sixth season with the club, however many leave for the money such as Sam Magri who angered fans when he joined far richer Kent rivals Ebbsfleet United.
Another major problem is the location of the club. In a county with just one club in the football league, many players live in London or further afield in many scenarios before joining Dover. Many would struggle to see the appeal of playing for a club with low gates in a town voted the worst in England in a 2017 survey. However the fan base is small, but loyal and the manager’s ability to get the best out of players considered washed up by others is second to none.
So should Dover expect another Summer of Exodus? The chances are star player from last season Giancarlo Gallifuoco will leave as he has a large number of league 1 and 2 clubs sniffing around him however with more than one player staying all of those from last season offered new contracts, next season will be a good one for sure. And once the club gets into the 21st century regarding social media and begins to tweet out when players leave the club or reject a new contract, the fans optimism levels will rise along with attendances. But even if every player rejects a contract extension, in Kinnear we trust to bring in the best players available to him and once again challenge for the play offs. Once he goes on his 6 week summer holiday that is
Dover fans what are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below!