Dover Soul – The Fall & Rise Of Dover Athletic

It’s almost Easter weekend, which means that some of you are probably driving yourselves insane, poring over league tables and fixture lists and working out every conceivable permutation of how your team’s season could end up. A couple of days ago, we pondered how badly things seem to be going for clubs on the south coast of England, but there is one small corner of Kent which has spectacularly defied this trend and romped away at the top of their league, becoming champions and earning promotion before even March was out. This year’s “Football Steamroller” award goes to Dover Athletic, of the Ryman League Premier Division. Dover’s recent history is a story of rebirth, after a close shave with extinction and the dreaded Blue Square Premier ground grading inspectors. Founded as recently as 1983, following the extinction of Dover FC, who had been stalwarts of the Southern League since the late 1950s. Dover had struggled financially for several years before finally folding, and the new club also took a little time to establish itself in the town, with home crowds averaging little more than a couple of hundred during their first few seasons. Their fortunes began to improve in the late 1980s, and in 1990 they won the Southern League championship, only to be denied a place in the Football Conference after falling foul of ground grading rules. Three...

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