Category: Academy News


The National League have granted 22 clubs an Academy Licence for the inaugural National League Football Academy season.

Starting on September 11th, the 2019/20 campaign will be formed of two regional divisions – 12 Clubs in the South and 10 in the North- and clubs will participate in an additional cup competition later in the season.

Head of Player Development, Gary Owers, said: “The National League and National League Youth Alliance is committed to Youth Development.

“As part of our ongoing strategic approach we have implemented a scheme for clubs to demonstrate their own commitment to raising and maintaining standards in this area.

“The licencing process involved clubs meeting required criteria set by The National League.

“The aim of a National League Football Academy is to provide an environment and player pathway which allows Clubs to develop and produce more and better home grown players”.


Hartlepool United
York City
FC Halifax Town
Alfreton Town
AFC Fylde
Solihull Moors
Boston United


Chippenham Town
Hampton and Richmond Borough
Maidenhead United
Weston Super Mare
Boreham Wood
Dover Athletic
Sutton United
Oxford City
Aldershot Town


Dover Athletic are delighted to announce youngster Marshall Wratten has signed professional terms with the club.

Pictured alongside boss Andy Hessenthaler in Athletic’s new JAKO training kit, the 18-year-old has put pen to paper on an initial one-year deal following a string of fine performances for Dover’s academy side.

The left winger has already had a taste of first-team football, featuring as a substitute in our Emirates FA Cup first round tie at Bury in November, plus took in loan spells with Bostik Premier side Margate and Southern Counties East Football League club Hollands & Blair last season.

As well as winning five trophies in his time with Whites’ academy, Wratten was also second top scorer and contributed the most assists in Mike Sandmann’s team during their last campaign.

His former boss was delighted to see the youngster progress into the first-team squad.  “Marshall’s development has been fantastic,” said Sandmann.  “He has played a huge part in our success and we are delighted to see him sign for the first-team.

“The academy is all about progressing players and supporters will see a young hungry player that is determined to be successful”

Congratulations Marshall!



Dover Athletic’s Academy were celebrating winning another trophy on Wednesday.

Braces from Ryan Kingsford and Marshall Wratten saw off Sutton United Academy 4-0 in the PGMOL St George’s Park VAR final after the young Whites’ were crowned National Youth Alliance Champion of Champions last month.

And Mike Sandmann felt mixed emotions afterwards.

“It’s the end of an era for some of these boys”, said Dover’s Academy boss, “but what a way to finish with us.  I’ve already said it a million times but I couldn’t be prouder of the lads and it has been a pleasure to witness their footballing journey so far.

“It’s been a tough and physically demanding three days, but you would have thought it was the first match with how they performed in the final!”

Whites started the tournament with a 1-1 draw against Sutton and then defeated Pro Direct Nottingham 4-0.

Qualification from the group stage was at risk following losses to Pro Direct Birmingham (2-0) and Carlisle United Academy (3-0), however a 1-0 victory over Darlington Academy saw the youngsters advance to the knock-out stages, where they defeated Guiseley Academy, who had topped their own group with maximum points, on penalties.

A goal down in the last-four tie, Sandmann’s men came back to beat Pro Future Academy 3-1 before their resounding victory in the final.

Well done to the Academy!


Dover Athletic’s Academy were crowned National Youth Alliance Champion of Champions after beating Eastleigh Academy 1-0 on Wednesday afternoon.

Joshua Spencer’s header 10 minutes from time saw the young Whites’ triumph in the final, held at Oxford City’s ground, as Mike Sandmann’s side completed a league and cup double and remain unbeaten during the season.

Academy boss Sandmann said: “I’m really proud of the boys and they have been rewarded for all the hard work they have put in.

“We did some set piece drills in training and spoke about them again at half-time as it was such a tight game, so it was nice to see us score the winner from a free-kick.

“The lads have come far in their time with us and to be crowned the best academy team in the country, plus go the whole campaign without defeat is something quite special and proof of what a great set-up we have between Dover Athletic and the Abbey School.”

“We have two more tournaments with this group in June and before we welcome a new group from July – and the new lads already have a lot to live up to!

“Most of the existing squad are certainly ready for first-team football and I hope to see a couple involved during pre-season.”

After lifting the trophy, winning captain Jack Smith said: It was such a close game.  At half-time we all felt we could do better and picked up the tempo in the second half.

“To be the Champion of Champions is such a great feeling and it was a real honour to lead out this team.

“The coaching here is excellent and being part of the Dover academy has helped improve me and prepare me for men’s football.”

You can watch Joshua Spencer’s winner below


Dover Athletic’s academy will play in the National Youth Alliance Champion of Champions final after defeating AFC Stamford academy 1-0 on Wednesday night.

Ryan Kingsford’s 25th minute goal set up a final against Eastleigh academy, to be played on Wednesday 22nd May at Oxford City, kick off 2 pm.

Academy boss Mike Sandmann said of the victory afterwards.  “It’s a fantastic achievement to be in the final out of all the academies in the country and shows where our group of players are and how hard they are willing to work to develop.

“The group have been excellent throughout and I couldn’t be more proud them.  We will be hoping to be crowned the best academy in the country next week and I know the lads will do everything possible to make that happen.

“The final will be the last game for some of our players and it’s been an absolute pleasure to enjoy their progress and development.”


Whites’ youngsters moved in the final four of the National Youth Alliance Champions of Champions after defeating Chester FC Academy 5-4 on penalties on Wednesday evening.

Trailing by two goals at the break, a Marshall Wratten goal in the 67th minute and a Ryan Kingsford penalty 12 minutes from time saw the quarter-final tie, played at the Abbey School in Faversham, decided by spot-kicks.

Academy boss Mike Sandmann said of his team afterwards,  “I couldn’t be more proud of the players last night.  To come back like they did against a side undefeated in their own league this season shows true character and desire.

“I don’t think we played particularly well, but the result is the most important thing and it is fantastic for our academy – in partnership with the Abbey School – to be recognised as one of the top academy sides in the country.

“The players deserve all the credit for getting this far and hopefully we can reach the final.”

Dover’s academy have been drawn away to FCV Stamford in the semi-final, scheduled for Wednesday 15th May.

Watch Harisson Pont’s winning penalty below.



Ryan Kingsford scored six times as the Dover Academy won the National League Alliance Division B title in style.

Unbeaten in the league this season, Mike Sandmann’s side beat Ebbsleet Academy 8-0 to be crowned champions with three games to spare.

Boss Sandmann was delighted to see his side win the title for a second consecutive season.

”I couldn’t be more proud of the players,” he said.

“As a group they have worked hard all season to enjoy moments like today.

“To win the league is an achievement, but to do so unbeaten and with three games remaining is credit to them and their work ethic.  Year on year we are producing players and successful teams in the Academy, so the future is certainly bright for Dover Athletic.

“Some have already had a taste of first team football and I hope they continue to develop and progress into the first team.

“It’s no surprise players are willing to travel all over Kent and South London to be part of the Academy.

“The progression from the start of the season to now is incredible, but all credit goes to the players and their desire to learn and develop.”


Over seven million viewers tuned in to watch the Dover Academy side on Tuesday as they took on the Indonesia Under 17 National side in Faversham.

Indonesia, currently on on a UK tour and managed by former Premier League duo Dennis Wise and Des Walker, took on Athletic’s youngsters after their scheduled match at Charlton Athletic was cancelled at the last minute.

The South-East Asian side had already beaten both Blackburn and QPR Academy sides 4-1 during their time in Britain, but were unable to get the better of Dover as Mike Sandmann’s team won 3-2 thanks to goals from Jamie Chamberlain, Bebe Paldon and Ryan Kingsford.

You can view highlights of the match, streamed live to to Indonesia and with commentary from Simon Brotherton and Alan Smith, below.


Whites’s academy side were beaten 4-2 by a strong Maidstone United on Tuesday evening at the Gallagher Stadium.

With Andy Hessenthaler overseeing his first training session with the first team squad that same evening since being announced as Dover’s new boss, Mike Sandmann’s academy side represented Athletic in the second round of the Kent Reliance Senior Cup.

The home side were two goals ahead thanks to strikes from Ollie Muldoon and Olu Durojaiye, with the lead further extended by George McLennan and substitute Blair Turgott following the restart.

However Sandmann’s boys, made up of players aged 16-18, hit back twice late on thanks to a Harrison Kempston penalty and Joshua Spencer’s scrambled effort.

And Dover’ academy manager was full of praise for his young team in spite of their defeat.

”That is the best they have played this season by some distance.”  Said Sandmann afterwards.

”I only found out Saturday my lads would be playing in the Kent Cup instead of the first team, but they acquitted themselves ever so well against professional players.

”As you can imagine Maidstone dominated possession, but the boys kept their discipline and shape fantasticaly well, which was always a big challenge as we only have one player over six-feet tall in the side!”

And Mike believes the academy’s Kent Cup experience will only benefit his young charges in the future.

“This is a new group and it takes time to gel, but they showed how well they can play.  They have set the bar very high for themselves and if they can maintain that level of performance, the future is very bright for Dover.”