*BS*JIM PARMENTER takes part in a special website question and answer session – ahead of our big kick-off at Horsham YMCA on Saturday.
*BF*The message is clear – we remain ambitious and are looking forward to making progress on and off-the-field, which hopefully will result in promotion.
*BS*Q: Another season opens. What goal have you set Andy Hessenthaler?
*BF*A: I have asked Andy to build as strong and entertaining squad that can compete well in this league and beyond as well as providing an environment where young players can develop.
Most of all I have asked for us to be as professional as possible in all areas of the club, I want to get as near to a full-time attitude as we can manage.
Andy has set himself the goal of promotion this year and I will do everything in my power to assist him to achieve that aim.
*BS*Q: As a fan, what do you believe has cost us promotion during the past two seasons?
*BF*A: Despite what some of the website experts say, there is not one answer to that question. There really is little point in looking back and I want everyone involved with the club to be looking forward.
*BS*Q: Has Ryman League Division One proved a tougher nut to crack than you and the board first expected?
*BF*A: We always knew that it was going to be a lot tougher to get up than it was to get relegated and there are no guarantees in football.
When we were “new kids on the block” because we had a bit of senior football history and a very nice ground (as well as perhaps a little disbelief that we managed to get relegated three times in four years), everyone wanted to give us a hiding just to prove a point.
But I think things have settled down now and a few more people understand that we are just a passionate football club who believe in what we are trying to achieve. I think that there are other “big fish” such as Worthing, whose manager has guaranteed them promotion and Ashford, whose chairman has spent half a million pounds this season who, perhaps, will get some focus this season.
*BS*Q: The club have decided to make Andy a full-time manager – what benefits are you looking to achieve from that?
*BF*A: Continuity, involvement in all areas of the club and a professional environment.
*BS*Q: What has been the most positive thing to come out of the pre-season games?
*BF*A: For me it would be the fact that the people who have turned up are clearly enjoying the type of football that Andy has brought to the club (as indeed are the directors).
My only one note of caution would be that football is about winning and although we have created a lot we have only won one in seven (all be it against teams from higher divisions) but I am certain that the goals will come and once we start the campaign proper we can all look forward to the entertaining football continuing.
*BS*Q: Attendance figures have held well during the past few seasons. How many supporters on average would you ideally like to see pass through the turnstiles this season?
*BF*A: The floating supporters will come to watch entertaining football but more importantly a winning team. I think we will have both at the SeaFrance Crabble Stadium this year. Therefore, I would like to think we can attract crowds of more than a thousand, however it’s not essential as our budgets are the same as last year – so if we can increase slightly we will be well placed for the season. Any extra income as a result of increased crowds will be invested wisely in the club.
*Q1**BS*Q: What would your message be to the people of Dover and the surrounding area that are contemplating coming to more games this season.
*BF*A: Certainly the people I know who had stopped attending are all coming back to games this year and are thoroughly enjoying what they are seeing.
If you want to watch entertaining football and you want to see your home club do well, come to the games and help create a fantastic atmosphere to help the team take us forward up the leagues.
*BS*Q: Obviously, short-term the target is promotion this season. You’ve always said you want to take the club all the way to the Football League. Having seen how tough it is proving to get out of this division, are you prepared for a long-haul route up the leagues – or do you believe it is possible for a fast-track route?
*BF*A: No such thing as a fast-track route. It can only be achieved by hard work, determination and a continued investment in gradual improvement on and off the pitch.
*BS*Q: You’ve been in football a long time now. Have you learned anything new during the past couple of seasons that you will draw on in the future?
*BF*A: Ignore website forums
*BS*Q: What would your ultimate dream be as Dover Athletic chairman, on and off the field?
*BF*A: To be honest, I don’t have an ultimate dream,I just love football and the sense of achievement created by what has been done at Dover in a very short space of time and what is in place now, making even more possible going forward is enough for me. I will just continue working hard for the club and trying to make the right decisions along with the board
*Lpic1**BS*Q: What would you say is the club’s motto? What do you expect of employees of the club?
*BF*A: Be professional, give everything, don’t make excuses.
*BS*Q: What is the club’s relationship like now with the Supporters’ Trust?
*BF*A: It continues to be good, although some of the fundamental questions raised last year regarding the best role for the trust going forward have not been resolved.
*BS*Q: Finally, a word on the business community. Running a football club costs money and it goes without saying that we need businesses and businessmen and women to get involved. What is your message to them and why should they get involved with our club?
*BF*A: We have been supported fantastically this year by the business community and our overall sponsorship has exceeded all expectations, not least the exciting news that SeaFrance have agreed to become our main sponsor. Something which I believe will benefit all parties and the town of Dover immensely.
We do however have many new ways that businesses, large or small, can get involved – and if any business would like to join us at this exiting time they should check out the commercial section of the website or give the club a call.