JAMES DRYDEN has a message for Dover fans: You’re a credit to the club.
Dryden was impressed with the travelling army of Whites fans that swelled the crowd that watched us slip to a disappointing 3-2 defeat at Ramsgate.
The Dover striker – who scored our second goal – was gutted that he and his team-mates twice tossed away a lead after playing well in an end-to-end game.
He said: “Our fans are simply brilliant. They get behind you and can make a big difference to us. It’s a great feeling to run out in front of such a large crowd, knowing that the boys are right behind you.
“We are all so desperate to reward them by clinching promotion back to the Premier because they’ve had to put up with so much during the last few years.
“I am disappointed that I got injured and haven’t been playing many games since coming here – but steadily my fitness is building up and hopefully I can get the goals to help fire the club to success.”
Our defeat handed Ramsgate their biggest-ever achievement in football – promotion to the Ryman Premier – and everyone at Dover Athletic congratulate them on their much-deserved success.
The club’s focus is to join them there next season but Clive Walker and his team are under no illusions that it is going to be tough.
Dryden, who has now started two matches since injuring his knee four months ago, is hoping to make a big impact on the run-in and, fingers crossed, the play-offs.
He said: “I think we can go up. We’re certainly good enough to be in the Premier Division, no doubt about that, but have got to go and earn the right to be there.
“We’ve got a couple of tricky games coming up and hopefully I’ll be fit enough to start both of those. I feel I am fit enough to play for an hour.
“My fitness is the problem now. I haven’t been in full training during the last four months and don’t even train with the team before games. It’s a case of we just don’t want to risk anything at this stage of the season.
“However, with games, my fitness is building up and perhaps with another couple of hours football against Fleet and Whyteleafe I’ll be stronger for the play-offs, if we get there.”
Jimmy thought the defending at Ramsgate was disappointing after a superb run of five clean sheets – and an eight-match unbeaten run.
He said: “We just didn’t do well at the back. All three Ramsgate goals were soft from our point of view – and Smithy (Darren Smith) who has been superb for us was disappointed with the third one.
“James Rogers’ sending-off was one of those things. He’s a young lad and will learn from it. Although sometimes refs can frustrate players, there’s no point arguing with them.”
Dryden got a lot of stick from Ramsgate fans – which prompted his wild celebrations for both Dover goals, including his superb strike which made it 2-1.
But he got a sporting standing ovation from some of the home faithful when he was substituted.
He said: “One fan, with a young kid, dished out a lot of abuse, which was a bit of a surprise – and I was getting a bit of stick from some of their other fans. But that happens in football and the best way to respond is to stick the ball in the back of the net.
“But credit to their fans who clapped me off when I was substituted.”
Finally, Jimmy would like to quash once and for all the wild rumour, fuelled no doubt by rival fans, that he will quit Dover if promotion isn’t achieved.
He said: “Promotion has no bearing on my future at Dover. I love this club and have always wanted to come here.
“I am not thinking of the possibility of failing to achieve promotion – because we can do it. But whatever happens I will be a Dover player next season – for sure.
“And the fans should get behind us for these final games and hopefully we can do the business for them. We’ll be trying our best.”