*BS*Speaking to Jack O’Sullivan shortly after signing on loan from Leyton Orient until the end of the season, former Whites captain Connor Essam says he has unfinished business at Crabble – and that it’s great to be back.*BF*
The commanding central defender agreed a deal to link back up with Chris Kinnear’s men for the duration of the 2015/16 season, having left the club in July 2015 for a move to League Two side Leyton Orient.
Essam, who played 42 times for Whites last season, says he has his eyes firmly set on what he wants to achieve now he has returned to the club: “*IS*There’s definitely unfinished business for me at Dover, and it’s great to be back. Last year, I left the club because I wanted to play in the Football League but it was with a heavy heart. To start off with, it worked out very well but then I picked an injury up, and it just wasn’t the same afterwards.*IF*
“*IS*Last season we achieved a lot, and without our poor start last time around I think we’d have made the playoffs. From that point of view, I’m certainly here for promotion and that’s why I’ve come here. I think I can help the team achieve that.*IF*”
The 23-year-old says that he has been watching Whites’ performances so far this season – and is impressed at what his former team-mates have achieved thus far: “*IS*I’ve been following the side throughout this season and they have done a great job. It was always going to be tough to better what we achieved last season, but it’s looking like a real possibility.*IF*
“*IS*With the players kept on from last year, and the new signings that have been brought in, it’s all going in the right direction. I’m hoping that with a little help from me, we can definitely make the playoffs and from there, it’s a lottery but we’ll get to that when it comes to it.*IF*
“*IS*For now, we take one game at a time and make sure we’re there come the end of the season. Every footballer wants to be playing week in, week out. I know there’s only nine games left of the regular season but that’s still almost a quarter of the season – and then, hopefully, the playoff games after that.*IF*”
Essam, who has made 26 first-team appearances for The O’s this season, admits that once he learnt of Whites’ interest, his mind was made up: “*IS*There was only going to be one place I wanted to go. Dover are a club that are close to me, and I certainly wouldn’t have joined another National League club.*IF*
“*IS*I absolutely believe that there are clubs in the National League that are better than some in League Two. The top six or eight sides in League Two are very good, they’re a step above but otherwise I don’t think there’s much difference. It’s just getting into the League in the first place, with only two sides being promoted – but that’s the way the league is set out and that’s what we’re up against. I think the two leagues are getting closer and closer – the standard in non-league is much better than it used to be.*IF*”
One of the former Gillingham man’s most memorable moments last season was his winning goal against Cheltenham Town in the FA Cup – a strike which set up a tie at Crabble against Premier League side Crystal Palace – but Essam says the continued league performances were his highlight: “*IS*Our overall league results were very special. That’s probably a bigger achievement for me than the Cup game. At the start of the season, many people would’ve taken us to finish one place outside the relegation zone come the end of the season. Nobody expected us to do as well as we did.*IF*
“*IS*I’m looking forward to getting started here again. There’s obviously no guarantees I’ll get straight back in, but I’m keen to take my chance when it comes and try and play as many games as possible between now and the end of the season.*IF*
“*IS*We’ve got some tough teams still to play this season, against the so-called bigger sides. That could help us in our playoff chase though, as if we beat them then it really knocks them. But it’s one game at a time, we’ve got big one on Saturday and three points in that game is all that matters at the moment.*IF*”
The club would like to welcome Connor back to Crabble, and wish him the best of luck during the second part of his career with us.