Dover F.C. 1934-40

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   Only one season was allowed to pass before the footballing public demanded that its sporting leaders should bring forward another town team to seek its fortunes in the Kent soccer area. At a packed meeting in the Council Chamber in March, 1934, the Dover Football Club was born under the chairmanship of Mr.W.H.Gates, with Mr.Maurice Piggott, vice-chairman, and Mr.A.E.Bushell its first secretary. From Mr.Geddes, still as interested as ever in the towns welfare, although he had been living away since 1929, came these words:-

   To have a Dover United you must have a united Dover. Dover, the Schools F.A., and the Dover League must be in complete accord. All local clubs must be prepared to help the town team, and the town ground must be at the disposal of the town club.

   The heights to which this club aspired in the five seasons prior to the outbreak of the Second World War are still well remembered. Unlike their predecessors who had galloped to the Kent Amateur Cup final in their first season, the new Dover Club trod the hard path threatened in their early days by financial cramp and unsupported by the fickle-minded people who had clamoured for another town team.

   Enthusiasm carried the Club through the difficult days until they had smashed down all barriers to pin Dovers name on the top of the Countys list of amateur sides.


   In their first season, 1934-35, with the nucleus of their playing strength drawn from the ranks of the Market Street Institute, Dover entered their senior side in Div.1 of the East Kent Amateur League (13 teams strong) and finished 5th., which was no mean accomplishment. Top goalscorers were:- Reg Baldwin 29, Pott 15, Ellse 12, Scorah 12, Walsh 10, Bayly 8.

   From a Club point of view, however, the season had been a fight for survival. Support was poor crowds still flocked from Dover to see Folkestones Kent League matches expenses were comparatively heavy and the Reserve side, which finished near the bottom of the Kent Amateur League Division II, proved a heavy drain on the Clubs finances. Of the twenty games the Reserves played, they won only three and drew two.

   The Club ended its first season with a deficit of 36, their chief item of expenditure being 64 for the hire of their grounds.

   With the task of building up their attendance figures if they were not to go the way of their predecessors, the Club must have faced up to their next season, 1935-36, with some misgivings, but while there was still plenty of room for improvement as far as support was concerned, they could proudly claim to have turned the corner by the end of the season with the previous years deficit wiped off.

   Nothing stimulates the publics enthusiasm more than a close finish to a race, and, in addition to winning the Kent Benevolent Cup, the Dover side captured the championship of the Kent Amateur League after a neck-and-neck struggle with Deal Town, goal average being left to settle the issue. Chartham Mental Hospital, who took third place, finished nine points behind.

   In recording this Dover success and those to follow, mention must not be omitted of the assistance given to the Club by players from the Devonshire Regiment stationed at Connaught Barracks. For three seasons Joe Knowles and Harry Allen, forming a brilliant left-wing, played a major role in the sides success, with Tommy Harper, another of the Regiments stalwarts, joining them later.

   Leading scorers that year were:- Baldwin 54, Allen 22, Collins 21, Fox 9, Knowles 8, Kinsey 7.

   The Reserves side battled sportingly against superior odds to finish low in the Division II table of the Kent Amateur League with 8 wins and 4 draws in their 28 games.

   The Club had taken root, public support grew, and Dover went forward into two seasons, which were to prove landmarks in the towns soccer history.



   In 1936-37, before ever increasing crowds, they reached the final of the Kent Amateur Cup, won the Kent Amateur League and Kent Benevolent Cup again, and carried off the Dover Charity Cup.  Their complete record:-

Kent Amateur League                 24     18      3      3      113-33

Kent Amateur Cup                         7      6       0      1       26-13

Dover Charity Cup                         4      3       1      0       24-8

Kent Benevolent Cup                    4       4       0      0       25-2

English Amateur Cup                    1       0       0      1         3-6

Kent Senior Cup                            1       0       0      1         1-6

Friendly                                         1        1      0       0         6-0

Seasons Record                         42      32     4       6       198-68


To reach the final of the Kent Amateur Cup they defeated:-

Aylesham St.Peters              (a)                  4-1

Ramsgate St.Lukes              (a)                  2-0

Royal Marines(Deal)             (h)                 4-0

London Paper Mills               (h)                 5-3

Sheppey                                (h)                5-0

T.B.R.E.(Chatham)                                    5-3

   In the final, Bromley defeated them 6-1 before a crowd of 6,137, beating the gate record set up in the 1921 final, which Dover won.

   Dover defeated Ramsgate Grenville in the final of the Kent Benevolent Cup, and the Prince of Wales Volunteers in the final of the Dover Charity Cup.

   Chief scorers were:- W.Baker 38. J.Knowles 34, R.Baldwin 31, H.Allen 30, T.Harper 14, S.Onions 8.

   With the distinction of being the only outfieldplayer to appear in every game, Charlie Croucher, in the last match of the season, had the misfortune to fall and fracture his arm.



   If the successes of the two previous years had placed the town team on a firm footing with the public, they were no more than mere appetisers for the memorable 1937-38 season.

   Dover reached the final of the Kent Senior Cup for the first time, the final of the Kent Amateur Cup for the second year in succession, and won the Kent Amateur League for the third year running.

   Certainly a page in the fifty-nine years of soccer history that will long be remembered, yet, though they appeared in both finals a feat not previously accomplished since 1913 neither of the Countys most prized trophies came to the town.



   Their path to the final of the Kent Senior Cup was:-

5th.Qual. v. Aylesford P.M.                 (h)       5-3

1st.Round v. Dartford                          (h)       5-1

2nd.Round v. Canterbury                     (h)      2-1

Semi-final v. Bexley Heath                  (h)      1-0

Final v. Northfleet                                           1-2

 A last minute goal gave Northfleet their victory in the final at Maidstone after Dover had led 1-0 at the interval, but handicapped throughout by the fact that Knowles was unfit. The attendance was 9,168.

   Dovers record in the Kent Amateur Cup was:-

1st.Round v. R.N.Depot                     (a)        1-0

2nd.Round v. Bromley                        (a)        2-2

Replay v. Bromley                             (h)        3-0

Semi-final v. London P.M.                 (h)        1-0

Final v. Aylesford P.M.                                   1-3

    Their full programme delayed the Kent Amateur Cup final until May 14th. the latest any Kent final had been played and a crowd of 5,162 (292) saw them beaten by Aylesford P.M. at Folkestone.

   In addition to the cup battles, Dover had been kept busily engaged in a close Kent Amateur League race with the Prince of Wales Volunteers, who were stationed locally. Dover finished one point ahead of the soldiers to take the League championship for the third successive season.

   Dovers complete record for the season was:-

Kent Amateur League                  22      18      1      3      109-28

Kent Senior Cup                             5        4      0      1        14-7

Kent Amateur Cup                          5        3      1      1          8-5

Kent Benevolent Cup                     3         2      0     1         15-2

F.A.Cup                                          2         1      0      1         7-4

English Amateur Cup                     1         0      0      1         0-1

Friendlies                                        2        1      0       1        3-8

Seasons Record                           40      29     2       9      156-55

    Leading goalscorers were:- Philpott 31, Baker 29, Knowles 28, Allen 24, Hambrook 14, Baldwin 9.

   The Club started the season with 140 to their credit. They finished it with a balance of 500.

   While civilisation throughout the whole world followed the winter of 1938-39 with apprehensive eyes on the gathering war clouds despite the breathing space that Munich afforded football on a Saturday afternoon continued as a much-needed relaxation for players and supporters who knew only too well that at any moment the storm might break.

   Dover meanwhile lost their chance of creating a record of appearing in the Kent Amateur Cup final in three successive years when they were beaten 5-1 in the second round by London Paper Mills, but they went on to win the Kent League Div.II in their first season in the competition.

   Leading goalscorers were:- Eric Hambrook 26, Crepin 21, Baldwin 12, Henderson 10, Haymer 7, Allen 6, Harris 5, Lamb and Southey 3, Rogers and Pardon 2.

   The Reserve side, competing in Division I of the Kent Amateur League, finished at the bottom of the table.

   After the sensational successes of the previous year, the senior sides early exits from the cups in addition to bad weather for many of the home games, brought a cooling off in their support and the Club ran at a loss of 21, though still with over 500 worth of stock untouched.

   Preparations for the 1939-40 season, with the senior side again entering Division II of the Kent League, were continued and as the season approached trial matches were played in readiness for the first fixture which was away to Ashford Reserves, on September 2nd., but Dover, with the rest of the country, had too many vital things to think about for the game to be played, and the following morning came Mr.Chamberlains fateful broadcast to tell us that, once again, we were at war with Germany.

   Not yet in the battle-front, but at the heart of a big garrison, Dover re-introduced football in 1940-41 with a semi-professional side in a Kent League studded with stars in battle-dress.  Until the competition was eventually abandoned some good football was seen, while spotters remained at the alert above the pavilion. From a financial point of view, however, the venture was not a success. Paying their professionals 10/- a game, the Club lost about 100 on the season.

   The above was taken from the DOVER SOCCER THROUGH 59 YEARS book, which was published in 1950. It is wrong when it says that Dover played in the 1940-41 season; it was actually 1939-40.
   The Kent Regional Leagues started in November 1939, and though most games had been played by mid-May 1940, the competition was then abandoned.
   The Dover Express reported at the start of September 1940 that the K.C.F.A. had written to all the clubs about its proposals for the 1940-41 season, but it was thought to be very unlikely that Dover would enter a team. Dover did not play again until the 1946-47 season.