Dover: Club Background

The history of football in Dover probably goes back to 1894 when a Dover F.C. became founder members Kent League Division Two. However all that history can be pretty much skated over as the club we see today isn’t the same one. Between 1967 and 1977 Dover F.C. was one of Yeovil Town’s regular Southern League Premier Division rivals, but they suffered relegation in the 1977-78 season and so missed out on the formation of the Alliance League. By the time we met again in 1993 that club had folded in 1983 and then re-emerged as Dover Athletic F.C., taking their predecessor’s place in the Southern League South. It took them ten years to get out of the Southern League. Champions of the South Division in 1987-88 they followed that up with a Southern League Premier League title in 1989-90 – but it was worth little to them as the club didn’t have the ground grading to move up to what was by then called the Conference. Bath City, who had finished second, went up in their stead. By the time Dover were Champions again three seasons later in 1992-93 the stadium situation had been rectified.

There was a fortunate escape in 1995-96 when, despite having former England player Peter Taylor, who would go on to manage his country (well, he managed England for one match in 2000!), in charge they still finished in the relegation places in 1995-96. However they were spared the drop because the Northern League runners-up (and future cheats) Boston United failed to get their paperwork filed in time. Now there’s a shame.

Given its importance as one of the busiest ports in Britain, Dover is a much smaller place than one imagines it would be: the town itself having a population of just over 30,000. Maybe this is one of the reasons it has consistently struggled to support a football club – though it has to said there’s plenty of places as small or smaller which haven’t had the same problems. Before the 1983 liquidation mentioned above various manifestations of the club had folded a number of times previously, and further financial woes will appear in this history.

At the beginning of this century it was again a club with problems looking to cut the wage bill – ahead of the 2001-02 season they let eleven players go, including a Colin (Pluck) Miles on a free, snapped up by a certain West Country club, and only recruited five replacements – as they desperately tried to reduce their outgoings. It wasn’t enough. As they struggled at the foot of the table, getting through three managers – Gary Bellamy, Neville Southall (the Everton one) and Clive Walker (not the Chelsea one), the financial crisis deepened, and the entire Board of Directors resigned, leaving the Supporters’ Trust to try to keep the club afloat. Our second series of matches versus Dover (broken by our second spell in the Isthmian League) came to an end in that season as Dover was relegated in last place. (Slightly oddly, we returned to Crabble Athletic Ground the very next season, in March 2003, but it was to play Margate, which had begun a ground share there.)

As the club prepared for life back in the Southern League Premier Division it was insolvent with £400,000 of debts and resorted to a CVA in June 2002. It was to take the next four years to complete and exit the CVA. Dover only spent two seasons in the Southern League, before switching to the Isthmian, where they managed to get themselves relegated immediately in 2004-05. They were within weeks of liquidation when a former director, Jim Parmenter, returned as Chairman with a new consortium and eventually cleared that CVA.

During this period Dover rapidly got through a further series of managers, Walker replaced by Richard Langley, who was replaced by former Yeovil Town player the late Steve Browne (sadly lost to cancer in 2017 at the desperately early age of 52), who was replaced in turn by Walker returning for a second spell. After two successive failures in the play-offs, losing 3-2 to Tonbridge Angels in the 2005-06 Final and 2-0 to Hastings United at the Semi-Final stage in 2006-07, Walker’s contract was not renewed. Enter Andy Hessenthaler, as player-manager, for the first of his two spells.

Hessenthaler’s arrival saw a major change in fortunes on the pitch with back-to-back promotions as Champions, to the Isthmian League Premier Division and then up to Conference South, in his first two seasons. He couldn’t quite manage three in a row, finishing a long way – everyone finished a long long way behind Newport County in the 2009-10 season – second, adrift of the title by 28 points. In the also-rans play-offs Dover lost out at the two-legged semi-final stage 2-1 to Woking. Hessenthaler finally retired from the playing side at the age of 44 after this tie.

At this point, unfortunately for Dover, Paul Scally came knocking and Hessenthaler departed to manage at Priestfield for the second time. The Whites selected Ian Hendon as his successor, only for Scally to come calling again just 18 days later and nick him for Gillingham too. Martin Hayes, who must have realised he was very much second choice, came in and though he got Dover to the Third Round of the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history they failed to clinch a play-off spot by a narrow margin and he was then on borrowed time – sacked a month into the following campaign.

New manager Nicky Forster also just missed the play-offs in his first campaign, the remainder of the 2011-12 season, and never completed a second – the club panicking and placing him on “gardening leave” in January 2013 after five defeats even though they were still third in the table at the time. In came Chris Kinnear next day. They finished third, but lost out in the play-offs again, to Salisbury City 3-2 in the Final.

In Kinnear’s first full season of 2013-14 Dover snuck in to the last play-off place on goal difference but then sailed through the semis, beating Sutton United 4-1 on aggregate before a tight Final saw them defeat Ebbsfleet United 1-0 despite The Fleet having home advantage by dint of having finished higher in the table.

Back in the Non-League top flight they finished 8th in their first season, 5th in their second (defeated at the play-off semi stage by Forest Green Rovers), 6th in the third and 8th in the fourth, Kinnear achieving the longest managerial spell since the formation of Dover Athletic in 1983, before boardroom patience at being National League ‘nearly men’ ran out and he was dismissed in October 2018.

Parmenter turned to Hessenthaler once more, bringing him back to Crabble for a second spell. Things have not worked out for either of them. Dover finished 14th that season and 11th on PPG in the 2019-20 season truncated when Covid-19 struck; but things were about to get a whole lot tougher for them. The Whites have always struggled for crowds – perhaps they shouldn’t have placed their stadium at the top of such a long steep hill 😉 – with even ‘good’ seasons on the pitch generally only seeing average gates reaching between 1,100 and 1,200 and poor ones dipping down to three figures. With a full-time budget stretched to the limit and Parmenter stating he’d had enough of subsidising the club, when it emerged that the Sport England moneys were to be loans rather than grants he refused to play on after 15 matches of the 2020-21 season, putting the club in moth balls, and also resigning his seat on the National League Board in protest.

Some thought Dover should have been demoted from the National League Premier, and in truth Parmenter might have preferred it if they had been, thus operating at a level where they might have been more competitive.  However, in its wisdom the National League fined a potless Dover £40,000 and also deducted them 12 points. They have been operating as a part-time outfit this campaign.

The team has only won a single match all season in all competitions, not getting past their opening rounds in either the FA Cup or the FA Trophy, though they admittedly did pick up a point at Huish Park back in November, and remains on minus points. It’s been a dire campaign with only the date of their relegation to play for – and that will almost certainly become a mathematical reality in March. With 12 games remaining and 35 points below the relegation line only a win versus the Glovers can postpone that moment beyond the 19th. Even that may not be enough, as if Aldershot Town win at home to King’s Lynn Town then Dover are down whatever happens at Crabble. The main surprise is, although the lowest divisional average at 896, that any Dover fans at all are still turning up to the horror show. Respect to them.


We’ve Met Before…

Previous Results for Yeovil Town First Team vs Dover FC

07/10/1967 Away SLP D 0-0
24/02/1968 Home SLP D 1-1 Muir
07/09/1968 Home SLP D 2-2 Elliott, Taylor
30/11/1968 Away SLP D 1-1 Taylor
17/01/1970 Home SLP W 3-2 Weller, K Thompson, Plumb
14/03/1970 Away SLP W 1-0 Housley
17/10/1970 Away SLP L 1-2 Myers
05/04/1971 Home SLP D 1-1 K Thompson
21/08/1971 Away SLP L 0-3 1450
29/01/1972 Home SLP W 1-0 2178 Cotton
29/11/1972 Home SLP L 0-1 3876
10/02/1973 Away SLP W 2-0 2136 Own Goal, Myers
10/11/1973 Home SLP W 3-1 2294 Clancy(2), Verity
01/12/1973 Away SLP L 1-2 Clancy
22/03/1975 Home SLP W 3-0 2110 Housley, Brown, Plumb
11/04/1975 Away SLP L 0-1
21/04/1976 Away SLP D 1-1 Brown
23/04/1976 Home SLP W 5-1 1509 K Thompson(2), Brown(2), Thompson
23/03/1977 Away SLP D 1-1 Hickton
20/05/1977 Home SLP W 1-0 Clancy
19/11/1977 Home SLP D 1-1 Hickton
26/11/1977 Away SLP D 0-0

Previous Results for Yeovil Town First Team vs Dover Athletic

20/11/1993 Home CONF L 1-3 2730 Spencer
23/04/1994 Away CONF W 2-0 849 West, Wallace
31/08/1994 Away CONF D 1-1 1573 Own Goal 60
04/03/1995 Home CONF L 1-3 1832 Own Goal
09/09/1997 Away CONF L 0-1 1121
28/04/1998 Home CONF W 4-1 1817 Archer(2), Pickard(2)
29/08/1998 Away CONF W 2-1 1154 Thompson 67, Own Goal 70
28/11/1998 Home CONF D 1-1 2211 Patmore 32
02/10/1999 Home CONF D 1-1 2420 Foster 90
08/01/2000 Away CONF L 0-3 1442
03/10/2000 Home CONF W 4-0 2306 Smith 24, Patmore 34, 53, Way 42
31/03/2001 Away CONF D 1-1 1293 Way 68
22/09/2001 Away CONF W 2-1 1015 Alford 14, Giles 30
27/04/2002 Home CONF W 2-0 2852 Alford 19, Stansfield 45
16/11/2019 Home NLP L 0-1 2986
07/03/2020 Away NLP W 1-0 1180 Richards 47
24/10/2020 Home FACQR4 W 3-3 0 Murphy 9, 31, Quigley 48 (7-6 on penalties)
*30/01/2021 Home NLP *W *3-1 0 Quigley 44, 52, Murphy 78
22/05/2021 Away NLP (Match not played, Dover’s NLP season expunged.)
27/11/2021 Home NLP D 1-1 2062 Yussuf 77
19/03/2022 Away NLP W 2-0 Barclay 19, Gorman 56

Results Summary For Yeovil Town First Team vs Dover FC and Dover Athletic

Home Away Overall
W D L F A W D L F A W D L F A
10 7 4 39 24 7 7 6 19 19 17 14 10 58 43

(*Note*: as the fixture on 30/01/2021 was subsequently officially expunged the result and goals scored have not been added in to the summary record.)


Dover Athletic : Club Statistics

RECENT RESULTS

25/01/2022 Eastleigh Home NLP W 1-0 486 Pavey 59
29/01/2022 Southend United Home NLP L 0-1 2657
05/02/2022 Stockport County Away NLP L 0-1 7263
12/02/2022 Torquay United Home NLP L 1-3 783 Goodman 25
22/02/2022 Aldershot Town Away NLP D 0-0 1420
26/02/2022 Grimsby Town Home NLP L 1-3 831 Goodman 40
05/03/2022 Barnet Away NLP L 0-6 1168
12/03/2022 FC Halifax Town Away NLP L 1-2 1828 Pavey 10
19/03/2022 Yeovil Town Home NLP L 0-2

ATTENDANCE STATISTICS

Highest League Attendance: 2,657 v Southend United 29/01/2022
Lowest League Attendance:  399 v Wealdstone 23/11/2021
Average League Attendance: 896

CURRENT LEAGUE SEQUENCE STATISTICS

Games Without A Win: 8 Games Without A Home Win: 4
Games Without An Away Win: *19 Games Without Defeat: 0
Games Without A Home Defeat: 0 Games Without An Away Defeat: 0
Games Without A Draw: 4 Games Without A Score Draw: 17
Games Without A No-Score Draw: 4 Games Without Scoring: 1
Games Without Conceding: 0 Home Results Sequence: LLWLLLL
Away Results Sequence: LLDL Overall Results Sequence: LLWLLLDLLLL

(* Last Dover Athletic away win goes back to before this season. With their 2020-21 National League results expunged it was on 1st February 2020, 2-0 vs Stockport County.)


Dover Athletic: Club Information

Crabble Athletic Ground,
Lewisham Road,
River,
Dover,
Kent,
CT17 0JB
(Click for map)

Telephone Number: 01304 822373
Email: enquiries@doverathletic.com

Chairman: Jim Parmenter
Football Secretary: Frank Clarke
Head of Media: Richard Harvey
Team Manager: Andy Hessenthaler

Capacity: 5,745
Seated: 1,500
Covered Terrace: Yes
Record Attendance: 5,645 v Crystal Palace, FA Cup Third Round, 04/01/2015.

Colours: white shirt with black trim, black shorts with white trim, black socks
Nickname: The Whites
Programme: £2.50


Ticketing information

Crabble Athletic Ground was a picturesque but rather eccentric and shambolic edifice when we visited in our pre-EFL days. It remains a picturesque location but has seem some development in the meantime. A new Family Stand was opened around 2016, new floodlights have been installed, along with additional safety barriers to extend the useable standing areas. As a result, capacity has increased to 5,745 (with 1,500 seats), and by 2018 the club was confident enough to apply for EFL ground status.
Dover is operating a pay on the turnstiles (cash or card) policy for away fans for all games this season unless otherwise specifically designated. There has been no indication the home club has any plans to change this for our visit to Crabble on Saturday 19th March with a 3.00 p.m. kick-off.
Prices are:
Adult: £18.00
Concession (60+): £15.00
Under 18: £9.00
Under 11: FREE (with an accompanying adult, max 4 per adult)
Those supporters wishing to transfer to the seating area within the segregation zone may do so for an additional charge of £1.50 for adults & £1.00 for concessions and under 18s. Under 11s can transfer for free. This is payable (cash only) at the stand itself.
Away support has been allocated the Dover (sometimes referred to as Town) End Terrace (a covered stand at the southern end of the ground holding around 2,000) and Block A of the Main Stand for seating throughout the season. Again there is no indication this will not be the case for us too. These are accessed at the far end of the stadium from the approach off Crabble Road and Lewisham Road.
 
Disabled Supporters
Wheelchair spaces are in the Family Stand, the platform accessed by lift. Disabled toilet provision is located in the Centre Spot bar area.
Supporters pay the relevant prices above with an accompanying Carer for registered* disabled purchasing a ticket entering FREE.
The last section up to the ground is a steep hike. In the past the club has sometimes made a golf buggy available to transport the less mobile up the hill. Don’t know if that’s still the case. Give the club a ring if feeling you might need that provision to find out if it is still available and whether bookable: 01304 822373.
(* Classified as in receipt of the middle or higher rate of the Disability Living Allowance (mobility or car component), or receipt of either the Severe Disablement Allowance or Attendance Allowance.)

Official Away Travel

The Green & White Supporters’ Club is running away travel to Dover Athletic on Saturday, March 19th.

Details are as follows:

Members: Adult £34.00; Concession £32.00
Non-Members: Adult £36.00; Concession £34.00
Coach departs Huish Park: 7.45 a.m.

To book, call Paul Hadlow on 07736 044570 or email him on paulhadlow@outlook.com.

If you are getting in touch by email, please make it clear which match you are booking for and that you give your full name, the names of people that are travelling and a contact telephone number.

You may be asked to pay a £5 deposit to reserve your seat.


Directions To The Ground

General:

Everyone knows where Dover is – gateway to England, White Cliffs of, blah blah. And, even though the Channel Tunnel sees lots bypass it these days, many will have been through the place. Through, though, is probably the operative word. Far fewer stop. However, tucked into almost the furthest South-East corner of the country, it’s a deceptively longer journey than one imagines in one’s mind eye from Yeovil, at 202 miles – exactly the same as Nottingham’s Meadow Lane for example, which psychologically feels like it’s going to be further away.

The town is rather smaller than one might expect, with just over 30,000 population at the last census, but the wider area is something of a sprawling urban mess with the population of the District of Dover over 110,000. The football stadium is a couple of miles from the town centre in a suburb called River. It’s a long drag, mostly up hill, along the A256 and Crabble Hill, if walking from central Dover. Once there you’ll find that Crabble Athletic Ground is situated in a rather attractive location for a football stadium.

By Road:

The first part of the journey is the familiar A303/M3 route towards London. Leave the M3 at Junction 2, taking the M25 anti-clockwise round to Junction 5. At Junction 5 switch to the M26, which after nine miles will filter you on to the M20. Follow the M20 to its termination at Folkestone and then take the A20.

Now you have a choice. If planning to spend some pre-match time in the town centre keep on the A20 which runs along the coast all the way into Dover.

If going straight to River and the ground, to avoid as much of the ferry traffic and general town centre snarl ups as possible leave the A20 after three-quarters of a mile, taking the A260 (Alkham Valley Road). Around six miles along this road brings one into Kearnsey. Turn right onto Lower Road; right again onto Minnis Lane; and then left on to Lewisham Road, which will take you down to stadium which will be seen to the right.

Parking:

There is no car park at the football stadium for supporters, but parking is made available at the nearby Dover Rugby Club a couple of hundred yards away. This has been free in the past and there is nothing on Dover’s website that indicates that has changed.

By Rail:

Once London has been reached there are three routes operated by Southeastern Trains to Dover, which has two relevant railway stations. The fastest service is from St Pancras International (via Ashford International) but only calls at Dover Priory Station, down in the centre of town, which is just under two miles from the ground. A slower service out of Charing Cross (via Folkestone) also goes to Dover Priory. Finally, an even slower stopping service from Victoria (via Canterbury East) calls at both Kearsney Station and Dover Priory, with the former closer to the stadium at just over one mile away from Crabble.

It is doable from Yeovil Junction and back in the day but you’ll be looking at around five hours each way – and there are some dreaded bus replacement warnings floating about from both South Western Railway and Southeastern Trains in regards to certain services.

By Bus:

The closest bus stop to the stadium is in Crabble Lane, served by Nos. 90, 91 and 92 buses from the town centre, departing from Priory Street (Stop E). Runs every 20 minutes during the day with a scheduled journey time of 17 minutes. The Nos. 15 and 68 from Priory Street (Stop F) offers a faster journey as they go straight up the A256 without wandering around local housing estates, but doesn’t go so close the ground (ask for Dodd’s Lane stop as the nearest), leaving a ten minute walk at the other end.

By Taxi

There’s a taxi rank at Dover Priory Railway Station but not one at Kearsney Railway Station. Some numbers for local taxi firms can also be found here.


Web Resources

Web Sites

One Town, One Team, One Dover – Official website. Feels rather part-time and make-do-and-mend, somewhat like the club.

Official Twitter account.

DAFC Discussion – unofficial fans forum.

Dover Athletic Community Trust – charity established 2018 and affiliated to Dover Athletic Football Club.

Local Press

Kent Messenger (via KentOnline) – has a Dover Athletic section.


Dover: Food & Drink

General

Given Dover’s huge passing trade there’s unsurprisingly an absolute mass of cafés, fast food joints and take-aways around town. The main cluster of pubs runs from the harbour northwards along and between the A256, which branches into a one-way circular system in town, encompassing Barton Road/Maison Dieu Road going south, and York Street/High Street/London Road journeying north. Closest pub to Dover Priory Station if arriving or waiting for the train out from there is The Priory Hotel (below). For anyone alighting at Kearsney Station, the Royal Oak (below) is on the walk to the ground.

The sequence of pubs as one trudges up the west branch of the A256 (for traffic going out of Dover) is: The Golden Lion, Prince Albert, Thirsty Scarecrow (below), Eagle Tavern, Sportsman, Breakwater Taproom (just off it, below), Old Endeavour, and Bull Inn. The two branches have re-joined by the time the Three Cups (below) is reached. The next, and closest to the ground apart from The Cricketers (below), used to be the Gate Inn. If you used it in the past don’t look for it now. We went in once, gave a right panning in a subsequent review after the experience, and presumably entirely unconnected to that opinion it shut down for good a couple of years later and is now a Chinese Takeaway.

Along the eastern branch of the A256 (for traffic going in to Dover) there’s: The Red Lion, Admiral Harvey (just of it on Bridge Street), Louis Armstrong (below) and White Horse (just off it, below).

If you’ve seen the recommendation for Dover’s first micropub, The Rack of Ale down in the town centre, still on a leading Away Fans guide site, this closed in 2017 and has been reconverted back to a shop.

In the latter years of the 20th and early years of the 21st Centuries we found Dover pubs much of a muchness: mostly very similar, middle-of-the-road outlets of average quality at best; with half aiming to churn through an endless stream of travellers they never expected to see again; and the other half catering to frosty locals making it clear they didn’t welcome outsiders in their space. Things appear to have improved somewhat more recently, with rather greater variety available.

Club Bar

Dover’s club bar, Centre Spot, is situated inside the ground, to the right of the main turnstiles, and seem to recall as being a large single level hut with one long room. It is open to away fans when matches are unsegregated.
The beauty of the bar in the past was that its large windows look directly out onto the side terrace, and the bar did not shut during games, meaning that it was quite possible to stay drinking for the entire duration of the match without losing too much view of what was happening on the pitch. We don’t know if this remains the case – probably not in these more officious days. However (see above, ticketing), as this fixture is segregated, we’re not likely to find out on March 19th.
In the past this led to an infamous incident on one of our visits, when three players (no names mentioned here!) who’d travelled with the squad but not made the team on the day, decided they preferred to spend the match in the bar rather than sit out in the cold supporting their mates. Unfortunately for them they were spotted by a club director, who then passed what he’d seen on to the manager… arses were kicked, fines were levied…

The food available inside the ground is basic football fare: Cheeseburgers, Quarter Pounder Burgers, Hot Dogs and a selection of filled rolls – though the Crabble Burger was a definite winner during our 2020 visit.

Local Pubs

Brewery and Taproom.

Breakwater Brewery & Taproom: Opened in 2016, coincidentally or not on the site of a former brewery that closed in 1890, it’s a long single storey timber covered building, part of which houses the brewery and part the taproom. Also has an outside area with tables and benches. Its website domain name has been released but it does still have a Facebook presence. Naturally the Taproom focuses on its own beers, with the cask offerings served on gravity. Always has three Breakwater beers on cask, sometimes more – depends what they have been brewing. Guest beers from other small independent breweries can appear on cask too. There are around eight keg taps, again featuring their own and guest beers. Breakwater brew across the beer styles: recent offerings include Milk Stout, American IPA, English IPA, Black IPA, Golden, Brown Ale, Wee Heavy, Mild, Pale Ale, Best Bitter…. so guests tend to be selected to fill in the gaps; if they haven’t brewed their own Lager or a Porter recently there may well still be one on from someone else. Real ciders are also available, a range of their own in-house pressings. Stocks a wide range of gins too. Food is Pizzas, available 5.00 p.m. – 9.00 p.m. Thursday to Sunday.  Opening hours are: 5.00 p.m. – 10.30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 4.00 p.m. – 11.00 p.m. Friday; noon – midnight Saturday; noon – 9.00 p.m. Sunday. As an added bonus, word has it there’s a ‘Happy Hour’ on most drink prices from 12.00 noon to 2.00 p.m. on Saturdays if Dover Athletic are at home… and it’s less than a mile to stagger to the stadium from here – win, win.
Breakwater Brewery, St Martin’s Yard, Lorne Road, Dover, Kent, CT16 2AA. Tel: 01304 410144. Map: Breakwater Brewery & Taproom.

Cricketers: closest pub to the stadium.

Cricketers: Closest pub to the ground, a few hundred yards away on the final steep pull up the hill to the stadium. The exterior looks the same as on our earlier visits, but belies the interior, which was completely altered and stripped out in 2012. Judging from the photo gallery what remains are great cavernous standing spaces with some tables round the edges. There are two skittle alleys, a pool table, darts board and it has BT Sports. The draught available seems to be Heineken, Fosters, John Smiths Extra Smooth, Strongbow Extra Cold, Thatcher’s Gold and Guinness. No longer appears to do any food. Large beer garden with a children’s play area. Opening: 3.00 p.m. – 10.00 p.m. Monday; 3.00 p.m. – 11.00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 3.00 p.m. to midnight Thursday; 1.00 p.m. – 1.00 a.m. Friday; noon – 1.00 a.m. Saturday; 1.00 p.m. – 9.00 p.m. Sunday.
The Cricketers, Crabble Avenue, River, Dover, Kent, CT17 0JB. Tel: 01304 206396. Map: Cricketers.

Eight Bells: We recall this as a better than average Spoons from years back, and that still seems like it may be the case. In the centre of town 1.7 miles from Crabble. The offerings from the Wetherspoon core range are Greene King Abbot and Ruddles Best and Sharp’s Doom Bar, with eight additional changing Real Ales; and more emphasis on local beers than some pubs in the chain manage. The real cider, generally on hand pump rather than straight from a box as in many Spoons, has been Gwynt Y Ddraig’s Black Dragon, which weighs in at a hefty 7.2%, in the past. Has outside area to the front onto the shopping precinct. Disabled access and toilet. Sports on TV, but only from terrestrial channels. Food served all day. Opens 8.00 a.m. every day, closing midnight Sunday to Thursday and 1.00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Eight Bells, 19 Cannon Street, Dover, Kent, CT16 1BZ. Tel: 01304 205030. Map: Eight Bells.

The Hoptimist.

Hoptimist Taproom & Bar: One of early micropubs to open in Dover (2013), first as Pier Three, then The Mash Tun, this changed owners and name yet again to reopen at the end of 2019. A hundred and fifty yards south of the Wetherspoon (above) so 1.8 miles from the stadium. Has a changing range of cask and ‘Craft’ keg beers, mostly focusing on small breweries from Kent and Sussex (though not exclusively, with offerings from Glastonbury Ales and Parkway Brewing both of Somerset on recently). The keg range also extends to more mainstream brands. The food on offer is kept simple: Ploughman’s or a Cheese Board. Small beer garden to rear. Opening hours: 1.00 p.m. – 9.00 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 1.00 p.m.* – 10.30 p.m. Thursday to Saturday; noon – 6.00 p.m. Sunday.
(* Announced on their Facebook page two years ago that intended to start opening from 12.00 noon on Saturdays when Dover Athletic are at home – presumably indicating it’s a venue that welcomes football fans – and seem to have kept going with that from the evidence of subsequent postings.)
The Hoptimist Taproom & Bar, 3 Bench Street, Dover, Kent, CT16 1JH. Tel: 07515 367802 and 07951 700301. Map: Hoptimist.

Louis Armstrong: A Dover institution run by the same landlady since 1962, the family stated they intended to continue the pub in very much the same vein when she passed away after 57 years in situ in 2019. As the name suggests, very much a music pub, with live gigs (can be Rock, Blues, Jazz, Folk) on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. A Free House, it has four hand pumps sourcing changing beers from small independent Kentish breweries. Table-benches outside the front, large enclosed beer garden to the rear. Children allowed until 7.00 p.m. Opening hours: from 3.00 p.m. every day except Sunday when 7.00 p.m.; closing 11.00 p.m. (or sometimes later when there’s live music). Opening time means this one is for a celebration (or consolation) pint if heading back down towards town post-match.
The Louis Armstrong, 58 Maison Dieu Road, Dover, Kent, CT16 1RA. Tel: 01304 204759. Map: Louis Armstrong.

Priory Hotel: Yards from Dover Priory Station, this is a fairly standard chain pub (was owned by Ei Group, but appears to have changed hands in Summer 2019 ). Food (prices are cheap, almost Spoons levels) served 10.00 a.m. – 2.00 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. – 9.00 p.m. with a Breakfast Menu, and Main and Children’s Menus, in the ‘Pub Grub’ style. Serves one changing Real Ale which can be anything but most common recently has been something from a local micro-brewery Breakwater. The Keg is mainstream multinational stuff. Regular live music, beer garden and smoking area. Not that it bothers to say, but opening hours appear to be: 10.00 a.m. – midnight Monday to Thursday; 10.00 a.m. – 1.00 a.m. Friday and Saturday; noon – midnight Sunday.
The Priory Hotel, Priory Station Approach, Dover, Kent, CT17 9SB. Tel: 01304 242344. Map: Priory Hotel.

Royal Oak: The only pub included that’s northwards from the stadium, mainly because it’s the only pub within a reasonable distance in that direction. It’s in River, the sort of place that likes to refer to itself as “The Village of…” with a capital V, but was in reality swallowed up by Dover as a suburb long ago. Would be an option for those alighting from the train at Kearsney as it’s on the shortest route walking from that station to the stadium (pretty much exactly half way, so half a mile from each). Opening is a straightforward noon – 11.00 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, with food served from noon – 2.45 p.m. and 6.00 p.m. – 9.00 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday and noon – 5.00 p.m. Sunday. The menu is typical mid-range pub fare; there’s a couple of children’s options. Draught: three on cask, with a couple from Adnams and usually a monthly changing option from a local Kent brewery; and on keg there’s Fosters, Whitstable Bay Blonde by Shepherd & Neame and Kronenbourg 1664 to cover the Lager market, and Guinness; while Orchard View is the cider (hidden behind a Shepherd Neame badging which attempts to claim it’s a collaboration between “Britain’s oldest brewer” – just possibly true – and the “oldest family-owned cidermaker, Aspall, whose expert craftsmanship has been refined over centuries and handed down through generations” – which is embarrassing misrepresentation, as Aspall was swallowed up by multinational conglomerate Molson Coors in 2018… oh what a tangled marketing web is weaved to fake ‘tradition’). Anyway, back to the pub guide. There’s a beer garden, 10 space car park and BT Sports.
The Royal Oak, 36 Lower Road, River, Dover, Kent, CT17 0QU. Tel: 01304 829433. Map: Royal Oak.

Thirsty Scarecrow – Micro Cider House.

Thirsty Scarecrow: Micropubs may be popping up the length and breadth of the land but this one, opened late 2015, claims to have been the country’s first Micro-Cider House (website seems to have been closed but does have a Facebook page). If making that grinding walk up from Dover Priory Station or the town centre to the ground this might be an inviting refreshment point with something over the mile still to go. On two levels, the chiller cellar room is in the upper section and stocks around 20 to 25 ciders and perries sourced from all round the country. Often has a mead on too. Reasonably recently has put in a couple of ‘Craft’ beers from small local independent breweries for those less enamoured of the apple and pear juices; and that appears to have gone well as now seems to have been upped to three lines. Does pop-up food events, but occasionally so don’t rely on there being one if you drop in. Family friendly. Opening hours are noon – 9.00 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, noon – 10.00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 1.00 p.m. – 9.00 p.m. Sunday.
The Thirsty Scarecrow, 107 High Street, Dover, Kent, CT16 1EB. Tel: 07454 934833. Map: Thirsty Scarecrow.

Three Cups Inn: Last pub, apart from The Cricketers (above), on the route up from the town before reaching the stadium exactly half a mile away. Appears to have changed hands three or four times recently. The last but one change saw the disappearance of the final handpump (and possibly the skittle alley – it certainly didn’t seem to be getting mentioned any more). Keg was well-known brands, and mostly confined to lagers and ciders: the likes of Fosters, Kronenbourg 1664, Stella Artois, Beck’s, Strongbow, Stowford Press. Was partnered with the Ambrette Street Food Company (which specialises in Indian food) – but that hasn’t got a mention since the latest regime change in October 2021 (the website you may come across relates to this earlier ownership and doesn’t appear to have much resemblance to the present situation). That appears to have brought it into the orbit of Victoria Inns. It doesn’t currently fit the usual style of their pubs so may be a work in progress; or, as it is more a pub investment company rather than a pub management company, they may simply be letting this licensee travel in a different direction. Has paved area with a couple of tables to the front and a decked beer garden at the rear. Darts, a pool table, Sky and BT Sports TV. As to opening hours, six months in why would the new business have got around to publishing what those are! If has stayed the same, was previously noon – midnight on a Saturday.
Three Cups Inn, 59 Crabble Hill, Dover, Kent, CT17 0RX. Tel: 01304 204844. Map: Three Cups.

White Horse: Claimed to be the oldest pub in Dover dating back to c.1365 (always treat claims from local folklore and over-enthusiastic publicans concerning pubs with the scepticism they deserve – in this case architectural historians charged with awarding Grade II Listing dated the oldest parts to 16th Century), it will be found at the foot of the hill rising up to Dover Castle just off the southward branch (Maison Dieu Road) of the A256. 1.9 miles from the football stadium. Harvey’s Sussex Best Bitter and Timothy Taylor’s Landlord are the regular beers, with a changing (usually local) option – Old Dairy seems to be favoured brewery at the moment. A real cider is available, generally something from Weston’s but earlier this month Stan’s Trad, Thatcher’s 6.0% oak-aged dry cider, was on. Picturesque charm and the location suggest it’s inevitably going to be a mid-range dining pub – and that’s exactly what it is. Menu is what passes as ‘British Pub Food’ these days (so thankfully plenty of choices, including vegetarian and vegan options, which wouldn’t have been classed as remotely British fare 20 or 30 years back, as well as the traditional classics). Food service times are so various day by day that just giving Saturday’s here: noon to 3.00 p.m. and 5.00 p.m. to 8.30 p.m. Should you wish to eat here you’ll almost certainly need to book on a Saturday – location, location, location. Family friendly, with children welcome up to 9.00 p.m.  Attractive terraced garden to rear. Opening hours are from noon every day, up to 10.00 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11.00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 9.00 p.m. Sunday.
White Horse Inn, St James Street, Dover, Kent, CT16 1QF. Tel: 01304 213066. Map: White Horse.



Likelihood the Natives Will Understand You
:

Three million commercial vehicles, two and a quarter million cars and around a hundred thousand coaches, producing a total of twelve million passengers, pass through Dover ferry port each year (well they did before Brexit and Covid anyway). Presumably a few wind windows down briefly to converse with locals so they should have some familiarity with visitors.

Top-Tip:

Our former home wasn’t called The Huish, nor is Liverpool’s stadium The Anfield. Likewise, it’s not The Crabble.

Other Points of Interest:

Situated at the narrowest point of The Channel between Britain and continental Europe (well since the land bridge was ruptured in a giant flood 450,000 years ago anyway) Dover has long been an entry and exit point, with Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Roman, Saxon, Norman etc. etc. peoples all passing through. One might think this would make it interesting – and it does have White Cliffs (which Bluebirds supposedly flew over as the song writers were two Americans who didn’t realise the Bluebird is not indigenous over here) and a castle – but apart from that it is an unattractive and actually very boring place. No one stops in Dover – everyone is passing through going somewhere else.

[No responsibility is taken for any inaccuracies. This page is entirely the product of bias and prejudice.]