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Dorking Wanderers

Dorking’s Marc White on club’s first relegation and how he plans to win back to back promotions

Dorking’s owner, chairman and manager Marc White speaks on the club’s first relegation and how he plans to win back to back promotions.

Dorking Wanderers are set to return to the National League South having finished 23rd in the National League with 45 points from 46 games, and 8 points from safety.

In the upcoming season, Marc White is expected to have faith in his team’s ability to make a quick comeback and by scoring plenty of goals.

The squad is looking solid in terms of numbers, but in order to secure promotion in a competitive division, it will be crucial for him to bring in additional players to enhance the existing squad.

He spoke with Location Football on the club’s relegation and future plans…

Interviewer: Dorking Wanderers have enjoyed incredible success with 12 promotions in 25 years but last season saw their first major setback being relegated after just two seasons in the National League. Marc White has grown the club from a park league side to coming up against the likes of Wrexham, Notts County and Chesterfield but how is the manager and owner of Dorking Wanderers dealing with the club’s first ever relegation and what are his plans to return to the highest level the club have ever played at. Marc thanks for joining us a club that’s had so much success over the years including staying up in the National League the first season, how did it feel to get relegated for the first time in the club’s history?

Marc: Well I like to think it’s more of a plan you know because we was thinking we we’ve got this we’ve got this record of one promotion every two seasons and we found the National League quite hard so kind of we kind of figured the quickest route to the 13th promotion would be to go down and then back up there

Interviewer: Actually a quite positive way of looking at things because obviously the club was one of the only teams that was part time to be in that league and be successful do you feel like you need to be full time?

Marc: Yeah basically we came up short with that really we first season in it we came 16th doing a couple of evenings we then moved to a couple of mornings and it went against us weirdly but regardless being part-time in that league just doesn’t work it’s um it’s a big notch up from the South we found it’s almost like a double jump if we think about the team we’ve got now to the one we have when we got promoted it’s like way better but it’s a relentless league it’s a bottleneck for the Football league, I looking at the Football League, Bromley getting promoted and I was thinking, blimey, they’ve got three up like three up and a playoff space, four up and that I think means in the Football League is really fluid but I think the National League is like a bottleneck because it’s essentially one up and one through the playoffs it’s a tough gig and we came up short and we have to admit that it’s not it’s not easy admitting that but we have to admit we came up short but it was a little bit part time our players missed 240 games with injuries if it could have gone against us it did we two ACL one MCL but ultimately at the end of the day, yeah we that that’s the the outcome is the outcome

Interviewer: What were the expectations at the start of the season having already tasted one year in the National League

Marc: I really thought we could do the playoffs, and even right to the end in the season I mean we beat Chesterfield who were 20 points clear 4-1 in front of the TV cameras so all season we got great results which we could just never get a team on the field but when we did we had great results I think the issue I think that’s the thing isn’t it when we was in the South, and even the league below that we played teams in the National League and we beat them and we go yeah yeah we’re that level we’re that level but beating teams on a one off and then competing week in week out I found was a different kettle of fish

Interviewer: Is there anything you’re going to miss from the National League

Marc: Yeah like massively I got to admit I’m like in my head I don’t until we get back in there I’m I’m not really going to think about life I mean it was just brilliant it was like it’s like a everything we’d ever dreamt of like a proper Football League it is really league three really that is what it is the when we experience walking out on TV actually Oldham on TV, at Notts County the world’s oldest Club, founder members of the Premier League and and we’ve just come from these Park leagues and we walking out and all these with all these fans and and people really appreciated what we’ve done and there’s a there was a real appreciation towards what the club had done so yeah it’s it’s unprecedented in terms of unexpected and we are really gutted about it

Interviewer: Rich and his Bunch of Amateurs team do a fantastic job of showcasing this football club we’ve been down here multiple times it is a really really good place to come and watch football how difficult was it during those tough moments in the National League to know that all the cameras will be capturing the downside of what’s going on

Marc: Yeah well I kind of feel that that’s for me I’m not a fair weather person for me is you take the guts and the glory so I was fine with knowing Rich would get it all cus that that’s in my head I’m thinking about well the next time we win a division and we get a trophy and it’s all of those capturing all of those moments that that make it even better even more engaging for the people that follow us um it kind of it continues to create that underdog spirit because we always have to be the underdog you know no matter what we’re doing because of where we come from and I feel like yeah capturing it all just really compounds the story really for when we next get successful which won’t be that far away

Interviewer: And with that exposure comes the brilliant camaraderie that you have with away teams up and down the country and have those fans been on your case since the relegation?

Marc: No we get huge amount people love us and because people resonate with the the you know the boys next door really like you know the Sunday football mentality that that you know we’re almost like football fans really and that’s what comes across with what we do I think fans love that because in their own clubs they don’t really get to see the players getting door you know the real emotion behind the scenes so I think they can feel a bit detached so people love us and we we got such good receptions everywhere we went we, always get a one or two that that get jealous of success and uh they’re the ones that love the relegation but I just teed them up I just tee them up thinking well it’s going to upset you when we get the next one

Interviewer: Were there any moments in that season that were really really tough we were there for Macclesfield away in the FA Trophy which felt like a tough afternoon

Marc: It was that was indicative of the season really um just a team that regardless of ability just just um had bad days in them and yeah Macclesfield stood out because it just it wasn’t our DNA, our DNA was beating teams leagues and leagues above and playing teams leagues below for 20 odd years so that was tough in the driving rain, Macclesfield fans having their bit of fun because you know they saw of us as a kind of big ticket in terms of team two leagues above, we have one or two like that we have one or two where you just thought you know what we haven’t quite got in the building the players we want and ultimately that’s what cost us in the end really

Interviewer: Did you ever think about stepping away from it did it ever get too much at times

Marc: No we were we had a lot going on off the field buying our stadium we had a few disputes going on with our landlords if I’m honest with you that that went on all season and well and it made it for a really tough season but also when you get promoted every other year you have to keep building the ground so we also on top of that we had um pretty much a £700,000 project that we had to do in order to stay in the division as part of the ground grading and then you’ve got players sidelined injuries so it was heavyweight but honestly it would be the last thing from my mind I I obviously ultimately I under delivered there is no there is no excuse to a league table it’s a bit like you know like mitigating circumstances galore yeah injuries blah blah blah but you you are where the result is so that’s my job

Interviewer: Yeah table doesn’t lie yeah

Marc: That’s it mate that’s my job to find a way to not be there it came up short but we’re just going to for some reason someone’s decided this is the journey that’s so that’s that’s where we are with it

Interviewer: So it’s a clean slate moving into next season when did you start preparing for life in the National League South

Marc: About a month before the end about a month before the end of it I was thinking I was it was like literally a pros and cons list I was thinking right I’m going to be devastated here to other fans the project everything we’ve achieved and and I thought well 13 promotions arguably arguably keeping up that one in two years right arguably bouncing back could be bit like a heavyweight boxer that two two times you know World Champ that that’s that kind of like extra kudos that somebody can have in their itinerary so I feel like that that’s my motivation would have the best team in our division next year there’s no question of that on paper my job now is to bounce back emphatically

Interviewer: With that squad I know you’ve been very busy announcing new signings was it difficult to let people go how difficult are those conversations

Marc: Yeah it is for me I for me it’s hard I think for others I don’t think they find it that hard because I if I put myself in the in the role of being a manager whereby I’ve got my chairman looking down at my every move and I could get the sack I think them conversations are just bread and butter but for me owning the club um I really love the boys and I’m reticent I mean I’ve kept players here for five or six years just because I like them do you know what I mean they can’t even play football um for me it is like breaking up with a girlfriend every time yeah I get rid of a player and I always do this I call it an obituary, I always do a a speech if you like um to get as a press release I on on and just talks about them and just talks about what I like about them what they given the club because I just feel like for me I only do it for that engagement with a players because don’t forget it was a team of mates yeah so I don’t forget anyone who pulls on a shirt I probably don’t resonate with the fact that it’s helped pay their mortgage I just think well you love Dorking that’s why you’re here yeah maybe some of them don’t but that’s how I see it so yeah not easy I find it really tough

Interviewer: What kind of calibre of player are you looking for now I’ve noticed that the signings that come in are 23-22

Marc: Yeah we need to low the age group we had we had a the age group was too high we’re only doing it margin basic we’ve got a couple of 23 year olds couple 24 year olds kept everybody from last year that we wanted to keep um so we’re going to be pretty formidable that is the bottom line that that’s um we were formidable in that division twice during Covid it got called off we were top really unlucky to come run us up and win the playoff the year after that so whoever finishes above us will win the league

Interviewer: And I know you’ve signed a new goalkeeper because you lost a really good one last season, has your opinion on goalkeepers changed yet, I remember speaking to you last time you weren’t too keen on them don’t like

Marc: I don’t I just I don’t like them at all I’ll be honest I’ve tried I don’t like them in general um

Interviewer: But your goalie this season pretty much won every award didn’t he was the player of the year was he won it all

Marc: Yeah he’s a nice lad he is a good lad he’s a good lad I’m just I’m not a fan of keepers full stop I don’t think many managers are to be fair it’s a really weird position I don’t know whether it’s because you find yourself you sort of talking to them the whole time because they’re a bit like the conductor for the team and I don’t know but we’ve signed another Harrison um because I was concerned with the age of our defence and I thought if they you they have to think about a new name right their memories are not great so we we’ve signed another Harrison yeah uh who’s really good Harrison Foulkes I think football dare I say it it is becoming a younger man’s game it really is i’ I’m watching all these changes in the game it’s becoming a modern coach game I look around the leagues I look at Scott Lindsey at Crawley and Luke Williams who went from Notts County Swansea, it’s becoming a modern coach’s game, Mike Williamson Gateshead to MK with the way people play football now and the modern formations lend a hand to the boys out out of academies and all of that so I feel like is a younger man’s game in general now

Interviewer: So even if you’re going to have to change how you play then next season

Marc: Well yeah we are we not massively we we were a little bit ahead of our time one of one of the reasons for our success three four years ago as we was playing kind of possession based systems where nobody else really was and now everybody’s kind of caught up and they’ve taken it on some we need to kind of revisit a bit of what we were doing we lost our away a bit last year we were chasing results over and above performances I think in that division but yeah but I feel like the age of the squad has to come down a bit and I feel like the players now can cope a lot more the younger ones because they are coached to the degree with modern formations and they’re also coach to listen you know what I mean everything they have to understand formations they have to understand what’s going on so I think there’s when we we’ve played a lot of teams in the last couple of years I got to shake their hands at the end of the game they look like they could be like they’re the pool cleaner or like they’re paper boy or something like they’re so young and I’m like Jesus but he on the field he’s like a consummate pro so yeah we’re looking at that

Interviewer: How did you change the mindset for the players that were here last season that were trying to stay in the National Leagues and now like you said you’re going to be heavy favourites for the National League South the pressure’s now changed dramatically

Marc: Yeah I want to win every game um I want to win every game I want to especially at home we had a slow painful death in that league, when team win leagues and I know you’ll know this as a football man you spot things like 92nd minute winners you spot individuals in the team having a good season you know people you know the 20 the your goal scorer is getting 25 the wingers getting 50 there’s common themes with teams that win leagues right and we had the polar opposite we had everything all season and I could see it happening and for all the tea in China if I went home to be positive I knew what was going on, we had balls this far over the line at Oldham that the ref didn’t see the the the afterwards you know everyone knew we had last minute last kick of the ball twice against us everything that went wrong could have gone wrong injuries at the wrong time so the players almost watched this slide and I actually think to a degree they couldn’t to be put out that misery, it felt that way so I feel like they can’t wait now to get back out there and sling a few right hooks I think they’re they’re scorned do you know what I mean I think that’s that’s how I feel I think that’s how they feel we know we’re going to be the best side in the league there’ll be no question about that and will be obviously other people’s kind of cup final to a degree but you know we’re fine with that so I think the boys can’t wait is the long answer

Interviewer: And when will the boys be back in when have you got them coming back in

Marc: Earlier than normal 24th of June we’re doing extra doing extra time this year we’re doing three mornings not two we’re we’re upping it we’re upping what we’re doing yeah we’re not low it yeah yeah yeah we we we literally scorned so we’re going to be Monday Tuesday Thursday a full day week really it’s a barely borderline full time with the best squad in the league what could go wrong exactly so does that mean that when you do win the league what could go wrong

Interviewer: When you do win the league you’ll be better equipped to go up again that’s a plan

Marc: Yeah I I’ve learned now in that division there’s a there’s a there’s a kind of there’s a uniqueness to how you got to build a team if you don’t have the two three million pound budgets you need to build a team younger cheaper you’ve got to be full-time it’s ridiculous trying to not be full-time I spoke to other promoter teams that won’t say who that have gone into that division this year and I was just like look don’t make the mistake I made because you know you need to be you need to be on an even kill and there’s teams in that division that don’t have big money that they’ve got great little models that work with younger players and and they’re full-time and they’re well coached yeah

Interviewer: Will the traveling be a bit easier now in the South although you got a lovely trip to Torquay

Marc: Yeah we love all that stuff to be fair yeah I mean it’s it’s there’s quite a few Southwest interestingly um Torquay, Bath, Truro um there’s more there’s quite a few down there now but that from what we’ve been doing that’s easy that’s just a little 2 and a half hour you know no traffic from what we were doing it was tough

Interviewer: Gateshead on a Tuesday night or something like that

Marc: Yeah we were called off on the way to Altrincham, York twice so we had two call offs when we was well one we was in Manchester and the other one we was in Chesterfield on rout so yeah I mean it’s a relentless league that one yeah it really is and um but we want another taste at, we came up short I mean that is that is so annoying and when we get back in that division we won’t come up short again I can assure people that but we it’s obviously to win a division you know this is the the problem with the sort of pyramid is the underneath the EFL, this kind of one winner one playoffs, it’s tough it’s tough, I think to win a league good squad or no good squad you got have a lot of luck, you know injuries got to go your way you know you’ve just got to things have just got to go your way to win a division that’s just how I’ve experienced it, we had it before we had things go our way year in step three, we went up by like 24 points record score everything went our way season brilliant and we’ve also got hope that things don’t go somebody else’s way and somebody just doesn’t have an anomaly of a year we’ve seen it in you know in like you said Leicester City in the Premier League so sometimes when you know sometimes you’ll get a club has an anomaly of a year and they win it and the problem with this kind of this only one automatic up means that you are a little bit in the gods with your own luck and other people’s and then if you’re in the playoffs you’re six to one that is the bottom line you are six to one to win so yeah we have things have to go our way but that’s the plan

Interviewer: So final question then what can the fans and people in the National League South expect to see from a Marc White team next season

Marc: It’s goals goals goals remember that,  goals, no it’s going to be it’s going to be a fast flowing um fast flowing possession based football they’ve watched it down here for quite a few years it probably took a little bit of a back seat when we were sort of chasing results and trying to be a bit more strategical but now it’s going to be back to domination at Meadowback at home the rest of the league you know will be a bit of a target for people but we’ve always been a target so we’re not really worried about that I think we can only beat ourselves if I’m honest with you this season I think injuries the team’s really together as well it’s not like it’s a new team they all you know they all play together regular they know what they’re doing so it’s it’s ours really to to lose but for this season I’m not going to worry about one other rival this is all about what we do so hopefully the fans continue I mean our fans our crowds went up an average of 750 whilst in a relegation battle so hopefully with wins we’re getting even more down here to just carry on this movement and then it’ll be back to back promotions that’ll be the aim and then we’ll sit back and go remember that interview when you hated talking about a relegation remember this and I go I told you didn’t I we’re back so that’s the plan

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