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Meet the Dover fan living in Cheltenham

6 December 2014

Sam Mummery grew up in a village just outside Dover and went to school in the town. After finishing university, he moved to Cheltenham and settled here.

Now 34, land and development consultancy business owner Sam has lived in Cheltenham for 10 years, making Sunday's FA Cup second round tie a particularly special occasion for him:

How often do you get to watch Dover play now?

Roughly about four or five home games a season and around six to eight of the nearest away games.

Do you watch Cheltenham Town play at all/regularly?

I must confess I have only been twice, once to watch a pre season friendly against then Premier League Birmingham City (I remember Jamie Victory playing who was a great player). And an amazing game when Cheltenham beat Colchester 4-3 with Barry Hayles scoring a last minute winner to cap a comeback from 3-1 down!

What was your reaction when the FA Cup second round draw was made?

Realising I had never gone to an away game before when travelling to the ground took less than five minutes! Living so far away from Dover and the majority of the clubs they play its great to not have to get into the car four hours before kick-off! Also it is a novelty for me seeing Dover come to the town I liven, especially in the worlds greatest knockout competition. I know that the Dover fans are looking forward to visiting Whaddon Road on Sunday and take part in the wonderful competition that is the FA Cup. Its a huge match for both sides and no better incentive than potentially drawing a Premiership team in the next round. May the best team win!

What is the highlight of your time supporting Dover?

There have been a few but it has to be last season's Conference South P=play-off final when in a tight game Dover beat Ebbsfleet Utd 1-0 at Stonebridge Road. We sneaked into the play-offs on the last day of the season and the final was hotly anticipated after a strong rivalry between the two clubs that developed during the season. Most importantly it took us back into the promised land after more than a decade.

How highly thought of is Russell Milton at Dover Athletic?

I know Russell Milton is very well thought of at the club, I remember seeing him play in the mid 1990s and he was a class above. He got called up to the England C Squad at that time. He came seventh in a fairly recent poll conducted by the fans of the top 100 players to ever play for Dover and that says it all.

How have Dover fared so far this season and what are expectations like from the fans?

Dover have excelled this season so far beyond expectations, the majority of fans myself included would of been happy to stay in the league in our first season even if it was one place above the relegation zone as coming up through the Conference South Playoffs we were tipped to finish bottom of the Conference this season.  But at the time of writing we are sitting comfortably in 14th and closer to the play-offs than the relegation places. 

After a poor start and adjustments in terms of tactics and team personnel we are now unbeaten in 10 matches (Including a win over Morecambe in the FA Cup first round) and the manager Chris Kinnear has deservedly just picked up the manager of the month award. We are feeling confident about survival now and hoping to establish ourselves in the Conference now and grow over the next few seasons.

Who are the players to watch out for and what sort of football do Dover try to play?

This is Chris Kinnear's second spell in charge of the club both periods of management bringing promotions and silverware so he is Dover through and through and a Kinnear side typically are hard to break down and get results based on being tight at the back, making the most of set piece opportunities and having a fantastic team spirit. This season as the side have found their feet and form the goals have been going in and the clean sheets totting up and hopefully long may that continue.

In terms of players to watch out for we have a solid imposing defence. We have just lost Solomon Taiwo back to his parent club Luton on expiry of his loan and he will be missed.  Nicky Deverdics has been finding the net recently and Payne and Murphy our forwards having been causing problems to a few defences recently. We have two exciting wingers at the club who like to take on defences in Ricky Modeste who has sadly been out for most of the season with an injury and will be absent and Christian Nanetti who picked up an injury recently and may make the bench for Sundays match.

What are your views on the standard of the Conference compared with when Cheltenham won the title in 1999?

This has been discussed between the fans on our forum, some quarters think the the Conference is weaker this season. My view is that all of the leagues in the English structure have got harder over time and the Conference is no different.

There are more full time clubs than in 1999 and better and better quality players are playing in the lower leagues due to such a high proportion of players from abroad in the Premiership and Championship meaning players respectively get pushed down the leagues who may have been playing at a higher level 15 years ago.

It is all relative though and i'm sure there are players from 1999 who would clearly excel in the Conference today but I think the professionalism and setups of clubs have improved over time and there is nowhere to hide if you are playing poorly over a season.

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