How Do Dorking Wanderers Survive A First Relegation? – Opinion

Dorking Wanderers two-year stay in the National League is all but over. Needing to win their remaining three games to have any chance of survival, Wanderers suffered a 4-2 defeat at fellow strugglers Wealdstone on Thursday night.

Despite being able to still match the points tally of the Stones and also York City, they would need to overturn a minimum 15 goal difference. They would also need both sides along with Boreham Wood to lose all their remaining fixtures.

Marc White’s side were perilously close to the drop last season but a fine run of form at the end of the season lifted the Surrey side to a 16th place finish and a move to a hybrid training schedule.

Built upon a legacy of 12 promotions in just 23 years, White as owner and manager have led the club and its supporters on a whirlwind journey to reach the pinnacle of non-league football.

When relegation to the National League South is fully confirmed before the end of April, it’s a brand new experience for all concerned. There is a sense of intrigue from all quarters in which direction the club will go, many watching afar thanks to the Bunch of Amateurs coverage of the club via YouTube.

His post-match interview eluded to a change in recruitment styles, over 250 games missed by players this season is a huge reason for their lack of consistency. That puts more pressure on those who do stay fit, evident by White only being able to name two fit players amongst the substitutes at Wealdstone.

A lack of leadership on the pitch showed up in that same game was also mentioned, instead of controlling the game at 2-0 up, they conceded within four minutes and then didn’t grab momentum back at any point from there on in.

Any manager will agree injuries are an uncontrollable part of the game but with so many stats and individual data available on players, it can brought down to a minimum.

In the usual Friday pre-match interview (viewer discretion advised), White mentioned the work already done off the pitch to structure the club better. It’s no secret the on field success has left the boardroom playing catching up for years, something clubs local to them are striving to learn from and be ready for in their own experience and movement.

They are heading back into a league where there are now more full time teams than their last experience at Step 2. White quickly worked out last season the need to be full time in the National League in order to compete more competitively, aware at the same time it can’t be rushed to a point that would collapse the club.

The league table provides more evidence of those sides who still in semi-professional or hybrid models have struggled to make an impact. Oxford City are already relegated, Wealdstone are still in danger whilst Maidenhead United have survived but with only two games to spare.

Whilst Yeovil Town have returned to the top division at the first time of asking by retaining their full time status, the question will be whether Dorking take the plunge this coming season.

It might give them a better shot at an instant return. Staying part time or hybrid for another season however would give Wanderers a better player pool to pick from, safe in the knowledge they can build and change status should they get promoted immediately.

White will see it as a challenge. There are plenty of people out there that counter the fairy tale story against neither them nor their facilities are good enough to grace the top flight of non-league football, although there are very few characters inside the game anymore.

Like him or loathe him, it should be respected that White has almost played out his own ‘Football Manager’ game in real life. The stuff of computer dreams. What happens when relegation happen?, Well, just rebuild, go again and prove everyone wrong.


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