Dorking Wanderers #21

Welcome back to this blog and the start of the 2027/28 season with Dorking.

When I started this series, I decided on a set of targets to work after and added some new ones before the fourth season. So it’s time to look over them again and have a look at which ones we achieved and at the same time set some new targets for the future.

Short term:

  • Professional status
  • Reach the Football League within three years
  • Sell a player to minimum a League Two club
  • Reach the first round of the FA cup
  • Academy player in the first team
  • Improve staff 
  • All facilities above average
  • Youth Level 2 (4 at this moment)
  • Establish the club in League Two
  • Reach the fourth round of the FA Cup

Long term:

  • Reach the Championship within eight years
  • Reach the Premier League within ten years
  • Sell an academy player to a Premier League club

Those are the targets that were set before. I’m thrilled that the majority of them are now achieved. Getting to youth level 2 was more complicated than I expected, and now, three years later, we finally got upgraded to Level 3. After some tinkering back and forth, I decided on some new and ambitious targets.



In the transfer window this season, we got rid of several players that have been with us for a while and have been vital members of the squad. Some of them are maybe long overdue. However, I don’t want to wheel and deal too much with the team. For example, we got a lot of bids on Edwin Andersson, but the right offer didn’t come in. He deserves to leave for a bigger club if the right offer comes in after the enormous contribution in his four seasons so far.

Transfers out:

  • Manni Norkett – Cambridge – £200K
  • Ibrahima Sy – Cardiff – £425K
  • Aaron Ramsey – Charlton – £1.3M
  • Ryan Alebiosu – Charlton – £250K
  • Harvey Grand – Norwich – £2.9M
  • Marcus Dewhurst – Portsmouth – £2.5M
  • Oakley Cannonier – Benfica – £1.3M
  • Olly Allen – Shrewsbury – Free
  • Rhys Bennett – Salford – Free
  • Tyler Fredricson – Shrewsbury – Free

Transfers in:

  • Isak Hansen-Aaroen – Man Utd – Free
  • Sean McGurk – Leeds – Free
  • Tomas Galvez – Man City – Free
  • Louie Barry – Aston Villa – Free

We turned a good profit again and managed to get four quality signings in, all of them with games in the Premier League. Sean McGurk is maybe the pick of the bunch with 39 games in the Prem for Leeds. If we can develop his defensive attributes a little, we have a class central midfielder on our hands.
Isak Hansen-Aaroen doesn’t have the same experience. However, he got seven games in all competitions for United. He’s a similar type of player as McGurk with his strengths in the offensive side of the game and will also have to work on improving his defensive attributes. A huge bonus is his perfectionist personality, which can be crucial for mentoring our graduates in the future.
Tomas Galvez will be a backup for Wilson-Esbrand to begin with, but I really like his attributes, and I genuinely want him to succeed. He will have to work to improve his crossing.
The last one in is Louie Barry. A quick and lethal finisher is just what we needed when Cannonier left for Benfica. Barry is a class striker and will compete with Fiabema for the starting spot upfront. By far our highest earner with £20k p/w, so it’s essential for us that he hit the ground running.


The Championship

Going out of pre-season with four wins out of four possible, with 26-0 in goal difference, the expectations were high. Winning all four games in August was the perfect response to the expectations, and we did it convincingly. The new signings fit well into the group, and especially Hansen-Aaroen had a great start to life at Dorking with four goals in four games. He topped it up with the Championship Player of the Month award.
We took our great form into September and nearly had the perfect month. I don’t want to call 3-3 at the Stadium of Light a slip-up, but after that game, we won the next four that month. Edwin Andersson proved that it was the right call not to sell him in the summer.

We had some solid results, with 4-0 away at the newly relegated Wolves as the definitive highlight. That game, for me, shows that we’re not strangers at this level and are here for a reason. We’re a good football team!
In the next game, in October, we won against another team that played in the Premier League last season when we beat Watford 1-0 after a goal from Sean McGurk. A significant negative from this game was Hansen-Aaroen‘s injury when he tore his knee ligaments and will be out for 3-4 months. That’s a critical loss for us with his four goals and three assists in seven games.

After yet another two wins, we suffered our first season defeat away to Huddersfield. We outshot them and had far higher xG, but it was just one of those days. Our response after the loss was three consecutive wins before we lost again to Blackburn after a late winner.

After a solid win against QPR, we lost again when visiting Turf Moor. Again it was a late goal, so late that it was the last thing that happened. Surprisingly, we’ve been top of the table for so long, so we have to expect some defeats along the way.
Going into December as league leaders, it’s a potential decisive month with the compact programme around Christmas. We started with a bang by beating Nottingham Forest at home before we won three in a row before we met them again at City Ground. Another massive win for us and ten goals in games against Forest is a sign of real strength from us!
The game against Wolves irritates me a bit, as we could have the perfect month here. It was so close.

With Hansen-Aaroen‘s injury, Leo Castledine has taken responsibility in the first half of the season. Six goals and seven assists in 20 league games so far are impressive. Louie Barry has done well to find his place in the team and has scored eleven goals in just 15 starts. We need numbers from a striker to fight for the title and promotion.
Our most important player, however, is probably Nohan Kenneh, who plays every game and every minute if he can. He’s vital from his defensive midfield position. An average rating of 7.39 after 22 matches says it all about his importance to the team.


EFL Cup

We got an easy draw against Cheltenham, and a team of mainly youngsters got us through the second round. Two players from the academy made their debut in the first round.
In the next round, we shocked Brighton, and we were 3-0 up after 47 minutes. After that, we suffered a collective collapse and lost the game. They scored the winner in the 94th minute. Some lessons learned against a good Premier League side.


Westhumble Academy

With another summer with a profit in the transfer market, we had money to burn again. With the board almost agreeing to everything I say and do, they decided to invest in the youth and training facilities again. This time the cost was £8M, so it’s not just minor adjustments we’re doing.

As mentioned, two players made their debut in the EFL Cup. The EFL Cup is the first step in the pathway to the first team, so I aim to give minutes to youngsters in that cup. We have no ambition of winning it anyway, so why not give them valuable experience?
Tom Henry is an exciting left winger/striker that I hope can develop into a decent player for us. He looks way older than 18, so questions have been asked about his real D.O.B.
The other debutant, Keelan Wallis, is a central defender with a good pace and is extremely brave. So if he can develop his weaker sides, he can be a good defender for us in the future.

Rory Parkes is the first-ever player in the England youth setup from the academy. That’s a significant milestone for us, and hopefully, he’s one of many as we work towards establishing the best academy in the nation. I hope that Parkes will be a regular for us, and it’s all up to him.

Thanks for reading this post and blog. I hope you enjoyed it.

/FM Veteran


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