By Jon Couch
Marc White knows all about winning promotion – in fact, if anything, he’s getting bored of it!
On a journey which started in Division 5 of the Crawley & District League, White’s Dorking Wanderers have reached the highest placing in their short but sweet history – and there’s no plans to take their foot off the gas just yet!
No fewer than 12 promotions in 18 full seasons have seen Wanderers march all the way to the top of the Bostik Premier League, obtaining a spanking new town centre stadium and annual crowd increases of 300 per cent along the way. Now that’s what you call progress.
Founder, chairman and manager, White has overseen Wanderers’ rapid rise up the Pyramid since its inception in 1999, taking the club through the West Sussex League, Sussex County League and Combined Counties League all the way to the Isthmian League structure.
Now, top of the table and plotting an assault towards unchartered waters of Step 2, White is in dreamland having guided a success story that shows no signs of ending anytime soon.
“There aren’t many community projects in football that can boast a story like ours, working our way up from scratch,” White told The NLP. “We know we are punching above our weight and we’re still enjoying the journey.
“It’s incredible to think that 20 years ago we were just a bunch of mates who started a football team, renting council pitches in the Crawley & District League Division 5. Now here we are in our own brand new stadium and challenging for promotion to the second tier of Non-League football!
“I’m very proud of our history; it’s been a huge community effort. We have a fantastic team of volunteers who have helped us gain revenue through sponsorship and moving into the town centre has helped us engage more with local people and has trebled our crowds year on year. It’s an organic success story and a fairytale on a par with the old Wimbledon back in the day.”
Progress, however, doesn’t come without quality on the field and White certainly has that in the Meadowbank ranks.
A strong spine made up of former AFC Wimbledon trio Lewis Taylor, Luke Moore and Jason Prior has powered Wanderers to the Step 3 summit, but White was quick to dispel any pre-conceived ideas that the Surrey club have bought their way to the top.
“Many people look at us and the players we have and assume we operate on a big budget,” the boss continued. “But, honestly, they could not be further from the truth. While we do not hide away from the fact that these guys might cost more than the average player, 80 per cent of our squad have moved up the leagues with us from Steps 4 and 5 and are just pleased to be a part of the history.”
As for White himself, he missed just three matches in the club’s entire 19-year history but the humble boss says he wouldn’t be too proud to stand down and let someone else take the club to the next level if required.
“It’s still a passion to me, I’ve given my life to this club,” he concluded. “But the club is way bigger than me and if it gets to the point where I feel someone else can take over and do a better job then of course I would review my situation, along with the board.
“I will always do what’s best for this football club.”