WONDERS OF THE PYRAMID: Meet Marc White… Dorking’s manager, ex-player, chairman, owner and founder! Surrey club are just one tier below the EFL after setting up shop only 23 years ago and renting a pitch for £50
- White’s journey began in division five of the Crawley and District league
- He has since seen 12 promotions for his side Dorking Wanderers
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Show me a football fan who hasn’t dreamt of being in charge of their club, and I’ll show you a liar.
Very few go on to make that dream a reality. That’s where Marc White — manager, chairman, owner and founder of National League side Dorking Wanderers — is different.
His journey with the club began right at the bottom of the pyramid — namely division five of the Crawley and District League.
‘I was just a Wimbledon fan and they were in dire straits around the time of the franchise (MK Dons),’ White tells Mail Sport. ‘So me and my friends said, “We’re not going to follow Wimbledon any more”, and started our own Saturday team in a park league.
‘I paid a fiver a week, we rented a pitch for £50 and got the local pubs to give us some kit.’
Dorking Wanderers manager Marc White has opened up on the club’s beginnings to Mail Sport
The club was founded just 23 years ago by the Wimbledon fan and have been promoted 12 times
Dorking now ply their trade in the National League and are dreaming of making it to the EFL
It was as simple as that. A bunch of mates giving up their Saturdays for the love of the game. Back then, the idea of achieving anything more than a few promotions wasn’t aspirational, it was downright ridiculous. After all, as White admits, there was never any long-term plan for Dorking.
Fast forward 23 years and, 12 promotions later, Wanderers are enjoying their second season in the National League, rubbing shoulders with former stalwarts of the Football League. Turns out a bloke who still works in marketing does know a fair bit about football. White has been on the touchline throughout the astronomic rise, though he did have to hang up his boots after a few promotions.
‘We’d gone from playing in the Crawley and District League where you drag the nets out, put them up and realise you’ve run out of pegs, to playing live on TV at Notts County, Oldham and Wrexham in front of 10,000 last year,’ he says. ‘It’s as phenomenal as you can get in terms of trajectory. It’s hard not to pinch yourself and think, “Blimey, this took off didn’t it?”. It’s quite incredible.’
White has made quite the name for himself along the way. Partly because he doesn’t conform to convention. He dresses in designer gear on the touchline, while the popular fly-on-the-wall YouTube series Bunch of Amateurs has revealed some of the eye-opening language he uses in the dressing room. Dorking’s warts-and-all series makes those about the likes of Manchester City and Wrexham seem like carefully constructed party political broadcasts.
White says: ‘Do I love myself being out there, being outspoken? Not really. I’m not on social media. That’s not my way, but it did help the profile of the club, which obviously really does matter.’
White’s dress sense results in him copping flak from visiting supporters, but he has earned their admiration through some incredible acts of generosity. Whenever a visiting side sell out their allocation at Dorking’s Meadowbank stadium, he puts money behind the bar at local pubs to show his appreciation.
‘I like rewarding the fans that make an effort to sort of say, “If you’re spending your money coming to Dorking, then I’m going to buy you a beer because we appreciate it”,’ he says.
White has admitted that he enjoys rewarding fans and often buys them beers for attending matches
Wanderers are within a win of the play-off places after beating Ebbsfleet 1-0 on Tuesday
‘We want to keep our beliefs that we have had from day one all the way through the pyramid. We’re in a game where if we started again in the Crawley league, we wouldn’t have a referee for four seasons due to the shortages they’ve got now. I’m passionate about the fact they can’t leave the laws of the game alone at the top and they’re making it harder for referees at the bottom of the game to officiate. They’re getting more abuse as a result of that.’
Refereeing is only one of a litany of topics affecting modern football that you could chew the fat on for hours with White. He still doesn’t have any coaching badges. A clip of him on the Under The Cosh podcast explaining in no uncertain terms that he has no plans to get them any time soon went viral last week. White also believes the financial strife at Southend only strengthens the case for football clubs to be protected by law.
Some have questioned whether the wheels would one day come off at Dorking, too. White has no intention of allowing that to happen. He appreciates what an integral part of the community the club has become and this summer Wanderers sold shares to supporters. ‘You are only ever the custodian of a club. It is f****** sad to think so,’ he says, ‘but in reality, clubs are there before and after the person who runs it today. Having a sustainable fan ownership element means the club will always be in safe hands.’
As for the future? It’s still very much early days but a 1-0 win at Ebbsfleet on Tuesday moved Wanderers within a win of the play-off places. While White admits there is still much work to be done, it doesn’t stop him from dreaming big.
‘When people say “Well, do you want to get to the Football League?” the answer is definitely yes,’ he says. ‘We don’t quite know how — we’ve got a lot of work to do. We just keep making it up as we go along.’
Chaos at Scunthorpe
It has been another chaotic week in the world of Scunthorpe United. In announcing that owner David Hilton, who is under investigation by the FA, has withdrawn his financial backing.
The club said they would now play their home games at Gainsborough Trinity… who then revealed they had heard nothing of that arrangement until Scunthorpe’s statement. What a shambles.
Three to watch
Southampton v Leeds, Championship, 12.30pm LIVE on Sky Sports
Two relegated sides who look to be heading in very different directions. Southampton have shipped 12 goals in a run of four defeats which has left boss Russell Martin under pressure.
Meanwhile, things have picked up for Daniel Farke at Leeds with the Whites unbeaten in six league matches — plus £36million January signing Georginio Rutter is finally looking the part.
Southampton have shipped 12 goals in a run of four defeats which has left boss Russell Martin under pressure
Things have picked up for Daniel Farke at Leeds with the Whites unbeaten in six league matches
Port Vale v Bolton League One, 3pm
It has been quite some turnaround for Port Vale and Andy Crosby has done a great job in rallying his troops since being smashed 7-0 on the opening day at Barnsley.
Five wins in eight since then have moved them up to fourth. Play-off hopefuls Bolton are the visitors to Vale Park.
The Ammies have been the EFL’s biggest underachievers so far, losing their last six games in all competitions. Given how trigger-happy Salford’s owners have been in the past, you have to fear for Wood should he lose this.
The Ammies have been the EFL’s biggest underachievers so far, losing their last six games in all competitions.
Given how trigger-happy Salford’s owners have been in the past, you have to fear for Wood should he lose this.
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