There are few names likely to be as closely associated with Gillingham in the modern era as Andy Hessenthaler.
After making over 300 appearances for the club as a player between 1996 and 2006 – during which time he also had a spell as player manager – Hessenthaler would go on to take on a spot in the Priestfield dugout at the end of his playing career.
Initially managing the club between 2010 and 2012, taking charge of over 100 games, Hessenthaler then returned to the club in a caretaker manager role – along with several other former players – between December 2014 and February 2015.
After that role came to an end, Hessenthaler’s next managerial job came with Leyton Orient, when he was promoted from assistant manager at Brisbane Road in April 2016.
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However, Hessenthaler was sacked in September of the same year, with the club 14th in the League Two table, having won seven of their 16 games under the former Gillingham man.
Hessenthaler then returned to football in April 2017, when he was appointed assistant manager of National League side Eastleigh.
Eight months later, Hessenthaler was again promoted to the manager’s position, and would guide them to a 14th place finish in the league during the 2017/18 season.
In October 2018 however, Hessenthaler left Eastleigh to return to his former club Dover Athletic, where he had previously ended his playing career with a player-manager at the south-coast club between 2007 and 2010.
Under Hessenthaler, Dover would finish 13th and tenth respectively in the National League table during his first two seasons in charge of the club in 2018/19 and the shortened 2019/20 campaign.
However, things would take a significant turn for the worse for Dover during the 2020/21 season.
In the wake of issues around funding promised to clubs to help cope with the pandemic, Dover ultimately refused to play any games in the National League beyond January 2021, leading to the club’s results eventually being voided for the season.
Although Hessenthaler’s side remained in the National League for the 2021/22 season, they were handed a 12-point deduction and a £40,000 financial penalty by the league, for their refusal to play towards the end of the previous campaign.
Financial issues also meant the club were forced to release all but four players at the end of the season, with those remaining moving from full-time to part time contracts.
Perhaps not surprisingly therefore, Hessenthaler and Dover find themselves languishing at the foot of the National League table, already 17 points from safety, and with just three draws and no wins from their 11 league games so far.