Alex Dover ready to return for Maidenhead United Women

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Maidenhead United Women – who have just recorded a best-ever finish in tier four FA Women’s National League Division 1 South West – will receive a further boost in pre-season with the return of industrious midfielder Alex Dover following a lengthy injury lay off.

It was a little over twenty months ago that Dover last kicked a ball competitively.  Like her teammates, she was looking forward to the resumption of competitive soccer after the COVID-curtailed 2019/20 season was nulled and voided.  Dover – who has played for the Magpies since the team was inaugurated back in 2008 when she was a mere teenager – was captaining the team but her season was to last barely ten minutes. 

It was an innocuous incident at Larkhall Athletic’s picturesque Plain Ham ground on the first day of the FAWNL season in September 2020 which saw tough-tackling Alex unusually let out a scream of pain.  She explains: “I was completing a sharp turn during the match and I just felt something in my knee go and I knew straight away it was something bad.  It turned out that I had ruptured my ACL in my left knee.  I went to the hospital the next day due to the swelling and I was told that I had sprained the ligaments in my knee after having it x-rayed and was given a crutch to help get around. I was initially told I would be out for a few weeks. After a few weeks, I was still unable to straighten my leg properly and that’s when I knew it wasn’t a sprain. I attempted to get referred through my GP but unfortunately due to COVID I wasn’t getting anywhere so I then decided to go private to obtain the correct diagnosis. I only obtained the correct diagnosis 10 months after sustaining the injury.  The operation to repair the ACL took place 2 weeks short of a year since I sustained the injury.”

Maidenhead United's Alex Dover, Gemma Bloor and Simone O'Brien. Photo: Darren Woolley.
Maidenhead United’s Alex Dover, Gemma Bloor and Simone O’Brien. Photo: Darren Woolley.

Since then, Dover has been reduced to a watching brief as her colleagues enjoyed firstly a joint-best ever FA Cup run in 2020/21 and then that record-breaking 2021/22 season.  While her teammates were achieving special things on the pitch, Alex has been hitting the gym: “Since the operation, I started my rehab the next day.  Obviously, minimal exercises initially but it was to get the mobility back in my leg straight away and since then I have attended physio numerous times going through several different exercise programmes. For the majority of my rehab, I have spent 4 days a week attending the gym working on building my hamstring muscle up – as this is what they took to replace my ACL – and just improving my fitness as I have been out of football for so long.” 

Maidenhead through and through, the hard-working midfielder has been a regular in the dug-out, cheering on her teammates but admits: “I have missed everything about playing football! It has been so hard just watching my team play without me, knowing I can’t be out on the pitch to help them has been so tough.  It was most definitely the worst injury I have had but having to wait 10 months just to be given the correct diagnosis was the hardest part as I felt so lost not knowing what was wrong. Since the diagnosis, I have felt much more positive. I haven’t ever broken a bone or anything like that but I have previously dislocated the same knee! It took about 9 months to get back playing football after that injury.”

MUWFC are currently recruiting a new manager and coaching staff after Ryan Taylor stepped down at the end of the 2021/22 season due to family reasons.  The new person in charge will have a fully fit and motivated Alex Dover back to help the cause: “For the first time, I can honestly say I am actually looking forward to pre-season! Knowing I can now finally get back to playing the sport I love with the best teammates around me, I can’t wait to get back out on the pitch with them and see what the new season brings for us.”

MUWFC are closing applications for the managerial vacancy on Wednesday 25th May and applicants can express their interest by submitting their CV to [email protected] on or before that date.

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