Doves United is a football team with a mission: to honour the memory of Billy Dove and to make Billy proud.
The team was set up in August 2012 by Paul Dove, Billy’s father, and is made up entirely of Billy’s friends and family. Their journey has been extraordinary; they entered the Berkhamsted Sunday Football League (BSFL – division 2) and in their first season (2012/13) they finished top of the league, and also won the Herts FA Sunday Intermediate County Cup and the BSFL Sunday Intermediate League Cup.
Having been promoted in their first season, the team repeated their league success in the 2013/14 season, finishing top of the table again and gaining promotion to the BSFL Premiership. As far as we are aware, no other team has managed to climb straight through the league in such a way!
The team put their success down to the fact that they all played together as children and they feel that Billy is always there with them, as their 12th man. Doves United has given Paul a focus and has really helped the whole team to deal with Billy’s tragic death. Every week they run onto the pitch with each player proudly wearing Billy’s name on his back.
In the 2016-17 season, the team has some new signings but most of the team are the original players – friends and family of Billy. They have changed their home ground and are now known as AFC Doves Studham, but they remain united in their vision and focus.
Doves United makes regular appearances in charity football matches, and the team has hosted the Billy Dove Memorial Cup at two Billy’s Wish Days. The event involved various football teams. Twice the final was played between Doves United and a pro-celebrity team – and both times, Billy’s friends won the cup.
Doves United and Billy’s Aunt, Sally Masson, joined forces to create a ‘Bare All for Billy” calendar for 2014. Each team member shared their memories of Billy and these are printed on every page of the calendar.