New Year’s Day was supposed to be a day of celebration. Since the fixtures were released back in July we had been looking forward at welcoming Maidstone United at The Dripping Pan today. With an expected four figure crowd, a special bumper edition matchday programme written and enough organic burgers to feed at least a dozen people we were ready to put on a show. On Saturday our pitch team battled against the elements to get our game versus East Thurrock United on and we all did a collective sigh of relief when the final whistle blew and over 650 fans applauded the efforts of those who had not only performed but had got the game on.
Alas, the forecast for the days before the New Year was poor, and so it was. We put “Pitch Watch” in place via Twitter, with images of the ground posted regularly to give us all hope. Alas, the torrential rain on New Year’s Eve meant that the standing water on the pitch wasn’t to the referees liking and with a very heavy heart our game was cancelled. The cost to us? Thousands of pounds. Instead of welcoming a crowd of 1,200, we will be lucky to get 400 when the game is squeezed into a midweek slot in February. Gate receipts will be down by £8,000. Programme sales down. Catering down. Bar takings down. Yet our costs don’t change. Players still need to be paid this week, utilities have to be paid, printers still want their invoices paying.
We weren’t alone. In fact every game in the Isthmian Premier fell by the wayside, and only one game in the Conference South made it to 3pm. But with a “free game pass” I had little options as to where to go.
I was literally driving around Essex and Cambridgeshire looking for a game to go to as my options reduced. I had one last chance. Dagenham & Redbridge. Despite the appalling weather, it looked like the game at Victoria Road, or the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Stadium to give it its catchy shorter name was on, so headed down the A13 to meet up with the Daggers Diary team for the first game of what promises to be a great year of football. Continue reading