Daggers start to look over their shoulder


All of the cheer seems to be fast disappearing down the A13 for Dagenham and Redbridge at the moment as the Daggers Diary team explain after Saturday’s result.

Two weeks ago, Easter arrived with all the seasonal feel of Winter. Not only did some of us get four days off (if we were lucky), a mountain of chocolate to scoff over the course of the weekend, but also two games to (hopefully) enjoy as well. For the Daggers, that meant a trip to North London for our last visit to Underhill to play Barnet, before an Easter Monday home game against an improving Bristol Rovers.

Victoria RoadIn the run up to Easter, the club went nuts with the loan signings, making five in the last few desperate hours before the time for last minute reinforcements run out. Not only was there another goalkeeper signed, but a couple of wingers, a left back and another centre back, which meant that when the team took to the field in Barnet, there was two debutants, plus another on the bench.

Obviously the new players needed time to get used to the rest of the team, but given that it was a local derby, the all round “meh” factor was almost overwhelming, as the teams played out a tepid 0-0 draw, only enlivened by a late sending off. In truth, not even that distracted from what had been a dull game. As we stood on the terraces, with clumps of snow still visible along the sides of the pitch, at least the team had managed to look relatively organized, which was about the only positive from our trip to the end of the Northern Line. Continue reading

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Fleetwood Macintosh


Fancy a 250 mile each way trip to the North West?  On a day when temperatures barely touch zero?  Nope – neither did I.  But the Daggers Diary team set off on the long trek up to Fleetwood with the wind and snow battering the TBIR sponsored Ford Transit.

It’s been almost a month now since the departure of John Still from the club, and the first five games under the leadership of Wayne Burnett has been in parts encouraging, and in parts frustrating. The win at Rotherham a fortnight ago was a classic snatch and grab raid, in that we were under the cosh for most of the game, but somehow emerged with the win. The encouragement has come from the different style of play that has been used, where we have tried to keep the ball on the ground a lot more. That’s not to say that the previous regime was a long ball one; I would never go against the management of John Still, simply because although we were labelled as long ball merchants, we still had some creative midfielders who would never have thrived had they been bypassed as much as suggested.

Success came in the form of promotion to the league, and then to league one, but it may well have run its course. The change of style has meant that the ball has disappeared from view at home games less than before. However, there are times, and this is the frustrating bit, when we have tried to pass it too much, instead of getting a short away. I guess that it takes time to switch from one style of play to another, and perhaps the middle of the season is not the place to do it. But they have, they are and it’s not going too bad. Burnett’s five games in charge have bought just one defeat, which is definitely an encouraging start.

Despite this, we just don’t seem to be able to pull away from the teams that currently occupy the bottom few positions in the division. Just when we think we have produced a result that will get us that little bit of extra breathing space, those trying to stay up close the gap again, and we are left looking over our shoulders again. Over the last few weeks the gap has never been much more than half a dozen points, which is the gap as we go into today’s game between us and York in twenty-third place. All have seven games left, and so while we are still in a decent position in terms of the points gap between us and the rest, it will only take a couple of bad results (whether they be ours or wins for those around us), to set us back in the relegation mix again.

Saturday 23rd March 2013, Fleetwood Town v Dagenham & Redbridge, Highbury Stadium

fleetwood main standThe weather this last week obviously hasn’t been good, and is more like the middle of December, than the middle of March. Leaving Dagenham at half past seven in the morning, the snow has been falling, but luckily it is not settling. However, as we get closer to the appointed pit stop at Norton Caines, the snow is much deeper, and there are several inches of the stuff in the car park at the services. Everyone heads straight inside, while the snow continues to fall, and we all only venture out once the coach is opened up again, as we prepare to depart. Continue reading

All change please at Victoria Road


No club likes losing a popular manager, but in the sign of the times, Dagenham have just lost their long serving boss to the Non Leagues.  Was anyone bothered?  We sent the Daggers Diary team to investigate.

Towards the end of the 2003-04 season, Garry Hill resigned as manager of Dagenham & Redbridge. After a particularly tepid 0-0 at Scarborough, he boarded the supporter’s club coach and announced his decision to those that had travelled, saying that he needed a rest but would see out the rest of the season.

One week later, the home game against Gravesend was anything but tepid, as arguably the most lack lustre Daggers performance in years (and that included the 0-9 humiliation at home to Hereford a few weeks earlier) saw us beaten 0-4 at home, and with the manager sitting in the dugout at half time with his hands in his pockets. A few hours after the game, he was gone, still needing that rest. It was a shame that a successful period for the club, which had included winning the Isthmian League, three straight appearances in the third round of the FA Cup (which included one trip to round four), and a conference play off final should end with such an image as that.

The club turned to the first manager it had appointed after the merger in 1992, John Still. Ten years after leaving for Peterborough, he had returned to steady the ship. While our performances in the FA Cup haven’t been anything to write home about (we’ve reached the third round just twice while he was in charge), it has been onwards and upwards since in terms of our league position. Two mid-table finishes preceded the conference title in 2007, which was followed by a near miss at the League Two play offs in 2009, although twelve months later was the crowning glory in the win at Wembley and a day that no Daggers fan will ever forget.

stillOn Tuesday, it was announced that John Still had left the club, to take over at Luton Town. In charge for just under nine years, Still has left the club in a much better position league wise than when he arrived. While some would have not quite admired some of the football played in that spell, it has undeniably been successful. And to regard the teams that we have had in that time as purely playing long ball team is not quite right. We had players like Craig Mackail Smith in that time, who has certainly gone on to bigger and better things. There have also been some decent central midfield players who have been here, such as Glen Southam, Matt Saunders, and Luke Howell, who may not have been so influential if that area of the field had been completely bypassed. Continue reading

Annual Pilgrimage


It’s been a few years since we made the long pilgrimage to see the, erm, Pilgrims but it was always a great day out. Fortunately, The Daggers Diary team did the trip for us yesterday.

Having left the clubhouse during the closing stages of the Manchester United v Fulham cup tie, it was hard not to feel a bit down side following our defeat at home to Morecambe last Saturday. There may have been a touch of admiration for the results of both Luton and Bradford (oh for the days when that was us), but although we are in a relatively comfortable league position at the moment, we are all very aware that it can change all too quickly.

100_5751Today is an away game, and we venture to the most southerly and westerly ground in the football league; Plymouth Argyle. During my early formative years watching football, I can remember Plymouth reaching the semi finals of the FA Cup, with the nation’s media eager that the plucky underdogs from Division Three produce an upset against top flight Watford. In the end, a goal from George Reilly sent Watford to their first FA Cup final, while Plymouth had to try and secure their future in the third division, which they did, although nineteenth place doesn’t immediately suggest a team reaching the last four of the cup.

The other memory I have of Plymouth is Daggers related. Since promotion, I haven’t made the trip to Devon, but the one time I have visited was back in January 2003. On that occasion, we had been drawn away to Argyle in the third round of the FA Cup, and although there were two divisions between us at the time, we travelled back to Essex with a fantastic 2-2 draw. The replay at Victoria Road went down in club folklore, as we secured a 2-0 win, with the second goal being a header from Junior McDougald after a cross from Mark Janney which was described as “Beckham-esque” on the highlights that night.

Since our first league meeting in 2010, our league record against Plymouth is fairly awful, with just two goal-less draws to show for five meetings between the two clubs. There have been times in the past few years when we have wondered if we would be playing; with financial problems meaning that Peter Reid had to sell a Cup Final medal, Plymouth have been up against it in a financial sense. Continue reading

Daggers undone by the Shrimps net


The Daggers Diary team reflect on what might have been in the past week as well as a disappointing home game against the visitors from the North West.

Last weekend, our plan was to finally attend a game at the Dripping Pan, as we had been invited down to watch Lewes v Margate . Every time we had planned to make the trip, something had come along to scupper that plan, whether it be lack of funds, lack of transport, the weather or alien invasion. Whatever it was, it always stopped us actually getting to the game.

So, with the weather deteriorating in the days leading up to our next attempt, there was almost something inevitable about this one going by the wayside as well. With other games at various levels disappearing a lot quicker than the snow and ice, the alternatives weren’t that many.

There was the opportunity to stay in the warm and watch the opening game of the African Cup of Nations, but that would have to be watched with the volume turned down, lest those trumpet things start to really get on my nerves again. Anything in the local area was being called off, and for a while, I seriously contemplated staying and watching the game on tv, although doing that would have violated the natural order of things for a football fan on a Saturday afternoon. I suppose I could have put the tv in the window and stood outside, to get the “sort of” terrace atmosphere, but it wouldn’t really have worked. Plus I would probably have got some very strange looks from the neighbours.

Handily though, Wycombe were working hard to get their game with the Daggers on, and a posting appeared on their website on the Friday afternoon, saying that they were “optimistic” that it would go ahead. A couple of hours later, another message appeared, saying that the ticket office would be shutting early because of the snow. Now things didn’t look quite so good.

We need not have worried though. The good people at Wycombe rallied, and with the roads deserted as we made our way round to Buckinghamshire, we were at the ground just after mid-day. The anticipated crowd would, we were informed, be well down on what they would normally expect, but the pitch looked in good condition, and the car parks looked to be reasonably clear.

It was just a pity that, after all of the work that went on, the game wasn’t much to write home about. Both teams looked as though they would rather be anywhere else, which, judging by the even lower than anticipated attendance was precisely where most had gone to. In the end, one of the few coherent moves of the game resulted in the only goal after thirty five minutes, and although both teams looked as though they were trying, it just wasn’t really working out. Prior to the game, sitting in the warmth of the bar, the general consensus was that a point would be a good outcome for us. Ultimately though, we probably didn’t deserve that.

There was even a disagreement after the final whistle between John Still and Dean Morgan (after the Wycombe forward had punted the ball into the corner following a drop ball after an injury, meaning that we recovered possession a whole forty yards further back), although this only succeeded in delaying (for a about a minute) a few people from getting back to either the warm bar or their cars.

Saturday 26th January 2013, Dagenham & Redbridge v Morecambe, Victoria Road

IMAG0589It seems like only yesterday that the team were making their way up to Morecambe for the rearranged league game, although it was actually eighteen. Morecambe, like us haven’t had great attendances this season, and made the game a freebie, attracting a crowd in excess of over four thousand on the night. It will be interesting to see if a proportion of those who attended that night will be tempted back on a more regular basis.

We all stroll into the ground with about an hour to kick off, although we are already fairly certain it won’t be that busy. Talk is about the possibility of the crowd being less than a thousand, and with the visitors having sold just forty eight tickets prior to today, we might just struggle to get to four figures. With half an hour before kick off, there isn’t even a couple of hundred in the ground, which really doesn’t look good at all. Continue reading

Daggers do a number on the Dale


Fresh from the sunshine in Barcelona, the Daggers Diary team returned to happy to East London for the visit of Rochdale and their tippy-tappy football.

It may only be two weeks, but it seems like an age since I last saw the Daggers play. On December 29, we lost at home to Port Vale, our second defeat at Victoria Road in three days. New Years Day didn’t bring any joy either, with a defeat at Northampton, although given that we have never gained as much as a point in the previous seven games, it wasn’t much of a surprise.

Last Saturday though, as Dagenham Dan and I watched the top two teams in the Spanish Tercera division (group 5), the Daggers were claiming an important win up at Accrington. While this was then followed up by a 2-1 loss at Morecambe (on a night when the home club made it free to attend, attracting over four thousand in the process), the win at the Crown Ground at least provided a break in a dodgy sequence of results.

Today’s visit of Rochdale brings around the now annual Daggers against Racism day. Cheaper ticket prices are supposed to have the ground heaving, but this hasn’t necessarily been the case in past years. Last years game against Bradford was marred by several people being arrested for making racist chants against a group of Asian boys. Thankfully those now convicted are barred from the club, but it did mean that more than one person questioned whether this year’s event should go ahead.

With the L.B.B.D. being probably one of the more diverse borough’s in London, it is certainly important that the club not only attract fans from all sections of the local community, but keep that support, so that they keep coming back.  Dan and I had cashed in our old DVD’s, CD’s and even agreed to sell psp games like the trusted old Football Manager for our trip to Barcelona, so we welcomed a cheaper Saturday. Continue reading

A festive football cracker from the Dagger Diary


The Daggers Diary don’t let a small matter of rain, snow or Christmas get in the way of their quest to every game humanly possible.  Here is their update from the festive period.

After our last game prior to Christmas at Morecambe was called off as we started the final part of our journey to the game, it meant that the team would have had a bit of extra time to prepare for the two Christmas games, even if it has meant a wasted journey over that particular weekend.

This all meant that our last game before Christmas was the December 15th win over Barnet. The 1-0 win pushed us up into the top half of the table, although we have since slipped back a couple of places to 14th. The loss of Dwight Gayle to Peterborough has not proved (so far) to be as big a loss as first feared, although the winning margins have been tight. Gayle so far, has proved to be a player capable of stepping up to the Championship level, and he has netted on several occasions for Peterborough so far. Now that the anticipated transfer has gone through, it is to be hoped that Gayle will continue to progress and eventually end up costing Peterborough a fair bit of cash, and that we won’t be cashing in on any sell on clause that we might have requested.

As is traditional over the Christmas period, the games come thick and fast, assuming that they go ahead of course. After the postponement at Morecambe, the next opportunity to see the Daggers is a Boxing Day home game against Southend United. Continue reading