Wigan 1 Morecambe 0 – Football wins over the weather again

Spare a thought for those fans who embark on marathon journeys to the other end of the country to watch their side at this time of the year.  Who would be mad enough to make such a trip?  Step forward the Daggers Diary Team.

The last Saturday before Christmas is a busy day. Whether it’s the last few (or all) of the presents to be bought, meeting friends or delivering to those you won’t see over the festive period, the last few days can be a bit of a rush. All this helps to explain why, as we set out from a still dark Victoria Road, there are only two dozen fellow travelers on the long, long journey up to the north-west.

There are probably several factors that can be attributed to the lack of people making the journey. For a start, the leaving time from Victoria Road is 6am, which means that we’ll be around ninety minutes into the journey before we see the sunrise. Another possibility is that, with a coach cost of £25 per person and money tight at this time of year, it’s just proved to be too an expensive a day out. Plus if people still need to do shopping, then this is a day that probably could be spent doing that instead. I have no idea what people used to do when we didn’t have shops open on a Sunday.

Last weekends win over Barnet pushed us up to twelfth place in the division, our highest of the season so far, and stretched our unbeaten home run to seven games. Away from home it has been a bit more difficult, but a win at Bristol Rovers a fortnight ago pushed them closer to sacking their manager (which was done after their defeat at York last weekend), and we have also collected impressive victories at both Chesterfield and Oxford in the last two months. While this can be offset with defeats at Torquay, York and Torquay, it still represents a fairly successful first half of the season. While Christmas is always seen as a time for looking back, the first half of 2012/13 is ending quite nicely for us, and so we can look forward to the rest of the season with a bit of optimism. Continue reading

Christmas cheer all around at Underhill

League Two in the past few months seems to have gone through a bit of an image change. We’ve had Luis Boa Morte sign for Chesterfield, a former double winner with Arsenal. James Beattie, once a £6 million player who counts Everton and Rangers among his former clubs, is now at Accrington Stanley.

Three weeks ago, we had the pleasure of seeing the former Rangers midfielder Barry Ferguson control the midfield when Fleetwood came to town. It’s scary to think that it could have been Joey Barton, who decided to swap the north-west for the south of France and Olympique Marseille. Their central midfield could have been even better if the two had been in the same team.

Ferguson though was excellent on the day. Ok, so no-one on the day impressed with their “Movember” efforts, but facial hair aside, he was clearly a step above everyone else on the pitch that day. Continue reading

Daggers fail to put the knife into Stanley

It’s not been a good start to the season for Dagenham & Redridge and so the Daggers Diary team were in fine spirits as they headed down to the Vic for the visit of Accrington Stanley.

After the encouraging performance against Coventry in the league cup, hopes were raised for the long trip to Cheltenham. It’s never been a lucky ground for us, so a 2-0 defeat was not entirely unexpected.  Three days later, we welcomed Plymouth to the Vic, and despite more near misses than you could shake a stick at, as well as an outstanding display from the visiting keeper, we were unable to score and settled for a 0-0.

Next up was another home game, this time against Gillingham; another defeat (this time by 2-1) was played out in a thunder storm and lightning show that bought more “ooh” noises than a day long marathon of “play your cards right” where the winning couple have a chance to go for the car.

A lead was squandered at Wimbledon, although an equalizer by Luke Howell rescued a point. This took us (in a league sense) to last weekend, and a trip to the Essex coast to play Southend. Luke Wilkinson’s eighth minute red card meant that the task became that little bit more difficult. Although we did get the game back to 2-1, the third killed the game off. Continue reading

The season starts much the same as it ended for The Daggers

After a summer of recharging the football batteries with a few trips to the Olympics, The Daggers Diary team are back.

Tonight marks the opening game of the 2012/13 season for the Daggers, and the twenty first since the merger of Dagenham with Redbridge Forest . Under normal circumstances of course, the campaign would start in bright sunshine on a Saturday afternoon with the first league game; these though are not quite normal circumstances, and so with the league campaign kicking off a week later than normal because of the Olympic Games, the first round of the League Cup comes first.

Pre-season has gone reasonably well for the Daggers. The two games I did actually attend resulted in comfortable wins at Gresley and Concord Rangers. On the last two Saturday’s the first team has beaten Brighton (4-0) and West Ham (6-3) although a large, asterisked note should be made against both of these results, and this is that both of these were against “xi” teams. It’s easy to get excited about beating teams by these score-lines, especially in pre-season when optimism is at its strongest, but this must be tempered with the knowledge that they were achieved against players that might not to be expecting to play too much first team football in the forthcoming nine months.

While Olympic duties prevented me going to the Brighton game (having already got a ticket to see a thoroughly entertaining quarter final game at Wembley between Senegal and Mexico), I couldn’t claim the same for the West Ham game. It’s just my luck that the one time I don’t see us play my other team (albeit not the first team), they win, and I am out on the Essex coast, soaking up the rays and watching Southend Manor advance to the preliminary round of the FA Cup by beating Hullbridge 1-0. Continue reading

Taming the Shrew..well sort of

There can be few better moments than knowing that you are safe coming into the last game of the season as a football fan.  An away trip to a team at the top of the table takes on a different meaning and you can enjoy life a bit more.  The air smells fresher, food takes better and even Harry Hill appears to be funny.  It was the last trip for our Daggers Diary team on Saturday as they made their way to Shropshire, for once no longer the wettest place in England.

It makes a change to go into the last couple of games of a season with nothing to play for. Last year, we were trying to stay in League 1; in both 2009 and 2010 we were trying to get into the play offs, while in 2008, we went into the penultimate game of the season up at Darlington needing a win (and results to go our way) to stay in the football league. The last time we had nothing to play for in the last couple of games was in 2007, having already secured the conference title. It makes for a nice relaxed trip to Shrewsbury, which is the venue for our last away game of the season.

You would kind of hope that by this time of the year, we would be going to games in some decent weather, but since the drought was declared recently, it seems to have rained for most of the time since. As some have remarked, it must be one of the wettest droughts in recent times.

Today is the last away trip of 2011/12, and we are making the trip westwards to Shrewsbury Town. The home side are in line for an automatic promotion place, and a win today will see them promoted to League 1. With this in mind, the game (aside from the away section) is a sell out, and so there will be around nine thousand home fans hoping to see them achieve their aim today. In contrast, there will be around 100 Daggers fans making the trip, which is around half of our allocation.

Three years ago, we met on the final day of the season in what was basically a winner takes all game for the final play off place. Although we had a one point lead going into the game, the Shrews led 2-0 by half time, and it looked all over. Although we got one back early in the second half, an equalizer wasn’t forthcoming, and despite the best efforts of everyone, Shrewsbury held on for a 2-1 win, and thus took the last play off place. Over the course of a season, where you finish is where you deserve to finish, and over the course of that season, Shrewsbury deserved to finish in that place. Given that we had only just avoided relegation the previous year, it still represented a major improvement for the team. Continue reading