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

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

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

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

In search of Joanne Guest


Many people would say that the most famous sight in Chesterfield is the twisted spire of the Church of St Mary’s and All Saints. The wooden tower leans nearly 10 feet from its centre axis and it famed the world over. It is relatively logical that the local football team take its nickname from the most visible point in Derbyshire’s biggest town.

Some may suggest that the town is also well-known as the birth place of John Hurt, or even Simon Groom. Eighties pop aficionados would surely point their stylus to the fact two of the three Thompson Twins hailed from Chesterfield but to me the town has always been the home to the finest women, bar The Current Mrs Fuller, in the whole world.

1624873-609mWe can all remember our crushes when we were growing up, which manifested themselves into something obsessive as the hormones took over. One of the rites of passage growing up is when you build up the courage to buy your first top shelf magazine, making sure Mrs Patel had gone to lunch so you could carefully slip the copy of Razzle, Mayfair or Readers Wives under Viz and a packet of Minstrels. I remember the day very clearly when I went into my local newsagent a boy, and came out a man. She had already been a familiar face (among other body parts) in the Sun and the Star, but it was the news of her first ever “spread” as it was harmlessly called in those days, in Escort magazine that had me slipping on a baseball cap, wearing sunglasses and putting on a fake accent to obtain a copy of a magazine that today would be tame compared to the likes of Zoo and Nuts. But this was in the day when Baywatch was as exciting as things got on TV. Continue reading