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

Gone for a Burton

Last weekend saw the return to Dagenham of probably the most hated man in the history of the club, Steve Evans. With a welcoming committee ready and waiting to meet their team coach as it arrived at the car park, the day itself saw quite a fair amount of abuse aimed at the former Boston United manager whenever he ventured into the technical area surrounding the Rotherham bench.

As it turned out, Saturday 10th November will go down as one of those days when just about everything went right. A an excellent 5-0 win saw each goal celebrated like a World Cup final, and a reminder of just how much everyone hated Evans after each time the ball hit the net. Rotherham, on the day, were awful, and had Andy Warrington to thank for keeping it at just the five. After the game, Evans described it as the worst performance of his managerial career, so that was nice. There was even the threat of him not sending the team back out in the second half, but they eventually emerged and were just as bad in the second half as they were in the first. Perhaps it would have been better just to pack up and go home at the interval.

Despite the win though, Saturday just seemed a bit of a strange day. There was an atmosphere, partly stoked by the situation regarding the visiting manager, but there was also a bit of a dispute regarding the supporters club. For as long as I can remember, they have been staffing the match day club shop, so now that it has moved from inside the stadium to outside, there was probably the expectation that this arrangement would continue. Except that it hasn’t, and so standing outside the old premises prior to the game were a few of the “former” staff of the shop, complaining about the situation, and that they would need to have a word with those at the club who had seen fit to dispense with their services. This created more than one edge to the atmosphere, which helped make the noise in the ground last week the loudest and most sustained for some time.

Then, in the early hours of last Sunday morning, there was a fire at the club. First reports on the forum reckoned that it was the club house that had gone, which wouldn’t have entirely surprised me. That was then corrected, and it was confirmed that it had been the programme shop that had gone up instead.

As a club, one of my biggest moans is that we don’t seem to celebrate our history enough. As Dagenham & Redbridge, we were formed in 1992, out of a merger between Dagenham and Redbridge Forest. Forest themselves were formed out of mergers before that, but like Sky and their Premier League era, we only came into existence in 1992. It just seems that anything that happened before that isn’t of as much importance.

In the programme shop were loads of items that related to our predecessors, and now thanks to this, they are now gone forever. A quick look at the picture posted on the club’s website in the week showed the almost total destruction of what was inside. If anything is salvageable I’m not sure, but from that picture, it didn’t look like it. If there is nothing left, then it’s an opportunity to celebrate the history of Walthamstow Avenue, Ilford et al that has gone. How long it takes to get the shop back up and running again is anyone’s guess.

All of this has sort of cast a long shadow over what had been a brilliant day on the pitch. Winning any game by five goals is a cause for celebration, but given the nature of the win, and then adding in the history with the opposition manager, it just made it so much sweeter.

The win meant that the good league form had been extended by another game, making it now just one defeat in ten. There were times at the start of the season when this didn’t look likely, but now that there is a settled team, with minimal injuries, the side is starting to play well. There is also a little bit of confidence appearing in the support. Whereas there was the hope that we might play well and get a result, now that has changed slightly, and we are now going into games with a good level of expectation that we can get a result. Continue reading

Hyde and Speak

The last few weeks have seen an upturn in the Daggers fortunes, with eight points garnered from the last four league games. Although it hasn’t propelled us as far up the table as we would probably have liked, it has at least given us a bit of breathing room above the teams that are still hovering around at the bottom.

Following on from last weeks nerve destroying win over Bradford, things took arguably a backwards step during the week, thanks to a 2-0 defeat at Southend in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. Having missed the game, the text updates from Dagenham Dan were brief although his considered opinion was that I hadn’t missed much. So that was alright then.

To be honest, the JPT is the most likely route that we would have had of getting to Wembley, although given the calibre of teams in the southern half of the competition it would have taken a phenomenal run to get to within sight of the arch this year.  That still wouldn’t stop me using bet365 football betting though to put a couple of quid on just that event.

Still, that avenue is closed off for another year, and so all we have to look forward to now is the FA Cup, the Essex Senior Cup (which is a big trophy literally) and several months of league games. Still, it could be a whole lot worse.

Having decided (possibly against better judgement) to go to the England game last night, it is with a sense of relief that we might actually witness a proper game tonight, instead of a one way traffic kind of encounter. Today we make our first ever visit to the Proact Stadium, the just over two year old home of Chesterfield. 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