The Daggers have impressed fans of clubs from several backgrounds. From Burton Albion to Sheffield Wednesday, all have them have been impressed by Dagenham & Redbridge in the last couple of seasons. After a spectacular season in League One, Dagenham needed to get a better result against Peterborough than Walsall would get at Southampton. As it happened, both sides lost their games and the Daggers were relegated on the final day.
Led by the inspirational life-long fan John Still since April 2004, Dagenham have completed a remarkable journey, leading Dagenham from the (then) Conference, before taking them to a League Two Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium, where they overcame Rotherham United 3-2. Last season they just ran out of steam and ultimately slipped back to League Two on the final day, but an immediate turn should not be written off for the Essex boys.
We at It’s Round and It’s White wanted to find out what more we could expect from the Daggers after a tremendous effort in League One last season, so we pulled up a stool and interrogated Dagenham’s own Mark from the website We Only Need Nine Men.
What would be a dream season for you?
Automatic promotion! I’m fairly sure this won’t happen, but it would be lovely to seal it by beating Aldershot and Crawley at the end of the season.
What would be your worst nightmare?
Losing our manager and any more key players. I think a lot of people are dreading what will happen when John Still calls it a day because of the success he has managed to bring without throwing money around. There aren’t many people around who could keep making progress with a club of our size. On the playing front, we really could do without any more departures now Green and Vincelot have been sold. There’s definitely another couple who may interest those at a higher level.
What do you think of your club’s summer transfer activity?
I’m fairly happy with the business we’ve done this summer. We were always going to lose Green and Vincelot, and perhaps we’d have liked a bit more money for the pair but we certainly haven’t been mugged. We’ve lost the experience of Antwi and Currie as we couldn’t fit them into the budget but Medy Elito, Richard Rose, Luke Howell and Kevin Maher have come in and all of them can do the business at this level. We’ve also added some younger inexperienced players like Jake Reed and everybody is quite excited about seeing them come through.
Who will be your most important player/s this season?
Josh Scott is the obvious candidate. He missed almost all of last season with a blood clot after scoring well alongside Benson in his first season out of non-league when we won the League Two playoffs. A lot of people were really expecting him to kick on last season, so it was a big shame to lose him, especially as Benson was sold to Charlton and we couldn’t find adequate replacements. If we’re going to do well he needs to have a good season because our other forwards are either inexperienced or lacking in the goals department. At the back Mark Arber will be key – we need him to regain the form he showed when we got out of this division a couple of seasons ago.
Any players you would happily see the back of?
I don’t think there is a single player at the club who I’d want rid of. Most of the players who I didn’t rate were shown the door pretty swiftly after failing to impress. Even the lads who lack a bit of ability have tremendous work-rate so they certainly earn their keep.
Do you have the best manager for the job?
Absolutely. What John Still has done at our club is tremendous. We were a mid-table Conference side and we’ve been to League One and played against some huge clubs. To pull that off on crowds of 2,000 is a remarkable achievement.
Opposition players that you respect?
There’s some obvious ones who used to play for the Daggers like Matt Ritchie at Swindon and John McGrath at Burton. John Johnson at Northampton struck me as a good player when we last met them, and Oxford have a pretty formidable forward line this time around.
Opposition players that you despise?
Nobody really springs to mind at the moment. Danny Spiller had a bit of a whinge when he was with us so I suppose he’s a minor annoyance.
Best away fans/ground in your league?
We’ve always had a good relationship with Morecambe fans. It goes back to our Conference days when we were two similar-size clubs fighting towards the top of the division. We had some great battles including a Conference play-off semi-final, and the reaction of their fans when we eventually beat them on penalties was superb. I think both sets of fans are quite similar and there is a mutual respect which I hope will remain.
In terms of grounds, I think everybody looks forward to Bradford but some of the grounds in League Two this year leave a lot to be desired. They seem to either be falling down or soulless out-of-town new builds!
Which teams do you really want to beat this season?
It has to be Crawley doesn’t it? If the obscene amounts of money they are throwing around isn’t reason enough, they have criminal and cheat Steve Evans in charge.
Finally, where do you honestly think you will finish?
Dagenham fans, do you agree or disagree with Andy’s comments? Why not sign up and have your say in the comments section below???