the daggers voice
A keen fan of the JPT, I was delighted when Dagenham had been drawn at Stevenage in the second round. We had recently beaten Cambridge, 2-0, and had another winnable tie here. However, when I learnt I would be going to the Lamex, the appeal grew even stronger.
As the night grew nearer my excitement did too. The Lamex Stadium was a ground I'd never set foot in before and we had a big chance to prevail to the Area Quarter-Final. Eventually October 7th came and I left for school - various potential outcomes swirling around my brain. Finally the day progressed. Double PE, English, Maths and Science came and went. I then waited for my Dad's recognisable red car to arrive on the school grounds and whisk me to the 'Chigwell Construction Stadium'. I say 'whisk', the journey consisted of traffic, traffic and more traffic. But we got there.
As I was exchanging my school uniform for my Yellow/Black Daggers shirt, my dad handed me an item of clothing concealed in protective cover. It was the Daggers cardigan he had ordered - the beautiful strip donning the old badge! I delicately placed it over my Daggers shirt and waited for the coach to make it's way toward us. It was very overcast so the jumper was ideal for the weather which would only descend as the night progressed. We contemplated buying chips from a nearby shop for food, but I don't think either of us were up for the challenging walk. Instead we just waited for the Swallow vehicle to arrive and subsequently took our places on the coach for the journey.
Enroute to Stevenage, aside from notifications regarding the game from Russell Elmes and the distribution of Golden Goal tickets, I was taken completely by surprise by a spontaneous announcement. ''We've got a birthday...'', he began. Russell then said, ''Joel Page is thirteen on Sunday, and you know what that means.......He's also in the Barking & Dagenham Post today about his Dagenham and Redbridge website which is absolutely brilliant. It is, if I'm right, Dagnificent '' I was so surprised, yet so thankful. There was then a polite applause. Russell returned soon after and said he was sorry about the embarrassment. Embarrassment? I was delighted!
The remainder of the journey was spent talking with Dad about numerous things, whilst eating and drinking some of the food he packed. He also brought Pizza slices, but unsurprisingly they were devoured before the coach even pulled out of Victoria Road. As were half of the Mini-Pepsis and a proportion of the huge chocolate buttons. Before I knew it the stadium was in viewpoint. It looked very lovely; tidy, clean and more than adequate to accommodate the small quantity of our travelling contingent.
One thing I noticed was their scoreboard which had our badge. Unfortunately, our wrong and former badge. But I could forgive them for that. I was completely in awe as me and Dad wandered amongst the premises. On the coach, we were informed that Stevenage were unusually producing a full publication for the cup tie which was what I was aimlessly searching for as I scoured the ground. Me & Dad arrived at a club shop after that which was where I saw the programmes sitting on the table. Dad requested whether I would like a fridge magnet as a momento to which I replied yes, although when we saw the prices we decided against this idea. Just then, Dad caught sight of the Dagenham coach pulling in so I went to witness the players exiting. After an array of players departed, including Jamie Cureton who was swaggering stylishly listening to headphones, out came Wayne Burnett striding toward us. He shook my hand, then asked whether we had our tickets. It was then I noticed the handful of tickets he was carrying, which I assumed he intended on giving away to supporters. He offered them to a group of Daggers behind us, before saying goodbye and disembarking toward the entrance.
Before this, however, me and Dad had inquisitively spotted an enclosure of shops and takeaways. This included a Burger King. Almost simultaneously, me and Dad both had an idea. Dad responded that he wasn't that hungry, but I think the manner he wolfed down his food slightly contradicted that! I decided on a light Burger & Chips accompanied by a Tango/Fanta. It was well and truly amazing, and left me joking about converting to a Stevenage fan! We only had to walk past an underpass to arrive back at the Lamex. After investigating more of the ground to no avail, we entered the away end. It was a bit small, but on the contrast that meant we were so close to the action. Dad mentioned the fluent, smooth Stevenage pitch which had clearly been well-maintained. Bizarrely, behind the furthest goal to us sat a Circus-like vibrant structure - releasing a vibrant purple image toward us as we took our seats yards away from the drum, directly behind the goal. The teams quickly arrived to conduct their warmups, and a player emerged who I had never seen before. Dad quizzed me on him but I was speechless. Upon looking at daggers.co.uk to check the teams it emerged the mystery player was infact Jake Mulraney, who had just been loaned from QPR.
The end filled up and, after some questionable music and mascot quizzes, the teams came out and the away end roared in approval. I felt giddy and excited. The match got underway with Daggers fans still chanting and cheering, despite Stevenage starting the better of the two teams and having a few chances. However, Dagenham grew into the tie and then Chambers received the ball, surging towards the Stevenage defence who backed away. This was a big chance. Chambers had options but went for the shot, which was just palmed away the keeper, as Dagenham urged their team on.
The rest of the half continued at a frantic pace, although it didn't yield any goals which wasn't for the want of trying. You certainly wouldn't think these were two teams languishing near the bottom of the division. At half time I read the programme more and chatted with Dad of whom I was incredibly grateful to have taken me to what I now realised was a very entertaining match. I thought, this is why I love away games.
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.