the daggers voice
The magic of the FA Cup. Although the clash against Morecambe was far from glamourous for either side, what it did do was present us with a clear opportunity to defeat our fellow League Two companions and as a result progress into round two.
Talking of which, neither the Daggers or the Shrimps even made it into the second stage of the prestigious competition last season, and both were the victim of a cup upset to Conference opposition. Whilst Dagenham & Redbridge faced the ignominy of exiting to Southport over two matches - in which they couldn't score in either - Morecambe were dumped out of the cup by Dover Athletic who marginally prevailed 1-0.
Of course, as Cambridge illustrated, there is a huge incentive to do well in the FA Cup.
After defeating Fleetwood, Mansfield and Luton the U's were drawn to play at home to Manchester United last campaign. In a record crowd, and live on BBC, they produced a memorable performance to stun United and earn a hard-fought 0-0 draw. This meant ten days later they travelled to Old Trafford, and although they were comfortably seen off by the reds the fixture generated enough money to keep them afloat for many years to come.
For Dagenham, you would have to delve into every fans dreams for this to occur. However, as proved by Cambridge, anything is possible when it comes to the FA Cup. So our route to Wembley began in Round 1, with Morecambe the visitors to the Chigwell Construction Stadium. We came into the game with a torrid FA Cup record in recent times, having not won in the competition since the 2011/12 season - and even then it took penalties to get past Walsall after nil-nil draw. Ten days earlier, 3 December 2013, signified the day we last scored in the FA Cup, as a spectacular Jon Nurse goal denied Walsall victory.
Both of those appalling stats were ones we could rectify in the game, which provided a welcome distraction from our league troubles where we sat bottom. As Wayne Burnett said, league positions go out the window in the FA Cup and this was the perfect opportunity to prove that. I myself was attending my third game in the space of the week and on Tuesday witnessed a resounding 6-0 rout over Basildon United, so was optimistic about another cup fixture.
Me & my companion for the game today, Mum, set off slightly earlier than usual as we wanted to ensure we got the autographs from the Morecambe players. This meant we arrived at around 12:45pm. Immediately I entered the ground, programme in hand, and scanned the contents. I was looking for the commercial page, because I went into the hospitality for the Luton game - which culminated in me being in the photo and taking home a signed ball! I immediately identified the pictures on page 36, which depicted me proudly holding the precious ball and with a broad smile plastered over my face.
To express my gratitude at the gesture from the Ball & Stammers family, and hugely Terry & Jenny who helped organise the event, I had written out cards accompanied with chocolates for the trio. I handed them happily over to Terry & Jenny, who were thoroughly delighted at my thanks and so were delighted I enjoyed myself.
Then I waited for the Morecambe coach anxiously in the rain. Mum, meanwhile, waited in the clubhouse for my return. I was particularly looking forward to meeting Kevin Ellison, as last year he had left the home faithful in stitches with his whimsical retorts
Eventually the coach arrived, and just as predicted Ellison was hilarious when speaking with me. Firstly, he said, ''You lot gonna give me stick like last time!'', before funnily mentioning they should meet him after the game. Hysterical!
Ben also arrived just as the players were in the midst of their ascent towards the players entrance before following us into the clubhouse where I purchased another drink. Time
then flew and suddenly it was 2pm. So me & Mum entered the ground whilst Ben waited for his Dad. Then I bought some food and a thirst-quenching Pepsi before conducting my patriotic walk to my designated spot. The day then continued on the trajectory it began, quickly, and after some interesting conversations with the surrounding spectators the teams emerged to a poultry 900 attendance for the traditional minutes silence and playing of 'the last post'.
As I had noticed earlier, there were no fans situated in the Traditional Builders Stand. This was due to the Morecambe support being allocated the family stand, as they were unlikely to amass over 120 fans. Mum also remarked on the lack of atmosphere inside. I had honestly never seen such a dismal support, and with twenty minutes to kick off there were still barely any fans present. Even Salford United had eclipsed the attendance as they recorded a memorable 2-0 victory over Notts County the night before.
Buoyed on by a noisy away support, Morecambe had a large proportion of possession but struggled to make it count. It was the same fate for Dagenham, who couldn't convert their spells of possession to chances or goals. Kevin Ellison unsurprisingly provided the only real entertainment of the first half with his witty antics culminating in continuous banter between home fans and Ellison. Being the player he is, Kevin Ellison simply retaliated by responding in a likewise manner - always having the last laugh. Aswell as jokingly suggesting this may be his last FA Cup game, he also attempted to gain more yards on a throw in by running several inches ahead of the point the referee signalled. Understandably, the home fans were enraged and made it known to the ref, to which Ellison responded by stating ''every time!'' - implying he can never get away with it, amongst more of his trademark quips.
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.