the daggers voice
In Gameweek 3 of the Vanarama National League : Aldershot and Dagenham's 100% records go on the line as they host Guiseley and head to Eastleigh respectively, while Solihull Moors search for their first point at Boreham Wood. There is a full fixturelist this weekend, and here are my predictions:
So the league season is finally underway and, after the first set of results, the games are coming thick and fast. For those off to a winning start, like ourselves, it is an opportunity to immediately build on that whereas, for teams such as Hartlepool and Orient, they will be looking to bounce back from an opening day defeat. So another matchday in the Vanarama National League, and here are my predictions:
One down, 45 to go. Though I'm not getting too carried away with the result and the performance, I was delighted with how it went.
Rewind to 7th May. The Daggers had just been consigned to another year of National League football after a devastating 2-0 (3-1 on Aggregate) defeat to Forest Green Rovers.
It had been a fantastic season concluded, unfortunately, in heartbreak. But as I watched the team almost driven to tears after the final whistle, I wasn't angry. I was just proud to have my Dagenham back. And so, during that almost silent journey home from Nailsworth, I remember thinking, ''We go again.''
As the coach edged out of the narrow villages surrounding the ground, we passed numerous home fans. Some clapped, others goaded. After the final whistle, fans had invaded the pitch with the only intention of theirs being to taunt us. It really didn't matter. Dagenham's 2016/17 had been a tremendous one, and the journey would continue come August.
Now, following three months of wait, including a pre-season which offered a sly teaser of football, we really do go again. As a new campaign dawns, we are ready to sustain another challenge for promotion. John Still has made it very clear what the target is: to be a Football League club again come this time next year.
It is going to be a thrilling season once again. Last year, Dagenham - having just been relegated from the Football League - were a side of relatively unknown capabilities and, as such, pressure was very much off. Nobody knew what to expect quite frankly and the fact that York City went down horrendously is a huge testament to John Still's rebuild.
Speaking of rebuild, there have been another large turnaround of players in the Summer. It would always have been hard to replace our on-loan winger Maguire-Drew, who was one of the most talented footballers I've ever seen during my time supporting the club.
Also departing was Curtley Williams, who was important, yet didn't play the contribution anybody at the club would've liked through no fault of his own. Injuries hampered his spell here and limited him to under twenty appearances . He, aswell as the departure and subsequent retirement of seasoned professional Luke Guttridge, meant there was a gaping hole of experience in the side.
The other departures were fairly standard and wouldn't affect the team too much. Widdowson left to link up with Leyton Orient, legend Paul Benson joined Boreham Wood, Josh Staunton signed for league rivals Woking and misfit Shomari Barnwell headed to Solihull after failing to find his way after the step-up. Frankie Raymond will also be playing on an artificial surface this campaign after wapping Dagenham for Bromley.
But John Still, to his credit, embraced the challenge and has seemingly assembled a fantastic squad. The first arrival was right-back Ben Nunn from Boreham Wood. A fast defender who was very highly regarded at Wood, he impressed in pre-season but is doubtful for today's game after breaking his wrist.
Next to join Daggers was Torquay United midfielder Dan Sparkes. Sparkes is a left-winger who chipped in with multiple goals across the previous two season with both the Gulls and Braintree, with both sets of those supporters speaking very highly of him. However, Sparkes is definitely unavailable for today after missing pre-season through injury.
Another Boreham Wood player swapped white for red and blue in the Summer and that was forward Morgan Ferrier. The young striker is very talented having established himself as an England C regular and bagged eleven goals last campaign. Morgan has had a very impressive pre-season but will face competition for the striker spots from Hawkins and...............
Michael Cheek. Probably our best Summer acquisition, Cheek managed to score nineteen goals for Braintree last campaign, even though they were relegated, which is simply incredible. He has given a glimpse of his talent with two poachers goals in pre-season but the only concern with him is fitness as he has struggled with full-time football so far, admits Still.
Defence was a troublesome area last season and that was the next area to be addressed as we say hello to Bondz N'Gala, who is a central defender with a vast array of experience. Also arriving at the club were Charlee Adams, a well-regarded central midfielder from Birmingham, and finally Kevin Lokko, on loan from Stevenage having made 46 appearances at centre-back for Maidstone in 2016/17.
So that completes our squad for the season; the journey begins.
Will it be another second season syndrome or another brilliant success?
Let's find out. We go Again!
COME ON YOU DAGGERS
A new season and even perhaps a new era dawns this weekend as Dagenham & Redbridge kick-off their second season back in the National League with Barrow the visitors to Victoria Road.
Weeks of boredom and pre-season preparations have all been building up to this day; a day which can often set the tone for the next nine months ahead.
Football is finally back; the rollercoaster embarks on a journey which will feature excitement, nervousness and fear, with rapid twists and turns, all in good measure.
Here we go!
Last season, following relegation, Daggers' credentials were relatively unknown. An entirely new squad was a risk even for seasoned manager John Still but, thankfully, the rebuild couldn't have gone better. The fact that fellow relegated outfit York City suffered a second consecutive relegation illustrates how an entirely new squad can completely fail and, while the Football League is now a distant memory for the sorry Minstermen, it remains the prime goal for the Daggers.
Nobody could have anticipated the success which Daggers would enjoy last season. A resounding 3-0 success over Southport laid the foundations for a campaign which saw them top the table for short spells, but ultimately be plagued by a combination of inconsistency (the Southport game was followed by a heavy loss to Chester) and huge spells of injuries. But, whereas the pressure was completely off, now it will be on as Dagenham are firm title candidates.
Similarly, Barrow captured the attention of the entire division. Although they were tipped for a difficult season, the Bluebirds surprised everybody with a remarkable record unbeaten run which propelled them towards the play-off places, where they would remain until the very end of the season. They also claimed notable scalps, doing the double over Dagenham and Lincoln.
Positive campaigns would've raised the expectations of both sets of supporters, so an underwhelming opening display will certainly not be expected from either........
As mentioned, Barrow managed to overcome John Still's side twice, and were one of only three teams to do so. They won at Victoria Road in November, before gaining a victory in the return clash at Holker Street five months later.
On the 26th November, the first meeting took place with Dagenham having won their last two games without conceding, although they had been battered in their last home outing, 5-0 by Gateshead a fortnight prior. This, unfortunately, would be another heavy defeat. Barrow won by a flattering 4-1 scoreline, despite a rapid start by the home side. It was very harsh on them, with the only consolation being an acrobatic Whitely strike from close-range.
Dagenham then pitched up in Barrow on March 19th but went crashing to another defeat despite going ahead, again through Whitely. So, with both managers knowing eachother's style, John Still will be searching for revenge, and Barrow will be aware of this.
A brand new season of Vanarama National League football gets underway this weekend with every club looking to get off to a good start. There are eleven games taking place with Solihull v Chester postponed due to safety concerns. Bromley get life on their new artificial pitch to a start with the visit of promotion-favourites Eastleigh. At Victoria Road, promotion rivals Dagenham and Barrow meet, while newly-promoted face a tough start as Aldershot Town head to the Shay. Relegated side Leyton Orient couldn't face a harder start as they face physical Sutton on their 3G pitch, while Hartlepool host Dover. In other fixtures, Guiseley welcome Ebbsfleet, Macclesfield travel to Wrexham, The Gallagher Stadium hosts Maidstone v Maidenhead, Woking and Gateshead face off and title favourites Tranmere Rovers are the visitors to Torquay. Here are my predictions to all of these fixtures:
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.