the daggers voice
As one door closes, another opens.
Unfortunately it's the door to the National League, after spending nine years in the Football League; but it's important not to dwell on what is only a setback, for we are Daggers, and we will come back stronger.
That said, though I'd like to retain an optimistic theme, it is important to conduct a full analytical review of just what has gone wrong, if we stand any chance of rectifying it and improving for next season. So let's begin.
Before a ball had even been kicked the club were in something of a rut, having lost four key players and undergone some bizarre changes which left supporters alienated - changes of badge and dugout to name a few. Those players, Ogogo, Doe, Bingham and Howell, made the club 'tick' and since we lost them, it's like we've lost the very foundations the club is based upon. This meant that fans had already resigned themselves to a horrible campaign even before the fixture at Fratton Park.
Our blushes were only spared at this point by Newport County sitting rock-bottom, although we had replaced them by the end of October.
When a setback like this happens it's easy to shift the blame onto people, but the truth is there have been a number of factors that have contributed to our plight and no one person is responsible what has happened:
Badge & Dugout Change
You may think this is completely unrelated to relations on the pitch but this was one of the defining moments which resulted in the disconnect between fans and those who work at the club. Before the season even started, fans were alienated by two separate events. One of these saw the dugouts switched for absolutely no reason whereas they had remained the same for many years. Another key change was the badge, which has led to many disputes including the 'downward swords' potentially indicating that the club had given up on fighting - coincidence? Fans weren't even consulted on the impending badge change which demonstrated a clear disregard to us supporters. It appears that, since we changed the badge, nothing has been the same and we are almost a new club.
Departures and poor Player Acquisition
In summer 2015, we lost four players integral to not only the club but the 'Dagger' mentality. Unfortunately they were replaced by players not even fit to lace the boots of those four players - who of course are Abu Ogogo, Billy Bingham, Scott Doe and Luke Howell, with the last two bizarrely linking up with non-league Boreham Wood when they had the capabilities to play at League 1 clubs, which Ogogo (Shrewsbury) and Bingham (Crewe) did. These were huge losses and we have sorely missed them.
Considered to be a crucial factor in the above, Wayne Burnett guided us to incredible 9th and 14th placed finishes but appeared to lose the dressing room at some point due to a number of reasons, and was sacked in December 2015.
John Still has seemingly managed to evade all criticism despite having just as much time as Burnett to overturn our fortunes. There is no doubt that he is a club legend but many people also believe he was an unsuitable replacement for Burnett considering we spent a huge fortune on sacking him. Would Burnett have kept us up - who knows? However, whatever people think of Still's appointment in Still we have the best manager to take us up from the National League as he is an expert in that field, and that fills me with the utmost confidence ahead of next season. His football may not be considered pretty, but next season it can be effective.
Reluctance to sack Burnett at an earlier time is only one of the many appalling decisions the board have made this season, and it could've been the difference between us playing Football League or National League football next season.
So, now, as we await the return of football amid a long, hot, boring summer - except for England's hapless attempts in another underwhelming tournament - Dagenham & Redbridge will undergo huge developments as they aim to restructure the team ahead of next season. It's important we recuperate as a monumental task awaits us.
Well that brings an end to another season, which started in August at Fratton Park, and ended at a sunny Memorial Stadium, now all that's left to do is soak up the sun before waiting for the fixture release sometime in July.
During the summer I will spend my time posting any new information from the club, aswell as a little preview on every club we will face next season; trying to combat my FWS. (Football Withdrawal Syndrome) That said, I'd be lying if I said I'm not a little glad it's all over, though I doubt I'll feel the same come June!
We will come back stronger.
Have a great summer!
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.