the daggers voice
For the second year in a row, my season would begin at Thurrock's Ship Lane.
Almost a year to the day since I made my first visit during last pre-season, the Daggers were back in town for their second fixture of pre-season. This would be my first official match of the 2017/18 season. It might only have been a friendly, but I was just delighted that football had finally returned.
A busy, yet less hectic Summer compared to the last, saw several incomings and outgoings at Victoria Road. While we mourned the losses of fan favourites Jordan Maguire-Drew, Luke Guttridge and Curtley Williams, in came new faces such as Morgan Ferrier, Michael Cheek and Dan Sparkes. This would be my first opportunity to see the team gel, and I was relishing it.
This was mainly because of my last visit, when a completely overhauled Daggers' side absolutely outclassed Thurrock in a 3-1 victory. A friendly it might've been, but it was hard to not get carried away after such a performance and, in a way, that match prepared me for the kind of season we would have. Maybe this would be the same. Or maybe I was overthinking it. Either way, it was football, and would be worth it.
With the school year naturally crawling to an end, the day passed by fairly easily and without stress, and soon I was getting ready for my first game of the 2017/18 season. I would be going with Uncle Spencer, just like the trip to the Fleet last July, so the night promised to be just as entertaining off the field.
The team was announced before we set off to meet up with him at Burger King in West Thurrock, around five minutes from the ground. Our departure was around twenty past seven and we arrived in time to take our place. We decided to stand behind whichever goal the Daggers were attacking, instead of sitting down like last time.
I was introduced to a familiar face as I was walking around the stadium which by now I was starting to know well. Standing by the away fans was ex-Woking and Dagenham manager Garry Hill, who was in his first pre-season without a club in more than a decade. I got a nice picture with him, before continuing to wander around the ground.
Unfortunately, there was no matchday programme for this fixture; slightly disappointing, but I was generally unfazed as, by now, the teams had taken to the pitch. Thurrock were in yellow, while Daggers were sporting the 2013-15 pinstripe home strip.
We found our place behind the goal which gave a lovely view of both the pitch and the surrounding Thurrock Hotel. The game was a slow burner with little in the way of chances in the opening stages and we looked less sharp than I expected.
Thurrock took the lead in the first half through a Dennis Oli lob and I was surprised by the amount of times the hosts' got in behind our defence, and the relative ease behind it. Soon the half drew to a close and at half-time I saw injured new signings Dan Sparkes and Charlee Adams. After getting a picture with both of them, we made our way to the other side of the ground.
The second half was far more entertaining and we nearly levelled the scores, with Okenabirhie hitting the bar with a powerful effort. The equaliser came courtesy of Michael Cheek which drew a subdued cheer from the fans. After the game, we chatted to the Club Secretary, befire getting a teamsheet and then heading home.
So, it's great to be back for the new season. I extend my thanks to Spencer for taking me and hopefully he'll be accompanying me to more away games starting from August.
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.