the daggers voice
Today, having witnessed my first relegation, I can honestly say that it is painful. It hurts. You feel like nothing will ever be the same. You feel like your life is going to end.
But what's worse is that, even though we knew it was coming, we suffered our relegation to Leyton Orient, our biggest rivals. This was the worst possible ending to the worst Dagenham season I have ever witnessed.
But, instead of fighting back tears, I've decided to just look back at what has truly been nine (five in my case) remarkable years. I've decided to think about what the club was, the amazing things I witnessed, the spectacular times I had, instead of what it become.
Unfortunately, nine years of incredibly hard work has just been thrown away, discarded in one fell swoop, and I ask myself: Do my beloved Dagenham deserve my tears? Do they deserve my emotion? But more importantly, do they care?
Out of our entire squad I'd say about five can emerge with any kind of recognition. Ultimately, we haven't been good enough. That's all I can say before a full inquest determines the more underlying reasons behind our horrific plight. We simply haven't been good enough and we paid the price.
So while we have four games left, preparation for next season must begin if we are to stand any chance of making an immediate return to where we 'belong'. I don't care if we lose the last few games, just as the players seemingly haven't cared about losing all season, but we need a big restructure in the summer and so that must be implemented now.
Today I saw us face Leyton Orient and we simply weren't good enough. To be 1-0 down in three minutes is simply unacceptable, and in all honesty it's a miracle we didn't lose by at least six goals. Somehow we scored two goals in a minute which gave us hope, but yet again we were sloppy and threw it away.
The final whistle saw the deflated players sink to the floor, to an onslaught of abuse from the furious 444 away supporters who chanted things such as ''sack the board'' and ''Thompson out.'' The outrage continued outside the ground and undoubtedly on the coach home.
Next season is going to be one of the most challenging campaigns in our history. We will lose a big core of our squad, a big core of our fanbase, and have a lot of regrouping to do. But, seeing Cheltenham who have made an instant return to the Football League, I am filled with hope. In fact, I'm excited for this new chapter in our history, and I'm excited at the prospect of visiting many new grounds. I'm adamant we will come back stronger.
I'd like to say we'll be back, I'd like to say it's only a minor setback - but the truth is that I really don't know where Dagenham & Redbridge go from here. But one thing I do know is that I am forever a Dagger, and will be whatever league we are in.
And so, I urge all of our loyal, dedicated fanbase to stick with the team at this difficult time, as we try to overcome the difficult task which awaits us. Until then, let's just enjoy what could be our last four Football League games for a very long time.
I am Joel Page, Dagenham & Redbridge FC fan. Here I will share some of my experiences.